Book Review: Fly Fishing Guide to the South Platte River

I’ve never fished the South Platte. I have no immediate plans to do so. But dammit, now I’ve read this book. And the gears are turning.

Such is the power of the second edition of Fly Fishing Guide to the South Platte River. Although Pat Dorsey is listed as the author, contributors to the book are many, and the list reads like a western U.S. fly angling who’s who: Landon Mayer. Greg Blessing. Just to name a few.

The book is neatly organized into three sections. Part 1 is The South Platte System, which divides the water into geographical sections. You get details like maps, access points, water descriptions, and seasonal strategies. The chapters are sprinkled with sidebars like “High Water Season,” “Etiquette,” and “Year-Round Strategies to Find Trout.” These are  informative and they don’t intrude on the reading experience. I’m impressed by the level of detail, and the intrepid reader receives enough comprehensive information to DIY the South Platte.

Next up is Important Hatches and Fly Patterns. It’s just what you’d expect: hatch charts, monthly descriptors, and — my favorite — fly patterns. As a fly tying geek I am always on the lookout for inspiration and intel, as well as the hot local pattern that will work the same wonders here in the eastern U.S. (Yeah. Pale Olive Midge Larva. I’ve got my eye on you.) It’s no surprise that as a tailwater, much of the focus is on midges. Last, we get Techniques and Strategies on how to attack the river. As with the entire book, this section is richly illustrated with photos of trout and breathtaking scenics.

Quibbles are few. As is the norm for many contemporary fly fishing books, wet flies and wet fly fishing are conspicuously absent. (I’d love to swing a team of three through some of the water illustrated in the book — or give trout rising to PMDs a look at The Magic Fly.) And the only featured mention of wet fly presentation (the Leisenring Lift) pertains to nymphing — and it gets the technique wrong (the angler does not physically raise the flies — the angler checks the rod and lets current and tension do the work.)

Nonetheless, Fly Fishing Guide to the South Platte River is highly recommended. Pat Dorsey should be commended on his skillful blending of situational river specifics and general trout knowledge. If you’re heading west to fish the South Platte, you’ll be glad you invested in a copy.

“…lush valleys, meandering meadow streams, and rose-colored, boulder-filled canyons.” Where do I sign up? Just south of Denver, Colorado, this world-class trout fishery comes to life in Pat Dorsey’s Fly Fishing Guide to the South Platte River. If you’ve never fished the river, this book is a must have, with new maps and updated river, access, and fishing information. Fly Fishing Guide to the South Platte River by Pat Dorsey, Stackpole Books, ISBN 978-0-8117-3818-7.


Cape Cod Flyrodders award the Order of Fried Scallops with IPA Clusters

On the road again yesterday, this time to South Yarmouth for the Cape Cod Flyrodders meeting. A welcoming group with lots of friendly faces — and they also understand that a fed presenter is a happy presenter. So, thanks for your hospitality, your generosity, and for the great turnout. Bonus: we’re on a lots-of-good-questions roll here — I think Q&A might be my favorite part of presenting. Well done. See you next time!

This is true. Thanks to Bill for the pic.


Leisenring’s Favorite Twelve Wets: Old Blue Dun

The Old Blue Dun would make a fine representation of those bigger early season BWOs we get on the Farmington. Use a darker blue dun hackle and it’s easy to imagine it as a Hendrickson. Clearly, Leisenring thought highly of this pattern. And the trout you present it to will, too.

Old Blue Dun



Hook: Dry or wet fly, 12-14
Silk: Primrose yellow
Hackle: Blue dun hen
Tail: 2-3 glassy fibers from a rusty blue dun cock hackle
Rib: One strand yellow buttonhole twist
Body: Muskrat underfur spun on primrose yellow silk, a little of the silk showing through at the tail
Wings: Starling (optional)
Tying Notes: We’re back to the DMC embroidery floss (#744) as our buttonhole twist substitute. Make sure you pick out the muskrat guard hair — you want the soft, dark underfur. I didn’t leave a lot of the yellow silk showing through at the tail here; I wonder if Leisenring’s intention was to craft the illusion of an egg-layer? Nonetheless, this fly will hunt.

It’s a Lucky Seven Hundred Followers Celebration!

Happy Tuesday, fellow Currentseamsers. Is it spring yet? Courage. We’ve made it through the worst of the winter, and soon the pips will be popping and the buds bursting. Thank you for being part of the Lucky Seven Hundred! To celebrate, we’re doing our customary flies-tied-by-Steve giveaway. Here are the rules:

1) No purchase necessary.

2) You must be a follower of currentseams to enter. (If you’re not one already, you become a follower by clicking on the “Stay current with currentseams”  Sign Me Up button on the home page.)

3) To enter, leave a comment on this thread that responds to these questions: 1) What was your favorite fish from 2018? 2) Which fly should I feature in my next tying video? One entry per person. Deadline for entering is 11:59pm March 31, 2018 (no foolin’). Three winners will be chosen at random. The winners will be notified in the comments section of this thread or by email, and will be responsible for sending me their address so I can ship the flies out. Sorry, I can only ship to U.S. addresses.

4) All decisions by me are final.

Thanks again for reading and following currentseams.

Ooh. Ahh. Ohh. Maybe you’ll score an Orange Partridge (or two).



TGIF Currentseams Odds & Ends

Those paying attention to this sort of thing will notice that we have reached and passed the 700 followers mark. So it’s time for a celebration fly giveaway. Thank you, everyone, for your loyal readership. Details to come shortly!

If you’re a member of the Cape Cod Flyrodders, I’ll be speaking at your meeting next Thursday the 21st. The topic will be Targeting Big Stripers From The Shore: Fly Fishing Tactics and Techniques. If you’re a Currentseams follower, please let me know.

I’ve gotten a lot of praise for my Housy piece in the current issue of Eastern Fly Fishing. Thanks for all your kind words. The Farmy piece for the same pub is in the can, out later this year.

I hope you’ve been enjoying my recent intensive series on North Country spiders and (still ongoing) James Leisenring’s favorite wingless wets and soft hackles. It’s a good warmup exercise for my wet fly gig at Legends next Saturday.

Finally, I went striper fishing Wednesday night. One touch, no hookups. But it’s coming.

Tight lines and good fishing karma to all.

The big girls will be showing up soon.


Leisenring’s Favorite Twelve Wets: Gray Hackle

Some questions simply cannot be answered by mortal man: Why do fools fall in love? Should I stay or should I go? But I digress. Consider Leisenring’s Gray Hackle. Why would you specify “yellow or white creamy furnace hackle” and then name the fly…well, you can see where this is going. Maybe Big Jim’s stash of said hackle had a gray cast to it. Maybe it looked a certain way when wet. We may never know. But we do know that there’s a little magic in this design. See for yourself.

Gray Hackle



Hook: Dry or wet fly, 12-14
Silk: Primrose yellow
Hackle: Yellow or white creamy furnace
Rib: Narrow gold tinsel
Body: Bronze peacock herl
Tying Notes: This hackle came from a bag of strung feathers I bought a long time ago for probably a couple bucks. I used two strands of herl to wind the body, and I used the technique of pressure from the thread in front of the herl to make a nice, compact wind (you can see that technique in Tim Flagler’s excellent Squirrel and Herl video.)

Leisenring’s Favorite Twelve Wets: Brown or Red Hackle

I can’t make up my mind whether this is a beetle or an attractor. Leisenring must have had some trouble deciding on the pattern as well. Brown hackle? Or red hackle? Ah, what the heck. While we’re pondering these delicious mysteries, let’s go with this: the Brown or Red Hackle looks like something that’s alive and good to eat.

Brown or Red Hackle



Hook: Dry or wet fly, 12-14
Silk: Crimson or claret
Hackle: Red furnace
Rib: Narrow gold tinsel
Body: Bronze peacock herl
Tying Notes: I have a nice reddish brown Whiting wet fly hen neck. It’s more badger (feathers with a dark center, lighter toward the tips) than furnace (dark center, lighter middle, dark tips) but it’s close enough. I used two strands of herl to wind the body, and I used the technique of pressure from the thread in front of the herl to make a nice, compact wind (you can see that technique in Tim Flagler’s excellent Squirrel and Herl video.)