Fly Fishing on the West Branch Delaware River

Where to Fish on the West Branch of the Delaware River, New York (Maps, Flies and More)

Fly fishing along the East Coast of the United States presents anglers with many different opportunities and great variety. From the Northeast all the way down to the Southeast, anglers are privileged with access to phenomenal dry fly streams and elite trout waters. Perhaps the most famous is the West Branch of the Delaware River in New York.

A rainbow from the West Branch caught with a Stonefly
A rainbow from the West Branch caught with a Stonefly

A Little Bit About the West Branch of the Delaware River in New York

The West Branch of the Delaware River is around 90 miles long. It flows southwest through the Catskill Mountains and eventually meets up with the East Branch near the northeast border of Pennsylvania and New York. Around halfway through the river, it runs into the Cannonsville Dam and the Cannonsville Reservoir.

This section of the river is well-known for easy access, good wading conditions, and phenomenal trout numbers. Anglers are going to be treated to the world-famous dry fly fishing conditions that make this river so elite.

I’ve given you some of my favorite places to fish on the West Branch below.

Guide Pro Tip: I’ve got a complete guide to Fly Fishing in New York State. Everything you need in a single article 👉 Best Places to Fly Fish in New York

South of Delhi- Some More Peace and Quiet

Just south of the town of Delhi, anglers will find a beautiful eddy and a nice section of riffles and pools. This is the ideal place to hop in and wade your way up and downstream.

Most of the year, you’ll find that the water is fairly easy to navigate. This section of water is going to work well for streamers and nymphs, but dries should still be the primary target. The pools and riffles are the perfect places to spend time while the hatches are occurring. Check out this article 👉 Tactics to Read Water

Hamden Covered Bridge- Perfect Dry Fly Water

The Hamden Covered Bridge is northeast of the town of Hamden, and it’s another easy access point for anglers. This section of the river widens out and makes wading extremely easy. If you want to launch a drift boat here, you also can. You’ll have to carry it down to the water, but it’s an ideal place to drop in for the day.

Dry flies and nymphs work well here. The middle section of this run can get deep and work for streamers, but bouncing nymphs and placing dries are going to be your best bet. You’ll find that the morning and evening hatches are the best times to access this stretch of river above the Cannondale Reservoir.

Guide Tip: Don’t forget your license, heck how much do they cost? 👉 How Much is a Fishing License in New York

Hale Eddy Bridge- Phenomenal Water

If you want to fish below the Cannondale Reservoir, the Hale Eddy Bridge is the place to start your journey. Quite a bit of this stretch of river is challenging to access, so it can get crowded around the bridge. Check out the webcam 👉 Hale Bridge Webcam

Wade your way downstream a way, and you’ll find that it clears out fairly quickly. You can eventually work your way back up, but the further down you get, the less pressured the fish.

Hale Eddy Fishing Access
Hale Eddy Fishing Access – image credit Google Maps – LINK

Why West Branch of the Delaware is Perfect for Fly Fishing

Not only does the West Delaware offer anglers the ideal fishing conditions, but you also get a great amount of variety. Above the Cannondale Reservoir, anglers will find a section of water filled with riffles and pools. You have some great technical fishing opportunities and plentiful access.

Holding a rainbow trout
Holding a rainbow trout from the West Branch of the Delaware

Below the reservoir, anglers have year-round fishing right at their fingertips. This stretch of river is considered a tailwater, and the fish are extremely healthy. Wild brown trout, brook trout, and rainbow trout are all at anglers’ fingertips.

When you make your visit, you’ll find several fly fishing lodges, outfitters, and fly shops. Plus, the number of nearby hotels and restaurants makes this river an easy place to visit. You’ll get the beauty of the Catskill Mountains and some of the conveniences of the city. You won’t run out of water to fish and things to do when you visit the West Branch of the Delaware River.

What Stream Flow is Best for Fishing the West Branch of the Delaware River

If possible, fish this water between 400 and 700 CFS. Throughout the runoff season, this river can easily get above 2,000 CFS and that makes fishing extremely challenging. Water that’s somewhere between 400 and 700 CFS is easy to wade and it’s decent water to float. You’ll get the best of both worlds at these rates.

West Branch of Delaware River Streamflow at Hale Eddy
West Branch of Delaware River Streamflow at Hale Eddy – image credit USGS – LINK

Make sure you pay attention to the water release schedule if you plan on fishing below the Cannondale Reservoir. You don’t want to find yourself caught wading when water is set to be released.

What Kind of Fish Can You Catch on the West Branch of the Delaware River?

How to Fly Fish for Brown Trout
Read more to with this link 👉 How to Fly Fish for Brown Trout

On the West Branch of the Delaware, anglers are going to find mainly brown trout. These brown trout are both wild and stocked. The water conditions allow for the brown trout to naturally reproduce, so the stocking efforts have decreased in recent years.

Anglers will also find nice populations of rainbow trout and wild brook trout.

The fish caught will be somewhere between 15 and 20 inches.

Favorite Flies for the West Branch of the Delaware River

Woolly Bugger
Woolly Bugger
Stone Fly Pattern
Stone Fly Pattern
Blue Wing Olive Fly Pattern
Parachute Blue Wing Olive Fly Pattern

White Woolly Bugger- size 8

If you want a chance to throw streamers, stick with a white Woolly Bugger. These are going to fit well into the smaller pools and eddies you’ll find on the river. You can swing, dead drift or strip these streamers depending on what is working.

Black Elk Hair Stone- size 14-18

The Black Elk Hair Stone is one of the best fly patterns anglers can use on the West Branch of the Delaware River. Stonefly hatches are fairly common on the river, so the pairing with the elk hair is going to keep these high on the water column.

Sparkle Dun- size 18-22

The Sparkle Dun is the perfect Blue Winged Olive imitation. The more BWO flies you can use, the more fish you catch.

Hatch Chart for the West Branch of the Delaware River

FlySizeTime of Year
Black Stonefly12-18April 1-April 30
Little Black Caddis16-18April 1-April 30
Blue Quill14April 15-May 15
Blue-winged Olive14-18April 15-October 15
Slate Drake12-14May 15-September 30
Light Cahill12-14May 15-July 31
Sulphur14-20May 15-August 30
Golden Stonefly10June 1-August 30
Terrestrials16-22July 1-September 30
Trico24July 15-September 1

Fly Rod and Reel Setup for the West Branch of the Delaware River

The west branch of the Delaware River is best fished with a 4-weight or 5-weight 8’6” or 9’ rod. Anglers are going to want the added length due to the high number of dry flies that are used on this river. You can more easily lay them down with the extra length.

Orvis Clearwater 5 wt 9 foot Combo
Orvis Clearwater 5 wt-9 foot Combo

The Perfect Fly Rod Combo for the West Branch of the Delaware

Orvis originated in the fly fishing business. The Orvis Clearwater Combo is perfectly balanced and comes with everything except flies. It’s so easy to cobble together an outfit that just doesn’t cast right. No worries with that using the Clearwater Fly Rod Combo.

Most anglers choose to use a moderate fast-action rod. The moderate action allows you to have a bit more sensitive setup than you would with a traditional fast-action rod. You’ll still have the power but also have enough sensitivity.

Guides and Fly Shops

Cobble Creek OutfittersCobble Creek offers fully guided fly fishing trips on the West Branch, and their reputation is phenomenal. They’re located in Pulaski, NY.

Delaware River Club: The Delaware River Club is one of the more famous fly fishing outfitters on the Delaware. They’re located in Starlight, PA.

Last Cast for the West Branch of the Delaware River

If you want to be challenged but rewarded for quality fly fishing, the West Branch of the Delaware River is the perfect river. The fish have seen flies, but they don’t refuse to eat them. As long as you’re able to properly present them, you’ll have plenty of success. The West Branch of the Delaware is a world-famous river for a reason, so anglers should do their best to fish it.

Danny Mooers is a high school English teacher in Arizona with a love for fly fishing. Growing up in Minnesota gave him the opportunity to experience all types of fishing and grow his skills. After living out in the Western United States for several summers in college, his fly fishing obsession grew. Having the opportunity to share in his passion for fishing through writing is a dream come true. It’s a lifelong hobby and he strives to make it understandable for people of all skill levels

More Resources

  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation: With more than 7,500 lakes and ponds and 70,000 miles of rivers and streams, there are plenty of places to try freshwater fishing in New York!  Find Everything at:
  • Delaware River Club: The Delaware River Club is a renowned fly fishing destination on the West Branch of the Delaware River. You can visit their website at:
  • Catskill Flies: Catskill Flies is a fly shop that provides information, guided trips, and supplies for fly fishing in the Catskill region, including the West Branch of the Delaware River. Their website is:
  • The Fly Fishing Forum: The Fly Fishing Forum is an online community where anglers share their knowledge and experiences. You can browse through their forum threads or ask specific questions about the West Branch of the Delaware River. Visit their website at:
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