Arizona, with its sun-drenched landscapes and diverse ecosystems, might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of fly fishing. Yet, this Southwestern state offers a myriad of unexpected and top-notch fly fishing opportunities. As early as the 19th century, anglers discovered the wonders of Arizona’s waterways, with diverse fisheries and habitats providing a home to an assortment of game fish. Today, Arizona is recognized as a prime spot for anglers of all types, particularly those who enjoy the art of fly fishing. We take a look at the top 5 fly fishing spots in Arizona.
Top Arizona Fly Fishing Spots
Spot #1: Lees Ferry, Colorado River
Nestled at the start of the Grand Canyon, Lees Ferry on the Colorado River boasts clear, cold waters perfect for trout. Anglers can expect to encounter rainbow trout year-round.
Public access is available via Lees Ferry Road, with various points along the river for wading. Guided trips are also available through local services. Dry flies, nymphs, and streamers are effective here, with spring and fall being the best seasons for fly fishing.
Fast Facts about Lees Ferry, Colorado River fly fishing
- Located near Page, AZ in Coconino National Forest
- Famous stretch of the Colorado River known for its trout fishing
- Home to rainbow trout, brown trout, and some largemouth bass
- Known for its massive hatches of mayflies, caddisflies, and midges
- Wading and drift boat fishing are both popular
- Try fly patterns like San Juan worms, zebra midges, and hopper patterns
- Productive year-round fishery, peak seasons are spring and fall
- Public access points include Lees Ferry launch ramp and walk-in areas
- Camping available on-site and lodging options in Page, AZ nearby
- Guide services available for those new to the area
- Stunning scenery with cliffs, canyons surrounding the river
Spot #2: Silver Creek, White Mountains
This spring-fed creek near Show Low provides anglers with a year-round catch-and-release season for rainbow and Apache trout. Known for its flat water and gentle flow, Silver Creek is a great place for beginners and experienced anglers alike.
The Silver Creek Hatchery provides public access to the creek. Using midge, nymph, or streamer patterns are effective here, particularly during the fall spawn.
Fast Facts about Silver Creek, White Mountains fly fishing
- Located near Show Low, AZ in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
- Known for its wild rainbow and brown trout as well as brook trout
- Spring-fed creek with cold, clear water and lush surroundings
- Abundant hatches make it a great fly fishing destination
- Popular flies include mayfly, caddisfly and midge patterns
- Prime seasons are spring and fall when fish are most active
- Limited public access, wade fishing only along certain stretches
- Use stealthy approaches due to pressured fish
- Camping available in surrounding national forest areas
- Lodging and amenities found in nearby Show Low/Pinetop
- Stunning scenery with evergreen forests, meadows surrounding creek
Spot #3: Oak Creek, Sedona
Surrounded by Sedona’s iconic red rocks, Oak Creek offers a unique fly fishing experience. Brown trout and rainbow trout are prevalent here.
Public access can be found at multiple points along Highway 89A, including Red Rock Crossing and Oak Creek Canyon. Terrestrial patterns are popular during the summer, and nymphing can be productive in other seasons.
In Sedona, you can find many lodging options, including the Creekside Inn at Sedona. For food, Elote Cafe is a local favorite, serving up delicious Southwest-inspired dishes.
Fast Facts about Oak Creek, Sedona, Arizona fly fishing
- Located in Coconino National Forest just south of Sedona
- Home to wild brown and rainbow trout
- Known for impressive hatches of mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies
- Wade fishing access along certain public stretches of creek
- Try fly patterns that match the seasonal hatches
- Prime seasons are spring and fall when trout are most active
- Forest service campgrounds available nearby for overnight trips
- Sedona offers many lodging and dining options close to the creek
- Stunning red rock formations surround the Oak Creek area
- Popular destination for catching native Arizona trout in beautiful setting
Spot #4: Chevelon Canyon Lake, Mogollon Rim
For the more adventurous angler, Chevelon Canyon Lake offers a remote fly fishing experience. This backcountry lake is home to wild brown trout and rainbow trout.
Access to the lake is a bit of a hike from Forest Road 169. Wooly buggers and nymphs work well here. Spring and fall are the most productive seasons.
Given the remote nature of this spot, camping is a good option here. For meals, packing in your own food is a must.
Spot #5: Lower Salt River, Phoenix
Just outside of Phoenix, the Lower Salt River provides year-round fishing for rainbow trout, largemouth bass, and sunfish. Fly anglers will appreciate the river’s easy wading and close proximity to the city.
Public access points are available along Bush Highway, with Phon D. Sutton and Blue Point Recreation sites being popular spots. Try using nymphs or wooly buggers. Winter and spring are the best seasons for trout.
Nearby accommodations can be found in the greater Phoenix area. For a great meal after a day on the river, visit The Salt Cellar in Scottsdale for some fresh seafood.
From the clear, cold waters of Lees Ferry to the convenient accessibility of the Lower Salt River, these top fly fishing spots in Arizona offer experiences for every angler. So grab your rod, tie on a fly, and come discover the wonder of fly fishing in the Arizona sunshine!