The Ramblings of a Fly Fisherman

At Charlie’s Flybox with Steve Schweitzer

I attended a tying presentation at Charlie’s Flybox this past Saturday featuring Steve Schweitzer. This is the same guy that I had written about earlier when discussing fly fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park. The presentation was very informative and focused not just on tying patterns, but also on tips and tricks when fishing high altitude areas. The rule that Steve pushed the hardest was “as you go higher, fish smaller and darker patterns”. He also provided some useful tips on some fly patterns that he likes based on various elevations in the park.

Below are the patterns that he reviewed during his presentation along with their elevation recommendations:

7,000 to 8,500 feet – Chewy Scud, Tabou Caddis, and the Spun-Bunny Mudder

8,500 to 10,000 feet – ParaCupboard Ant, The Usual, and the Better Midge

I really liked the ParaCupborad Ant as I typically gravitate toward any pattern that uses common materials or maybe a material that most would never think to use.

This pattern uses a cabinet liner that you can pick up at any Walmart.

Cut a small strip of the material as you see below.

Don’t cut the material at each segment, but rather pinch between every other segment and gently pull apart.  This will create somewhat realistic antennae or pinchers depending on your point of view.  Now you have a foam ant body to tie with. 

Use a size 18 hook, I like the TMC 100 or 101 for this as it is really well suited for the ant body that you just created.

International Sportsman’s Expo

I attended the International Sportsman’s Expo this weekend. As usual, there were lots guide services and local fly shops selling products and services at discount prices. I picked up a few fly boxes as well as enough leaders to last through spring and summer this year. However, the portions of this show that I find the most valuable are the presentations. This year, I attended three great presentations.

1. Urban Fly Fishing (Kerry Caraghar). Kerry did a wonderful job of reviewing many of the local waters around or near the metro area. He covered in great detail areas of Clear Creek and Bear Creek that fished particularly well and even hinted at a few areas that we might be able to catch a cutthroat only 40 minutes from down town. Kerry works at the Orvis in Cherry Creek and welcomes anyone interested in talking about fly fishing locally to please come by the shop.

2. Fly Fishing Western Tailwaters (Pat Dorsey). Another great presentation by someone we have all become familiar with in the area of fly fishing. Pat has written a book on this subject and really did a good job sharing some of the intricacies of fishing Colorado tailwaters. He encouraged all to fish the Cheesman area as he feels that this location is so challenging that those that are successful there, can fish anywhere in the world. For anyone serious about tailwaters in Colorado, his book is a must read. Click the following link for more information - Tying & Fishing Tailwater Flies

3. Czech Nymphing (Steve Parrot). This is the guy that really brought this style of fly fishing to Colorado. For those that were not familiar with the style, the time spent at this presentation was a great way to learn some of the basics. I look forward to a Czech Nymphing guided trip with Steve in the future so I can really develop this skill. Steve can be reached at for more information.

Tying Some Poppers

I have been asked by a few of my bass fishing friends and family to tie up a few popper patterns so they can hit the St. Marks and Wakulla Rivers back near my home town of Tallahassee. I haven’t really tied a lot of poppers as I spend most of my time fishing the rivers and streams here in Colorado. However; I found it to be a nice deviation from the techniques, tools and materials that I normally utilize when sitting down at my tying bench. Tying foam poppers gives you the opportunity to work with various paints, epoxy, and stencils in order to make, well really anything that you can think up at the time. What I have created here, while not flashy or amazing, was still a lot of fun.

One bit of advice that I learned through trial and error was when working with epoxy. Getting a nearly perfect 50/50 ratio when mixing the two parts is really important. Failure to do this will lead to a coating on your popper that seems to never dry completely, it just feels tacky to the touch. There were really two tricks that seemed to work well for me. One, you can purchase epoxy mixing cups from your local hobby store. These cups allow you to measure the two parts before beginning the mixing process keeping the ratio nice and even. Two, on a piece of paper, use a stencil to create two circles of the same size. Fill one circle with the resin and the other with the hardener. Once each side fully fills your circles, you have equal parts and can begin mixing.

Oh, another good practice you should observe deals with the mixing itself. Whatever tool that you are using to mix your epoxy, be sure to never lift it out of the mixture as you are stirring. Doing so will trap air bubbles in the epoxy making it really difficult to get a nice glassy finish.

As far as painting supplies, you can really paint your poppers with any of the acrylic paints found at any hobby store. However, I did run across an interesting airbrushing tool that I think works great for this type of application. It’s called a Copic Airbrush. Instead of mixing paints and having parts to clean after every use, all you have to do with this system is load the next marker. It does use specific markers for the system, but the ease of use really caught my interest and after experimenting with the system, I am already thinking about all the other possibilities that I could use this for in my fly tying. Go to for more information.

Here are a few of my creations from this weekend

BFC Meeting - Fly Fishing RMNP

Recently, I attended the Boulder Fly Caster’s meetup group at the Boulder REI to listen to a presentation given by Steven Schweitzer on fly fishing Rocky Mountain National Park. I think that Steve’s presentation was excellent as he covered some of the caveats of hiking this area, equipment needed, and some of the lesser known nuances of park fly fishing. I was so impressed with the presentation, I decided to go ahead and pick up his book for my own review. So far, I think that it is highly detailed and certainly a MUST read for anyone seriously interested in exploring the park with the intent on casting a fly rod. Interestingly enough, he even includes a small section on tenkara fishing stating that RMNP has become the “epicenter” for this style. That is good to know as I am exploring this style myself now and it is nice to know that we have such a great area for it so near to home.

For more information on Steven Schweitzer and his book “A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain Park”, please visit


While searching for some unique Christmas gift ideas this season, I ran across information on a method of fly fishing that I was unfamiliar with until now. It is called Tenkara. It is a method of fly fishing hundreds of years old and utilized in the high mountain streams of Japan. This method uses only a fly rod, a leader, some tippet and a fly - notice that I didn’t list either a reel or any fly line. It is marketed here in the US as a simpler style of fly fishing and at this point seems to be targeting back-country hikers and campers. The rods collapse into a small space and the gear requirements are minimal. Traditionally, this type of fly fishing focuses more on the quality of the presentation rather than the fly making it possible to carry only a few patterns or maybe even just one. The flies themselves I also found interesting as they are a clear deviation from the patterns that I have become accustomed to tying.

For more information, please visit and

Here are a few of the flies that I have put together so far. Tenkara patterns are not required to be complex and were often constructed from any available materials that the fisherman had at his disposal. For me, I just couldn’t help but add a little flair to make my time at the bench more interesting.