As fishing grows in popularity, so do the areas of the world that are known for their beautiful scenery and large fish. Fly anglers know all about the tailwaters in the west United States and the spectacular beauty that surrounds them. There are, however, quite a few areas of America that are filled with fish and receive minimal pressure.

Rhode Island is a perfect example. Yes, it’s the smallest state in the Union, but the fishing is nothing to scoff at. The proximity to the ocean combined with beautiful rivers makes it a great place to visit for people along the east coast.

Rhode Island Brook Trout Caught on a Fly
Rhode Island Brook Trout Caught on a Fly

Rhode Island has numerous hot spots throughout its 1,200 square miles. It’s truly impressive how much fishing can take place in this small area! On top of it all, you can combine freshwater and saltwater fishing all into the same trip.

1. Wood River – Experience Arcadia with a Fly Rod

For traditional fly anglers, the Wood River is the best place to fish in Rhode Island. It’s located within the 14,000 acre Arcadia Management Area. You can find a variety of species that can all be caught on a fly rod.

You’ll find a nice wild population of brook trout as well as stocked brown and rainbow trout. The Wood River stays cool throughout the summer and wade anglers can cover quite a bit of water in a single day. You’ll find every type of holding spot for fish in the Wood River. You can fish pools, seams, cut banks and riffles. The water clarity is solid throughout the entire summer so be prepared to finesse your way throughout the water and do some sight fishing.

Where to Fly Fish on the Wood River

Access is plentiful on the Wood River and wading isn’t too difficult. Since quite a bit of the river is located within a Management Area, anglers shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a place to hop in and spend the day.

One of the more productive places to access is near the Mount Tom Trailhead. You can follow the river for quite a ways here. Park your car and spend the day enjoying the water!

Recommended Flies for the Wood River

  • Hex Drake in a size 8. The Green Drake hatch on the Wood River is likely the most productive and famous hatch. While it starts late in the evening, it’s well worth the effort to try and fish it.
  • The Chubby Chernobyl is another pattern that anglers must use! Later in the summer the river is filled with terrestrials.
  • Pheasant Tail Nymph in size 14. The Pheasant Tail is a great pattern to use if the fish aren’t tending to be looking at the surface. Fish this through some riffles in the spring and you’ll find fish.
Flies for Rhode Island Fly Fishing
Flies for Rhode Island Fly Fishing

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2. Colt State Park – A MUST for a RI Fly Fisher

If you’re looking to do some saltwater fly fishing, then Narragansett Bay is a must visit for fly anglers. Colt State Park is located in the northern portion of the bay and it’s a perfect place for fly anglers to target striped bass. They’re feed close enough to shore that it’s not an impossible task to land them.

Pay close attention to their feeding habits and patterns and see the best times to target these fish. Saltwater fly fishing is an entirely new experience for people! You need saltwater specific gear and plenty of energy to fight the fish you find. They’re strong, but the action and fight is unlike anything you would find in freshwater.

Where to Fish in Colt State Park

The most productive time to target Stripers is later in the summer. At this point, the weather is quite warm and anglers are going to enjoy the cool water of the ocean when they spend the day outside.

Spend some time along the shores of Colt State Park. It can be a bit rocky so make sure you have good footing and enough room to land a fish. This isn’t the glamorous flats fishing you’ll find in other parts of the state, but you can still land plenty of fish.

Recommended Flies for Colt State Park

  • Clouser Minnows in a size 2. Clouser Minnows are a staple in the world of fly fishing and they can even be used in saltwater. Give these things plenty of action and see what happens!
  • Deceivers in a size 4. Again, Deceivers are a fairly common pattern, but they’ve proven to work year after year.
  • Rhody Flatwings in a size 4. This is a pattern more specific to Rhode Island fly fishing, and it’s definitely well worth an effort.

3. Blackstone River – Restored Fly Fishing Magic

The Blackstone River is proof that restoration efforts from humans can turn a dirty, unfishable river into something that’s presentable and can hold some delicate fish. While it runs through towns and near factories, efforts made by many folks have turned the Blackstone River into a fairly productive trout stream.

You’ll find stocked populations of rainbow and brown trout. These fish often don’t survive the summer due to the warm temperatures so it’s best to target them in the early spring as well as the late fall. Trout season runs from mid-April to mid-February. These fish can grow to surprising sizes in the small amount of time they live in the river. It takes effort, but it’s well worth your time!

Where to Fish on the Blackstone River

There are seven dams throughout the Blackstone River so it’s best to fish just below them if possible. This is where the water is going to be the coolest and anglers will have the most success.

Fish just below the Albion Dam. This is a nice open area that allows for you to achieve some fairly lengthy casts while on the water. You can even drop in a kayak or a canoe if you’re interested in floating the river for a while.

Recommended Flies for the Blackstone River

  • Pheasant Tail Nymph in a size 12. There are nice BWO hatches in the spring and fall so make sure to bring along a few Pheasant Tails to make your life easier.
  • Hex Nymphs in a size 8. There are Stonefly hatches throughout the spring so make sure you have a few of these in your box.
  • Elk Hair Caddis in a size 16. Elk Hair Caddis are a great option for any angler looking for some dry fly action.

4. Sugar Reef/Watch Hill Reef – Cast a Fly to Bonito

Sugar and Watch Hill Reef are located in the southwest corner of Rhode Island. It’s a wonderful area to try some inshore fishing. The strong currents and massive amounts of baitfish in the area make for a wonderful fly fishing experience. Take a shot at bonito, striped bass and false albacore. These fish are beautiful and provide anglers a true saltwater experience!

Bring along your 8 to 10-weight rod with some wire leader. You’ll need the heavy equipment to land these fish. Also, crab and shrimp patterns are going to be your best friend when targeting these saltwater fish. Make sure you visit during the mid-summer when fish are extremely active.

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5. Quonochontaug Pond – Saltwater Fly Fishing

Quonochontaug Pond is a unique fishery in Rhode Island. These “ponds” are actually ocean backwaters that are perfect for fly fishing. Some people may also call these lagoons. You can cover these saltwater ponds with a small boat and spend the entire day landing everything from stripers to bluefish.

Quonochontaug Pond is right between Weekapaug and Quonochontaug. Don’t be fooled! This is a very large “pond” and you would have quite a bit of trouble trying to fish it over a period of several days. Tides are still a factor here so make sure you’re careful and time things correctly. Make sure you bring your 7-10-weight rod with a variety of shrimp and crab patterns.

Also, Deceivers and Clouser Minnows will land fish. As soon as the tide starts rolling in, these fish begin to become more aggressive!


6. Prudence Island – Heavy Duty Fly Fishing

Some Rhode Island fly fishing is going to best be done from a boat. Prudence Island is located in the middle of Narragansett Bay. There are multiple fly fishing charters that you can hire if you’d like a guided saltwater fishing trip. Fish seem to be constantly surface feeding near and around Prudence Island. You’ll find blue fish as well as stripers to be the most active for you.

Bring your 10-weight, wire leader and quite a few Deceiver patterns. Some anglers claim to not have as much success when they use wire leader, but it’s a compromise you may have to make. You might be able to get away with heavy monofilament leader, but you may lose a few fish in the process.

You’ll be tired from a long day on the water, but more than thankful that you find some action.


7. Ninigret Pond – Sight Fishing!

Ninigret Pond is another saltwater pond fly anglers can explore. Again, you’ll find stripers and bluefish throughout the entire body of water! If you’re interested in saltwater fishing, Ninigret Pond is a great place to learn. You’ll see the movements of fish, feeding patterns and even learn more about the importance of understanding tide.

Large bluefish live here! These fish are strong with very sharp teeth and are not afraid to tear through your entire leader if you have a chance. Take advantage of these unique bodies of water! They’re not too common.

Fly Fishing in Rhode Island
Fly Fishing in Rhode Island is the BEST

Recommended Gear for Fly Fishing in Rhode Island

If you’re freshwater fishing, bring along a 4 or 5-weight, floating and weight forward line along with 2 or 3x leader. The trout don’t grow to be massive, but they’re a decent size. Also, make sure you have a nice variety of tippet as well. You’ll have the opportunity to fish some impressive hatches and you want to make sure you’re not scaring the fish.

Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Caddis patterns, Drake Patterns and Stonefly patterns are all must haves when fishing freshwater in Rhode Island. The hatches are plentiful and fish are active. There’s nothing worse than missing out on a great hatch because you don’t have the proper flies.

If you’re fishing saltwater, you need anywhere between a 7-10 weight rod with a saltwater ready reel. The drag system needs to be fully sealed otherwise it will corrode and your equipment won’t last too long! Also, make sure you have monofilament leader as well as wire leader. Fish don’t always love wire leader, but if you can use one and still land fish, it’s best. You won’t have as many fish break you off.

For saltwater flies, bring along Deceivers, Clouser Minnows as well as your fair share of crab and shrimp patterns. When these fish are feeding, they’re ready to eat! The windows don’t always last very long so make sure you’re prepared.


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Official References for Fly Fishing in Rhode Island

Make sure you visit the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management for access to licenses as well as rules and regulations. Saltwater fishing and freshwater fishing have different sets of rules so make sure you’re educated.

Popular Fly Shops in Rhode Island

  • The Saltwater Edge is a great store to visit when looking to learn some local fishing knowledge and stock up on flies!
  • Fin and Feathers Outfitters is another must visit on your next trip to Rhode Island! They have everything you might need for a day on the water!
  • Watch Hill Outfitters should be visited if you’re looking to saltwater fish in Rhode Island. They have years of experience and can offer quite a bit of insight into your next adventure! The layout of the store is pretty unique as well!

Hi David Humphries Owner of Guide Recommended. I love everything to do with fly fishing. Casting, Tying, YouTube, writing about it and even teaching. I’ve got a FREE video workshop teaching how to dry fly fish at this link How 2 Fly Fish