See Below for Maps, Rivers, Flies and More for Colorado Fly Fishing
I think one of the unique things about fly fishing in Colorado is that you can get to World Class – “Gold Medal” waters without completely getting lost in the wilderness. Who wants to wade for a couple miles and not be able to relax with a beverage and enjoy a comfortable nights rest. The combination of having excellent accommodations close to great fly fishing is awesome.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife maintains over 300 “Gold Medal” river miles, with access and management to truly grow trophy sized fish sustainably. Here’s a link to CPW.
Luckily, I’ve devoted time resources and sore fingers to help the fly fisher find the Best Places to Fly Fish along with dedicated guides to the most popular rivers like the: Animas, Fryingpan, South Platte and Colorado.
When to Fish in Colorado
My favorite time is fall for tossing flies in Colorado. The crowds are dying down, water temperatures are dropping from summer highs and many of the hatches are still active. To help planning when you can check out the guide to When to Fly Fish in Colorado Below.
Flies and Hatches for Colorado
Every river is going to be unique for best flies, but you should always have some of what I call “Foundational” flies in your fly box. Many of the river guides below will have included hatch charts.
If you’d like to learn more about bugs and the life cycle to improve your fly fishing skills, check out this article Fly Fishing Entomology (Bugs that Catch Fish)
Foundational Flies for Colorado
- Terrestrials like grasshoppers in size 8 or ants in size 18
- Stonefly like the Golden Stone in size 8. A must have from May to July
- Caddis, I’m pretty traditional and carry Adams and Elk Hair in sizes 12 – 18.
- Midge, carry both dry and nymph. My go to is a Griffith’s (<-YouTube Link) for dry in size 18-20 and size 18 Zebra midge as a nymph.
- Pheasant Tails and San Juan Worms in a variety of colors and sizes.
- BWO, it seems like blue wing olives are a must have as well. I’ll often turn to these when nothing else is working, but I still see fish rising.
Guide Pro Tip: Every river has it’s “moods” and until you can get in tune with what’s happening visit a local fly shop and ask a couple questions about the hot flies. (and buy some flies) Another great way to build a fly box is to start out with a collection. I did a YouTube video HERE on the Ventures Fly Company 40 pcs Collection (<-Link to Amazon)
Who can Help you Fly Fish in Colorado? (Guides and Fly Shops)
I completely understand that fly fishing any new water can be intimidating. Here’s the trick, get somebody to help. Even after over 30 years of fly fishing I still hire guides. Why? You can learn more in a day with a guide than you can in 30 trips on your own.
Expedition Outside – If you really want to experience the Animas River, you’ve got to contact Expedition Outside (link) You’ll get access to the best water, heck you won’t even need a guide because you’ll be fishing private waters only available to a SELECT few. This is a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED way to hook up with eager fish in the best water. Check out the private water list HERE.
Taylor Creek Fly Shop– Located in Basalt, the Taylor Creek fly shop has all of the equipment and information you need to land fish on the Fryingpan. They also have a full guide service. Highly recommended – Say Hi to Scott and tell him David sent you to Taylor Creek Fly Shop
The South Platte Fly Shop should be one of your first stops when fly fishing the South Platte River. It has a full guide service and all of the equipment you would need for a day on the water. It’s located in Woodland Park.
Vail Valley Anglers is probably the best fly shop in the area. A full-service shop with equipment, flies and guides.