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The Best Fly Fishing Rivers in Colorado


Colorado is renowned as one of the best fly fishing destinations in the country, with its majestic Rocky Mountains providing an abundant waterflow to the rivers on either side of the continental divide. In this article, we will explore some of the best fly fishing rivers in the state of Colorado, organized by region. While this list is not exhaustive, it provides a good starting point for anglers looking to fish in Colorado.

Northeastern Colorado

Upper Colorado River

The Upper Colorado River, starting in Rocky Mountain National Park and extending to the Fraser River, is a legendary river known for its ample and big fish. The scenic backdrop of Gore Canyon makes it a must-fish destination. With its vast coverage, the Colorado River covers a large portion of the state.

Blue River

The Blue River, a tributary of the Colorado River, offers excellent fishing opportunities. Located downstream of Dillon Reservoir, this designated gold water river is accessible and highly productive. Anglers can expect to catch large rainbows and enjoy plenty of action here.

South Platte River

The South Platte River is a highly populated fishery, estimated to have 3,000 fish per mile. While the upper section in Cheeseman Canyon is heavily fished, other stretches of the river offer a bit more solitude and plenty of fish. Sight fishing opportunities abound in this river.

North Platte River

The North Platte River is known for its wild trout and gold medal waters. The headwaters in North Park provide fantastic wading opportunities, while the section near the Wyoming border offers highly productive fishing. Anglers are encouraged to explore the waters in Wyoming for additional fishing opportunities.

Southeastern Colorado

Arkansas River

The Arkansas River flows over 150 miles, from Leadville to the Colorado plains. While it doesn’t produce state record-sized fish, the river is plentiful with populations of various species. Floating down the river is recommended for a more productive day, although the upper stretches also offer fantastic wading opportunities.

Northwestern Colorado

Yampa River

The Yampa River is not only stunningly beautiful but also offers an incredible fishery. With numerous productive stretches throughout the river, anglers can enjoy fishing year-round. Tricos and midges work best early in the season, while golden stonefly patterns tend to perform well.

Fryingpan River

The Fryingpan River, located in the White River National Forest, provides year-round productive fishing. The gold medal water section, from Ruedi Reservoir to the Roaring Fork, offers wild trout and beautiful scenery. Different hatches in different seasons provide opportunities for successful fishing.

Roaring Fork River

The Roaring Fork River, flowing from southeast of Aspen to Glenwood Springs, features two gold medal sections. The stretch between Aspen and Basalt offers great access, while the section near the Crystal River boasts deeper waters and larger fish. For wading, the stretch accessed from the Rio Grande Trail is recommended.

Southwestern Colorado

Gunnison River

The Gunnison River, Colorado’s second-largest river, is a top fishery in the United States. Anglers can expect to land large brown and rainbow trout, as well as kokanee salmon. With its stunning beauty and ample public access, this river offers year-round fishing options. Fishing with streamers after the kokanee fry release tends to be productive.

Animas River

The Animas River, designated as gold medal fishing water, flows from the San Juan Mountains through Durango and into New Mexico. It offers a highly productive year-round fishery, particularly around Durango. While accessing the river without a boat can be challenging, the public areas surrounding Durango provide easy access for wading.

Rio Grande River

The Rio Grande River, famous for its upper sections in southwestern Colorado, offers year-round fishing opportunities. Wading is popular in the upper sections, while float fishing becomes more productive further south. The river holds trophy-sized fish in its gold medal water sections.


Colorado is a fly fishing paradise with its stunning landscapes and abundant rivers. The rivers mentioned in this article are just a few highlights, but there are countless other streams and opportunities to explore. Whether you are a seasoned angler or a beginner, Colorado’s rivers offer endless beauty and plentiful fish. So grab your rod and reel and head out to some of the best fly fishing rivers in Colorado.

Source: Hiking and Fishing

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