telluride fly-fishing

A Comprehensive Guide to Fly-Fishing in Telluride

If fishing is your preferred hobby, you’re not alone. According to Statista, “In 2017, more than 49 million Americans participated in freshwater, saltwater and fly fishing.” Telluride, Colorado, is the perfect place for these activities. The mountains of Telluride are a wondrous sight, and they make for a beautiful place for those who love the outdoors. Telluride is ideal, in particular, for fly-fishers—the mountain streams are a nirvana for all. People come from all over the world to experience the magic for themselves. For those who love fly-fishing or want to try it out, we’ve created a can’t-miss guide to fly-fishing in Telluride.

A Complete Guide to Fly-Fishing in Telluride

Fly-Fishing Gear

If you want to go fly-fishing, you’ll need a few different items. If you’re a beginner, many outposts will supply you with rental gear for a fixed price. For those who would rather purchase their own gear, we’ve listed out some of the things you’ll need to be a successful angler.

1. Waders and Boots

These are your quintessential angler accessories. If it’s colder out, you’ll want to opt for chest waders; otherwise, you’ll be fine with hip waders. These are a necessity, as they help you stay warm and dry. You’ll also need to make sure you have wading boots, which protect you from any hazards hidden in the water. They’ll also give you a tough grip if you’re battling for a fish.

2. Fishing Vest

Although most waders include a pocket, you’ll want a fishing vest that has multiple pockets for all your gear. Vests prevent you from having to return to the bank every time you need a different fly. They’re designed to withstand the elements, so if you plan on becoming an expert fly-fisher, make sure you don’t skimp on this important piece.

3. Fly Rod

The most important piece for fly-fishing is the fly rod. There are many different types of rods out there, but one of the best rods for Telluride fly-fishing is a nine-foot, five-weight rod. It’s considered one of the most versatile rods for freshwater fishing. However, you should still determine which rod works best for you and ask for a professional’s opinion.

4. Reel

Just as important as the fly rod, the reel should match your rod in strength, flexibility, and quality. Don’t splurge on the fly rod and go for a cheap reel—it will affect your overall fly-fishing abilities. The weights of the rod and the reel should also match. For example, if you choose our recommended nine-foot, five-weight fly rod, then you’ll need to get a five-weight reel.

5. Line and Tackle

Quality fishing line and tackle will help you in your fly-fishing game. Fishing tackle is any equipment or gear used to lure and catch fish—hooks, lines, baits, lures, and more. You should select these items based on the type of fish you want to catch. Consult a fishing guide or a local tackle shop for the accessories that will best fit your needs.

License Requirements

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you’ll need a Colorado fishing license. All anglers must follow statewide and waterway rules, which can change depending on the water you’re wading in. It’s your responsibility to learn the various fishing laws and regulations, which you can find here. You can buy your fishing license online or from most certified fishing retailers. Licenses are required for any person 18 years or older and are valid for a full year (April 1 to March 31). A license is necessary even for guided fly-fishing excursions, so make sure to plan in advance and get your license before embarking on your fishing trip.

Best Places to Fly-Fish

Telluride features several incredible rivers full of fish and immense beauty for you to enjoy your fly-fishing experience:

1. San Miguel River

One of the most popular rivers in Telluride, the San Miguel River is great for all levels of anglers. One of the last free-flowing, untamed rivers in Colorado, the breathtaking San Miguel River is surrounded by stunning nature. Anglers will have the chance to catch brook, rainbow, and cutthroat trout in this area.

2. Uncompahgre River

Another river with gorgeous views, the Uncompahgre River is accessible via Ridgeway State Park. Fly-fishers can enjoy the one-mile stretch just below the dam as well as two ponds that are great for children. Rainbow trout are in abundance in this area.

3. Dolores River

You’ll find the Dolores River just south of Telluride, near the Wilson Range. The area offers remarkable scenery with views of some of Colorado’s most iconic peaks. Fly-fishers will find their home between Lizard Head Pass and the town of Dolores, where the river boasts cutthroat and brook trout streams. The lower part of the river is for experts, but its tricky conditions make a catch even more rewarding.

4. Gold Medal Streams

The Colorado Wildlife Commission designates waters that produce at least 60 pounds of trout per acre as Gold Medal waters—meaning these areas are the best of the best for fishing. You’ll find two such places not far from Telluride: the Crystal Reservoir and Dam and the Animas River (from Lightner Creek to Rivera Crossing Bridge). These spots are considered some of the best in Colorado to reel in large trout.

Our Favorite Local Guides

Since fly-fishing is so popular in Colorado, there are plenty of guided trips you can take to ensure you’re fishing in the best spots. Guides will know the best stretches of public and private waters, and they can provide equipment for your outing. Some trips even include meals and other perks. Telluride features three different guide companies:

If you want to experience the great outdoors and the beauty of Colorado, try fly-fishing. Take a break from your Telluride cabin rental and get out on the water with a guide or on a solo adventure. Whichever option you choose, stay safe, respect the wildlife, and enjoy the experience.


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