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Fall Fly Fishing Tactics

Fall Fly Fishing Tactics for Trout

Go Big or go…. Small?

The major menu items this time of year are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Now is a great time to throw big streamers and late season hopper patterns (especially after the farmers cut hay near the river bank). On the contrary, the insects crowding the water column in the Fall are midges, Blue Winged Olives and the last of the Trico mayflies. Choose tippet to match accordingly!

Banker’s Hours

Gone are the days of waking up at 5am to catch the early bite and beat the crowds to your honey hole. This time of year 9am is the earliest I like to target trout and that’s more to get the spot I want than expected hot fishing. The fish don’t start feeding with consistency until the bugs get active and that’s when the sun has been beating on the water for 30 minutes or so. Do yourself a favor and hit the snooze button.

Fish it all, Fish it Right

If your local water mirrors the waters we fly fish in and around the Vail Valley, it’s low and skinny. The trout haven’t flown to Florida quite yet so they are finding any little piece of depth and current break they can find. They don’t all stock up in deep holes as some might think and let’s let them think that because we are going to work it all. Fish shallow riffles, fish any pocket you can find. Hit the banks and run your flies right down the meat of a fast run. The fish are everywhere at this time of year and the most successful fishermen run a handful of casts through everything. The biggest client fish for Eagle River Outfitter this Fall have come from some inconspicuous water. Bring a few rods or be ready to change often as each type of water demands a different approach. Change depth, weight and technique if you want to keep that fly rod bent.

Hidden Hatches

We covered the major bugs but get creative and keep an eye of for the “Hidden Hatches”. Eggs are on the menu this time of year thanks to the brown trout and the rainbows gobble them up. Mid day has shown it’s share of Red Quills on the Eagle and Colorado Rivers here in our neck of the woods too. Another bug of note is the October Caddis. Are our rivers covered in massive bugs with trout eating on the surface like it’s July? Hardly. Will a trout come up to eat a big orange Elk Hair or a large grubby pupae? Absolutely. Think outside the box and try new things if your RS2’s and Chocolate Thunders aren’t getting the love they deserve.

Weather and Water

Nature is going to play it’s part in your day’s fishing both for you and for the fish this time of year. Look out for #1, bring a rain jacket and a warm layer and check the weather before you get out there. We can have a warm sunny day to turn snow quickly so be prepared. The same goes for the fishies. Water temps will fluctuate which in turn affects the bug life and therefore the fish. Bring a thermometer, note when the bite is the strongest and fish accordingly. If you want to throw streamers but the water temp is lower than you like, plan on a slower retrieve in deeper water. On the other hand, if you can time it right, you can have a dry fly rod with the right bugs at the ready 30 minutes before the fish go bonkers on your favorite shallow run.

Take this new found knowledge (or Fall fishing reminder) and have yourself a grand time out there. The brown trout are colorful and picturesque. The rainbows are loving the cooler temps and feeding well. Don’t forget to pick your head up every once in a while, take a breath of crisp Autumn air and soak in the changing leaves in the beautiful setting around you. Friendly reminder, the brown trout spawn in shallow tailouts and riffles this time of year and redds can be spotted fairly easily. Look for a bald spot on the river bottom that looks like someone swept a nice circle below the surface. Don’t walk or fish these areas to maintain a healthy population of brown trout in your local fishery. Be safe!


Dave Budniakiewicz
Eagle River Outfitter
Contact Phone: 970-235-0655