I did a search and couldn't find anything on this topic so I apologize if this is a repeat.
I'm a noob too, so please be patient if this is a dumb question.
First the story: I went up to the Poudre River in Northern Colorado today and the river was baren of life as far as I could tell. I saw a few hoppers and butterflies but no stones, mayflies, or caddis. I turned over rocks... nothing. More rocks... nothing. Finally I saw a caddis in it's little house of rocks, but that was it. It was a mild day, probably in the high 60's or low 70's.
The water was kinda yellowish from a runoff I guess. And there were a bunch of kayakers and rafters.
So, my question is what do you tie on when there's no hatch? I didn't see a fish in the water, and didn't see any fish rising. I tried eddies, riffles, rapids. I tried dries and nymphs. Caddis nymphs and dries, mayfly nymphs and dries etc... Nothing.
All in all a pretty frustrating day considering it's a 4 hour round trip to get to the Poudre from my house.
I'd use a Wooly Bugger, Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear, and even a Green Weenie if there wasn't anything on the surface. While there are LOTS of sub-surface flies, these are the ones I use most of the time...because they work.
I will offer pictures and a link to something I wrote here on the forum about fishing streamers in less than perfect conditions. Since you are new you probably are not tying really fancy streamers. My brown trout streamer was 'The Answer' named aptly. If you could find a source for the streamer known as the 'Dark Spruce' it will work very well as it always did for me.
This is a feather wing streamer, it is pictured dry in the vise and wet as it looks when swimming through the creeks and rivers. I have always relied on feather wings as my streamers. if I can find an on-line seller who has Dark Spruce flies for sale I'll PM you the web site.
When you get around to tying flies you can find a step by step tutorial in the Fly Tying Forum that our own Pocono did for streamers a while back. Let me know if you can't find it and I'll sort you out OK? The fly I tie is something I came up with quite a few years back for brown trout fishing. There is actually a thread somewhere that explains how it came about and how well it worked.
I fished the poudre all through college and all year round.
prince nymphs, hare's ears and pheasant tails are all productive patterns. Just because there is no hatch, or you don't see a lot of bugs under rocks doesn't mean it's dead.
Considering the time of year, I would try san juans (run off season...) and maybe even start with an egg pattern. Even though the spawn is over for the bows, they still remember what eggs are and will still take them.
Another thing is to pick a productive stretch of water. Fish won't hold up in every piece of water available. They will want to be away from predators and anything that scares them. (kayakers, swimmers, fisherman...)
If you're driving 4 hours to fish the poudre, you're going to the wrong piece of water...where are you located? I'm sure there's a place that's closer or even the same distance that will be much more productive than the poudre. Not that it's a bad piece of water...but it isn't the best fishery in the state. The big Thompson in my opinion is 10x better and it's just another 30 min drive up the canyon.
Dont feel bad, I went up to RMNP Saturday fished 6 hours saw nothing when seining except a few and I mean a few midges. I ran every fly I had , varying weights etc etc, move holes every few minutes if unsuccessful. Finally at last I thought heck with it and tied on a dry.....bam but of course I missed him.
Still had a beautiful day in the rain , almost had RMNP all to myself due to weather , talk about quiet and peaceful....almost eerily quiet
Besides the hot blonde runner girl in Yoga pantsand a jog bra who insisted on chatting me up in the parkinglot