South Platte River Rainbow Trout
Photo from Pat Dorsey

Podcast Ep. 125: Fly Selection, Family, and the South Platte River with Pat Dorsey

In this episode we Wadeoutthere with Pat Dorsey from Parker, Colorado.  Pat grew up fly fishing the South Platte River with his father and uncle, and started his professional career in fly fishing tying flies. 

Pat has been guiding for over thirty years, is the head guide and co-owner of the Blue Quill Angler fly shop,  and author of several books, including his latest Favorite Flies for Colorado.   

Pat is a passionate angler, with the heart of a teacher. 

Podcast episode appears at the end of this short article.

We discuss:

  • Fly selection
  • Family
  • The South Platte River


A lot of little things add up to big things in the fly fishing world. – Pat Dorsey

I learned the importance of doing the little things as fighter pilot in the Air Force. The more complex the mission set, the more valuable that attention to detail became. With those days behind me, I carry a certain nostalgia for approaching problems and activities in my life in similar ways. Hearing Pat Dorsey bring this up with regard to fly fishing tapped into that memory for me, and helped me to reflect on where I am doing the little things right in fly fishing.

I wished I’d pressed Pat more on this statement. As a podcast host I am always thinking about how to dig a little deeper and get into the whys and hows behind the answers my guests provide through conversation.  This would have been a good time to peel back the layers.  Here are seven ways I try to do the little things on the river, in hopes that they will “lead to big things” (and big fish)…

  • Gear Organization – Keeping your gear organized on and off the river so that you can find what you need quickly and limit your time with your flies out of the water.
  • Thoughtful Changes – Taking the time to make a change when it is required, instead of continuing on with what is not working.
  • Consistency – Making the time to go.  This can be tricky for many of us in seasons of our lives where our time on the water is limited, but it is time on the water that helps us progress. 
  • Sun and Shadows – Paying attention to where the sun is and how that will affect the trout and our shadows as we fish a river.
  • Wading – Wading carefully to not spook fish, but also to see fish that might be feeding.
  • Presentation – Not accepting anything other than our best possible attempt at presentation on every cast.
  • Mending – No mend.  No fish.  A simple concept and something I learned from Jenny West, who guides on the Bitterroot River in Montana.

These are just some of the little things that I know I strive for as a fly fisherman.  What are some of the little things you do to help catch fish? Leave a comment below.

Key Takeaways

  • Lighter tippets and smaller flies work well in Cheeseman Canyon section of the South Platte.  Size 22s are a good bet because there is more pressure than there used to be.
  • Size 24s in the winter typically fish better than 22s.
  • Small bugs are intimidating but are required if that’s what the trout are keying on.
  • Bulky imitations don’t fish as well.  Keep flies small and thin.
  • Adjustments to the indicator and the weight often yield better results than just changing flies.
  • From April until October there is typically a midge hatch in the morning followed by some kind of mayfly hatch.
  • Don’t waste time on fish that are not feeding while sight fishing.
  • Always be ready to adapt with the flows on a tailwater.
  • Size, shape, and color are basic considerations for presenting your fly.
  • The behavior of an insect is important to consider as well.  For example, a chocolate foam emerger swinging in the current will wobble like a swimming bug.
  • Pat’s opinion – Ten years old is the sweet spot for teaching kids fly fishing.  Half days are plenty for a young person.
  • If you only had six flies to fish year round on the South Platte to catch fish: juju baeitis, stow cup baetis?, foam wing emerger, mercury midge, black beauty, top secret.
  • Favorite Flies for Colorado is Pat’s book filled with fifty patterns from local experts. It includes why they designed it and how they fish it.

Learn More

You can get in touch with Pat or follow him on Instagram at:

To schedule a guided trip with Pat visit:
The Blue Quill

Check out these books from Pat:
Favorite Flies for Colorado: 50 Essential Patterns From Local Experts
Colorado Guide Flies
Fly Fishing Guide to the South Platte River
Tying and Fishing Tailwater Flies
Fly Fishing Tailwaters – Tactics and Patterns for Year Round Waters
A Fly Fisher’s Guide to the South Platte River

If you want more information on some of the topics we discussed try reading these blog posts from Wadeoutthere:

READ: WADEOUTTHERE | Small Flies, Light Takes, and Lost Fish. It’s Good for You.
READ: WADEOUTTHERE | Sight Fishing – Part 1. Pick Your Battles
READ: WADEOUTTHERE | Sight Fishing – Part 2. Observation
READ: WADEOUTTHERE | Why We Take Our Children Fly Fishing
READ: WADEOUTTHERE | Look Through, and Fish the Flash

If you enjoy the Wadeoutthere Fly Fishing Podcast, and want to help it grow, please leave a rating and review.

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I enjoyed talking with Pat. Wadeoutthere friends.


Jason Shemchuk

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