Six Do’s and Don’ts when Fishing Rocky Ford Creek

By Kyle Wilkinson, Co-Written by Jesse Mena

If you couldn’t tell already, I frequently find myself fishing “The Ford.” It’s a tough fishery, and I always appreciate the challenges that it throws at me and my fly fishing friends.

What follows are Six Do’s and Six Don’ts for anglers who are making the journey to throw flies at the COLOSSAL trout of Rocky Ford Creek.

1. Do: Bring scuds

Scuds make up a large part of the trout’s diet in the creek. I like to think of them like potato chips to the fish. I tie my scuds in olive, orange, pink, and combinations of those colors.

Don’t: Bring flashy flies

These fish see a lot of flies, so anything flashy or overly obnoxious can really put pressured fish off.

The author (Kyle Wilkinson: @flybum_101) displays an average Ford ‘bow

2. Do: Bring a large net

Some of the fish in here are truly enormous. I hooked a fish last year that snapped me off because I couldn’t fit it in my net. The basket of that net is 28″…

Don’t: Think you’ll have the creek to yourself

Rocky Ford stays ice free with fairly stable flows year round, so expect lots of company when the rivers are blown out or full of ice. And if the fish are biting, prepare to fish shoulder-to-shoulder.

Erikk Machowek (@er_machowek) looks out over “The Ford” after an afternoon of fishing

3. Do: Fish light, fluorocarbon tippets

In the crystal clear waters of Rocky Ford, flurocarbon tippets can prevent fish from becoming aware of your presence. I doubt any line is truly invisible, but fluorocarbon gets fairly close and will cut through the water much easier. This just sets the odds more in your favor.

Don’t: Be afraid to move spots

There are plenty of fish spread throughout Rocky Ford Creek. Don’t be afraid to leave uncooperative fish and look for more active feeders. Sometimes just moving up or down the creek a hundred yards can pay big dividends.

Jesse Mena (@hesse_mena) holds up a ‘bow that fell for his scud

4. Do: Fish two flies

Rocky Ford Creek is a “Fly Fishing Only” fishery, where a maximum of two flies can be fished on the same line. By fishing two flies, you can cover two different sizes, life stages, or colors of subsurface trout snacks.

Don’t: Be afraid to throw large streamers

Sometimes small scuds or midges just won’t entice a strike. When that happens, I tie on a fat streamer. I’ve seen fish hooked on streamers as long as five inches and as small as one. If somebody (the angler) suddenly stopped throwing potato chips (scuds) at you (the fish) and started throwing cheeseburgers (streamers), wouldn’t you hop on that opportunity too?

Erikk Machowek (@er_machowek) hoked up on a streamereater

5. Do: Be stealthy

The trout that peruse the weedbeds of the creek are extremely pressured and very wary to any disturbance on or near the water. Use stealth when sneaking up on active fish, and try to avoid abrupt, quick movements. I’ve personally snuck up on fish on my hands and knees in order to avoid disturbing a feeding fish.

Don’t: Avoid fishing with an indicator, if you can get away with it

When an indicator “plops” on the surface, the fish are already tuned-in to your presence. Indicators can help to detect bites from fish you can’t see or in windy conditions, but I alway try to avoid fishing with them. When the fish sees pink, orange, or yellow “bobbers” floating overhead all day and connects that to getting hooked by imitation scuds, they learn to shut their mouths. There’s a time and place for indictors on Rocky Ford, but I rarely use one. If I do, it’s often made of yarn.

Erikk Machowek (@er_machowek) with his “Personal Best” rainbow on “The Ford”

6. Do: Bring your polarized sunglasses

The creek barely reaches a depth of 10 feet in the deepest sections, so anglers can usually spot fish all day long. Polarized sunglasses can put fisherman at an advantage when trying to spot feeding fish in sunny or cloudy conditions. Throw a couple spares in your vehicle, because you never want to fish this creek without polarized sunglasses. Plus you are protecting your eyes from misplaced false casts.

Don’t: Give up

Rocky Ford is a tough fishery. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t catch fish. Sometimes the fishing can be red hot and somedays it can be a challenge to even tempt a fish to look at a fly. If this creek has taught me anything, it’s perseverance and patience. If you don’t catch fish the first time, or even the second or third time, don’t be afraid to come back and improve on what you may be struggling with. Work hard, study up on the fish, the flies, and your techniques.

The Ol’ Man hooked up on a cold winter evening at “The Ford”

Hopefully this article will help put more fish in the net on your next trip to Rocky Ford!

Did I leave any critical information out? Feel free to comment your thoughts on this topic below.

8 thoughts on “Six Do’s and Don’ts when Fishing Rocky Ford Creek”

  1. Keep this type of info coming and I will be forced consider the alternate method of fishing..
    Actually return to the pure art of fishing…..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This article was the pep-talk I was needing regarding the Ford. That place kicks my butt on the regular but its also where I caught my personal best rainbow. Lately I’ve been thinking “forget that place” but now I will have to accept the challenge and hone my skills there a bit more. It can be discouraging to receive that middle fin though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that this article helped you! The Ford can either kick your butt or can provide the most rewarding day you’ve ever had on the water. Those fish are good at giving that middle fin though.


  3. #20 or 18 scuds ,I am successfully hooking fish- BIG fish .I have landed 1 in 2 trips , hooked 16 . 3# tippet, F/C , how long should I run it ? Any suggestions?


    1. Hi Bruce. I usually run around 4 feet of 5x (4lb) fluorocarbon tippet to my fly. Are the fish snapping your line or throwing the hook? If they’re snapping your line, I would suggest going to a slightly stronger tippet. If they’re throwing the hook, I would suggest putting more pressure on the fish. That light line can really take a lot to snap off a fly.


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