The Best Fly Fishing Course Floats!

The best fly fishing course? Spend time with a Colorado Fly Fishing Guide. The best way to do that? Float a river with your guide. The best Colorado fly fishing? The rivers out of Basalt, Colorado. So the best fly-fishing course with the best Colorado fly fishing guide and the best Colorado fly fishing – was my March float down the Roaring Fork with Gifford! You might remember him – Carp fly fishing last year was a fly fishing course in itself!

The last time we hit the river we boarded a full-on Drift-boat but this time we launched the more intimate “inflatable”. What’s the difference? (I know some of you already know but the whole purpose of this site is to share the knowledge I learn in my fly fishing adventures.) Besides the obvious – a drift boat… drifts, and an inflatable… well, floats. (Profound?) A drift boat can stand up to Class III whitewater and is usually constructed of wood or aluminum. It’s made for big rivers and that’s why some of you folks who don’t live in the West have never even seen one. An inflatable can find it’s way over lower water levels and are especially easy to handle when the angler weighs in at 130#. (Okay – 135 pounds – I’m bloated).

And today we weren’t battling the Colorado because my Guide’s careful planning disclosed that the wind would have wiped us off the waterway and a better day was to be had on "The Fork” in the cozy protection of the brilliant red hills rising above the valley floors. The best way to attack this tributary today was to float in an inflatable and not mess with the drift boat.

But just for the record? Both inflatable and drift boats should be called, “Guide has to bust-butt, rowing” boats. Their respective names suggest that the boats simply move along effortlessly down the river and that’s just not true. Your Guide will be working their shoulders into an anaerobic burn negotiating rocks and water flows. It’s truly inspiring to watch a pro do their thing.

Once you take your post at the bow, leaning into the upholstered support, feeling somewhat Kate Winslett-ish – but in waders, your Guide will audibly coach you to an epic day of fly fishing Rocky Mountain waters. It sounds something like this, “Ahead on the left past the big log – cast into the foam”. “Now look to your right, past that big rock – hit it now!” The action is fast and your casting needs to be as accurate as possible. When it’s not, you’ll get course corrections such as, “your other right”, or, “now your ‘good’ cast”. You quickly learn that your opportunities are framed in timing and if you’re not on point, you’re missing fish.

But I wasn’t missing many of them today! We immediately got into a gang of Browns holding in a deep pool; immediate action and the subsequent adrenaline rush. The preferred set-up was a "Twenty-Incher" up top, (resembles everything from a big fat Drake to a Stone Fly) and a midge-zilla,(big fat midge), on the bottom. But that set-up changed about every 20 minutes as the conditions changed – Gifford is a perfectionist; constantly evaluating the hatch conditions and accommodating with the proper size and color. Near the end we even got into some 'Froggy-Water' action and started throwing Streamers. There is nothing funner than watching a rabid Trout chase down your bug.

The best part about this type of fly fishing course is that your instruction is real-time and the corrections you make have immediate pay-off. If your Guide tells you to widen your loops by taking more time on your back-cast, the 16” Rainbow on the end of your line will most certainly drive the lesson home.

Big Rainbow Trout

Interesting angle for a fish portrait? It’s not prudent to ask your Guide to photograph for you when the flows are up – one adapts. On this day we netted a baker’s dozen, did a "quick release" of about five more, and scored the “Trifecta”; several Brown Trout, a few Rainbow Trout, and one White-fish.

Hope floats!

More "How To" - the Basics

More on Casting

More on Carp Fly Fishing

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