Get lost among the green drakes |

Get lost among the green drakes

Scott Spooner
Staff Photo |

Green drakes. To fly-fishers, these two words equate to many sleepless nights spent by the river under the beam of a headlamp while trout gorge on large mayflies. To the fly-fishers’ significant others, these two words might make them call in a missing person’s police report looking for their lesser halves. This fabled mayfly exemplifies our summer fishing here in the Roaring Fork Valley.

As soon as the Fourth of July passes by, anglers from across the globe flock to the Roaring Fork River in efforts to fish “the” hatch of hatches. Colorado-based author John Gierach used to say that there are so many different license plates in front of the fly shops that it can look like a United Nations convention. One of the many neat things about fishing through a green drake hatch is that everyone is seemingly catching fish regardless of ability. That said, there are certainly a few tricks and techniques that expert fly anglers employ to tip the odds of success further in their favor.

Green drakes hatch on the Roaring Fork River sporadically midday and heavily during the evenings. Because of this, anglers should always carry a headlamp or pocket flashlight with them to aid in tying on flies during periods of low light. Do not — and I repeat, do not — use your headlamp to track your fly on the water surface. This scares the fish and, believe it or not, hampers your night vision. Allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness and use the moonlight to your advantage. Maintaining your natural night vision can be further aided by using a headlamp with a red lens.

As far as flies go, highly visible impressionistic green drake patterns are favored by most and include longtime favorites like H&L Variants and Royal Wulffs. Less visible but more exact fly patterns like Sparkleduns are often used to trail below your more visible fly, essentially using it like a fishable bobber or beacon. Waterproofing these flies thoroughly will allow you to keep fishing instead of continually babysitting a waterlogged fly. Guides like to pretreat their flies with silicone based liquids, where they then topcoat the fly with a powdered floatant. After a fish is caught, be conscious to blot or dry out your fly before re-treating it with more powder.

We should all be so fortunate to live or play in a valley filled with trout-rich waters that offer such truly phenomenal fly fishing. Take the time to get out for the “power-hour” or evening “lightning-round,” as the locals call it, from 8:30 p.m. up until dark. The fishing is so good right now that you’ll think you were here yesterday.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

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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