Juan Ramirez grew up in northern New Mexico, fishing the small streams and creeks of the Sangre De Cristos. In 1997, he made the switch to fly fishing, and he has never looked back. Over the years, he has guided on the Cimarron River in New Mexico, as well as the South Platte River in Colorado.
Juan received his first tying kit when he was 15 years old, but after a few disastrous “creations,” the kit was put away for a few years. In college at Durango, Colorado, he tried fly-tying again and developed a new appreciation for globs of fur, feathers, floss and thread. Now, 15 years later, Juan is an accomplished fly tier. Now that he’s a part-time Orvis-Endorsed guide for Angler’s Covey and a fly-tying instructor for Ghillies Fly Shop (both in Colorado Springs), there are not many seconds that pass without the thought of fishing or tying that go by. Here are his top 10 choices for fishing the Southern Rockies:
1. Gray RS2, sizes 18-22.
Year-round in Colorado, this pattern just catches fish. It passes as a midge or mayfly nymph/emerger. It has proven itself over the years, and it’s a must-have fly anywhere.
2. Beadhead Flashback Pheasant Tail Nymph, sizes 16-18.
I love this fly to imitate the bigger mayflies of summer, such as pale morning duns. I The beadhead, flashback version in size 16 works well as a general searching pattern as a dropper below a hopper. Sometimes I’ll add an RS2 as a second dropper.
3. Tan/Brown Hopper Juan, size 8.
My signature pattern covers the spring golden stoneflies, as well as the late summer grasshoppers. It’s fun to drop a beadhead pattern off the back end for those fish that don’t want to come to the surface. It’s a fun fly to fish, and its high visibility makes it easy to see on the water.
4. Sparkle Wing RS2, sizes 20 and 22.
This pattern is also a must have variation of the RS2. I love to throw this on bright days and fish it deep. The wing gets the fish’s attention, and the patterns serves to imitate mayfly nymphs and emergers year around. I also love this fly in black during trico hatches.
5. Black Woolly Bugger, size 8.
Not much needs to be said about the Woolly Bugger. It catches fish, and it’s fun to fish.
6. Parachute Adams, sizes 16-22.
This fly has proven itself over the years and is the only parachute pattern you normally need.
7. Tan X-Caddis, sizes 14-16.
If you sold all your hackle on e-Bay this summer and can’t tie up some Elk Hair Caddis, give this pattern a try. It’s easier to tie and just as effective.
8. Natural San Juan Worm, size 14.
I usually use this as my attractor fly in a tandem nymph rig, but it catches its share of fish, as well. On some days, it’s the only pattern you might need. Color variations can be tailored to meet your needs…or the fish’s needs.
9. Black KF Emerger, size 20.
This little pattern works well for winter and spring midges and also comes into play for summer-through-fall tricos. I fish it deep or below a dry during and after the trico spinner fall. Most fish will take the KF Emerger below the surface as it’s easier and safer for them to feed deeper. I tie my version in black and use a black bead head.
10. Copper John sizes 14 and 16.
The hottest nymph over the years is a must-have for every type of water. It can be dropped off the back end of a Hopper Juan or fished deep followed by a RS2 all year long. It just keeps catching fish. Color variations make this pattern even more valuable.