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Keeping it Close To Home: Pike, Bass and Panfish on the Fly

There might be more fly fishing opportunities closer to home than you think, right here in the Denver Metro area. We often meet anglers who are surprised to learn that they can find pike, bass, panfish, walleye and carp willing to eat a fly – all right here in town.

If you’re looking for ways to enjoy some fishing without going too far from home, these warmwater species are a ton of fun. Even before Covid 19 required recreating closer to home, these have always been some of our favorite species during runoff season and throughout the summer.

On a recent Instagram Live video, our friend Doug Garvey shared some great tips when it comes to rigging up fly rods for everything from pike to bluegill. If you missed it, check out the Insider Tips Playlist on our YouTube Channel for knots, rigging and more. While you’re at it, please subscribe to our YouTube Channel. We’ll be uploading more videos with great tips.

Our recent conversation with Doug got us stoked for the pike and bass fishing seasons here along the Front Range. Here are a few things you should know:


From Mountain Reservoirs like Elevenmile, Williams Fork and Stagecoach, down to Rocky Mountain Arsenal here in the Denver Area, there are plenty of opportunities to catch pike on the fly in Colorado. Hook your first pike – and you’ll be hooked.

A 7-weight through 9-weight fly rod with a floating fly line is a great start. Pick up a Rio Toothy Critter 20lb. Leader and a few pike flies and you’re ready to rock. Alternatively, you can build your own pike leaders using heavy monofilament or fluorocarbon. Come visit us at the fly shop or give us a call at 303-794-1104 and we’d love to help get you rigged up.


Largemouth bass are among the most widespread fish here in the Denver Area. From large reservoirs to small neighborhood ponds, largemouth can be found almost anywhere. Don’t overlook small waters. Even a ¼-acre pond in the middle of a neighborhood might hold surprisingly hefty largemouth.

Smallmouth bass are not quite as prolific, but there are still plenty of opportunities. From Horsetooth Reservoir on the north end of the Front Range, to Pueblo Reservoir on the south end, many Front Range reservoirs are great places to look for smallmouth. Casting from rock dams or fishing from boats along these dams is a great place to start.

When fishing for bass, 6-weight through 8-weight rods are ideal for casting larger flies. Floating or sinking lines can both be beneficial, depending on the specific location. If you already have a floating line, bring a sinking leader wherever you go. This makes it easy to turn your floating line into a sink tip while you’re on the water.

Bass will eat everything from small swimming nymphs, to leeches, to large baitfish patterns. Most trout anglers already have some Hare’s Ear-type nymphs and Wooly Buggers in their fly box. But as the weather gets warmer and bass become more aggressive, it’s fun to throw poppers and experiment with other bass patterns.


Before you turn your nose up at a bluegill or a crappie, just know that this is some of the most fun you can have with a fly rod, perhaps within ten minutes of home. Most small ponds in the metro area are home to bluegill, sunfish or crappie.

If you’ve been fishing for bass with your seven-weight and spot a pod of bluegill, you can tie on a small fly. But if you have 3-weight or 4-weight, that’s even better. Try stripping a small nymph or lay a dry fly on the surface. These fish usually aren’t picky. They often prefer weed beds or sunken logs.

If you have questions or need help getting rigged up, please give us a call at 303-794-1104 or come see us at the fly shop…

Retail Store Now Open

We’re thrilled that the retail store is now open for normal business hours! Please bring your own facemask. We will limit the number of customers to five at a time. We also continue to offer free shipping and free curbside pickup for online orders.

We hope you get out and enjoy some of our great local fishing in the weeks ahead!