10 Best Locations for Fly Fishing in Oregon – Where to Fish OR

fly fishing in oregon

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Oregon has some amazing lakes and rivers set among spectacular scenery that are perfect for your next fly fishing trip.

In fact, there are so many great Oregon fly fishing 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, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, coho salmon, king salmon, and more fish species for fly anglers to target.

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!

Best Fly Fishing Locations Oregon

Excited to explore some of the best fly fishing in Oregon? Here are our recommendations for the best lakes, rivers, creeks, and reservoirs in the state!

Visit any of these fly fishing spots, and you’ll be sure to have a memorable day out on the water!

1. McKenzie River

Mckenzie River

The McKenzie begins high in the Cascade Mountains and travels for 85 miles through alpine forests and the stunning scenery of western Oregon. Much of the surrounding countryside is untouched, so fly fishing on this river is almost like taking a step back in history.

When you fly fish the McKenzie River, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views and plenty of wild fish including cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, bull trout, and Chinook salmon. 

Chasing trout on this river is nothing short of spectacular and the chinook fishing is great too. Fly fishers should be on this river throughout the spring and through the warm summer months and in fall too.

The Oregon Dept of Fish and Wildlife stocks the river with thousands of rainbow trout every year but there are wild fish species in the river too like the bull trout and cutties too. If fly fishers catch a trout without a fin-clipped adipose fin they must practice catch and release fishing.

A 5 weight rod should do the job on this river. As to fly patterns, the best performers tend to be blue-winged olive, wooly bugger, and black stonefly nymph.

Where To Fish

You can fly fish most of the 90 miles of this pacific northwest river but the lower section of the river where bait angling isn’t allowed is where fly anglers should focus their efforts.

Go above the confluence with the Willamette River, or head for the Lower McKenzie Trail Head and hike until you find some good trout fishing water.

Best Flies On The

  • Pheasant tails
  • Copper Johns
  • Parachute Adams
  • Klinkhammer
  • BWO
  • Olive wooly bugger

2. Crooked River

Crooked River

The Crooked is one of the most well-known trout fishing rivers in the Beaver State, and for good reason. It flows through northeast Oregon and is about as stunning as a trout river gets.

Cold tailwaters flow into the 10-mile section below where the Bowman Dam flows out, creating the perfect conditions for wild trout to grow to enormous sizes. If you fancy fishing for wild trout rather than stocked fish, this is one of the top Oregon trout streams to cast your fly rod on.

The fish are active and not particularly fussy here. The water teems insect life that they love to eat – Baetis and midge patterns work wonders. You can also have a lot of luck nymph fishing on the Crooked.

Where To Fish On The Crooked

Parking near the Pallisades Campground as detailed in the map below will give you great access to an amazing trout fishing section of the river. Fish it up from there and you’ll be in trout heaven.

Best Flies On The Crooked

  • Baetis nymphs
  • BWO
  • Top Secret Midge Emerger
  • Griffith’s Gnat
  • Beadhead Zebra Midge
  • Prince nymph

3. Lower Deschutes River

Lower Deschutes River

Located in central Oregon, the fly fishing is spectacular on the Lower Deschutes. Just two hours drive from Portland, this is one of the most popular coastal rivers and is fly-fished by 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.

The redband trout put up a hell of a fight, and the summer steelhead fishing is incredible. You’ll find great fishing all through the spring and summer. But if you can, plan your trips for late July when the steelhead run and most fish are caught.

You can wade fish on the river but using a drift boat will get you into more pockets where the bigger fish lie.

Where To Fish On The Lower Deschutes

If you’re using drift boats then you’ll find boat ramps consistently along the lower Deschutes and if wading, access is very easy at the map link below.

Best Flies On The Lower Deschutes

  • Chubby Chernobyls
  • PMDs
  • BWOs
  • Caddis
  • Stoneflies
  • Salmon flies
  • Copper John
  • Pheasant Tail

4. Upper Deschutes River

Upper Deschutes River

The Upper Deschutes River is a very different beast to the lower section, but both offer excellent fishing. You’ll find rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout in this section.

If you’re planning fishing trips in the cooler months, you’ll want to head to the Upper Deschutes, where you’ll find more action but it’s also great in the summer too. But there are no winter steelhead runs to fish for.

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 brown trout and aggressive rainbow trout is below Sheep’s Bridge. .

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.

Where To Fish On The Upper Deschutes

For summer fishing, bring your best flies for trout in summer and head to the spring creek part of the river between Crane Prairie Reservoir and Little Lava Lake – rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout will all be waiting for you.

But if you want to go on winter fly fishing, you’ll be better off choosing a spot anywhere between Lake Billy Chinook and Benham Falls.

Best Flies On The Upper Deschutes

  • Stimulator
  • Pheasant Tails
  • Parachute Adams
  • Zebra Midges
  • Streamers
  • Elk Hair Caddis

5. East Lake

East Lake

You can fish this ancient crater lake by wading or from a boat, and the pickings are rich for lunker rainbow and brown trout. Being one of the deepest lakes in Oregon, there are some spectacular drop-offs to search with a streamer but the shallow flats also offer sight fishing.

If you want to get out on a boat 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 which can have big rainbows and brown trout sipping dry flies off the surface.

Where To Fish On East Lake

As I already mentioned, when wade fishing, find a good spot with a flat for sight fishing or near a ledge to work a streamer over. It’s best fished from a boat as you’ll be able to strip your flies from the shallows into the deep.

Best Flies On East Lake

  • Black Bunny Leech
  • Streamers
  • Callibaetis
  • Chironomid

6. Rogue River

Rogue River

If you’re in southwest Oregon, the Rogue River is one of the top fly fishing spots to head to. You’ll find large numbers of trout, salmon, and steelhead here, making for a fun day out on the water and you can fish it all year round.

Make sure you check the local fishing reports before you set off though, 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.

The dry fly fishing in May and June is incredible as the salmon fly hatch is wild, while swinging big streamers for steelhead is always an option too. You will only find rainbows here, there are no browns or brook trout but the chinook and steelhead make up the variety.

Where To Fish On The Rogue

There is great access all along the Rogue River, just be sure to check the rainfall so you’re not washed out trying to hook a trout at the bottom of a flooded river.

Best Flies On The Rouge

  • Salmon flies
  • Stonefly nymphs
  • Dark intruder
  • Copper John
  • Pheasant tail

7. Davis Lake

Davis Lake

If you’re an avid bass fly fisher, then 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 for smallmouth bass and largemouth bass.

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

North Umpqua River

Well-known for the superb steelhead fishing in the area, you can catch fish weighing up to and beyond 8 pounds in this river.

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 sinking line to get down into the strike zone.

9. Paulina Lake

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

Crane Prairie Reservoir is just a short drive from La Pine on the Deschutes. 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.

Don’t miss the summer damselfly hatch, when the trout rise up in huge numbers to snack at the surface. So you might want to bring some damselfly patterns. You can sight fish for them in the pure, clear waters – it’s definitely worth taking the trip for this experience!

11. Fall River

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

Great Local Fly Shops In Oregon

You should always go to a local fly shop when fishing new waters as they will have local flies and advice that will make success much more likely.

Good Fly Guides In Oregon

Oregon Fishing License

Before you set off flyfishing, 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 non-residents.)

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 fishing in Oregon, from the bag limits to Catch-and-release zones.

Check out the Fishing Regulations website here so you’re fully prepared as sometimes you will need a combined angling tag depending on where you’re fishing.

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.

Oregon Fishing

Best Flies for Oregon

If you’re not sure of which flies to select for your 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 fly, the Peacock Caddis, the foam elk hair caddis pattern, and the parachute adams.

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.

The Possie bugger nymph, partridge soft hackle is also great and work wonders. 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 fishing spots include Paulina Lake in central Oregon, East Lake, Crooked, Deschutes River, and Crane Prairie Reservoir.

Planning on visiting other states for fly fishing? There are a lot of fishing spots in Texas that surely will not disappoint you.

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 fishing opportunities on the Crooked River.

fly fishing bend

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 is 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 fishing spots nearby that are open all year round. You can get to the Metolius River, Deschutes, and the McKenzie River, all in under two hours drive.

The Wrap-Up

From the Oregon coast to the mountains, freestone streams to big rivers, the Beaver State has it all when it comes to fly fishing. 

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!

Found this guide helpful? Don’t forget to share it wherever you are on social media, and check out some of our other articles, too!

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1 thought on “10 Best Locations for Fly Fishing in Oregon – Where to Fish OR”

  1. I’m not sure where you got your information regarding Fall River, but it’s managed as a trophy trout creek and I’ve personally caught my fair share of 18 to 20 inch lugs that would be pretty difficult to manage with only a 3 weight. Just sayin’…..

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