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The Flies Spin Guys Need

Guest Blog by: Alan Peak 3/1/2013
Particularly on the Dream Stream, Eleven Mile Canyon and Deckers I see people using spinning gear to track down trout.  Don't get me wrong, they do catch fish.  On some rare days, when the fly guys do not want to switch to big streamers, the spinning guys win.  But for all those other times, using your spinning gear on the river with some flies might just be the trick.

Really, a spin fisherman using flies is the same as a fly fisherman.  And a fly fisherman stripping streamers is not too much unlike a spin fisherman.  Just a slight bit different delivery.
So, here is my proposal to mono and fluoro swingers.  If you have never played with flies before, do not be fooled by their size.  Tiny flies catch big fish!

#18 Bead Head Pheasant Tail - A good all around don't know what to use fly.  They mimic lots of different aquatic insects that swim in the river depths.

#18 and #20 Black Beauty - A great midge pattern that can be used all over the state.  If you see a fly fisherman ask to see his Black Beauties, he will have plenty!  They are a great first fly to tie because they only require a few ingredients and are quick to learn.

#20 RS2 - Rim Chung created this tiny little fly and it works great.  Do not be fooled by this tiny fly, it will catch fish. 

#16 and #18 Copper John - Another all around great pattern to have.  They have some weight to it and will sink relatively quickly.  I find that a red bodied Copper John works well.

#16, #18 Scud - Scuds aka freshwater shrimp come in all shapes colors and sizes.  I think they are not used enough.  I use them on waters that do not have scuds and they work extremely well making other fly fisherman scratch their heads.  I often times use them as the lead fly.

#14 San Juan Worm -  If you use more than one fly at a time, put the San Juan Worm on top and then the smaller flies below that.  As they drift through the water the lead fly is the attractor grabbing attention and the other smaller nymphs and midges are the realistic food.  Red is a good standard to start with.

#18 Elk Hair Caddis - When the fish are just coming up to the top and won't hit below an Elk Hair Caddis can't be beat.  Well, I would also bring a #20 Blue Winged Olive or "BWO" too for the top water stuff.  Top water flies are going to need a little floatant, something to buy at the fly shop.

I know I missed probably 20 other patterns that people are going to say are important.  But, I would suggest these as a starter.  Other great patterns would be Wolly Bugger, Parachute Adams, WD40's, Mercury Midge, and hoppers.

If you were to get some of each of these flies you would be in the whole for about the same price as a few good lures.  Don't forget a bubble or strike indicator to give you the weight to cast and a bunch of tiny weights.  Use light line and cast above the fish letting your bubble float effortlessly like a leaf with the current.   Loosen your drag and try to fight the fish upstream of you.  But most importantly, have a good time and spend a day on the water.

Alan Peak is addicted to fishing. By day he is a fly fishing guide and by night he dreams of his next day on the water. You can find him guiding and fishing primarily on the South Platte nearly every day of the week. If Alan is not with his family he is guiding, fishing or tying flies. If you see Alan on the water, say hello! Normally, he ties a half dozen flies of the day for each day for people he meets on the river.
Caught this fine trout on a #18 Black Beauty!!
Don`t miss out on some tiny bugs!
Blog content © Alan Peak
Member comments
culinarypunk, WY   3/1/2013 11:56:04 PM
Great blog! Thank you!
Catman1979, CO   3/2/2013 1:26:30 AM
Thank you so much for that information! I have been trying really hard to nail this technique down, and its been hard. I have all the right stuff (tippet, line, gink), but the bug info is really helpful! Thanks again for the solid info.
LewsTherinTelemon, CO   3/2/2013 1:02:35 PM
My favorite fly to use with a bubble is a small-to-medium size Olive Woolly Bugger with a few little sparklies mixed in around the maribou tail. Sometimes I tie them with little "eyes" made from the clippings of ball chains, other times just a beadhead. I feel like a lot of people overlook flies when spin fishing- I've caught more on flies than lures. Never have flyfished with a bubble in a stream, might give it a try now. Great information.
jshanko, CO   3/2/2013 1:25:15 PM
Good blog Alan. Late last year I invested in a float tube and added a few bubbles and flies to my arsenal of baits. Its hard waiting to use them this year. I think they could be an asset to my catching some fish this year.
spinn3r, CO   3/2/2013 8:03:58 PM
Thanks for the nice summary, Alan, all good information. I'll add that the fly-on-bubble technique works best on stretches without many protruding rocks which crack the bubbles.
lewdog, CO   3/2/2013 8:33:34 PM
What about my favorite. Fits the spin fishing closely. The pistol pete.
ADub TT, CO   3/2/2013 10:31:26 PM
I knew the late great Guy Montera, I don't leave home without my slowly diminishing collection of Montera Marvels!! Lewdog , if you like P.P.'s, you'd love the Marvel. A-Dub
tfotrout, CO   3/2/2013 10:49:02 PM
a fly i have had great luck with on a number of different species is the klouser minnow
tfotrout, CO   3/2/2013 10:56:24 PM
tracks, CO   3/2/2013 11:38:58 PM
I maty as well switch to a baitcaster now..... All the secrets are out! Nice points for the bubble guys! Actually any small stream and a spn rig wit a fly... Catch brookies all day long!!
ADub TT, CO   3/3/2013 4:33:17 AM
I re-discovered the autumn splendor last fall at Eagle Rock Ranch. Straightline Outdoors in Steamboat ties a deadly version with small curly tail tied in. Will be using this patten all year long, not just for autumn anymore. Little bit of everything general store in Eagle had excellent selection of Splendors too! A-Dub
Riffling Hitch, CO   3/3/2013 5:45:23 AM
You Sir are a wealth of knowledge and with your open and very accurate information you provide to all anglers shows very clearly the passion for your sport... Although a 95% fly fisherman this is the exact method I start that eventually led to fly fishing for myself. Just an add on if I may do not discount trolling flies in lakes with your spinning gear either... To be honest I prefer this method than trolling with my fly rod unless it is the prop wash directly behind the boat... Look forward to future articles.
elkinthebag, CO   3/3/2013 8:51:54 AM
Man dosent this kinda hurt the unwritten rules of the war between fly guys and spin guys. I do both but like to laugh at the looks I get from both sides when I do one that isn't looked high upon in the area I am fishing. Like using my spin rod on the blue through town or using my fly rod at a bass pond or off the boat in a ski lake. Last one worked real well hooked me 4 jet skiers on the back cast. No fight after the first run though they kinda just swam back.
Freestone303, CO   3/3/2013 6:28:40 PM
So why not pick up a fly rod and use it for casting flies? It's fun to take on learning a new technique, you may find you enjoy it, maybe even become obsessed, like so many fly guys do. The price point of entry doesn't have to be intimidating either. Check for deals on craigslist or a cheap set up to start out. You don't have to jump in and buy a great rod/reel combo to start up, just something that helps you learn how to cast and fish.
Alan Peak (moosegoose), CO   3/3/2013 7:25:17 PM
Riffling Hitch - thank you for the kind words! Freestone - some people, for whatever reason, prefer spin rigs. No problem with that, I just think they could add a few things to their arsenal. Especially if they are on moving water! I am going to edit this blog and add a sweet picture!
MM, CO   3/5/2013 6:08:03 AM
Good info. In my experience, when downsizing is the call there's a lot of better options then a fly and a bubble when it comes to Spin gear in a river. When I think of downsizing from a big plug I go to a mepps spinner or a panther Martin. Or I just down size the jerk bait, lipless crank bait or soft plastic I'm using. When I'm fishing a spinning gear on a river, I'm not trying to feed those fish I'm looking for a reaction strike. If I'm going to use flies then why not just use a fly rod? I've used a fly and bubble on small ponds and lakes but I fell its a lot to deal with on a moving body of water. small split shots, a bubble and a strike indicator seems like a lot for light line. What I have learned when spin fishing a river bigger is better. Either way get out there and fish ! MM
JKaboom, CO   3/5/2013 10:10:49 PM
Thanks for the great info as ususal :)
nodak kid, CO   3/11/2013 3:28:22 PM
I usually use a white tube jig with my spinning gear on the rivers. I get some looks casting a six foot pole and a tube jig, but I catch my share with this technique. I just don't like having to release all the fish so I shy from river fishing except for a few attempts a year at a big river dweller. Fish taste good and I like to bring dinner home. Props to those who can throw all of them back. I also don't like taking the barb down on hooks I'd use elsewhere. I use a red and white daredevil with a single hook shaved down with some succes
icywater, CO   3/18/2013 2:58:28 PM
Alan, this comment has nothing to do with flies, but rather ice fishing. I am one of the two guys you befriended at Monument Lake one afternoon last month. Since you gave us your 1 minute lesson we have been bagging oodles of trout and perch at Monument, and more recently at Skaguay. Thanks for sharing!
wickedfisha, CO   3/19/2013 9:29:19 PM
I have fished using this method a million times and I concur that it is tremendously effective. We call it the "ole Leadville Special". I highly recommend the "Adjust-A-Bubble" as your casting weight. It is a clear plastic fill-able bubble and it seems better at fooling the fish than conventional indicators. I think because it's clear it is difficult for trout to see, and accordingly I have seen dozens of fish take a slash at the bubble as it moves downstream. Also be careful not to use too much in the way of extra fly shot for weight down near the flies, because it will cause your rig to "pendulum" while casting, resulting in the dreaded rat's nest. The Special takes some practice but is very effective and will outcast any 5-weight any day of the week.
Sean D, CO   5/8/2013 4:49:42 PM
I haven't used this technique yet, but it's no different than casting a spinner. It's just another technique, and how much does it really take to throw a small box of a few flies in your vest/box with a couple casting bubbles? If you don't use them, fine, but at least you took them just in case. Another thing I'd like to doing the exact opposite. Cast light 1/16oz or lighter plugs or spinners like rooster tails with a fly rod. It actually works surprisingly well.
fishhooked, CO   5/9/2013 8:21:14 PM
So nice to see someone share honest sound advise. I am a die hard spin fisherman, but have used the fly rod occasionlly for nearly 30 years. Love the fight with the fly rod, love sighting the fish, but have just had more success with my spin rod. My dad and I use to troll Steamboat lake with a fly and a bubble in the late 70's, and we use to hammer the trout. I have over a hundred flies, but never really know which ones to use. There is definately a science to all the verbiage and fly fishing vernacular. Thanks for the advice, I did catch a 25" cut-bow with a green olive wooly bugger on my spin rod two weeks ago. I know it works, thanks again.
Alan Peak
Guest Blogger