Pro Tips: Top 10 Flies for Stillwater Trout

Written by: Drew Rodden, North Park Anglers


Drew Rodden shows off a gorgeous stillwater rainbow from Colorado.
Photo courtesy Drew Rodden

I grew up fishing with conventional tackle for warmwater species around Missouri. But spending my Saturday mornings watching fishing shows on TV, I began to take an interest in fly fishing. My grandfather bought me my first fly rod when I was 11 years old and undoubtedly changed my life forever.

Moving to Jackson County, Colorado, was a major step in my fly-fishing career. The region’s freestone streams and sagebrush lakes were a major contrast to the tailwaters I was used to fishing, so I made it my mission to learn how to fish the highly pressured Delaney Buttes lakes, just west of Walden. They are one of the most challenging places I’ve ever had the pleasure of fishing, but with the challenges, come great rewards. Here are my farvorite patterns for catching trout from still waters.

[Click the name of each fly to be taken to a place to buy, a recipe, or a video.]

1. 1. Al Ritt’s Fighting Crayfish
(Sizes 4-8)
If crayfish are present, you can bet that some of the bigger fish in a particular lake are taking them as a primary food source. A single crayfish provides way more sustenance than most any other aquatic invertebrate.

2. Mohair Leech
(Sizes 6-10)
Leeches are easy prey, abundant, and easily digestible for stillwater trout. They can be stripped like a streamer, or fished static, under an indicator. Either way, they’re a must-have in your stillwater flybox.

3. Hare’s Ear Nymph
(Sizes 12-18)
Where doesn’t a Hare’s Ear Nymph work? Hare’s ears can be fished for Callibaetis nymphs, a swimming scud, or any number of invertebrates present in a lake.

4. Rubber Bugger
(Sizes 4-8)
Here in North Park, we spend a lot of time fishing at night for trophy trout. A big Rubber Bugger pushes water, bringing the trout in to investigate, even in low- or no-light situations.

5. Living Damsel Nymph
(Sizes 10-12)
The damselfly hatch is notorious for bringing trout near the shore, potentially providing some excellent midsummer sight-fishing. Trout intercept these swimming nymphs on their way to emerge on the bank.

6. Hi-Vis Ant
(Sizes 14-20)
Ants are the first terrestrials we see every year, and they’re some of the most prolific insects on earth. Try fishing an ant from the windward (upwind) bank. You might be surprised to bring fish up to the surface when no fish are rising.

7. Rosenbauer’s Parachute Beetle
(Sizes 12-16)
Beetles are another go-to midsummer dry. Try casting hard to make them “plop” down on the water to get the fish’s attention. Once beetles hit the water, they’re pretty helpless to avoid being eaten.

8. Orange or Pink Blob
(Sizes 10-12)
American anglers don’t see or hear much about these European flies. They’re outrageously bright and don’t really resemble anything you might see in or around a lake, but they’re a great attractor pattern, even if the fish aren’t actually taking the blob itself. Try stripping one as fast as you can with a more natural pattern, such as a leech, or hang it under an indicator with your chironomids to draw more attention to any stillwater presentation.

9. Rojo Midge
(Size 20)
Midges are a major staple for stillwater trout worldwide. I doubt there’s a lake with any species of fish that doesn’t contain chironomids of some sort. The Rojo Midge may not be the most anatomically correct midge pattern, but it’s definitely effective.

10. Tak’s Crystal Chironomid
(Sizes 10-16)
The slim, translucent body of this fly does the trick for fish and fisherman alike. If you’re nymphing for stillwater trout, you really need this fly in your arsenal.

Drew Rodden is a Midwesterner, from St. Louis, who made the journey west to become a senior guide at North Park Anglers in Walden, Colorado. He’s also a former Trout Bum of the Week.

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