Alex grew up in Southern Minnesota, a warm water fishing mecca. He spent his summer days on local ponds with his brother, digging up worms and fishing all day till dark. Family camping and fishing trips to Northern Minnesota led to a life of outdoor pursuits and skiing led to an interest in moving to Colorado to attend Western State University in Gunnison, CO in the fall of 2004. The whitewater bug quickly grabbed hold of Alex through raft guiding but oar frames opened up the West and several iconic fly fishing rivers - the shift was already starting where summertime was now his favorite season and oars replaced skis when he experienced a challenging ski accident. Reassessment of what was most important to him, Alex decided to start over to pursue more time in the great outdoors and all the rivers and lakes that Gunnison County has to offer. While the injury sidelined him from skateboarding and mountain biking he picked up a fly rod and found something that would change his life and push him in a new direction. With Dragonfly Anglers on the upper Gunnison River, he was destined to become a fly fishing float guide, combining both his love of whitewater rafting and his passion for fly fishing. After 6 years working the Upper Gunnison, he wanted to stretch his horizons and pursue the lower section of the Gunnison River where it disappears into the Black Canyon and Gunnison Gorge. Alex will be guiding Gunnison Gorge trips when he is not guiding on the upper Gunnison River for Dragonfly Anglers. Alex is thrilled to join the RIGS team "to help you experience one of the nation's greatest treasures". His eagerness to help new fly fisherman and experienced anglers pursue a trip of a lifetime is what fulfills his passions. He’ll be sure you’re well taken care of, teaching trout tactics and getting lots of chances at catching some of the Gunnison River’s finest trout.
A native of Swampscott, Massachusetts, near Boston, Ethan first began his love of fly fishing on small creeks and rivers in New Hampshire with family. The Pemigewasset River, catching brookies on a fly rod, created the mystique and his current obsession with fly fishing to trout. As a young adult, Ethan spent every moment studying each aspect of fly fishing. Soon a fascination about the American west developed. The Rocky Mountains captured his imagination with powerful rivers and their monster trout inhabitants. He was sold! In his early 20’s he moved out west to finish his college degree in outdoor education. After I graduated, leaving Colorado was not an option, instead, he wanted to continue chasing trout with a fly rod in the Rocky Mountains by making it a day-to-day part of his life. From leading raft trips with RIGS, to float fishing, and fly fishing - guiding was obviously next. The best way to describe Ethan's passion for fly fishing is in his own words. "I jump at the opportunity to spend a day on the water with the prospect of sharing my knowledge of the sport that I have come to love. I welcome all to spend a day on the water with me! Does not matter your age or experience level with fly fishing. Just love the opportunity to share my passion for fly fishing with others!"
Patterson has led fly fishing, rafting, and eco-tours throughout Central America, Mexico, and the Southwestern U.S. since 1991. Patterson's degree in Recreation Management from Prescott College set the stage for a career in adventure guiding and a passion for keeping tight lines on his home waters. "It's not just about the fishing, it’s about the people," Patterson says. "Our activities are kind of a metaphor for life. They can teach patience, strategy, versatility, and adapting to conditions."
Chris was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, where he grew up spin fishing all over the state with his family. After college in Durango, he fell in love with the world of fly fishing - exploring everything from Czech nymphing to Tenkara. Now a full-time fly fisherman and guide, Chris began his guiding career in Boulder and Rocky Mountain National Park before coming to RIGS. His favorite day on the water includes a small freestone river, no crowds, lots of trout, peace, and quiet, and then to the vise to tie flies for the next day. With a strong focus on customer service, Chris likes to get all of his clients excited to fly fish in the hopes to create more advocates that help protect our trout and river resources, or as he puts them…" his co-workers and his office".
A native to Colorado, Marisa Murphy, our SUP (Stand Up Paddle) Guide has a deep passion for the sport. She has been paddling on rivers, surfing ocean waves, and enjoying flat water for over 15 years. When the ocean isn’t nearby, Marisa loves to surf the wake any chance she gets. Marisa’s next adventure is to merge her love for fly fishing with standing on a paddleboard…we shall see. For now, her favorite SUP activities are paddling through the riffles of the Lower Gunnison River, enjoying the scenic Ridgway Reservoir, and being in the midst of all the birdlife.
Fly fishing was an interest since childhood. Spencer started learning on his his dad's eagle claw and quickly became focused on understanding fish. At 13, a casting class turned an interest into an addiction. Spencer, enjoys sharing the experience of all things bugs, fish, learning to cast and the thrill of landing the first fish. As proof of his dedication, during his senior year in high school, Spencer took a week off finals to do guide school, and it all started or ended there - fly fishing was to be his life. Wildlife Biology with a minor in Art extended the addiction, further expanding his knowledge and love of entomology and fly tying. "It is important to have a personal goal in fly fishing - my goal is to get to know and catch as many different species as possible". Spencer is an excellent resource for all things fly fishing. Stop by the shop to catch up with him.
Jacob grew up fishing a variety of waters in Texas hill country rivers and the coast. He began his fly fishing journey at the age of 15, quickly going from a casual way to spend the weekend with family and friends, to a true pursuit of passion for each new river and each new fish. A move to Colorado in 2016 expanded that pursuit and chasing trout became second nature. The goal to become a guide soon evolved. With a contagious fun-loving personality and a love for teaching others the art of fly fishing, Western Slope Colorado became the perfect backdrop for his new home. "In this beautiful landscape of Sw Colorado, I will always make sure we are having a good time, learn something new about fly fishing with the goal of catching those beautiful Colorado trout".
Trout Counseling 101. I moved to Colorado in early 2000 in search of fresh powder and to shred all the local skateboard parks that were being built here. Back then my two for one-day adventures would be skateboarding until early afternoon, then off to unwind, fly fish at a local stream. I regularly fished Deckers, Cheesman Canyon, Clear Creek, Elevenmile Canyon, and the Big Thompson River to learn the art of stalking trout on a fly rod. I've been in the fly fishing industry for about 15 seasons and I have an eclectic approach on fly fishing, tying, and guiding clients that create memorable fishing experiences for others. A while ago I worked at SFR, and spent "a lot" of time fishing the day away in the Gunny Gorge and I'm excited to return to the North Fork Valley. I put a ton of effort into fishing excursions and I want you to enjoy the whole outdoor experience on the water, so you are hooked for life. LOL. Some of my fondest fly fishing experiences are fishing the Rio Grande River for trout, carp, pike, and the infamous night bite, ice off at the Delaney Lakes in North Park. Besides all that, Gunny Gorge for life and I can't wait to have another season of helping clients with solution-focused, trout therapy. Tight lines.
A Colorado native, True started fly fishing the lakes and rivers of the Western Slope at the young age of twelve. He has a passion for sharing experiences that "I am spoiled every day with by guiding; a true dream job for me". True is always ready to share his knowledge of the region, fishing, and why he loves the river.
Matt McCannel started his guiding career in Colorado, leading three-day expeditions in the depths of Gunnison Gorge and on the tailwater of the Uncompahgre River inside Ridgway State Park “PACO” in 2004. Were he still guides both locations to this day. Matt's fishing and guiding tactics are outside of the norm but have proven to be very effective for his clients. He is passionate about hunting double-digit trout on his technical home waters of the Uncompahgre River. Matt’s ability to explain the smallest details of the sport to people is a huge driver for the successes of his clients. He takes great pride in capturing the moment for his clients through the lens of his camera. Matt travels the state of Colorado speaking on behalf of RIGS Fly Shop for fly fishing clubs and at fly fishing shows. Matt guides for RIGS Fly Shop in Ridgway, Colorado, on the Uncompahgre River tailwater, and in the Gunnison Gorge. Matt is also proud to be a Sage, SIMMS, Fishpond, and Costa Ambassador, as well as, a royalty tier for Umpqua Feather Merchants. He lives in Ridgway, CO where he relaxes by fishing to Grass Carp just outside his back door.
Zach says he was lucky to be born in Western Colorado. Since he can remember he always wanted to be outside as much as possible. While he grew up spin fishing on local lakes for trout, fly fishing never had really crossed his mind but the fishing was always something he enjoyed. Over the years, even before Zach started as an intern with us, he would visit the shop every week, look at fly patterns and take it all in. He started tying flies about a year before he actually got into fly fishing. Once he got his first fly rod and caught his first fish on a fly he had tied, it made everything that much more enjoyable. He was hooked! Now, he chases trout as much as possible, everywhere from technical tailwaters to high alpine lakes. Let's just say he has immersed himself in all things fly fishing and we look forward to the day when he is old enough to be a guide for us!
Robert started fishing in Japan at age 9, for giant carps and catfish using American made lures such as jitterbugs and Zara-spooks. In 1996, at 14 years old, Robert moved from Japan to Colorado, where he quickly became obsessed with chasing trout and fly fishing. A passionate fly fisher and teacher, he has been spreading the word of fly fishing to anyone that comes his way and has interest. Robert's enthusiasm and knowledge have quickly gained a following as a fly fishing guide.
A Colorado native, Spencer started fly fishing at ten years old. Twenty-two years later his passion for the sport has only grown. As a guide, his goal is to help people strive to make the transition from guided trips only to getting out on their own and catching fish. Spencer's mantra is, "However much I love fly fishing I enjoy teaching people to fly fish even more! If you want to learn, I want to teach you."
Chance grew up in the country of Southern Idaho working on a ranch, where he was introduced to hunting and fishing at an early age. At the age of 20 he came to Colorado and fell in love with the mountains and rivers. Chance's passion for fishing became an obsession, which led him to the guide life, and he sure does love his job! He can't guarantee a hatch, big fish, sunshine, or perfect flows, but he can guarantee that you will have a good time and get to see why he is so passionate about this place!
Kevin, a long-time RIGS team member, has been picking apart the rivers, high country creeks, and lakes of the region for over 20 years. A fun-loving personality, he brings extensive knowledge of fishing techniques, entomology, and our local area. If it is outside, you will find him exploring in his Chinook - and most of the time chasing fishing or live music.
Born and raised in Colorado, Jack has had a fly rod in his hand for as long as he can remember. Raised by fly fishing guides, he began his exploration of fishing on the front range. In 2015, he moved to the Western Slope where his passion for fishing exploded. Jack loves spending time outdoors year-round in all forms - skiing, fishing, mountain biking, and camping. He never takes for granted how lucky he is to make a living teaching his passion in the beautiful landscape of Western Colorado.