I sat down with Ed Engle to chat about fishing small flies on tailwaters throughout the year.  We talk about euro nymphing, weighted flies, fishing in Colorado and his experience going to Woodstock.

Ed shares his tips on presenting the fly, the casts you need to know for dry flies, how to avoid spooking fish and why blue is a great color for winter fishing.  Ed brings 20 years guiding, a perspective on Woodstock and how a 1 weight rod actually has a use for small flies and large trout.


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Key Topics Covered in this episode

  • Selecting the right gear for fishing small flies
  • Understanding and interpreting water flows for small fly fishing
  • Identifying and reading fish behavior and signs for effective small fly fishing
  • Tips for choosing and using small flies in various fishing conditions
  • The importance of patience and precision in small fly fishing
  • Strategies for presenting small flies to fish in a natural and enticing manner
  • Adjusting fishing techniques according to seasonal changes and fish activity
  • The role of conservation in fly fishing and respecting the aquatic environment
  • Personal anecdotes and experiences from Ed Engle’s extensive fly fishing career
  • Insights into tying small flies and the creativity involved in the process


Show Notes with Ed Engle

02:43 – John Gierach was on the podcast in episode 47 and is one of Ed’s close friends.  We talk about their relationship and why John is such an amazing writer.

10:30 – Andy Baird is an expert on tying tiny flies – those 26 and smaller.  Here is a link to an article he wrote online.

16:45 – The Pheasant tail is the best fly to imitate the swimming blue wing olive nymph.

21:55 – The Suskwa Poacher fly pattern I noted that has some kingfisher blue in it.

29:05 – Hank Patterson was on the show in episode 58 where he talked about nymph fishing.  He is the self proclaimed greatest fly fishing guide in the world.

39:30 – The Book Seasonal covered Ed’s life working for the Forest Service and has a cult following now as it’s out of print.

55:15 – Rick Takahashi wrote Modern Midges:  Tying and Fishing the World’s most effective patterns.


55:30 – Andy Baird – Small Fly Funk is a great website and resource for small flies.

56:00 – Darryl Martin wrote the book Micro Patterns.

58:30 – Fly Fishing the Tailwaters is the first book that talked exclusively about fishing tailwaters.

62:00 – Ak Best had a big influence on Ed’s fly fishing life.  Here’s AK tying one of his patterns.

65:15 – Steve Duda was on to talk about the Fly Fish Journal in episode 38.

1:07:15 – The Lara Bar is Ed’s goto snack while on the river.

1:08:00 – Ed made it to Woodstock and watched Jimi Hendrix and the other amazing artists.  He noted that it was the end of an era and the beginning of something new.  Here’s a link to Jimi playing the Star Spangled banner on the guitar.

1:10:15 – Crosby Stills, Nash and Young and the Grateful Dead were two of Ed’s other favorites at the show.


You can reach Ed at EdEngleflyfishing.com.


Key Takeaways with Ed Engle on Small Fly Fishing

  1. Practice Precision Casting – Mastering the art of casting small flies requires precision. It’s all about making your fly land softly on the water to not spook the fish.
  2. Select the Right Gear – Choose a rod and line that complement the size of the flies you’re using. Sometimes, lighter gear can make a significant difference in presenting small flies effectively.
  3. Observe Water Flows – Pay close attention to how water moves and where fish are likely to hold. Small flies often work best in specific water conditions.
  4. Master Slack Line Casts – Perfecting slack line casts, such as reach and parachute casts, can help keep your fly on the water longer without spooking fish.
  5. Use Stronger Tippets – Even with small flies, don’t shy away from using a slightly stronger tippet. It can handle the subtle strikes better and improve your hook-up rate.
  6. Focus on Presentation – The presentation of your fly is crucial. Work on making your fly behave as naturally as possible to entice wary fish.
  7. Learn to Read Fish – Understanding the behavior and feeding patterns of fish can significantly improve your chances of success with small flies.
  8. Embrace Patience – Fishing with small flies often requires a lot of patience and observation. Take your time to understand the environment and the fish.
  9. Experiment with Flies – Don’t be afraid to try different small fly patterns. Sometimes, the slightest change in size or color can make a big difference.
  10. Conservation First – Always practice catch and release, especially in delicate ecosystems. Small flies can be great for targeting fish without causing undue stress.



Resources Noted in this Episode (click here for the full Resources Page):


(Click here to view the full Resources page for the Podcast)


Listen to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young here:  


And My Favorite – The Grateful Dead at Woodstock playing a Merle Haggard song – Mama Tried.  Listen to it here:




ed engle


Conclusion with Ed Engle

We touched on Woodstock, blue colored flies, his Forest Service background and a bunch of tips on fishing and tying small flies.  Ed has been a mentor to many in fly fishing especially in the Colorado area and around topics on tailwaters.  Thanks again Ed!