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Fly Fishing in Denver: The Local Hotspots

Discover Quality Fly Fishing Waters Near Denver

When people think of fly fishing in Denver, their minds often drift to the miles of crystal clear rivers deep in the Rockies west of the city. This was certainly the case for me when I first began visiting Denver. However, it wasn’t until I started speaking with locals and visiting fly shops that I realized there was some quality water not far from my front door.

Since those conversations, I’ve had the opportunity to land impressive fish not far from the city limits. With a bit of creativity and hard work, you too can experience some beautiful fly fishing in the western United States.

Denver South Platte: Over 15 Species of Fish to Catch

The South Platte River is a legendary place for Colorado anglers. While the “dream stream” portion of the river is a ways away from the city, there is a portion known as the “Denver South Platte” that still produces a nice amount of fish. It runs for 26 miles from the Chatfield Reservoir all the way to 120th Ave.

With approximately 750 fish per mile, you’ll find trout, walleye, carp, bass, catfish, and a variety of other species that you can land. While the water may be somewhat cloudy, there is still plenty of food and fish. Whether you choose to wade or fish from shore, be careful with your casting to avoid hitting anyone with your line.

Clear Creek: Trout Water in the City

Clear Creek is accessible starting in Golden, which is about 30 minutes west of Denver. This creek offers a great amount of public access in the “canyon” and right around Golden. Clear Creek holds a nice population of rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout. While the creek can get filled during the spring due to snow melt, as soon as that subsides in May, the fishing starts to be productive, and the fish will hit dries all through the summer.

South Boulder Creek: A Unique Fly Fishing Experience

If you have the ability to travel about 40 minutes north of Denver and get to Boulder, you should consider fly fishing on South Boulder Creek. It is a tailwater that flows out of the Gross Reservoir. Fish such as brown trout, rainbow trout, cutthroat, and even brook trout can be found here. The stream is filled with large boulders and deep pools, providing a great challenge for anglers of all skill levels.

Recommended Flies for the Denver Area

When fly fishing in the greater Denver area, the flies you use somewhat depend on the water you’re fishing. However, there are a few patterns that have proven effective for me. Worm patterns, heavy buggers, and Adams flies have all worked well. Chubbies and ant patterns have also been successful for me.

The Crystal Bugger in size 6 is a great streamer pattern that consistently produces fish in Denver’s waters. The Squirmy Worm is another go-to pattern, as the fish in the area seem to be fans of worm patterns. Lastly, the Parachute Adams in size 18 is an ideal dry fly search pattern when you’re not quite sure what is hatching.

Recommended Gear for Fly Fishing in the Denver Area

When it comes to gear, you don’t need to get overly complicated for fly fishing in Denver. A standard 9′ 5-weight moderate-fast or fast-action rod will work well. This type of rod allows you to throw dry flies, high stick nymphs, and strip streamers. It provides versatility for various fishing techniques.

For those looking to fly fish for carp in the South Platte, a heavier rig is recommended. Bring along your 7 or 8-weight rod, as these fish can grow to be quite large and require extra power to land.

Resources for Fly Fishing in Denver

Before you head out to fish, make sure to visit the Colorado Parks & Wildlife fishing page for information on locations and fishing license requirements. The High Plains Fly Fishing Club and the Colorado Women Fly Fishers Club are also great resources for local anglers.

Fly Fishing Guides and Fly Shops in Denver

When in need of fly fishing information in Denver, Trouts Fly Fishing is a full-service guide shop that offers guided trips and necessary gear. Ascent Fly Fishing is another excellent option, providing a wide selection of flies and valuable information on fishing local waters.


Fly fishing in Denver can be a productive and enjoyable experience. While many anglers flock to the mountains, there is plenty of water near the city waiting to be explored. By taking the time to discover local hotspots and using recommended flies and gear, you can have a successful fly fishing adventure in Denver. So, grab your rod and get ready to cast a line in these pristine Colorado waters.

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