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Dragonfly Anglers

Lucky, the Catch and Release Superstar: Part Three

April 15, 2014
We did not make it back to Lucky before the river froze over, but I have already visited that area twice this year in search of Lucky, and I know I will have to bring my A game if I want to see him up close again. 

One way to ensure the survival of each fish is proper catch and release techniques. If done properly, mortality rate can be less than one percent, but success not only requires putting the fish back in the water at the end but also proper treatment during the landing and handling of the fish. 

I recommend a rubber net in order to not compromise the valuable slime layer that keep fish healthy. We fish Brodin and Gold Metal Nets, both of which possess high quality and long lasting craftsmanship. In addition, getting the fish into your net as quickly as your tippet will allow will prevent the fish from wearing itself out completely in the fight and leave it with some strength when it is returned to the water. Keeping the fish out of water for too long, letting multiple people hold the fish, or putting it on land to get a picture with your rod will severely limit the survival rate of your catch and release fishing. And of course, barbless hooks will greatly reduce the damage caused to the fish and allow you to release fish almost without touching them at all. 

Through our catch and release practices, we had a fish that was getting smarter every day, and I’m fairly certain he is not getting any smaller either.  Smart fish make smart fisherman. Thanks, Lucky. 

Below is a great video with some additional information on catch and release practices. 

Posted by Zach Kinler
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Lucky, the Catch and Release Superstar: Part Two

April 3, 2014
Needless to say, I was stoked after that first day and returned with my buddy CJ the next day to find what looked like the same fish in the spot I first hooked it. CJ stepped up and within a few minutes hooked the fish. I thought the fish had put up a pretty spirited fight the two times I hooked it but when it felt CJ’s fly, it did what any smart fish that has been hooked does and headed for the current and around a big rock as we said goodbye to that rig. The fish was evolving right in front of our eyes. 

The next day, I had a client on the Taylor, and I decided we would end our day attempting to get CJ’s flies back. By now, the fish had acquired the name “Lucky” and sure enough Lucky was back in the same area. It took a little more time this round but eventually Martin got a drift Lucky liked, and he was on the line again. After only a day, Lucky had gotten even smarter and was only on the line for a few seconds before he headed downstream at a blistering pace. No match for 5X. 

 I had to go back the next day if for nothing else than to try to get all those flies out of the fish. So the parade of fisherman continued as I returned the next day with my girlfriend and sure enough we spotted Lucky right away. It took a bit more work than the previous days but after fishing the run for a bit, Elsa got him on the line. I’ll give her credit—she did well putting the fly where it needed to be and hooking the fish but in the battle, Lucky spit the fly and got away. I was happy that we did not leave another couple flies hanging from Lucky’s mouth but Elsa was disappointed not to have a 20” rainbow in her hand. I told her there would be another day. Over the course of those few days, I witnessed Lucky becoming not only more selective to flies and drift but also learning what to do after getting hooked….
Posted by Zach Kinler

Lucky, the Catch and Release Superstar: Part One

March 26, 2014
I have never had a problem with anyone who wanted to keep their legal limit of fish. The Division of Wildlife has set limits for each stream in order to maintain healthy populations of trout and I do respect those who take up to their limit. Hunting and gathering has been going on since the beginning of time, and there is something to be said about somebody who goes out and puts in the time to hunt and capture something that will feed and sustain them. 

I have other means of putting food on the table; however, so ever since I started fishing I have enjoyed the return on investment of catch and release fishing. Being able to see and hold a wild animal in my hands and then release it back into the wild to remain as a vital part of the water is quite fulfilling. I always tell people to let them go and then you can come back and catch them again when they are bigger and smarter. This idea was proven this last fall on the Taylor River. 

After hooking and landing a 20” rainbow, my dropper got snagged on the dorsal fin of the fish and broke off as it swam away. I went on fishing that area for a bit when I decided to work back upstream. In a hole upstream of the one that held the first rainbow, I spotted another rainbow that I thought was about 20” as well. I got a couple looks from the trout but no takes. I made a quick change and after about the 10th drift, the trout took my dropper. I managed to land this 20-incher again, only to find my dropper being kept safely in its dorsal fin. The fish had moved upstream from where I released it and was feeding actively again in that short amount of time. In the span of half an hour I had caught and released the same mature trout twice. I would have just guessed it was a different fish if not for the fly. This same fish provided me with two thrilling hook ups that I would not have gotten if I had not released him unharmed the first time. I thought that might be the end of the story of me and this fish but I was wrong….  

Photo Caption: Not Lucky, but a nice Taylor River rainbow. 
Posted by Zach Kinler

Fall Trip into the Gunnison Gorge!!!

September 14, 2012
The Gunnison Gorge Conservation Area is a unique part of the Gunnison River directly downstream of Black Canyon National Park near Hotchkiss Colorado.   This area is remote and can be accessed on a number of trails leading from the Canyon rim to the river bottom.  On September 11th Dragonfly guides and clients took a two day one night self supported trip into the Ute Park area.  This high desert environment is contrasted by the lush canyon bottom of the Gunnison River and produces some great rainbow and brown trout fishing.  Our recent trip was highlighted with several nice rainbows and browns like the one seen above.  On the day of our scheduled trip mother nature decided to throw us a curve ball and produced rain and storms for better part of half of the trip.  Our clients were tough and fished through the weather and saw some great fish!  The clouds helped us a lot with the fish staying active as long as the clouds were hanging around.  The fishing in the Canyon is excellent and makes for a great Fall adventure!!!
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Guided Flyfishing is On Fire!!!!

June 21, 2012
       Wow, I have herd several terms- insane, sick, and redonkulous(rediculous) to describe the fishing over the past week in the Gunnison Valley.  The fishing over the entire drainage is spectacular. 
       The Drakes have been heavy on the Gunnison, East, and the Taylor rivers.  The hatch on the Gunnison has been from around 11am.-2pm.   I have seen drakes as well as caddis, pmd's, and yellow sallies at similar times on the East and the Taylor.  The backcountry has also been fishing off the hook!  Fish have been very active all throughout the day with the slowest fishing during the hottest times of the day.
       Water levels are at perfect levels for float and walk trips right now and should maintain these levels for the next month.  Call our shop 1-970-349-1228 for trip availability and to book your favorite guide!!
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How to Tie a San Juan Worm

April 12, 2011
The San Juan worm is one of the easiest flies to tie. Follow along with Chris to learn how to tie one yourself.

How to Tie a San Juan Worm from Chris Eaton on Vimeo.

San Juan worms are a great early season fly. They are great in off color water and during heavy rains. It is one of the most basic flies out there. It is also one of my x-factor flies. When nothing else is working I like to throw one on and see what happens. A lot of times you will get strikes while stripping them in or swinging them. One of my favorite San Juan Worm techniques is to find a super deep drop-off that is normally hard to fish, throw on lots of weight, extend my leader, and see if there is anything waiting down deep just below the drop-off.

Ingredients you need:
micro chenille: red, pink(bubble gum), orange, and brown
Hook: anything size 10-16
Thread: 6/0 red
A Lighter to burn the ends of the chenille to make sure it doesn’t fray
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How To Use Your Whip Finish Tool

April 4, 2011

How to Use Your Whip Finish Tool from Chris Eaton on Vimeo.

Ever wonder how to use the Whip Finish tool. While here is your chance to find out. Chris demonstrates this important technique that is used to finish tying your thread off on a fly. Stay tuned in Our Weekly Ties and How To pages for more updates on flies to tie, tips, and helpful techniques. If there is something that you would like to see email and we will get a video up.
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How to Tie a Slightly Modified 20 incher

March 29, 2011
The 20 incher is a great stonefly imitation. This version is great if you need a heavy fly to get you down as deep as possible. If you don't want your 20 incher to be as heavy as the one Mike ties, skip the weighted wire.

How to Tie a Slightly Modified 20 Incher from Chris Eaton on Vimeo.

The Ingredients you need:
hook: sz 6-10, nymph style
tail: Goose Biot, brown
rib: Pearl Flashabou and copper wire
abdomen: Peacock Herl (5-6)
wing case: Swiss Straw
legs: Hungarian Partridge
thorax: gray dubbing (gold if you want a golden stone)
weight: .025 Lead or non lead wire
bead: 3/16in tungsten bead
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Spring Fishing Techniques and Tips

March 21, 2011
Most early spring fishing consists of dead drifting nymphs in deeper holes. There are many different setups that you can use to get your flies down to the fish. My favorite nymphing setup consists of a 9 ft 5x tapered leader a thingamabobber and a couple of weighted nymphs. Normally I just loop the thingamabobber onto the leader. This allows you the most flexibility in terms of changing your depth. Your line will be a bit more prone to tangles and your leader may wear out quicker since you will be crimping it in different locations. The other option instead of using a loop connection is to tie the thingamabobber directly into the middle of your leader. You have to cut the leader to make this happen, but it is a much cleaner connection with less chance of tangle. The downside of this method is the need to retie any time you want to change your depth. I try to keep the overall length of my leader about 1 foot – 18 inches longer than the total depth that you will be fishing. This will ensure that your flies are getting down to the fish while still keeping the leader fairly taut giving you a better chance of hooking up once you get a strike. When fishing in early spring the key is to make sure that your flies are getting to the fish. You really need to be willing to change your depth frequently until you figure out where the fish are holding. In general I start with a weighted nymph, normally a 12 or 14 pheasant tail or prince nymph, follow that with a 12 inch length of 5x tippet tied to a smaller nymph, maybe a micro mayfly or another small pheasant tail or hare’s ear. Depending on the depth of the hole that you are fishing split shot may be necessary, I would start with a smaller weight about 18 inches above the upper fly.

Give us a call at the shop for more spring fishing advice, (970)-349-1228, and check the blog occasionally for more spring updates
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How to Tie a Micro Mayfly for the Gunnison Valley

March 17, 2011
The Micro Mayfly is a great Blue Wing Olive nymph, and an incredibly effective pattern during the spring and fall in the Gunnison Valley.

Tying a Micro Mayfly for the Gunnison Valley from Chris Eaton on Vimeo.

Tail: Three pheasant tail filaments
Abdomen: Undressed Peacock Herl (Peacock Herl with all feathery parts removed, the best method to use is with an eraser)
Wing Casing: Black Swiss Straw
Flash: Original Pearl Flashabou
Thorax: Mercer's Micro Mayfly Dubbing
Thread: 80 Denier or 8/0 Olive Thread
Hook: Size 16-20 nymph hook

How to Tie a Brassy for the Gunnison Valley

March 10, 2011
Mike shows how to tie a Brassy for the Gunnison Valley. The Brassy is a fantastic all around midge imitation, it is a great fly for early spring and very cold waters and will often catch fish when nothing else will.

Tying a Brassy from Chris Eaton on Vimeo.


Scud hook; sizes 16, 18, 20 and 22
Thread: Black 6/0 Uni Thread
Wire: Size small; any color you would like, copper, wine and green are all suggested colors
Thorax: Peacock Herl
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Spring Fishing in the Gunnison Valley

March 7, 2011
There isn’t much that I like more than spring fishing in the Gunnison Valley. Your legs are exhausted from a long ski season, it hasn’t snowed in weeks and the mountain is in full spring conditions and most importantly the East and Taylor Rivers are starting to warm up enough to fish. Spring fishing is not for the faint of heart, temperatures are often in the high 30s, the fish are sluggish and down deep, and the walking and wading can be treacherous. For those willing to brave the early spring conditions the payoff can be legendary. We have all heard the stories of the epic spring day; someone throws the rod and waders in the car for a quick trip on the way to or from Gunni for groceries, they stop, wader up, tromp out to the first slow hole, hook two 20+ inch fish on eight casts, then pack it up for the day. Therein lies the beauty of early spring fishing, the rivers are in pre-runoff stage and the fish have been holding in the slow deep holes all winter long. If you know where to look the fish will generally be stacked up. Your favorite summer riffle might be empty, you hear nothing but crickets when fishing that shelf that you hook up on all summer long, but if you head to those deep slow holes the bite is on.

Not every day produces; if you can try to make your way out on those warmer days, the warmer it gets outside the more likely it is that the water will warm up a tenth of a degree and the fish will be that much more active. Remember, the name of the game is getting your flies to the fish. Bring your thingamabobbers and your split shot and make sure that you are getting down. The fish are going to be holding tight to the bottom and the water is cold enough still that they are not going to expend a lot of extra energy to eat your flies. Being willing to change your depth is key. This time of year the fish generally aren’t keyed in on any specific bug, so it is presentation that will get you the most action. A well drifted fly at the right depth will get the job done every time.

Weather depending we have been able to fish parts of both the East and Taylor in February, but most years the spring fishing really starts to get hot in March. When the days get a bit longer and the sun is a bit higher in the sky it gives the water that much more time to warm up. If you are thinking of heading out stop by the shop at 307 Elk Avenue, Crested Butte, give us a call at 349-1228, or shoot us an email at
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Learn to be a Self Sufficent Fly Fisher

June 5, 2010
Join veteran guide Kristi Miller the weekend of June 12th and 13th to learn all the essentials of Fly Fishing. Kristi specializes in teaching the fundamentals of fly fishing to beginner anglers. Her classes cover everything from casting to what bugs to look for on the water. One of her favorite classes to teach is for women only. Check out more about Kristi in our guide bio's. If you are interested in taking the class call our shop at (970) 349 1228 to get on the list. If the weekend of the 12th and 13th does not work for you gives us a call and we can arrange another date that may work.
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