There is one hatch that dwarfs all others in the Gunnison area: the Green Drake. Each summer these large mayflies tempt true river studs out of hiding to feed on the surface. This creates the best opportunity of the season for the dry fly fanatic to catch a large trout on a big dry. Hatching from mid June through July, anglers can expect to see these bugs work their way from Blue Mesa Reservoir up the Gunnison River and Taylor Canyon to the Catch & Release section just below the Taylor Reservoir dam.

The Right Fly for the Job

Picking the right dry fly for the Green Drake Hatch doesn’t need to be complicated. I like Umpqua’s Colorado Green Drake in size 10 for the majority. This pattern has a white parachute post that makes it easy to see and its hackle keeps it riding high through riffles and chop. My second choice is Solitude’s Hairwing Drake size 10, which I like for slower pools and slicks where the hackled presentation isn’t necessary and this pattern can show more of its beefy silhouette on the surface. Both of these patterns are tied well and can take a beating which is extremely valuable during a big Drake hatch. Keep your entire rig simple when the bugs are really popping – one fly on a 9 ft 5x tapered leader is all you need.

Catching the Big One

Green Drakes on Gunnison River, Taylor River

Gunnison Green Drake

Green Drakes are a midday hatch so be sure to have an early lunch – you do not want to miss out on any action once it starts. Runs that may produce a fish or two early in the day can be boiling with risers when things are hot. Takes from big fish tend to be slow-motion slurps so remember to stay calm and let the fish totally eat the fly before setting the hook upwards into the top of the fish’s mouth. Once you release your fish remember to check your rig and dry your fly with a desiccant powder – I like Frogs Fanny because it has a brush which allows you to work the powder into the fibers of the fly.

If you love throwing dries to rising fish, I welcome you to join me on the Gunnison or Taylor River for a float or wade trip this summer during the Drake Hatch. Tight lines and I hope to see you on the water!

Lodging near Crested Butte

Patrick Blackdale is a Fly Fishing Guide at Three Rivers Resort in Almont, Colorado. For lodging or guided trips, contact Three Rivers Resort at 1-888-761-FISH (3474).