The RIGS Story

Like every good guide service, RIGS is a venture born from the expertise of seasoned river guides who have spent decades immersed in the fly fishing and rafting industry. With a shoestring budget, old fashion hard work, and a commitment to access quality waters in the region, RIGS received the first-ever permit for guided fly fishing and rafting in Ouray County, pioneered access on our home waters of the Uncompahgre River at Pa Co Chu Puk setting the stage for over 20 years in business. We choose Ridgway as our base of operation, not only because of its stunning beauty and small-town feel but its idyllic proximity to world-class trout streams with easy access and diverse benefits to the surrounding destinations like Ouray, Telluride, Silverton and Montrose. We chose Ridgway to be in the center of it all.

Established in 2001, RIGS (short for Ridgway Independent Guides Service) was the brainchild of Tim Patterson. Despite the passage of time, Tim’s enthusiasm for fly fishing remains unwavering, driven by his love for the sport and the great outdoors. While it started as Tim’s venture, it evolved into a family business as his wife Heather, a fourth-generation Colorado native with ties to Ridgway and the National Parks system, joined the company. Together, they expanded the business by bringing together a remarkable team of individuals who share the same passions – fishing, rafting, exceptional customer service, and a deep appreciation for nature.

Before RIGS existed, Tim had been leading fly fishing, rafting, and eco-tour expeditions across Central America, Mexico, and the Southwestern U.S. since 1991. Tim’s background in Recreation Management from Prescott College provided the perfect foundation for a career in adventure guiding. Heather’s background in customer service, bookkeeping and fine art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago helped create a cohesive presentation in the shop and online. Their pairing played a pivotal role in transforming RIGS from its modest beginnings to the thriving entity it is today.

For the Pattersons, RIGS is more than just fishing; it’s about collaboration and sharing something you love. They believe that RIGS activities instill qualities like patience, strategic thinking, adaptability, and the ability to thrive under various conditions. As they put it, “It’s not just about the fishing, it’s about what you learn from the people you meet. Fishing is just the conduit.” This philosophy underscores their commitment to creating enriching experiences that go beyond angling.





At RIGS, our dedication to excellence goes beyond just running a fly shop and guide service. We have cultivated a team of skilled and committed professionals who are eager to help every guest achieve their personal goals. Our company values emphasize professionalism, top-notch service, and a strong commitment to preserving our natural resources. The RIGS Team not only aims to provide an exceptional guest experience, but we also take on the roles of mentors and educators, making sure your time with us is both enriching and enjoyable.

Out on the river, our guides prioritize your safety while ensuring that your group has fun while gaining valuable insights and knowledge about fly fishing. We blend safety, adventure, and a wealth of information to create a memorable experience.

We also offer Certified Professional Float Fishing & Walk Wade Guide Training Courses on an annual basis. These courses, led by Certified Guide Instructors in Colorado, are renowned for their thoroughness and effectiveness in training new walk wade and float fishing guides. Our Gunnison Gorge team goes above and beyond regional standards, with mandatory training in Swiftwater Rescue Techniques (SRT) and Advanced First Aid/CPR certifications.

Through partnerships with key public land organizations such as the US Forest Service, US National Park Service, US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Colorado State Parks & Wildlife, we provide our guests with a diverse selection of high-quality waters to explore. This ensures year-round access to various fly fishing environments, from rivers and streams to creeks and still waters.

Sustainability and responsible resource management are also at the heart of our values. We take concrete steps to support these principles. Every year, we collaborate with local and national non-profit organizations dedicated to preserving and protecting our local, regional, and industry-wide resources. Our involvement includes active participation in boards, local schools and working groups, hosting an annual film tour fundraiser to support river health, making donations, organizing river cleanups, investing in youth internships and taking measures to reduce waste and minimize our environmental impact both at the Fly Shop and on the water. We firmly believe that giving back to the environment and the community brings a sense of fulfillment both professionally and personally.


At RIGS, we prioritize sustainability, resource stewardship and protection by putting our money where our mouth is. Each year, we support and collaborate with local and national non-profits organizations dedicated to the preservation and protection of the local, regional and industry wide resources we all enjoy. Whether it’s our active participation on boards and working groups, annual film tour fundraiser to support river health, donations, good old fashion river cleanups or reinvestment’s in reducing our waste and consumption footprint at the Fly Shop and on the water, we believe in giving back.

Below is a list of some of the primary organizations we work with, appreciate and encourage you to support:

The Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership (UWP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the water resources of the Uncompahgre River watershed in western Colorado. The UWP works to promote healthy aquatic ecosystems and sustainable water management practices in the region through collaboration and partnerships with local communities, resource managers, and other stakeholders. The organization’s goals and activities include monitoring water quality, conducting scientific research, promoting responsible land use practices, river clean up projects and advocating for conservation policies and programs. Additionally, the UWP provides educational and outreach opportunities for people interested in learning more about the importance of the Uncompahgre River watershed and the role of responsible water management in preserving this valuable resource for future generations.

Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (CBHA) is a state chapter of the national Backcountry Hunters & Anglers organization, which is dedicated to protecting public lands and waters and the hunting and fishing opportunities they provide. CBHA focuses on protecting access to backcountry hunting and fishing opportunities, promoting responsible wildlife management, and advocating for the conservation of public lands and waters in Colorado. The organization is made up of a community of hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts who are passionate about these issues and are committed to making a difference. CBHA works with local, state, and federal agencies, as well as other conservation organizations, to ensure that the Colorado’s public lands and waters are managed in a sustainable and responsible manner providing opportunities for people interested in learning more about the importance of conserving these resources.

Colorado Trout Unlimited (CTU) is a non-profit group dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. CTU is focused on preserving and enhancing the quality of Colorado’s trout streams, rivers, and lakes for the benefit of future generations of anglers and the health of the ecosystems they support. The organization is comprised of a network of volunteers and professional staff who work together to advocate for responsible and sustainable management of these natural resources. This includes conducting and supporting scientific research, promoting conservation policies, and working with local communities and stakeholders to promote healthy and productive aquatic habitats with coldwater conservation and responsible angling practices.

American Whitewater is a national non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and protection of the nation’s whitewater resources. The organization works to ensure that these resources are managed and protected for the benefit of future generations of paddlers, as well as for the health of the ecosystems they support. American Whitewater also provides educational and outreach opportunities for people interested in learning more about whitewater paddling and the importance of conservation and responsible river use.

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and protection of bonefish, tarpon, and permit species and their habitats. BTT is focused on improving the understanding of these species, their ecology, and the threats they face, with the goal of ensuring that these species remain abundant and accessible to future generations of anglers. The organization works in close collaboration with scientists, resource managers, and local communities to promote responsible and sustainable management of these resources.

EcoAction Partners is a sustainability organization that tracks the regions greenhouse gas emissions and provides programs that reduce energy and waste. They currently run programs throughout the greater San Miguel County and Ouray County region to accomplish greenhouse gas reduction, focusing primarily on energy, and waste. Their staff and volunteers actively support sustainability in our community through programs such as our Green Business Certification Program, Truth or Dare Community Challenge, and Zero Waste Teams at Telluride’s festivals, regional events, and much more.
RIGS has been a Green Business with EcoAction Partners since 2011.


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