Top 10 Big Thompson Flies

I am not a "match the hatch" type of fly fisherman and my selection of Big Thompson flies is not large. When fishing this river most of the standard patterns work very well. Patterns such as pheasant tails, hairs ears and elk hair caddis are some of my favorites.

Here's what I carry in my Big Thompson box that can be found at any of the local shops.

Summer Patterns - Dry Flies

1. PMX size 12-16

The PMX fly is considered a stimulator or attractor pattern and can imitate many insects. In the summer I use it as a dry-dropper rig paired with a red copper john. In sizes 12-16 it can be used if any stoneflies or grasshoppers have been active and in size 18 I use it for some of the caddis hatches. Easy to see and it can be tied in many colors. I like it in a royal pattern or with a yellow body.

2. Puterbaugh Caddis size 14-20

This pattern works well in fast moving water and in Rocky Mountain National Park. The foam keeps it riding high and a few false casts dries it off after a fish. When it does start to sink I like a powder floatant instead of a paste. The powder keeps the hair separate which keeps the fly looking natural. This fall I am also going to tie this fly with a black body and wing in a size 18-20. I noticed a small black caddis on the water last year and was getting none of the rises.

3. Elk Hare Caddis 10-20

This is just one of those flies you got to have, in all different sizes and colors. The caddis start out bigger in the spring and get progressively smaller into the fall. If you like to tie one of the best recipes I found is from Skip Morris's book "Fly Tying: Made Clear and Simple" . I use yarn instead of hairs ears for dubbing because I never have luck dubbing hair. He also ties the hackle down with wire and I like that for the durability.

4. Parachute Adams Size 12-20

This fly works well for imitating a mayfly or midge. It also works great in slower moving or still water. It rides lower in the surface film and the parachute hackle helps the fly from actually breaking the surface tension. This is a staple in the box of Big Thompson flies.

5. Royal Wolf Size 14-18

This was the fly I used the first time I went fly fishing, an actually caught a fish. I found that the combination black and peacock works well in lower light conditions. This fly also can be used to imitate a beetle or other terrestrials. What ever size you initially choose for this fly, I recommend going one size down. What looks good to us usually is a little big for what the trout want.

Summer Patterns - Nymphs

5. Copper John Size 12-20

I love the pattern! It's durable, easy to tie and catches fish. My favorite color is in red but I have found a dark hunter green works almost just as good. When I tie the pattern I use tinsel for the wing cover and hen for the legs. If I buy it look for ones tied with epoxy for the wing case and rubber for the legs. This is an attractor pattern or works as a stonefly imitation.

6. Beadhead Hare's ear Size 14-20

This is got to be the pattern I least like to tie. The hair never sticks to the thread for me even with dubbing wax. I just buy this pattern in bulk and with a bead head. Many of the Big Thompson flies are very easy to tie but for some reason I have a problem with this one. This pattern works for caddis and stonefly imitations.

7. Pheasant tail Size 14-20

This is a good mayfly nymph and works in still water also. You will want this pattern weighted and unweighted. If you can see the fishes tail break the water or they are feeding deep use the beadhead to get down to their level. If they are feeding on the surface but are not taking a dry fly use the unweighted version to float in the surface film. In most tying books this will be the second fly you do after a woolly bugger.

8. Stoneflies Size 12-18
(Beadhead Stonefly, Turpin's GPS Stonefly, Micro Stone and Kauffman's Stone

I like all these patterns and have caught fish on all of them. Pick a pattern that you like but you will need them in black and yellow. Big Thompson flies will work in most rivers and I also had reat luck with these patterns on the Gunnison river for the stoneffly hatch.

9. Rainbow Warrior Size 14-20 (in memory of Don)

I originally learned to tie these Big Thompson flies at the now closed Great Western Fly Fishing Company. Don helped me string up my first rod and was where I learned to tie flies. This pattern is tied with rainbow dubbing, flash tinsel and pheasant barbs for the tail. This pattern is available at Sportsman's Warehouse and is a good pattern right after ice off before the river blows out.

10. Go-To-Nymph (Prince Nymph)Size 12-20

This is a pattern I found in Fly Fisherman magazine and tried out on the tying bench. It can be tied with pheasant, copper, yarn and uses Antron as the wing. It is an easier way to tie a Price nymph and I like using different body types. I will look for the article online and post it with the fly tying patterns instructions . It works well as an imitation for most of the Big Thompson flies.

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