CMC's Denver Fly Fishing Section
 
Favorite Colorado Subsurface Flies

Page One

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Tying Instructions
Barr Emerger::John Barr of Boulder created this pattern "in 1975 as a result of a frustrating day ... watching trout take little yellow specks off the surface during a PMD hatch. At the time, I didn't know what an emerger was." The Barr Emerger is an effective imitation of light-colored mayfly hatches.

It can be fished with a dead drift. However, an up-and-coming technique is to use a Barr Emerger as the third fly on a "hopper-copper-dropper" setup. The most popular Colorado method is to fish the emerger as the trailing fly to a visible dry during a hatch.
 



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Tying Instructions
Black Beauty Nymph: The Black Beauty imitates midge pupae and emerging midges. The pattern consists of a small hook wrapped in colored thread and fine wire with a bead of matching metallic finish. In tailwaters such as the South Platte, aquatic insects are mostly midges--tiny two-winged flies of the order Diptera. Trout eat them all year long. In late fall, winter, and early spring, midges are the main course.

These circumstances require special tactics and tiny flies. Fish Black Beauties below a small strike indicator. Takes can be light, so use the smallest indicator that floats the fly. Attaching the nymph to a buoyant dry fly as the 'dropper" in a two-fly rig is also effective.
 



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Tying Instructions
Brassie: This nymph is a general purpose pattern that suggests midge or caddis larva. The attractive silhouette, the flash of the copper and the undulating peacock collar are all effective in catching trout. Fly tiers now use various colors of copper wire to create brassies, with red a popular winter tailwater choice.

The brassie was developed for the demanding conditions of the South Platte River in Colorado. Copper wire's weight, gets the nymph faster to the bottom where the larva are. Brassies can be dead-drifted or fished as a dropper on a larger fly or indicator.
 



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Tying Instructions
Copper John Nymph: This fly was created by John Barr of Boulder, Colorado. The Copper John carries a classic mayfly and stonefly profile with the forked tail and thorax. A sleek abdomen reflects light and adds weight to the nymph, helping it descend rapidly.

The Copper John is a searching pattern that combines several features into one. Larger sizes imitate stoneflies and the smaller sizes mimic mayfly nymphs. In addition to quickly sinking, the Copper John drifts more naturally than one with extra weight on the leader. Variations using red, black, green and chartreuse wire are popular in Colorado.



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Tying Instructions
Flashback Pheasant Tail Nymph: The Pheasant Tail was developed in England. The original Pheasant Tail used natural cock pheasant tail fibers and copper wire. There are many variations of this popular pattern, including beadheads, soft hackles, flashbacks, glass beads and rubber legs. The Pheasant Tail Nymph catches trout feeding on subsurface mayflies.

In rivers, the Pheasant Tail Nymph works well dead drifted with a slight rod lift and swing at the end of the drift. Fish often take the fly on the swing. Another method is to fish the Pheasant Tail down and across like a classic wet fly.



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Tying Instructions
Gold Ribbed Hares Ear Nymph: Hare's Ear patterns are simple searching patterns that imitate no particular bug. Originally tied in natural fur and called the Gold Ribbed Hares Ear (GRHE), variants have used dyed hare's ear fur. The Hare's Ear gets its name from the soft, absorbent fibers of European rabbit facial hair. These patterns can be tied to simulate tiny midge pupae or large cased caddis.

There are many variations of the GRHE to suit water conditions and color. The wet fly pattern is especially effective. The shaggy outline resembles many species of nymphs as they emerge and molt to the next life stage.

Some fly fishermen tease the fur below the thorax to mimic legs. Others pick out the abdomen of the fly for gills. Roughing up the nymph in this fashion is effective. Frederick Helford popularized the pattern in the 1880s as a dry fly in England.
 



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Tying Instructions
Kaufmann Scud: Scuds inhabit lakes and streams of all sizes. Scuds are crustaceans related to crayfish, sowbugs and shrimp. They are year-round food sources. Fat, finicky, trout in Colorado's alpine lakes are often a result of scuds. The Kaufmann is a realistic imitation.

Scuds have a hard exoskeleton with seven pairs of legs. The front two pairs are used for grasping while the rest are for propulsion. Scuds can swim quickly. Movement, however, tends to be random and erratic. Some species even travel upside-down.


Scuds come in many colors. A rule of thumb is that darker scuds inhabit darker waters. Natural coloration disappears upon death, which results in an orange phrase due to carotene. Carotene transfers to fish during the digestive process and colors the flesh.

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