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Fly Fishing Tailwaters by Pat Dorsey Book Review

Fly Fishing Tailwaters by Pat Dorsey Book Review

by September 5, 2013 1 comment
Fly Fishing Tailwaters by Pat Dorsey

As a TenkaraUSA Certified Guide and working for an awesome fly shop like Colorado Skies Outfitters (CSO) in Parker, Colorado I have wanted to learn as much as possible about how to fish the abundant tailwater fisheries found in Colorado and other places. I have received awesome tips from my fellow guides and even a random angler or two. But I have always thirsted for more and I have now found what I consider to be my Bible of tailwater fishing techniques, Fly Fishing Tailwaters by Pat Dorsey. This might sound like and extreme attitude in regards to a book about fly fishing but seldom does one get a chance to learn the tips and tricks that a tailwater master like Pat Dorsey uses.

Pat introduces the reader to tailwaters by describing what makes a tailwater a tailwater. And he does not gloss over a single detail in regards to what makes a tailwater so special for the fly fishing angler. Within the first twenty pages I learned so many things about reservoirs that are created when a dam is built that contribute to the awesome fishing found on rivers like the South Platte River in Colorado. I was extremely well educated on the features and functions of different dams, in particular the different water release methods commonly used.

Pat then leads the reader on a seasonal explanation of western tailwaters covering what the angler will commonly experience in any given period of time. As an added bonus Pat shares some of his most productive rigs for each and every season when the angler can get out. I read the seasonal chapter a few times and picked up a few fun tips that have helped both my clients and myself increase our catch rates dramatically.

After digesting the chapter on the seasons the reader gets one of the better educational experiences on the quarry a fly fisherman is targeting on any given tailwater, the almighty Trout! Want to learn more about the physical features and general feeding habits of a brown trout? Well, here is where you can get that information. The best part about each species description was how easy it was to understand, and at least for me retain the key points, almost as if I was on a guided trip with Pat. Don’t think that this is a chapter strictly about brown trout, far from it! Each species of trout commonly found on tailwaters throughout the West are covered in exquisite detail.

Once you have learned about the fish and their preferred protective habitats and typical feeding behaviors, you begin your education in reading the water. This was by far one of my favorite chapters because I was presented with information I could use as soon as I got out on the water. Along with using the descriptions of what to look for on the river personally I was also able to pass this information onto my clients. I can tell you that if and when you purchase this book, this is definitely one of the chapters you will find extremely effective in your angling adventures.

After learning so much about the tailwaters you get into the nitty-gritty of how to meld the environmental details discussed previously into fooling the trout into eating your fly. The primary fly styles an angler might use are broken down into chapters covering nymphing techniques, dry-fly tactics, and streamer tactics. Each chapter covers the common rigging strategies for each fly style along with useful little tricks that are extremely effect.

Pat continues by covering the common insects found on most if not all tailwaters, particularly in the West. Each species from midges to caddisflies is covered from it’s lifecycle to when an angler can expect to see a hatch occurring. The reader is given suggestions as to what fly patterns typically are used to imitate each stage of a particular species life cycle. Pat also covers his favorite rigging system for each species as well. Using this information the angler will definitely start catching more fish. Best of all, each chapter concludes with images and recipes for some of Pat’s most productive fly patterns for those who want to tie their own flies. And for those who do not want to tie their own flies, the images might help when  looking for the patterns at a local fly shop.

The last chapters of this amazing volume on fly fishing cover the idea of matching the hatch and what to look for when fish are feeding, the common equipment an angler will use or need to successfully fly fish tailwaters. And last but not least and probably in my opinion one of the most important parts of fly fishing, the anglers responsibilities! Proper etiquette on and off the water, and a well grounded plea for catch-and release ethics by all anglers. There is also a wonderful call by Pat to teach our youth how to fly fish and instill in them a love and respect for our rivers.

Will this book become your Bible on tailwater fisheries? It just might if you take the time to really read it and incorporate everything into  your tailwater fishing endeavors. I know that in a few years I will probably need to replace my copy when it finally falls apart from multiple readings. Get this book and study it over the winter and I feel confident your fishing will be more successful than ever before.

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  1. Dennis
    #1 Dennis 5 September, 2013, 18:04

    Very good review. I will definitely be looking for this book.

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