slayer, there are 2 tailwaters I know of that have little to no crowds and produce nice fish. Better even is the fact bait is legal!
Of the ones you listed, the fryingpan is my fav. but I don't like tailwaters too much.
ive only been flyfishing a couple years so when i go I look for places that i get constant action without having to use the smallest fly possible ....i do really good under lake estes with griffths gnats and midge nypms (i cant spell) during the spring i caught a few browns that were over 20 inches one was 23
Taylor = Biggest tailwater fish I have seen, but always crowds with only about a half mile of public acess below the dam. Best to fish when releasing water out of dam cuz fish move around, eat mysis regularly, and are not spooked as easily. Look for thos fish staged up infront of big boulders. Hooking them is one thing, but landing them is another due to light tippets needed. Those fish know how to wrap you around a rock before you even know what happened.
Frying Pan = Grande fish as well, but always crowded. More public access down stream and can be fun when a good hatch comes off (Green Drakes) and the fish are keyed in on them. The toilet bowl always harbors a ton of giant fish, but you will always see several people fishing it all day. Again I like to fish it when they are releasing water out of the dam (meaning more than the average flow) cuz it gets the fish moving and it flushes tons of mysis out of the dam. Due to drought years they have not released water out of the reservoir in years and the pan has been flowing at 100 cfs for years, witht the exception of a day or two releases. I remember years ago in the sping the flows would be at 1,000 cfs for a month or two and you could fish the bend pool, flats, toilet bowl and catch fish all day. The fish are smart and with the daily pressure they know where to hide to get away from constant water beating.
Dream Steam = Has to be the most consistent for natural hatches and bug life, with plenty of public access and fishable water. There are some brusers in there, but again they are tough to get to under the big cut banks and deep holes. Oh yea, probably the most annoying aspect about fly fishing is WIND, and boy can it blow up there.
Blue = Big fish that know where to hide. Again, usually minimal flows of 52 cfs which makes the fish run and hide. Typical pounding by fisherman every day. You have to walk and look for fish most of the time. There are always big fish hanging out in the upper few miles, but with the low water I believe they tend to move up towards the spill way or they go down river to deeper water on private land, but try fishing it when flows are high and you will see bigger show themselves. Most of the time its small, small midge patters and mysis, but when they release water the mysis feeding binge comes on strong.
Yampa = Below Stagecoach is fantastic. Does not hold as big of fish as the Taylor or Pan, but has good numbers of nice size fish 20" and over. Good access, lots of pockets, and good bug activity. A great place to bend a rod if you not looking for those 10 to 15 pound piggies. Those fish do exist below catamount reservoir, down river from Stagecoach, but that tail water is private and you can't fish it. There are some real pigs in there and believe it or not some 40" Pike as well.
Cheesman = Never fished it, but I've heard great things, but finicky trout. Smaller river, clear water and spooky fish. Good bet for a shorter drive from the front range.
Williams Fork = Not a long stretch of river, nor a big river, but holds some nice sized fish.
There are many more like the Gunnison (Black Canyon) and others I'm sure I am forgetting, but tailwaters offer some spectacular fishing with man made trout.
My Favorite would have to be the PAN for consistancy, quality and numbers of fish, but any tailwater in Colorado is a great fishery. They are also good to fish during run off when all other rivers are blown out, and basically would be your only option that time of year, other than still water. Gotta love those pigs!
I'd have to rate the Pan #1, yes it's crowded but it's close enough to home and offers up some real monsters. I'd place Cheeseman #2, it'll be a long time before it comes back to the pre-fire days, but it's still an incredible challenge and an easy day trip. Taylor would have to be #3.....but the distance is tough and it's truly combat fishing.
Kortes, Alcova and Gray Reef have the best rainbow fishing I have ever had. Fished all the Colorado spots listed above but it seems crowds have made them a fraction of what they where back in the 80 and early 90. The sad thing is the wyoming spots our heading down the same path as the Colorado hot spots.
The Blue would have to be my favorite because even if the fishing is slow (which it usually is) you can go to the 7-11 and get a big gulp and be back in the water in just minutes. Where else in this country can you do this. Also, at the outlet mall bridge, you can ask the pedestrians to spot fish for you. Not that it helps, though.
For pure fishing pleasure, I like 11-Mile. Just look out for those killer mud snails
I stumbled on the Umcompagre right below ridgeway dam if you've never had a chance take a weekend and try that out. Was a little crowded but a scud and a black midge would keep you watching your indicator and not the crowds.
How can you not love Grey Reef. When else can a Colorado guy be called Greenie in the parking lot and then show the cowboys how its done.