Fly Fishing in Arizona – 8 Best Places to Fly Fish

For anglers, South-western Arizona offers numerous opportunities. Below you will discover some of the most popular spots for Fly Fishing in Arizona.
Fly Fishing Arizona

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Due to good job opportunities and great weather, the Southwest regions of the United States are booming as relocation areas.

Although these are two reasons why people are relocating to the Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona areas, there are others;outdoor activities like fly fishing, hiking and mountain biking play a major role.

1. Salt River

Salt River

Situated only 25 miles from Phoenix, Salt River is an incredible rainbow trout fishery, especially over the winter. So plan to visit the South West for your trip to Salt River over your winter fly fishing break.

If you’re struggling to catch trout in winter then see our Winter Trout Fly Fishing tips here.

Even during the summer, the river has a cold water supply from the extreme depths of Saguaro Lake. Despite this, only a small section of Salt River is a viable rainbow trout fishery. It is stocked every year over the winter. After a good rainfall, expect to reel in some good trout.

Only a few segments of the river support trout populations. Some of these include the Phon D. Sutton, Coon Bluff and the User’s Water Recreational Area. Check when the fish are stocked in the fly fishing in Arizona Report so you know when to visit.

English Pheasant Tail nymph, Elk Wing Caddis and Blue Winged Olive are some of the flies to use as bait on your fly fishing trip to Salt River.

2. Black River

Black River

To get away from the intense Phoenix heat, you can head over to the White Mountains near Show Low, AZ, where you will find the Black River. It stretches for about 114 miles and it is home to many fish species. Even if nothing catches, the proximity of the Black River to the White Mountains provides breath-taking views.

In late summer and fall, the river near Show Low loses water, but you can still visit the upper section of the freestone stream to fly fish Apache Trout. The Apache Trout is a unique species to Southwest Arizona and it is on the bucket list of many fly anglers.

You can also fish Brown Trout and Smallmouth Bass from the lower reaches of the river.

Most of these parts of the Black River Arizona are accessed by forestry roads. Be careful when fly fishing in the area and respect the trout stream and natural ecosystems.

3. Lee’s Ferry Area of Colorado River

Lees Ferry Area

All Arizona fly fishing guides contain information about the Lee’s Ferry area because it is one of the area’s best trout fishing destinations. It is a Tailwater Trout fishery meandering for over 15 miles from Lake Power toward the Grand Canyon.

As you fish, the massive red sandstone cliffs will enchant you while you wait for the wild Rainbow Trout to strike. The gravel bars, riffles and deep pools along this stretch of the river make it an exceptional fly fishing experience.

The Lee’s Ferry Area is an all-year-round fly fishing destination for trout, with summer being the busiest because of its cold water. It is a great opportunity to cool off even when the trout aren’t biting. The spawning season for rainbow trout begins later in the fall and extends through winter.

Fly fishing in spring can be challenging because of the melting snow around Lake Powell.

The best access point to this area of the Colorado River is Lee’s Ferry. Plan your visit around late fall or early winter, when wading to the lower reaches of the river are effortless.

If you visit the river in the off-peak months, you will avoid the crowds. Make sure you have suitable flies like the Little Black Stonefly Nymph, Zebra Midge, Midge Fly or Dawkins’s DD Midge.

4. Oak Creek

Oak Creek AZ Fishing

Oak Creek is a spectacular Arizona fly fishing destination. It flows through the Oak Creek Canyon, located in Sedona. Its water is clear for the most part and it has high populations of trout.

The Page Springs Fish Hatchery is responsible for restocking the stream to maintain the trout population on Oak Creek. The fish start fighting for survival around Grasshopper Point where the water warms.

For the best catch, go about six miles north of Sedona where the trout thrive year-round.

Some of the population here are Brookies, Rainbow, and Brown Trout. The best place for Brookies is in North Fork, but you can try other areas where Oak Creek flows into the Verde River.

The nearby West Fork Trail is for single or barbless fly fishing. So, for fly anglers looking for catch and release prospects, West Fork Trail is the best.

Good flies for this trip include the BWO, Woolly Bugger and the Pheasant Tail.

5. Canyon Creek

Canyon Creek

Canyon Creek is a tributary of Salt River that stretches for 50 miles from the Tonto National Forest to the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation. Over the years, the creek has been undergoing restoration, thanks to the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Trout Unlimited.

The best place to fly fish in these parts is from the OW Bridge toward the Apache Indian Reservation. Fly fishing on native land requires a permit from the reservation.

Like many locations in the area, Midges and BWOs will be your best bet here.

6. Little Colorado River

Little Colorado River

The Little Colorado is a small stream in the White Mountains on Mt. Baldy.  Be prepared to carry hiking gear to get into one of the best and least populated locations for fly fishing trout in Arizona.

At its headwater, you can find Apache Trout, Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout. Apache Trout are rare so you are lucky if you get to fish one. Use flies such as small Streamers, Blood Midges and BWOs.

7. Silver Creek

Silver Creek

Stretching only two miles, Silver Creek is yet another fantastic destination located near Show Low. It is owned by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and it is home to a high population of trout.

Most of the fly fishing here is done from the banks of the river since wading is quite demanding. The river near Show Low is home to Apache and Rainbow Trout and it is one of the largest trout fisheries in Arizona.

To take part in the catch and release sessions, the best time to visit Silver Creek is October through the end of March. It can be a great escape from the valley heat.

Blood Midges, Leech Streamer Patterns and BWOs are the best choices here.

8. Bright Angel Creek

Bright Angel Creek

Located within the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is Bright Angel Creek. It is a great place for high elevation trout, albeit challenging to gain access to. The South Kaibab Trail can take you there, but it is a seven-mile-long hike with a 5,000-foot elevation change.

You may have to overnight in the canyon to get an entire day to fly fish Brown Trout in this part of Arizona.

Since not many people are up to the hike, the fish are plentiful, especially wild Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout measuring up to 18 inches.

Don’t forget to bring BWOs or other Nymphs.  Always review the fishing AZ report to understand the best fly fishing season.

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CLICK HERE to see more of our favourite fly fishing destinations.

Planning on a fly fishing trip to Colorado? Then check out our Best Fly Fishing in Colorado – Top 10 Fly Fishing Rivers here.

Fly Fishing in Arizona References

Arizona State Parks and Trails
Arizona Flycasters

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