On The Fly column: The Mother’s Day hatch

Scott Spooner
On the Fly

Caddisflies are the official entrée of choice for trout this week, as we always see the first waves of these prolific insects from around Tax Day to Mother’s Day here in Colorado. There are many kinds of caddis, from those that free-swim around the river to those who build exquisite cases. Caddis adults can range from a big size 12 down to a Lilliputian 20, and we see them hatch in stronger numbers on bright and sunny days.

Caddisfly hatches are all about water temperature. Usually, 50 degrees is the magic number, and these intense hatches always start in lower elevations and work their way upstream as temperatures begin to rise in April and May. As of this writing, the hatch is thick on the Colorado River and has started creeping up the Roaring Fork. The lower 15 miles of the Roaring Fork are where the action is, and we’ve noticed the fish are generally waiting until after noon to put on the feedbag.

Calling this the Mother’s Day hatch can be a bit misleading; if you wait until mid-May, you may miss out on some or most of the action. Caddis will hatch all summer and into the fall, but the fish are hyper-focused on these insects at the moment and tend to ignore all else. Any seasoned angler will tell you: Trout tend to focus on what they see the most of, so you’ve got to match the hatch.

How you approach this annual event is important as well. Caddis move completely differently than mayflies on the water, generally skittering and flopping around versus sitting calmly on the surface for preflight like mayflies tend to do. Fishing your dry flies across and downstream is practically a must, and the trout want to see that fly skate a bit as it enters their sight window. Soft Hackles and Prince Nymphs will work until the fish start looking up, then you’ll want to switch to dry flies. The time is now, so take advantage of the epic conditions before runoff interruptus arrives.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or

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