Guide Flies: Juan Ramirez

Not all Fly Fishing Guides tie flies. Some do, but poorly, and some are beyond master status. The guide who makes time at the vise to insure a peep's success, using years of experience in the art of observation can be a different level of dangerous. There is some serious behind the scenes sorcery going on before your guide trip and the majority of you have idea nada it's even happening. Guide flies are exactly as they sound; easy, quick, efficient and in many cases, specific to a region, water shed, shop or even down to a single boat. Exclusive use or knowledge of such weapons of mass destruction require membership. You have to know somebody who trusts you, trusts in the importance of trust when passing potent patterns about. Book a trip with a guide they say. I say book a trip with a guide who ties flies. Casts and drifts, mends and managing will only take you part way in solving the puzzle. The rest of the solution is in a fly box and frankly, a guide box is better.

Meet mad genius Juan Ramirez


Let the 6 people who read this rubbish in on who Juan Ramirez is and where you typically wreck fish with your clients?

I am a full time guide in Colorado Springs, CO and a fly tier and fly designer.  I’ve been guiding for about 18 years with the last 5 years being full time.  I’ve been tying flies seriously for about 22 years.  I have about fifteen fly patterns with Montana Fly Company that are distributed worldwide to fly shops.  Some of my more popular ones are the Hopper Juan, Jedi Master, Money Midge, Kryptonite Caddis and Slim Shady.  I guide clients on both the South Platte River and the Arkansas Rivers.  Most of my time is spent on the South Platte drainage where, on any given day in the summer, you might find me on Deckers, Cheeseman Canyon, Elevenmile Canyon or the Dream Stream sections.  Other days I might be on the Arkansas Tailwater in Pueblo, CO and some days I am on the upper Arkansas River freestone below Salida, CO.  Each one is different and presents it’s own challenges but that’s part of the fun and the challenge.  I think I’d almost get bored with just one or two of those locations.  


How long have you been tying flies? Who showed you the ways?

I tied my first fly when I was about 15.  I had a shoebox full of materials and I had no idea what to do with them.  There was a fly tying book I had, I believe it was written by Don Puterbaugh of Salida Colorado.  I tied a few flies but I didn’t fly fish so I gave it up.  While in college, I dug out that box and gave it another go.  It wasn’t until I was finished with college that I started tying everyday and I have never looked back.  Everything was self taught.  There was no You_Tube or social media so we all had to learn and figure things out on our own.  We didn’t have access to top-notch materials like we do now.  

Give us 3 of your favorite Movies, no particular order.

Dances With Wolves
Saving Private Ryan
Napoleon Dynamite

I really have a crush on the John Barr Bend Hook from Umpqua, love the shape and off set. Do you have a favorite hook?

I tie mostly for the South Platte so that means smaller hooks.  With that, my favorite hook is the Daichii 1110 straight eye hook.  It’s very similar to the TMC 101 but I think it’s a bit shorter and has a decent gap.  I can tie a variety of flies on this hook.  Everything from RS2s to CDC Compara Duns.  


You Jig? That is, do you fish and tie on comp or jig hooks?

I do tie some on jig hooks but not a lot.  Being on a tiny fly tailwater limits me on what I want to tie and fish jig wise.  My preference is to tie stoneflies on jig hooks as well as some caddis.  Once I get to the smaller mayflies and midges, I skip the jig hooks and use the standard smaller hooks to match the bugs better.  For almost all of my guiding, I am still running indicators.  For me, on the type of water that I guide on, this is the easiest, most effective way to teach beginners.  On the Arkansas River, I’ve been able to use more of the jigged styled flies as well as at certain times on the Deckers section of the South Platte during higher water.   I certainly need to tie and fish more! 

Material you can't live without?

It would be Slim Rib, a ribbing material that I offer for sale.   It enables me to tie small flies and it creates incredible segmentation while staying slim and stretchy.  I use it in several of my fly patterns including the Slim Shady 5.0, Money Midge, Super Nova, Pale Ale Midge and the Jedi Master.  

It's BWO time and I've stalked your Instagram page, you have a few things figured out when it comes to imitating them little critters. Whats your go to fly this time of year?

When nymphing pre-hatch, there are a few options I have to tie on.  The fish will be eating nymphs first and then emergers and possibly adults, so I need to be prepared to have all those stages covered.  I’d start with a Slim Shady and a Jedi Master first,  I have no doubt that these patterns will work.  As the hatch progresses, I would switch one of the flies off and add and emerger or two.  My first choice would be an RS2 and my second fly would probably be a CDC loop wing or something similar.  This should work for those fish that are focused on the emerger stage.  As the hatch progresses and I start seeing noses poke out of the water, I want to go to a dry fly.  I have several patterns that I like but one that I always end up tying on is a CDC Spun Dun in size 22.  It’s a simple pattern that has always worked and that would probably be my first option.  

Check Out Juans Vimeo page

Belize or Alaska?

Both!  I’ve never been to Belize but hopefully one day I will go there.  I’ve been to Southeast Alaska and spent about three weeks there and that was really cool. It was an extended studies class in college, so it wasn’t all fun and games, but I did a lot of fishing and caught several different species of fish including salmon and halibut.  I’d love to be able to go back there as well as other locations in Alaska to do some fishing. 

I know you spend hours at the vise keeping pace with guiding needs and filling orders. If you get caught up and you are tying for fun what does it look like?

I usually sit there and try to think up the next new design.  Often times, I do, but most of them don’t make it to the shops or even my fly box.  Sometimes I find those prototypes on my desk and give them another look and maybe I change them a little bit and then they make it to my fly box to test out.  I also spend a lot of time trying to make variations of my own designs to use in certain situations. I also like to tie other people’s flies that I like.  I won’t post a picture of their flies unless I feel like they match exactly.   

Music choice at the vice? Or maybe you are a Pod Cast guy?

I usually listen to music while I am tying, but I do find myself watching a lot of movies while tying.  My music taste is all over the place.  I can listen to a playlist ranging from Khalid to George Strait to Queen to Snoop Dogg.  I can find a music station on Apple music and let that roll for hours and be happy.  When I am watching movies, I find its easier to re-watch older movies I’ve already seen just so I don’t have to really pay attention.  Movies like the Star Wars series and the Lord of the Rings are great for this.  


Snowshoe rabbit gives me fits so I am taking some social distancing time to figure it out. What are you working on at or around your vise during the quarantine?

I am still tying to fill the boxes and tying some back stock for the summer.  What I really need to do is tie some trico spinners.  I am on year 6 of not having enough when I need them.  Maybe one of these years I’ll figure it out.  

Favorite UV Cure?

My favorite is Deer Creek.  It’s been my favorite for years.  The consistency is just right for what I use it for and it’s not tacky when you cure it.  I’ve been using it for about 10 years now.  

Besides the magic that dwells in your fly boxes, what makes a trip with Juan special?

I would have to say that depending on what you are looking for, I can cater to that.  If you just want to show up and catch fish, I’ll work hard to do that.  I’ll work with you to do that but some days the fish have a different idea.  My favorite trips are the ones when people want to learn how to do something specific. When they tell me that they’re not concerned about catching fish, they would rather learn how to do it correctly, that makes me happy.  On certain trips, I am the one asking the client all the questions.  I ask how they would set up their rig and why?  What flies and why?  What weight and why?  Why would you fish there and why not there?  What should be happening soon?  Do you anticipate any hatches and why or why not?  What happens if there isn’t anything going on?  Why would you move on and when? Usually these type of clients have the skills necessary but haven’t asked themselves the questions needed to understand the why and how.  Those are my favorite trips.  

I base my guiding on three things;  having fun, learning something and trying to catch fish.  Usually that works out to be a pretty good day.  

Book a trip with Juan

Hire Guides who Tie.

Let me know who you guys think should be high lighted here next.

Back, Bi's and Blue Wing Olives

Blue Wing Bodies falling from the Jaws of life as of late. With this virus poop I'm not sure if i should be tying for run off or worse yet the Caddis of summer. I guess tying for the next few weeks lets me keep a hopeful spin on things as I build an army of BWO hard bodies. Quills, Biots and even thread bodies can be delicate unless you reinforce them with some UV cure like Solarez.

 Stripped Peacock Quill
2.0 Black Bead
#18 TMC 100
CDL for tail and future legs

Stripped Peacock Quill with shuck

Future BWO Softhackles
#20 TMC 2487

Split Floro Fiber tails
#18 TMC 2487
Tan thread with Mahogany Micro tube rib

#18 TMC 2487
Tan thread with Mahogany Micro tube rib
CDL tails and legs

I get a few questions about UV cure epoxies. I have been using Solarez for a couple of years now after messing with a few of the others out on the market. This stuff cures hard and clear unlike some of the others which can get cloudy or crack off. I hit them quick with a "torch" at the bench then they go out side to sit in the sun before I mess with the rest of the fly. Taking the bugs outside is one extra step but it makes a big difference in the long run. Window sills inside wont work unless you open the window.

 I throw some Olive colored tube bodies at them as well but most of the BWO's I deal with are perfectly matched by that stripped quill. 

Crank out a couple of push ups in between sets of Blue Wing bodies so them rowing muscles are ready when this crap passes.

Fishing is ape shit crazy.

Filling Fly Orders. Email me to get some goods.

Virtually fishing through the Virus

With all that is going on in the world, everybody is feeling a little weird about being out and about around people. We get it. Luckily, I work with and around some very advanced thinkers for simple fishing guides. We all want nothing more than for all of you to enjoy the best fishing of the year while staying safe and healthy at home.

Super proud to announce that Colorado Angling Company will be offering half day virtual wade trips on private water starting immediately.

While we are still working on the menu of Fantasy Anglers you could potentially fish with, Joey and I are prepared to take the risks out there so you guys miss zero action. Come with us on an adventure somewhere you wish you were, out of your house, fly rod in hand, rising trout and a mute button. Drift off and imagine every cast, mend and hook set being perfect.

Our interactive menu system includes ways to change flies, mend like you do or bum a chew. Want Bob in a flat brim, Joey with a Beard, Steele with no man bun or Zimmerman in a thong? It is but a click away posers. Customize your trip to look like you have always wanted your game to look like, flawless.

Don't miss out on our version of March Madness, book a virtual trip today. Early birds will receive a Colorado Angling Buff/ respirator combo while supplies last.

Don't be an idiot, get the hell out of the house and go fishing. We are practicing safe social distancing in good, clean fresh air with brave, healthy people who refuse to get stuck in the hut.

Picture taken a from a safe distance. Brave anniversary couple throwing caution to the wind

We seriously want you guys to feel comfortable enough to book a fishing trip with us during these challenging times and we want you to know we are prepared.

Come in small family groups or with real close buds, drive yourselves and avoid the crowds of public water on your own stretch of  incredible private water in the fresh air.

We are currently the only certified Social Distancing endorsed outfitter in our valley. Not real huggy in the first place.
All our guides use long handled nets.
We have been practicing the fine art of avoiding other anglers for years.
There is still TP and hand sanitizer in our rustic well ventilated out house.
Wet handshakes are being replaced by a crooked grin from the bank. No offense.
You tangle it, you fix it. (kidding, that would take way too long)
Our guide vehicles reek of hockey season, wet waders with a hint of whiskey and tobacco which may buckle your knees, but it effectively kills any and all germs. Safety first.

Further more, if you have me booked on the river you will be subjected to less of this writing nonsense which makes some of you sicker than any virus out there.

Joey showing proper technique of holding his breathe during photo shoots. Mr. Williams was not put in the penalty box for the shoulder touch.

We ain't scared, you shouldn't be either, grow a set and go fish.

The many moods of Midgezilla.

My clock recently sprung ahead and the pile of snow in my driveway has finally dropped below the eves. Just a few of the many indicators that winters grip is weakening. While the weather and water will be springtime moody as usual, things in general, including Trout, are looking up.
Even Midgezilla can get moody this time of year. When times get tough, when there are so many naturals in the drift they are impaled on your hook tough, you need your chip in a sea of chocolate chips to stand out. Try throwing this little headache at them next time your on the ropes in the midst of the giant midge hatch of spring.

Bloody Midgezilla

Hook: Umpqua 2487  #18  when it falls into the carpet below your vise make sure to yank on it real good so it off sets the hook. Now your ready

Flo Red Thread under Amber Glass bead from the sale bin at a local shop insuring they are probably impossible to find.

Dubbed with underfur of an old tennis ball

Rib with expired 5x mono, don't waste your money on the floro, the segmentation will be invisible to the fish. 

If it aint broke don't fix it. Just change colors
Thanks Mr Chung

The boat has been out of the garage (another sign of spring) and its been down the Roaring Fork as well as the lower Colorado. Things are good, mostly nymphing, but productive. Mayhem Midge, Midgezilla, Miracles, small soft hackles, chartruse eggs, and your favorite BWO nymph will keep things bent. Call ahead about floating the Fork between now and the end of May as the take out at Two Rivers is closed essentially limiting floats from West Bank down. This could make the upper river pretty crowded with boats during the prime months of March and April.

Red Zebra Midge, thought out, drifted, set and landed by Mr Mike Salamone 

Mean while on THE Eagle River things are on the climb to prime. Judging by the crowds out there the past week I would say you all know. Let me set the record straight. The public water is fishing horribly. All the people have scared the fish into private water. There are no bugs or potential hatches left in the public stretches. They break ground on condominiums where the parking area is now at post office, the state is parking two loaders and a dump truck at guide rock in Wolcott and Alkali creek is so toxic it will melt your waders if you are upstream of Eagle. The river below Eagle is closed to everyone but locals with over 10 years of residency. I heard that was all over social media so it must be true.
The fishing report for the exceptional stretch of exclusive private water pronounced Vail Rod and Gun club that I happen to guide on is "Good and Ready". For real, all the fish and bugs and hatches and fun are there. Midges in Red, Cream, Tan, Black and Olive. Plain old thread larva, glass beads, lil flash, have fun, try tying some Corded Midges in different colors. The egg bite just started and there have been a few tan worms assaulted. Midgezilla larva is almost always on my set up. BWO's have made a few sporadic appearances on the surface but a #18-22 nymph has produced well in the early afternoons. It's going to get better by the hour, especially where I guide. 

Teamwork makes the dream work. There is a lot more to this than the lens has captured, shit that doesn't happen in public water. High quality non phone photographic images are still free.

Carry On, Tie flies

PRO Streamer Season

Want to become a PRO streamer fisherman this spring???

Book some time in a boat on the Eagle River for one of the states best kept secrets, Pre Run Off streamer season.

The only reason it is a big secret is that there is usually no body here for it. The resorts close before the run off gets started (usually), locals split, winter help disappears and a few PROS are left with something special all to our selves; a brief taste of something sweet to make the sour taste of muddy water almost seem bearable.

If there was a Streamer University, the Eagle River would undoubtedly be a favorite spring break location.

 Timing  the exact starting date of PRO is dependent on mother nature, but on a normal year, flows should start to bump somewhere between the 3rd week of April- 2nd week of May. Currently our winter flows on the Eagle in Avon are around 75 cfs, we are looking for flows of 200cfs or better to start playing with the boats. Lighter, stripped down rafts with one angler for the early, low water runs is ideal. As flows get to 300 cfs and above, 2 anglers and bigger rafts become easier to manage in a river often compared to a pinball game. Actual length of PRO can be 3 days- 2 weeks depending on clarity and flow. If it goes from spring to summer too quick this special time doesn't last long. If you live close enough to drop what you are doing, get on a call list. If you love to throw streamers, you won't be sorry.

As flows begin to rise with warmer night time temps of spring, fish are shoved into survival lanes instead of feeding lanes.Most fish have been consistently feeding for a month or two before run off or mud season as some people call it, rudely interrupts spring break. Finding fish comfortable enough to eat bugs can become a challenge. During the beginning of PRO, the flow will be melting snow from higher elevations and that can make for cold water even on a warm day. As the water temps get wacky, the behavioral  drift of significant spring food sources like BWO's and Caddis will become more of the catastrophic type.. Fish become much more opportunistic feeders during their time on the bank, aggression and dominance can be key traits to eating enough.....all stuff a streamer junkie wants to hear.

If the streamer fishing is slow it usually is because these wonderful creatures have decided to focus on feeding on the surface. A thick, early season hatch will often switch trout's attention from meat and the anglers focus to the joy of dry fly fishing.

Carry On and leave your bobber rig home.

Dumb fish don't care

Winters grip is weakening here in the Eagle River Valley

February's Big and Heavy report. 

Gilled BWO #18 has been my go to large or attractor fly followed by a couple of midges. I've been tying and fishing Tim Flaglers Corded Midge Link using yellow antron as well as white with great success. Water temps and flows are low and the fish are still held up in their winter lies, deep, mid pool and hard to fool with too much nonsense. Simple tricks like keeping split shot and other junk to a minimum and getting your flies down to the fish with weighted flies instead, can make all the difference this time of year. A 2.8 Tungsten bead has done the trick getting every thing down in the water most fish are hanging around.

Tie some up, call it what you want

#16 2487, 2.8 Black Tung Bead
Thread: Harvested from an old Ugg boot
Tail/Legs: Tijuana Wood Duck
Rib: One Moose Pube

Gills: Tied in Improved Galloup Style Link (it's a long winded video but the gill trick is worth it.) Twist a small wisp of Tan Ice Dub between yer thumb and fore finger and give it a nice one direction booger roll. Tie it in exactly 5 segments from start of the tail so the moose pube ribbing aids in holding the gills secure.

Pull the mess of gill booger back and install your favorite wing case material. I have been using strips of a very expensive rain jacket someone left in my boat. Some air brush work to mottle the material can increase hook ups by over 28%.

Trim the gills

Separate legs on the sides of the fly while dubbing the thorax. Using lightly dubbed thread to hold the legs back helps to not sever them with tightly wrapped small thread. That being said I keep on fishing flies as the delicates fall off. Just fish for dumb fish, dumb fish don't care about tails and legs and such. They probably give zero shits about gills as well.

2 clumps, split, is standard, 1 works just as well and 3 looks wicked cool brah.

Leave your legs long for fast water, cut them shorter when you are getting to the technical junk

This little bit has been leaving marks.

Spring is coming and the Vail Rod and Gun water on the Eagle continues to open up more and more every day now. Book a trip

El Negro Caddis

The summer Black Caddis hatch can be one of those love hate relationships similar to Trico's. Tiny and plentiful can be a pain in the ass and that is especially so when the water is gin clear and low. I find trying to fool the abused trout of late summer just subsurface with Black Caddis patterns can help. The shallow riffles are full of larva and pupa, often bright yellow-pink in color and like a sunken Trico spinner, I think the fish key in on naturals that are easier to grab and ignore the adults most of the time. 

Black Caddis Larva. Not black at all

#18 2488H

Starling softhackle Iris Caddis knock off

When the fella in the riffle confesses that Black Caddis larva and emergers are working, don't make the mistake of grabbing something black. As in many cases, the color of the subsurface naturals do not match the color of the adults we see buzzing around. PMD nymphs are a very dark burgandy, almost black just before they hatch in their adult colors of yellow-orange-pinks. The neon green Mothers Day Caddis larva is a dark dun color in flight and the Black Caddis larva is yellow- yellow orange or pink before they hatch, abundantly, all black.

#18-20 2488H, helps it sink a touch
Tan sparkle emergent yarn shuck, sparse
Small Amber wire rib
Ginger Variant dubbing from an ancient Antron Dubbing Blend dispenser, circa 1989
Dark Dun Poly wing tied in Iris Caddis style
Starling softhackle or the feathers I collect after chasing off the trained neighborhood Magpie
Dark Brown Hare Tron collar

Your standard #20 Peacock Caddis Dry Fly or a low riding dark colored CDC X2 Caddis works for the adult, but I tend to reserve them for the return flight in the evenings.

Fear not the tiny black bug of summer.

Book a Fall trip, its going to be a great one.

Cotton Hoodies Rule. Carry on