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Tying flies is a great way to pass the winter

Blog by: David Coulson , Colorado 1/12/2017
Colorado offers year around fishing opportunities.  Granted, during the winter most fishing is done through a hole in the ice, something Iíve enjoyed immensely over the years. I encourage folks to give it a try if theyíve never done so.  Itís easy to do, doesnít require a lot of equipment, and is often some of the best catching of the year.

Right now is an excellent time to get out as most Colorado waters, including those up and down the Front Range, are sporting an ice cap of several inches.  While caution is always advised when stepping out on hard water, January offers some of the best ice conditions of the season.  

Some great options at this time include Douglas, Boyd, Lon Hagler, and Saint Vrain State Park near Longmont.  These waters get heavy stockings of trout before ice-up and, as a consequence, are doing well for trout at this time.  Plus, all these waters offer a chance to catch other species, such as yellow perch, crappie, walleye, and black bass.   Occasionally, even a catfish or carp will show.

Personally, I donít ice fish much these days.  There are a number of reasons for this, but the primary one is how I fish has become more important than catching.  That doesnít mean I donít fish during the winter, I do.  Colorado has numerous winter days when the air temperatures get above freezing for most of the daylight hours.  When those times fall on weekends, Iíll often fish open waters that can be found on the Poudre, South Platte (especially in Denver), and Arkansas (Pueblo) Rivers.  

I havenít gotten out the last few weeks.  Not so much due to the weather as there have been several opportunities, rather because my collection of fly boxes is spread out all over the floor of my tying room.  Yep, one room in my place is set up specifically to tie flies, as well as store much of my fishing gear.  I enjoy tying flies, almost as much as I do fishing them, almost. 
Everything is spread out so I can work through each box and complete a number of tasks.  Many of the boxes were passed on to me by Bill.  While I fished some of his flies, I never quite got around to consolidating the flies into ďlikeĒ groupings, something Iím doing now.  At the same time, there are a number of flies, both within my collection and Billís, which Iím not likely to ever fish. These Iím putting aside to pass on to others, such as Cody, Jennifer, my granddaughters, and others.  Of the patterns Iím retaining, many have holes in the collection, both in terms of numbers and sizes. So most days Iíve been trying to get in an hour or so at the vise.  If things go as planned, in a couple months my collection will be organized into fewer fly boxes, unused patterns will be weeded out, and favored flies will be fleshed out.

Building your own gear, be it rods, lures, or, as in my case, tying flies, adds another dimension to fishing.  One, tying my own flies allows me to fish patterns, match the hatch if you will, better than I can purchasing flies. Second, thereís the imaginary savings I get tying my own, but the reality is Iíve so much invested in tools and materials Iíll never realize any savings, even though the actual cost per fly is less. Plus, there is the satisfaction of landing a fish that takes a fly of my own creation.

While tying flies isnít fishing, itís a great way to spend the winter waiting for spring.'

First published 1/9/17 in the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Blog content © David Coulson
Blog Comments
bardkin, CO   1/12/2017 7:35:03 AM
There is only one thing better than tying flies and such- Putting in and setting up a new work bench. It was heavy, and it was a bunch of steps down to the basement, but in 3 days I still haven't finalized how it is laid out, and I am loving every minute of changing it around here and there and planning out the modifications just right. Fly tying, rod wrapping and shot glass holder all in one!
David Coulson (Flyrodn), CO   1/12/2017 10:16:37 AM
Good for you. I remember my first tying desk. Picked up an old steel unit for free. Decided Sue and I could get it down the steps to the basement on a dolly. Her up top, me below bracing it. She lost her grip, hit me in the chest and off my feet. Luckily up, so I landed on top and rode it down. Other than a badly bruised chest I survived. Needless to say, the desk stayed with the house when we moved years later. But it did serve me well.
bardkin, CO   1/13/2017 7:54:32 AM
My wife tried to kill me too! a few years back we were moving the projection HD television down stairs and she let go of it. I was crushed. literally. Managed to walk away from it but just barely. Television never worked right after that- the picture was all out of whack..
David Coulson (Flyrodn), CO   1/13/2017 8:55:57 AM
Never blamed Sue, as that taught me that you should never have someone below a heavy object on stairs. Easy way to seriously maim or even kill someone. But being a tad dense and hardheaded I had to learn that lesson the hard way.
EdCalmus, CO   1/16/2017 10:00:44 AM
Learn fly tying from the masters. West Denver TU is hosting it's annual Fly Tying Clinic February 11, 9 am - 3 pm, Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Over 50 tiers, silent auction, bucket raffle, food and drink, beginner's table, fly tying theater, and more. Tickets are $15 at the door, or $10 with a coupon from your local fly shop.
Hawaiian Punch, CO   1/16/2017 11:01:16 AM
You say patato . . .I say potato. you tie flys,I tie crawler harness . . . .Dr. told me no ice fishing,so its the tying table for me... only problem with that is I'm done full of harness and am wondering what to do the rest of the winter.And do not sugest that I sharpen the hooks on all my cranks ect. JK!
David Coulson (Flyrodn), CO   1/16/2017 2:48:40 PM
EdCalmus I do hope you've taken or will to post your "ad" on the calendar and make a forum post. I do support these TU fund raisers, and that point should be made. I also tie at my Chapters Tying Expo, Feb 15 in Fort Collins, and it should be noted the Cutthroat anglers has a similar event, just not sure the date. Good place to pick up a few pointers.
David Coulson (Flyrodn), CO   1/16/2017 2:52:27 PM
Hawaiian you could sharpen hooks, but another tying option would be adding feathers/bucktails to some trebles for swapping out on a variety of spinners. You could also tie a few bucktail, and/or rubber jigs for bass fishing. Then if that's not enough, carving cranks and topwater plugs is another great pastime. I've also built spinnerbaits in the past. Plenty of ways to spend the winter at the "tying" bench. Here's to spring and open water.