Oregon has some amazing fly fishing lakes and rivers set among spectacular scenery. In fact, there are so many great spots that you might struggle to narrow down your list and decide where to visit. The fly fishing is varied and exciting from the coast to the mountains, and you can catch everything from trout to winter steelhead and more.
Here’s our complete guide to fly fishing in Oregon. Find out the best flies and the best fly fishing locations, plus where to get your license and more!
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Best Fly Fishing Locations in Oregon
Excited to explore some of the best fly fishing opportunities in Oregon? Here are our recommendations for the best lakes, rivers, creeks, and reservoirs in the state! Visit any of these spots, and you’ll be sure to have a memorable day out on the water!
1. McKenzie River
The McKenzie begins high in the Cascade Mountains and travels for 85 miles through alpine forests and stunning. Much of the surrounding countryside is untouched, so fly fishing here is almost like taking a step back in history.
When you visit the McKenzie River, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views and plenty of cutthroat, rainbow, and bull trout. It’s also possible to catch Chinook salmon on this stretch of water. You can fish the lower section of the river above the confluence with the Willamette River, or head for the Lower McKenzie Trail Head.
A 5 weight rod should do the job on this river. As to fly patterns, the best performers tend to be BWOs, Wooly Buggers, and stonefly nymphs.
2. Crooked River
The Crooked River is one of the most well-known fly fishing rivers in the Beaver State, and for good reason. Cold tailwaters flow into the 10-mile section below Bowman Dam, creating the perfect conditions for fish to grow to enormous sizes. If you fancy fishing for wild trout rather than stocked fish, here’s your chance.
The fish are active and not particularly fussy here. The water teems with aquatic insects that they love to eat – baetis and midge patterns work wonders. You can also have a lot of luck nymph fishing on the Crooked River.
3. Lower Deschutes River
Located in central Oregon, the fly fishing is spectacular on the Lower Deschutes River. Just two hours drive from Portland, this river is one of the most popular for anglers all over Oregon and from further afield.
Unusually, this river is one of the few rare trout and steelhead Blue Ribbon Fisheries. Set in a rugged, wild, and jawdroppingly beautiful landscape, you can’t come to Oregon and not fish the Deschutes River.
The redband trout put up a hell of a fight, and the summer steelhead fishing is incredible. You’ll find great fly fishing all through the spring and summer. But if you can, plan your trips for late July when the steelhead run.
4. Upper Deschutes River
The Upper Deschutes River is a very different beast to the lower section, but both offer excellent fly fishing. If you’re planning fly fishing trips in the cooler months, you’ll want to head to the Upper Deschutes, where you’ll find more action.
Starting as a little mountain stream, the Upper Deschutes flows through forests and meadows. For anglers who prefer remote, tranquil spots, you’ll love the first 12 miles of this stream. Brook trout lurk among the underwater structures and will happily eat your Elk Hair Caddis flies.
The best spot for big browns and aggressive rainbow trout is below Sheep’s Brudge. But if you want to fish during the winter, you’ll be better off choosing a spot anywhere between Lake Billy Chinook and Benham Falls. You can wade easily here, and the fish are lively and active. Stock up your fly box with Pheasant Tails, Parachute Adams, and Zebra Midges for the Upper Deschutes River.
5. East Lake
You can fish this ancient lake by wading or from a boat, and the pickings are rich for lunker rainbow and brown trout. If you want to get out on the water, head to the East Lake Campground to use the boat ramp. Otherwise, you can choose any spot that looks promising.
The best flies for East Lake are larger streamers – cast them to underwater drop-offs, and you’ll be sure to make a catch! There are also some exciting chironomid and callibaetis hatches that take place here.
6. Rogue River
If you’re in southwest Oregon, Rogue River is one of the top fishing spots nearby. You’ll find large numbers of trout, salmon, and steelhead here, making for a productive day out on the water. The best flies for this river include salmon fly and stonefly patterns.
Make sure you check the local fishing reports before you set off, as frequent heavy rainfall in the area causes high water events. When this happens, your chance of catching something is lower, so you’d be better off heading to a different spot until the weather calms down.
7. Davis Lake
If you’re an avid bass fly fisher, the Davis Lake will be the perfect spot for you. Originally a trout fishery, bass were illegally introduced into the waters in the ’90s, and the rest is history. It’s fly fishing only here, which makes it a peaceful place to cast some flies.
Now, you can have fun fishing for both trophy size trout and bass on Davis Lake. Look for areas with lots of lily pads and hiding places where the fish can lurk, waiting for some unassuming prey to swim by. Streamers like the Clouser Minnow tend to be very productive.
8. North Umpqua River
Well-known for the superb steelhead fishing in the area, you can catch fish weighing up to and beyond 8 pounds. Anglers report catching whoppers of 15 pounds on a fairly regular basis on the North Umpqua. The local steelhead run in both the summer and the winter, giving you even more opportunities to haul in a big ‘un.
You can also fish for brook, brown and rainbow trout here. Pick a spot along the 33.8-mile fly fishing only section of the river and pack a sink line to get down into the strike zone.
9. Paulina Lake
Paulina Lake is a deep lake teeming with fish and the insects they feast on. Measuring 1,500 acres and with depths of up to 250ft, the brown trout and rainbow trout grow to huge sizes here.
Choose from wading, shore fishing, and boat fishing – whichever way you prefer, you’ll catch some trophy-worthy fish. You can get to Paulina Lake from Bend, the nearest city.
10. Crane Prairie Reservoir
Crane Prairie Reservoir is just a short drive from La Pine on the Deschutes River. The best way to fish this lake is by boat, checking out the spots where smaller creeks flow into the lake. In the summer months, the fish escape the warm lake water and flock to these cooler streams.
If you like to go fishing on small streams, you can check out our post here on the Best Fly Rods For Small Streams.
Don’t miss the summer damselfly hatch, when the trout rise up in huge numbers to snack at the surface. You can sight fish for them in the pure, clear waters – it’s definitely worth taking the trip for this experience!
11. Fall River
Another tributary of the mighty Deschutes River, the spring fishing on this lively little creek is exceptional. There are more than 8 miles of water where only fly fishing is allowed, home to small to medium-sized rainbows, brook, and brown trout.
If you like to get off the beaten path, plan your trips to include the Fall River. You can access the stream from Fall River Campground. A 3 weight rod is more than enough for this creek, and BWO patterns perform well.
Oregon Fishing License
Before you set off fly fishing, you’ll need to buy your fishing license. For residents, the annual license costs $41, and the non-resident license costs $103.50.
You can also buy daily or multi-day licenses depending on how long you’ll be staying. Youth licenses are also available for anyone between 12-17 years old for $10 (both for residents and nonresidents.)
Find out more about how and where to buy your license here.
Oregon Fishing Regulations
You’ll need to be aware of the rules and regulations in place if you’re planning to go fly fishing in Oregon, from the bag limits to Catch-and-release zones. Check out the Fishing Regulations website here so you’re fully prepared.
Oregon Fishing Report
It’s always a good idea to check the latest fishing report before heading out on the water. That way, you will have an idea of what the conditions are. You can find the most up to date Oregon fishing reports here.
Best Flies for Oregon
If you’re not sure on which flies to select for your fly fishing trip, here are our top recommendations. The fish don’t tend to be too picky, but stock up on these dry flies, streamers, and nymphs, and you’ll be good to go!
Some of the most effective dry flies include the Royal Wulff, the Peacock Caddis, the foam Elk Hair Caddis, and the Adams Parachute. You’ll also catch loads of fish with patterns that imitate terrestrial insects, like the Spun Hair Hopper and the Idyl’s Deer Hair Ant.
Soft hackles also work wonders – go for partridge and peacock soft hackle flies if you can. As to nymphs, some of the best flies are the Beadhead Prince Nymph and the Bead Head Copper John.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the best trout fishing in Oregon?
The place has some fantastic trout fishing locations spread throughout the state, from lakes to rivers and streams. Some of the most popular trout fly fishing spots include Paulina Lake in central Oregon, East Lake, Crooked River, Deschutes River, and Crane Prairie Reservoir.
How many trout can you keep in Oregon?
The daily bag limit for trout is 5 per day, with a total of 3 daily limits in possession at any one time. So, you can keep up to 5 trout from a day on the water, or up to 15 from a longer fishing trip.
Can you keep cutthroat trout in Oregon?
You can keep up to 5 cutthroat trout per day in Oregon, but restrictions on minimum and maximum size may apply. Check the full regulations here.
Where can I fish the Crooked River?
You can fish the Crooked River, Oregon, between Bowman Dam down to Mile Marker 12 near Prineville. This tailwater section stretches for 8 miles and offers the best fly fishing opportunities on the Crooked River.
Where can I fish Kokanee in Oregon?
You can fish Kokanee salmon in a few different locations in Oregon, including Odell Lake, Wallowa Lake, and Green Peter Reservoir. Kokanee are a variety of landlocked sockeye salmon, and they are great fun to fish.
Where is the best fly fishing near Portland Oregon?
Portland has some great fly fishing spots nearby that are open all year round. You can get to the Metolius River, Deschutes River, and the McKenzie River, all in under two hours drive.
The Wrap Up
So there you have the complete guide to fly fishing in Oregon! From the coast to the mountains, freestone streams to big rivers, the Beaver State has it all. Where will you head on your next fishing trip? Let us know by dropping us a blog comment or an email – we love hearing from you guys!
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