Fly Fishing: A Deep Dive with Ibex’s Niki Cousins

Niki Cousins is making waves in Denver – in more ways than one. First, she was hired as the assistant manager of our Cherry Creek North store in June, then promoted to manager in early September. A relative newcomer to fly fishing, her passion for the sport has led to fast progression as an angler and an important role in Colorado’s Greenbacks, a Trout Unlimited affiliated organization. In fact, under Niki’s leadership, the store now hosts a monthly fly tying event where the Greenbacks provide all the tools and materials and brings in a guest fly tyer to instruct how to tie a specific fly. The August event had a spectacular turnout.

We sat down with Niki and were inspired by her passion for the sport, the places it has taken her, and what she’s doing to ensure that anglers are ambassadors for our wild and scenic waterways.

How long have you been fishing?

I have actually only been fishing for a little over a year and a half. I was introduced to it by a friend and after the first fish, I was hooked (pun intended). The following week I went to a women’s night at a local fly shop and that weekend I did a women’s 101 class. I really dove in head first. One of the women I met that night was Heather Sees, the president of the Greenbacks. She took me under her wing and since then we have been fishing all over.

What is your favorite part of fishing?

My favorite part of fishing is the solitude. I think of it as my time to meditate and really appreciate nature and what we have here in Colorado.

What’s your fly of choice?

I love a Parachute Adams, not such a cool name, but if I am nymphing, my go-to is the Purple Psycho Prince nymph.

Who are the Greenbacks and how are they involved in the conservation and preservation of our wild waterways?

The Greenbacks have been working with CPW and other Colorado Trout Unlimited chapters on the reintroduction of the native greenback cutthroat trout into their natural habitats. We work with youth and future generations to teach them the importance of conservation. We also just started an annual river cleanup that is coming up October 7th.

Volunteers teaching kids the importance of conservation.

What do you do with the Greenbacks?

I plan the monthly tying nights and coordinate donations for the materials. I create the graphics for events, help with social media, pretty much anything they ask me to, as well as volunteer for events.

What are you doing to help the sport and the resources it relies on?

I am always taking every opportunity to teach people about conservation and caring for the fish. In addition to volunteering with the Greenbacks, I’m a mentor for a group called The Mayfly Project. We mentor children in foster care through fly fishing. The kids go through a 5 stage program that takes them through the basics of fly fishing and the value of conservation.

Is climate change affecting your sport?

Climate change is definitely affecting the sport. Water flows and levels have changed, spring runoff is higher and faster, the temperature is changing. This is forcing fish to new areas and new habitats. As we have seen in the past with dams, or pollution, humans have a detrimental impact on nature. Hopefully one day we might make a big difference for our future generations and the world we live in.

Join Niki and friends on October 7th for the annual river cleanup.

Most of the anglers we know are dudes, do you see more women getting into the sport?

There are A LOT of dudes! Colorado has a large number of women anglers and it’s increasing quite a bit. But you can definitely tell it is a male-dominated sport when some dude in a fly shop doesn’t take you seriously as a woman angler.