May Fly Selections - Fishing Deep
By JD Miller

Befus's Wired Golden Stonefly, size 10 - pictured below - Umpqua
T.P.'s RL Flashback Natural Stone, size 6 - Umpqua
BH Twenty Incher, size 10 - Solitude Flies
Kyle's RL Purple Superflash Nymph, size 6 - Montana Fly Company
May's fly selection can be summarized in a simple phrase, chuck-and-duck. Big flies, heavy tippets, and lots of weight may make dry fly purists cringe, but to many anglers it is one of the most enjoyable and effective ways to fish.

Most of this month's selection are patterns tied to imitate one of the various stoneflies found in the Rocky Mountains, most notably the Giant Stone and Golden Stone. Unlike many other aquatic insects, stoneflies crawl out of the stream onto rocks and sticks to emerge on land instead of emerging in the water column. When they move into the shallows in preparation for this, they are very susceptible to trout who key in on the big bugs for their nutrients.

When fishing these flies, there are two things to keep in mind that will help you be more successful. First, fish these flies very close to the bank. More often than not, if you are fishing more than 3 feet from the bank you are too far out. The fish will be holding very tight looking for rest from the high water. They will not move out very far into the current to chase a fly. Second, fish these flies near rocky structure. Fish will be keying in on these nymphs as they are swept off rocks while they are crawling around. Stonefly nymphs aren't the best swimmers in the water so once they get washed down stream they become a big, easy meal for the trout.

The Purple Superflash Nymph, created by Kyle Giampaoli from Dillon, MT is particularly interesting. Kyle designed this fly for Great Lakes Steelhead but it has proven to be a wonderful big water trout fly as well. Many anglers discard purple as an effective color for trout flies; they don't know what they are missing out on! Once underwater, especially deeper water, this fly develops an irridescent black hue to it that makes the fly "glow" in the water without actually standing out. It is tied on a heavy shank hook and has both a bead head and lead wire wraps, so it sinks like a rock and stays on the bottom of the stream where the fish are. During the early season, I like to fish this fly in tandem with a more natural stone imitation like a BH 20incher. I usually rig up so the Superflash Nymph is the trailer fly, helping to keep the lead fly near the bottom of the river. After peak runoff, I like to use the Superflash Nymph as a lead fly with a smaller Prince or Copper John as a trailer. Very rarely do I use anything heavier than 3x tippet when fishing the Superflash Nymph since I often encounter bigger fish and find the heavy fly snagged on the bottom more than usual.

Almost every river in the state has at least a small population of stoneflies, even tailwaters like the South Platte and Frying Pan. However, the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers stand out as two of the most famous stonefly rich rivers in Colorado. On many rivers you can fish stoneflies all by yourself because most anglers assume runoff has rendered the stream unfishable and therefore avoid it at all costs. If you haven't already done so, give chuck-and-duck stonefly fishing a try. It may not be as glamorous as fishing dry flies but it certainly produces bigger fish!

See you on the water!