Fishing Spring Runoff - BY GREG GARCIA

I have had the pleasure of fishing spring runoff for many years. My motivation to get out there year after year is simple – I have always liked the idea of “opening season” and being the first angler to stalk my favorite fishing spots.

If you have avoided fishing at this time of the year, you will be surprised at how good it can be, even in less than ideal conditions. Our Hatch pro, Greg Garcia is a master at finding fish in the high, off-color, fast water of spring. Greg is the Manager at Angler’s All in Littleton, CO and a veteran fly tier with well-known patterns in the Umpqua Fly Merchants catalog. Enjoy his tips for success in any trout stream or river.

– Danny Ashcraft –

This spring, I was honored to be asked the question, “What’s in your bag for spring runoff?” by the crew at Hatch Outdoors. To be ready for runoff in the Rocky Mountains, an angler has to equipped for any water condition: rising or dropping water levels; how clear is the water?; tea colored, or muddy? Also, what kind of water; Freestones, tailwaters, or Stillwater? For me, running water is my #1 choice! The sound of running water always pulls something deep in my soul. Because of this pursuit, I have to be ready for anything. But, at the same time I have to keep my bag small and be ready to move fast.

Let's start with the bag.I only fish with a submersible, watertight hip bag. I became tired of drying out boxes of wet flies after taking a bath in the river or fishing in the rain and snow. Also, I always take a small camera with me. I’ll get to what’s in it, but first let’s go over some important gear.

In My Trout Bag:

– Shimasaki Dry Shake. Both powder and liquid.
– TMC Dry Magic Floatant or similar
– MFC Indicator Brush for combing out yarn indicators and wings on Chubby’s
– Tapered Monofilament Leaders – 7.5’, and 9’
– Monofilament Tippet 2x-5x
– Rio Versi Leaders for turning my line into a mini sink tip
– Lead Split Shot – variety of sizes
– Air Lock Indicators 3/4” Clear
– Fishpond Arrowhead Retractor with forceps connected
– Bugs. As a tier I have lots of patterns. But here is a short list I am never without:

1. Chubby Chernobyl’s # 6-12, Gold, Purple, and Red
2. Swisher’s PMX Stone #10
3. Parachute Adams #12-24
4. Tungsten Bead CDC Pheasant Tail #10-18
5. Mercer’s Psyco Nymph #12-18 Yellow, Purple, and Green
6. Darth Baetis #16-22
7. Silvey’s Tungsten Caddis Pupa #14-16 Olive, and Tan
8. Barr’s Slumpbuster #6 Black, Olive, Rust, and White
9. Pop’s Buggers #8-10 Natural
10. Leach #10 Rust, and Black
11. Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail
12. Rojo Midge #18-22 Black, Red, Olive, and Purple

Check out your local Hatch Dealer to dial in your gear bag for trout fishing during Runoff and Big water scenarios. Have fun out there and stay safe during high water!

Tip #1:

In high water, look for fish to be closer to the bank.

Tip #2:

Concentrate your casting within 6’ of the bank to target fish effectively.

Tip #3:

Look for breaks in the current like back eddies and mid stream boulders to hold high water fish.

Tip #4:

When no hatches are present, try large dark colored nymphs and streamers in stained water.

Reel: Hatch Gen 2 Finatic 5 Plus clear with red accents. I always have a hit of red in my gear, to give a nod to my first fly pattern with Umpqua Feather Merchants; The Rojo Midge Emerger. I also have a few extra spools for my reel with sinking lines and other size lines. If I am using a 7 weight, I can use the mid arbor spool for extra capacity. The large arbor for 5 and 6 weight’s. Hatch reels are the best I have used in 35 years of fishing and feature a fantastic drag that has never failed me. I have dropped them in the water with air temperatures in the twenties and the drag has never frozen up. Also, the frame and spool hold up to hard falls.

Hatch Nippers: You guessed it, in red. I use the provided lanyard around my neck. This way they are always ready for use. I really love that Hatch added a small post on the side of the nipper for tightening up loops as you tie them. Also, the needle comes in handy for getting old tippet or glue out of hook eyes.

Rod: I like to use a 9’ 6 wt as my go-to rod for big water, windy conditions, throwing big bugs, and fighting fish! For this application, the rod needs to have a stiffer butt section and overall fast action.

Line: General trout taper in floating and sinking options. Check with your local fly shop to find the best line to match the rod you plan to use.


I was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM. But after a family vacation at age ten I knew Colorado was to be my future home. Immediately I fell in love with its mountains, rivers, and trout. I will confess that I am a trout nerd, and everything associated. But, in the past few years have been obsessed with steelhead, and fishing with a two handed rod. Also, on occasion you will find me casting to tailing bonefish, or cruising permit.

– Manager at Angler’s All in Littleton, Co
– Hatch Outdoors Pro Staff
– Scientific Anglers Pro Staff
– Winston Fly Rods Pro Staff
– Umpqua Feather Merchants Signature Tier

To learn more about Greg or book a trip, visit his profile HERE , or follow him on Instagram, @gregfgarcia


1 comment

  • King FIsher

    Good post! I like the 6 wt for big water for distance, streamers and wind too!

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