Drake, Colorado’s River Fork Press recently published a comprehensive fly fishing book that’s sure to help you increase your knowledge and perhaps catch rate on Colorado’s freestone streams. Fly Fishing Colorado’s Big Thompson River and Other Freestone Streams by Dale A Darling, is written by a man that has been fishing Front Range freestones for years and has decided to answer many of the questions people have asked him over the years, by writing this informative guide to his home waters.
Sitting in his cabin in Drake along side the Big Thompson, Darling remembered all the questions he fielded in his days as a multi-fly-shop owner over the years. He has spent years on the St. Vrain and Big T, raising a family and making a name for himself in the fly fishing world. His book Fly Fishing Colorado’s Big Thompson River and Other Freestone Streams offers a little how to, what to use and it offers many in-depth descriptions for rigging and seasonal information you are not going to find anywhere else aside from booking a guided trip on the Big T.
The book explores the Big T from Olympus Dam down to the town of Loveland. Darling gives fly advice, seasonal flow information and describes numerous personal outings and events he’s witnessed or enjoyed on the water. He shares all of his personal records and years of advice…just about everything you need besides fishing with Dale personally. He fills the pages with his wisdom except…he stands true to the fly fishing writer’s code…he does not hot spot or give away exact holes for everybody to go and try. Explore a little on your own or check with a local shop for an access point.
Darling also gives detailed technique information that could really help a beginner get started or an intermediate angler fine tune their skills. As a longtime fly angler myself, I always find in fascinating to see how other longtime anglers tweak approaches or create unique patterns and rigs. Dale really tackles the indicator or “bobber” subject. He talks a lot about ways to ween yourself off bobbers and to start practicing with Loon Outdoors Biostrike. I prefer to tie on a small piece of yarn and a tiny dental-style rubber band when a hopper dropper is just plain out of season or run with a taught/straight leader and no indicator at all. See how he does it and decide for yourself.
Lastly, Darling’s creation also tackles the subjects of access, ethics and safety. Much of the Big T is open to the public, but there are private stretches. Darling says anglers should check with Laramie County to be sure if there is a stretch you are unsure of. Ethics are covered as well when Darling discusses fishing during the spring and fall spawns. As any experienced angler knows, leave spawning fish alone and only fish to feeding fish during these time frames. Lastly, Dale emphasizes safety when wading on the Big T and other freestone waters during runoff. He also warns drivers to take it easy in the canyon as anglers often cross the road to access water or they rig up in a pullout. He adds that a speeding ticket or accident in the canyon isn’t worth twelve extra seconds on the water.
For more information on Darling’s book or to order your copy today, visit River Fork Press or your local fly shop. Dale offers all the books photography in color on the site and there’s also a blog from Dale on the Big T. To learn more about the river including some seasonal spots and stretches to try, check out High Country Angler’s winter edition in early January. The destination feature will be the Big Thompson including information from Brian Chavet at Elk Horn Rod and Reel. Until then, pick up Dale’s book or ask your sweetie for this stocking stuffer.