While New Hampshire (NH) isn’t featured on the lists of the top fly fishing destinations in the US, if you ever meet a local avid fly fisherman from NH you’re likely to hear about some incredible fishing.
Sitting on the northeast coast of the United States, New Hampshire is home to a wide range of species for fly fishermen to target including brown trout, rainbow trout, native brook trout, and even warm water species like smallmouth bass.
Not only will you find most of the freshwater species a fly fisher might want to target when you’re fly fishing in New Hampshire, the fishing locations you’ll find yourself in are stunning.
Join me as we dive into some of the best fly fishing in New Hampshire ha to offer so can enjoy some amazing fly fishing on your next trip to this awesome state.
12 Best Places for Fly Fishing New Hampshire
1. The Saco River
The Saco River starts in the White mountains national forest and flows out of Saco lake and flows down through North Conway to the town of Conway and into Maine.
The Saco River is a freestone river with sparkling clear waters and is home to a big population of brown trout, and some big brown trout too a long with stoked rainbow trout and brook trout.
It’s not uncommon to find 20 inch browns in the Saco River and combined with the stunning location, it’s certainly one of the best spots to fly fish in New Hampshire.
The river is easy to access and is generally shallow with low flow making wading very easy and casting even easier as you can get away from the trees and bushes behind you.
The section near Saco lake is pretty thin and skinny but has good bookie fishing while the larger fish are in the lower reaches where the river widens out.
Where To Fish On The Saco
‘There are loads of ways to access the Saco as it flows through North Conway. The West Side Road and Crawford Noth Road run parallel to almost the entire river. You can pull off down to any picnic site, campground, or hiking trail to get to the river.
Once you’re fishing, it’s best to walk a while to get away from the road and spooky fish that have seen one too many people.
There are some special rules in terms of access when it comes to this river. The section between Crawford Notch State Park Dam upstream to Willey Pond is for youth anglers only who are 12 and under. Then from Lucy Brook to the Artist Falls Brook confluence is fly fishing only with a catch limit of two brook trout. Check the regulations here .
Recommended Flies For The Saco
- Elk hair caddis
- Zebra Midge
- Price Nymph
2. The Connecticut River
The best river to fly fish in New Hampshire is without doubt the Connecticut River, especially the Upper Connecticut.
Although the Connecticut River may look like a freestone stream, it is actually a tailwater river, which means you can find good fishing throughout the year. The river starts at the Third Connecticut Lake close to the Canadian border and then flows through the second and first Connecticut Lakes too and it is home to some seriously big fish.
The Connecticut river offers fly fishing for landlocked salmon, big brown trout and some stunningly big brook trout too. The fishing can be hard in the winter months and the best time of the year to fish the Connecticut is in May which is also when the salmon run.
Accessing the Connecticut is quite easy as there are logging roads that run into the third lake while there is easy access at both the second Connecticut lake and the first Connecticut lake too.
Where To Fish On The Connecticut
You should start fly fishing on the trophy stretch of the Connecticut which you’ll find just below the first lake and on the map below. You can get to it via the River Road just north of Lake Francis State Park and there are huge salmon, browns, and brook trout waiting to eat your flies.
You should also go fish the stretch below the second lake as this section also holds some serious fish, and the outflow below the third lake is also great and isn’t fished often.
The Connecticut River
If you’re looking for some fly fishing guide services and a great place to stay check out Tall Timber Lodge. Their guides will have you catching fish all year round and some big ones too.
The fly fishing on the Connecticut River can depend on the water flow depending on the section you’re fishing. Therefore, always double-check the river levels and the weather before heading out.
We also have a full guide here on Fly Fishing Connecticut the state itself.
Recommended Flies For The Connecticut
- Grey Ghosts & Wooly Buggers – Salmon
- Sulfurs – August
- Small Black Caddis – Early Season
- Terrestrials (ants, beetles, hoppers) – July To September
3. The Androscoggin River
The Androscoggin River is a 178-mile-long river flowing from Northern New Hampshire through Maine.
The Androscoggin River is home to brown, brook, and rainbow trout, plus you can also find some landlocked salmon on the end of your fly rod. Only some sections of the river support a salmon and trout fishing population so knowing where the best fishing is on the river is key.
The fly fishing section of the river runs from Eroll Dam to Bragg Bay and it can be fished on foot or in drift boats. While wading is always fun, this is a big river and you’ll have better fly fishing in a drift boat.
Being a tailwater, the river stays warm through winter and any fly fisherman worth his salt will love fishing the winter alder fly and midge hatches all the way through to the duns in summer. If you love dry fly fishing opportunities, the Androscoggin River is what you have been waiting for.
Where To Fish On The Androscoggin
A great fly fishing spot on the river is the headwater and the fly only section from Eroll Dam to Bragg Bay, mentioned above and featured on the map below.
You’ll also find some great fishing in Androscoggin Wayside State Park, Seven Islands Bridge, Paul Bofinger Wayside State Park, or the Nansen Wayside State Park.
If you’re looking for a solid guide or a lodge to stay in then Lopstick Lodge is the place to be. They have access to private trophy water and some huge fish too.
Recommended Flies For The Androscoggin
- Yellow Stoneflies
- Great Winged Olive Dunns, BWO
- Quill Gordons, Blue Quills
- Zebra Caddis, Cinnamon Sedge Caddis, Little Black Caddis
4. The Upper Pemigewasset River
A lot of people refer to the Pemigewasset River as Pemi, and it is one of the most beautiful rivers you can fish in NH.
The river begins as small streams in the White Mountains in Franconia Notch and flows into the middle of NH where it joins the the Winnipesaukee River in and where it joins the Winnipesaukee River it becomes the Merrimack River.
Since the Pemigewasset River starts in the White Mountain National Forest, the water temperature stays cold, ensuring that the salmon and trout thrive throughout the year.
The river was polluted for many years by a local paper mill but through a collaboration of the local governing agencies and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, new regulations have contributed to the restoration of the river’s former glory.
You can now find good populations of native brook, rainbow trout, brown trout, and Atlantic salmon thanks to NH Fish & Game and their collaborators.
Where To Fish On The Pemigewasset River
The Pemigewasset River has some of the biggest fish in NH but it’s also one of the most popular rivers too. But, if you are willing to get away from the roads, you’ll find some stretches that have never seen a fly.
A great stretch to start fly fishing is above and below Ayers Dam around the town of Bristol. Below that dam is great brown and salmon water while there is great fishing for both brown and rainbow trout above it.
Remember, salmon is only a catch-and-release species, so take care and there are specific salmon only sections.
Recommended Flies For The Pemigewasset River
- Wooly buggers, zonkers, sex dungeons – Salmon
- Terrestrials – Summer
- Size 22-26 blood midges, scuds, sowbugs
5. The Swift River
If you want to fly fish for an incredibly large brook trout, this is the river to visit in New Hampshire.
Like many other New Hampshire fly fishing rivers, the Swift River source is at Mt. Kancamagus right in the White Mountains Forest near Livermore. The river is 23 miles long and it runs its cold water into the Saco River.
The upper part of the Swift River moves quickly, and the pocket water is mostly characterized by small riffle sections, small pools, and a few short runs.
It doesn’t matter whether you are new at fishing or a veteran at it; you can put your stealth fly fishing tactics to good use here. You will probably fly fish some 6-8-inch brookies. Although they may not be the biggest trout in New Hampshire, you will be stunned by their beauty.
As you start progressing downstream, you will begin finding rainbow trout and brown trout populations. In these parts, you may want to consider changing from your 3 weight to probably 4 or 5 because the river gets wider and the fish get bigger.
Where To Fish On The Swift
Finding the best New Hampshire fishing spots around the Swift River shouldn’t be much of a task because the Kancamagus Highway, State Highway 112, runs parallel to the river right from the headwaters down to Conway. However, you may have to beat a path for yourself to find the best spot.
Recommended Flies For The Swift
- Size 18-22 Parachute Adams
- Small midge dries
- Small Klinkhammers
6. Souhegan River
If ever you are in the southern part of New Hampshire and you’re wondering where you go for an exciting New Hampshire fishing expedition, the Souhegan is one great place to start.
It is stocked with rainbow, brown and brook trout every spring so you don’t have to worry about numbers. Some brookies are natives, which always adds some excitement to the day.
Most parts of the river meander their way through public land, making finding a great spot relatively easy.
There are a lot of popular New Hampshire fly fishing spots off Route 31 that run parallel to the Souhegan River. A favorite spot is near the North River Road Bridge around Monadnock Water.
Flies such as pheasant tails, hare’s ears, and smaller streamers seem to work best on this New Hampshire river.
7. The Contoocook River
The Contoocook River is a hidden gem in New Hampshire that all anglers should make the effort to explore on their fly fishing trip.
Located near Henniker, the Contoocook River is an amazing trout fishery with some pretty challenging big, deep sections plus some pocket water in other sections. This variety of water only adds to the elements that New Hampshire fly fishing offers and it keeps you interested throughout the day as you change tactics.
When planning to head out to Contoocook River, make sure you carry a decent trout fishing setup including a 5 weight rod and a 3 weight for the pocket water. Wading is the way on this New Hampshire river and you can cover a lot of ground if you want to.
8. Lamprey River
The Lamprey River is actually one of the best-known New Hampshire fishing streams because it’s not only located near large population centers but is also a very productive stream.
It is heavily stocked with brook, brown, and rainbow trout so you’re guaranteed to be covering fish on every cast but it is bound to be congested, so you may have to fight the crowds to find your ideal spot.
Make sure that you bring along a good number of trout flies as these fish are fussy as they see a lot of flies. Match the hatch exactly, use long leaders, and 6-8x tippet.
9. Isinglass River
This is a 15-mile-long river with cold and warm water fisheries that are regularly stocked with brown, rainbow, and brook trout.
It is a relatively small river, which can only be waded and is home to small fish. Therefore, when packing to head to Isinglass River, just carry a 2 or 3 weight trout fishing rod.
The best time to fish in these parts of New Hampshire is in the summer or early fall.
10. Cocheco River
The Cocheco river is about 35 miles long and flows through New Hampshire near the Maine border via Dover, Gonic, Farmington, and Rochester.
11. Exeter River
The Exeter River flows from Chester and through the town of Sandown as it flows towards Exeter and is well known for warm and cold water fishing.
The Exeter River is stocked with browns, rainbows, brookies, so you’re guaranteed some good fun but there are some eels you’ll want to avoid catching too.
12. Sugar River
The Sugar River is located in the western region of New Hampshire, and it is a tributary of the Connecticut River.
The Sugar River flow starts from the Sunapee and flows through Newport, Claremont, and ends in Vermont when it drains into the Connecticut.
Although there are many hydroelectric power stations along the way, the fish population doesn’t seem to be disturbed.
The best fishing section of the Sugar River is in Newport, and it is relatively easy to access. It holds huge populations of browns, rainbows, and brookies.
There are also many hatches throughout the year making it a great dry fly fishing river. The best flies to try are Brown Stoneflies, Slate Drakes, Green Sedges, and Blue-Winged Olives.
New Hampshire Fly Fishing References
- For game fish licenses and river regulations checkout New Hampshire Fish and Game
- For river stocking information check this website out from the Wildlife Dept.