Rocky Thickstun, my go-to Louisiana guide, made a comment in the marsh last week that stuck with me. I would argue this applies even more to fishing here in the Rocky Mountain West.
“You can have the right fly on, but it has to be fished the right way in the right place. You can have the wrong fly on, but if you fish it the right way and the right place, you’ll be successful.” This kind of blew my mind. Rocky has a way of doing that.
Here in Colorado, the trout tend to get hyper-focused on the distinct phase in the life cycle of a particular insect, so having the “right fly” can be pretty darn important. But if that “right fly” isn’t where it is supposed to be in the water column or is behaving in an unnatural way, that fly tends to get refused. On the flip side, if your fly choice isn’t correct but is delivered on a silver platter (where and how they want to see it), things can generally work in your favor.
It really is all about “presentation” when casting a fly at a trout (or a 30-pound redfish). More than once I’ve seen a redfish show interest in my fly but ultimately sulk away because something didn’t look right. This doubly applies to wary Roaring Fork Valley trout. Once a fish has been fooled a few times, which most have around here, they tend to ignore what looks unnatural or imperfect.
This is mostly about your “drift” in the trout game. Essentially, your offering needs to appear unattached to you, the angler. Your fly needs to look like it’s just floating merrily downstream like the naturals, and not attached to a person standing on the bank. If your dry fly or indicator are keeping perfect pace with the various bubbles on the river surface, you’re mostly there. Use your powers of observation the next time you’re on the river, and keep it “natural” out there!
This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.