The lure of alpine fly fishing

Sam Boswell on connecting to flies (and fish), rivers + alpine

By Tatyana Sharpton Jul 15 2020

Ward-resident Sam Boswell, 17, has turned his love of fly fishing to guiding and selling his hand-tied flies through his business, Upstream.

Sam Boswell

We met Sam along a trail bordering Middle Boulder Creek as he headed back from Barker Reservoir in Nederland last week.

Sam, who started fishing with a spinning rod at 3 and fly fishing at 8, has fished Ned his whole life.

“Fly fishing is much more of a sport,” Sam tells BLDRfly, “especially if you’ve been fishing with a spinning rod. But it’s also more peaceful and gets you in touch with everything around you. It connects you to past and present, nature and the water. I’ve always wanted to express and share the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years.”

Sam and BLDRfly editor Paul Hagey. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.

Fly fishing differs from spin fishing in that the weight of the line itself carries the hook through the air, with a fly on its end, rather than a lure on a hook giving the cast distance. Also, fly fishers typically opt for moving water such as rivers, while spin fishing usually takes place on still waters. And while spin fishing got its start near the end of the 18th century, people have used flies to fish via bamboo or tenkara rods since the 13th century.

One big difference lies in the bait itself (hence, the fly part of fly fishing); whereas spin fishing often uses live bait that the fish swallow, often killing the fish in the process, fly fishing makes it easier to let the fish go, since the hook only latches to its cheek.

Sam showing us his hand-tied flies. Last year, Sam sent a shipment of hand-tied flies to Australia and New Zealand when some folks he met traveling a few years back reached out to him. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.

Hooks + Nooks

Sam prefers to fish along the South Boulder Creek river, coming there once or twice a week. Due to overcrowding (and it’s just not the best fly fishing, Sam says), he actually doesn’t usually fish at the popular Barker Reservoir; we just got lucky.

Details. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.

“If you go toward Rollinsville, where the Lincoln Hills Fly Fishing Club sits,” says Sam, “just below their property there’s this really nice trail that walks down towards 72. That spot has a beautiful hole and a bunch of big fish that like to congregate.”

Sam, who obtains most of his clients through meet-and-greet (the way he met us) and handing out cards, hopes to expand his business and go worldwide, traveling to teach people all over.

Aside from fishing, his favorite local adventures include hikes to secluded lakes like Crater Lakes and Rainbow Lakes. One of Sam’s favorite spots in Ned goes back to the Barker Reservoir: a hidden trail along the far side of the reservoir that leads to a beautiful cove — perfect for a date or lunch!

“You can just breathe better,” says Sam of Ned’s appeal. “And if you’re coming into the community, the people will welcome you and support you. It’s a beautiful place to get away from the city, the people and the traffic.”

Connect with Sam on IG @samupstream.

Sam continues on to find the next adventure. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.

Header image: Sam Boswell. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.