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  • Writer's pictureMagdalena Alvarez

On the Fly with JD Fly Fishing

The water of the Gunnison River quietly lapped against the smooth rocks of the boat launch.  Warmed by the August sun, the rocks made a satisfying crunch underfoot as Jeffrey “JD” Dean made his way to the edge and paused to breathe deeply, enjoying the fresh breeze coming off the river.  This was one of his favorite spots to launch fly-fishing excursions, and he allowed his mind to wander, remembering some of the relationships he’d developed out on the water.

The peaceful flow of the water, the cathartic motion of casting, the thrilling tug at the end of the line, and the companionship of a good listener are the perfect recipe for a relaxing hobby.  But for many people who have fished with JD, it is much more.  It is a deeply meaningful and healing experience.

Today, however, was not going to be the typical quiet afternoon of fishing.  The rocks began to sound with louder and louder crunching as a crowd gathered around JD.  They cheered him on as he cut a gold ribbon, signifying the official launch of JD Fly Fishing.  It was a dream come true to center his business around the pastime he loved, after many decades of challenges, distractions, and even a life-altering accident as a young teenager.

JD’s passion for fishing began when he was a boy, fishing the “cricks” in Ohio with his grandfather.  One year for Christmas, he received a fly-tying kit.  He was instantly hooked on the slow, patient art form and he passed many winter days teaching himself to tie flies.  The town in Ohio where JD spent the early years of his life was a small one, where installing a stop light was worthy of front page coverage!  Later in life, when JD had the good fortune to retire from the corporate world, he relocated from the Denver Metro area to the small town of Austin, on the Western Slope of Colorado, seizing the opportunity to return to his small town roots.  After living in Austin for nine years, JD recently moved a bit further up the slopes of the Grand Mesa to Cedaredge (also a one-stoplight town).

It may be surprising to hear what it takes to become a professional fly fishing guide in Colorado, but it sets an important standard.

JD has volunteered with the local Fly Fishers International/Trout Unlimited chapter, Gunnison Gorge Anglers, in various capacities for years.  JD has also completed rowing and guide training with Colorado West Slope Fly Fishing, Sunrise Anglers, RIGS and Gunnison River Expeditions, and has been an Orvis Endorsed Guide since 2012.  JD has accumulated over 500 hours of river and classroom time.

When JD decided it was time to get serious about making a business of fly fishing, he knew he would need help.  “When I was in high school,” he laughed, “we had only one computer in the whole school, and it was so big it had to be installed in a closet.  I knew nothing about websites or any of that.” He reached out to Cassie Fortman of Sassy Creative to design his website, logo, and business cardsHis next move was to join the Grand Mesa Business Guild.  “I like the community focus of the Guild,” he explained.  “The direction it’s going will help small businesses succeed.”  Knowing he has support in areas of his business where he is inexperienced allows him to focus on continuing to expand his skills as a guide and spend more time on the river sharing his passion.

JD delights in guiding people of all ability levels on a wide range of waters throughout Southwestern Colorado.  He offers full or half day “floats” or “walk/wade” trips. Customers can expect an easy-going, relaxed experience when they book a tour with JD Fly Fishing.  In fact, one of JD’s business mottos is, “No mobility, no problem.”

Guiding, to JD, is much more than just teaching people how to fish, it’s a chance to connect and listen. JD has been involved with the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) program which, through fly fishing and fly tying, helps militarily disabled veterans discover the hope and healing that can be found on a river’s edge. JD’s calls to invite PHWFF participants to  fish or tie flies one on one has literally been life-saving.  As one of the veterans he worked with shared with JD, “When you’d call me up, I’d think I just had to give life one more try.”

But not all of JD’s interactions are somber and quiet. In fact, when he gathers with other fly tiers and “socializers” for regular meetings of the “Flies and Lies Social Club,” the atmosphere can best be described “never serious, ever entertaining, and slightly obnoxious!” Depending on who you ask, the primary purpose of the gatherings is to either “tie flies” or “tell lies.

Both fly tying and guiding are avenues for helping people, which is the bottom line for JD. 

If you’d like to book a trip with JD, buy some of his “proven on local waters” flies, or get the schedule for Flies and Lies, he can be reached at

If you’d like more specifics regarding services offered by JD Fly Fishing, JD’s website is located at


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