John Tilstra

Colorado Fly Fishing Guide

John Tilstra
Grand Lake, Colorado

To say John is passionate about fly fishing would be a great understatement. He has been guiding at Devil’s Thumb since 2019. His fly fishing journey began at age 6, where he and his father would spend many summer afternoons chasing trout with dry flies on the Colorado River. Fast forward 40 years, and building on decades of fly angling experience, John has evolved into a skilled fly fisherman, instructor, and guide. When he is not guiding here at Devil’s Thumb, he works as a seasonal biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. John is also a tournament fly angler and competes on the Fly Fishing Team USA circuit. He has had the opportunity to compete with and learn from some of the elite fly anglers from around the world and is excited to share his knowledge and love of fly fishing with others.

“As a Biologist, I enjoy working with visitors to Devil’s Thumb to help them understand principles of aquatic ecology and use this knowledge of bugs and habitat to become better fly anglers. Whether you’re someone completely new to the sport or someone wishing to advance your current skill set, I am thrilled to help you get the most out of your fly-fishing adventure.”

While his passion is fly fishing; John also enjoys backpacking, kayaking, tying and designing fishing flies, and playing guitar. He is a fierce advocate for the preservation and sustainability of our local coldwater fisheries and spends a great amount of time every year researching, planning, and participating in projects that enhance the upper Colorado River watershed and fisheries. If you are looking for a fun day on the water and looking to learn or improve your fly-fishing skills, John is excited to hit the rivers and creeks with you.

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