Fly Fishing Tactics and Observations with Pat Dorsey | Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

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Fly Fishing Tactics and Observations with Pat Dorsey

A summarization by the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

Pat Dorsey, a seasoned fly-fishing guide from Colorado, recently appeared on the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast to share his 30 years of experience in the sport, focusing on fly fishing tailwaters and the unique challenges and opportunities they present. Below is a detailed summary of his insights, tips, and observations.

Guiding in Colorado

Pat has been a fishing guide since the early 1990s and co-owns Blue Quill Angler in Evergreen, Colorado. His main guiding locations are on the South Platte drainage, where he targets wild, rainbow, and brown trout, particularly in the canyon section and the Deckers area.

Pat has made his name on the infamous Deckers area but he is well versed in numerous Colorado locations. Getting a guided day with him may be tough but for $24.00 you can get his book, which is a comprehensive guide and effective in many tailwater situations.

Changes Over Time

He has observed significant changes in his 30 years of guiding, most notably the increase in traffic and pressure on the fisheries. As such, he emphasizes the importance of conservation and respectful practices, such as minimal photo ops and being "stealthy" to maintain the natural environment.

Fishing Approach

Pat is a walk-wade guide who specializes in tailwaters. His approach emphasizes site fishing and keeping flies in front of fish that are actively feeding. 

Tailwater Tactics

When it comes to tailwater fishing, Pat recommends going small and using tiny flies like size 20s or even down to 24s and 26s to imitate natural midges and mayflies. It's crucial to match the hatch and keep the flies in the proper part of the feeding zone. He also mentions the importance of the first drift in a particular area, especially in high-pressure areas where fish are more sensitive to disturbance.

Gear Setup

Pat generally uses a nine-foot leader, terminating it with 5 or 6X tippet. He switches between fluorocarbon and nylon depending on the situation but leans towards 6X for better drift and presentation. He prefers the Amplitude Infinity line for its durability and versatility.

On Hatch Dynamics

He finds that hatches in rivers are generally consistent across areas but can move upriver in the case of certain species like caddis. The key to success is being in the right place at the right time, and Pat covers a lot of water to ensure this.

Reading Water and Finding Active Fish

According to Pat, early mornings usually offer sporadic midge hatches that become more defined as the day progresses. Active fish are usually found in riffles and runs, which Pat identifies as places that look like they would hold fish. Knowing when and where fish are actively feeding can make all the difference.

Low Water Conditions

Despite the challenges of low water levels, particularly during droughts, Pat encourages anglers to adapt and learn new skills. In such conditions, it’s crucial to be more stealthy, make fewer casts, and wear subdued clothing to blend in with the environment.

Final Thoughts

Pat Dorsey’s wisdom extends beyond merely catching fish; it touches on the broader subjects of conservation, skill improvement, and environmental respect. Whether you are new to fly fishing or an experienced angler, his insights offer something for everyone keen on mastering the art of tailwater fishing.

Pat has an excellent beginners guide for fly fishing that can be extremely helpful to beginners and advanced anglers. 

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Christian Bacasa, Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

By Christian Bacasa
Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

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