Colorado's Best Fly Fishing - the best book on the subject


If you’re a western fly fisher and you don’t know Landon Mayer you’ve had your head in the sand or somewhere else equally dark.

Mayer is a Colorado guide who specializes in finding big trout for he and his clients. And most of his research happens in Colorado where he and his family live. During winter he takes to the road and speaks for the International Sportsman’s Exhibition, in Denver, Sacramento and elsewhere. He’s a good angler, no doubt, but I’m more impressed by his mentality; I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with Mayer, over steaks and beers, and the passion he shows for our sport and the willingness he demonstrates to share his findings with others is what sets him apart. Believe me, in this day and age, with egos running rampant, and jealousies hampering good writers’ best efforts, it’s amazing that there’s any literature out there for those who are interested in the sport and just want to taste some success and do so in a classy manner.

In his new book, Colorado’s Best Fly Fishing (Headwaters Books—and imprint of Stackpole, 2011; 294 pages) Mayer provides in detail the best times to fish, the best hatches to match, and the best stretches of Colorado’s prime fisheries to throw a line over—especially for large trout, which is what Mayer really likes. What really separates this book from the masses is his personal experience; Colorado is his home, he’s a trout junkie, and the stories and knowledge is firsthand, based on multiple experiences on most of the waters he covers. He’s legit.

Something I never understood when I was young and throwing in to the fly fishing writing genre—publishers handed out book deals to anglers who spent, say, a week a summer in the state they covered; I was living in Montana or Idaho fishing 200 days a year, perfectly capable with a pen and paper, and was often overlooked. Fortunately, someone, probably Judith Schnell or Jay Nichols, identified the real deal in Mayer and handed out the contract. All the photos are legit, people are wearing modern clothing, not neoprene or plastic from the 1970s, and the trout are mostly frickin’ huge an nobody is holding trout from the gills. Add to those images some great river access maps, plus fly suggestions with recipes included, and you have one sweet book on Colorado.

If you plan to fish Colorado, or just want to dream about it, you should own this book. Mayer breaks the state into five regions and offers coverage of the major steams in each area—the Cache La Poudre; Big Thompson; Conejos; Rio Grande; Arkansas; Blue; Eagle; South Platte; Colorado; Yampa; Fryaingpan; Roaring Fork; Williams Fork; Animas; Gunnison; and Taylor.

For as much fishing as I’ve done in my life Colorado always was on the backburner. Why? Usually because it was some distance from where I lived, whether that was a stint in Jackson, Sun Vally, Boise, the Bitterroot Valley, the Gallatin Canyon, or even Missoula. But be sure, if I were headed to Colorado, this is the book I would own. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that—Mayer sent me a copy, inscribed, ready to start me dreaming. Or not. He and I speak occasionally and we’re forming some plans for spring. After looking at the images in this book and reading his words, I may be headed to Colorado instead of having him drive north to Montana. Looks like this boy has the line on some hogs.

If you want to own the book, visit Mayer’s Web site at