Spring Means Fly Fishing Time

Posted by David Young, Contributor | 05.26.2022

Springs Means Fly Fishing Time


Fly fishing is the art of doing everything and nothing all at once. It is a sport that requires you to always be present casting, mending, and changing up flies. Yet, Despite all this, you can spend all day on the river and not catch a thing. Regardless, a day spent fly fishing is always a good day. 


With that in mind, spring has arrived which means that warm sunny days are ripe for pulling out the fly rod and heading down to your favorite river or stream to knock the winter’s rust off and get a few casts in the water. I was excited to break in my new Redington Classic Trout 3 weight fly rod that I had purchased this winter at JAX. I picked up the new rod specifically for backpacking trips this summer to high alpine lakes and streams in the Rockies. I paired the new lightweight four-piece rod with an Orvis Batten kill fly reel. These are classic click pawl reels that are simple, lightweight, and require a little touch to control the fish with the palm of your hand as opposed to a standard drag system. With my new rod and reel in hand, I set out for the Poudre River to see how the new setup worked. While the Poudre has miles of great fishing, on this afternoon I decided to start in mid-town at the Poudre River park and then slowly work my way upstream.  


Often in early spring, when the water is still lower and there may be ice up in the canyon, the fishing in town can be quite productive. I hoisted my Fishpond pack, tied on a simple dry dropper fly combination to start, and set out for the river. The area was not too busy, on this specific day I was the only angler out, so I pulled out a few feet of line and made my first cast.  


I typically fish a 4/5 weight rod on the Poudre River, and the 3 weight took a little getting used to. The action on the rod was medium and responsive enough that soon I was able to target pools and holes anywhere on the river. The first time back on the river after a long winter always requires a little bit of an adjustment, but before long I fell back into my rhythm of cast, drift mend, cast. After a while without any bites, I moved up the river a little bit making my way along the smooth rocky shore.  


I traversed under College Avenue and proceeded west into a more wooded area. Here I spotted some great-looking areas that I was sure were holding fish. I carefully crept up the bank, trying not to make noise, and was prepared to make a delicate cast when a dog that was off leash came splashing into the water on the opposite bank. A moment later the owner came stumbling along to collect the wayward pup, but by then the moment was gone, along with any fish that had been holed up nearby. I took the interruption as an opportunity to switch up and tie on a double nymph rig.  


Still early in the season with no real Identifiable insects on the water, I opted to go really small with a size 20 zebra midge and a size 22 juju baetis. I meandered upstream some more enjoying the warm day as some clouds set in obscuring the sun a bit. I took up a new position along the bank near some tall grasses and set to casting. Working my way slowly out towards the middle of the stream with smooth casts, the new Redington was really growing on me. I can see why this fly rod has received such rave reviews. It worked great along the Poudre but will also transition nicely to the high country and is easy to carry. If I were to land a good size fish on it, I have confidence that the rod would hold its own and it would make for a fun fight with the Battenkill reel.  


After a while longer of casting with no success, I decided to reel it in for the day. Rather than hike back along the rocky, muddy bank, I turned north and made my way through some tall grasses and downed trees before connecting with the Poudre River Trail. I turned and made my way back towards the parking lot, rod and reel in hand. While I came away empty-handed this day, it was still nice just to be back on the river. There is something magical about fly fishing in the spring.  


It’s an ideal time of year where the Colorado heat is not too oppressive, and the crowds aren’t such that you must elbow your way into the river. This time of year, you can easily find yourself on a stretch of river that is all yours. In addition to the Poudre River, other great places to fly fish are the Big Thompson River, Estes Park, Red Feather Lakes, and the South Platte River. 


To get started fly fishing, you will need some basic gear like a fly-fishing rod, reel, fly line, tippet, flies, fishing net, and bag to carry the gear. To get equipped and check out what flies are best to use on the water right now, make sure to stop by the JAX fishing department and visit our experts who have a pulse on current fishing conditions and the latest gear.   


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