rainbow trout
Copyright 2019 James Marsh
Fly Fishing On The Colorado River
(Lees Ferry) In Arizona
The Colorado River flows from Glenn Canyon Dam to
Lees Ferry providing anglers some of the best rainbow
trout fishing in the West.  There are about fifteen miles
of beautiful water full of rainbow trout surrounded by
one-thousand feet high red sandstone cliffs. Beyond
Lees Ferry, the stream flows into the Grand Canyon.

You can fish this river any day of the year and catch
trout. Its water stays at about forty-seven degrees
year-round. It is made up of gravel bars and shallow
riffles between very large and deep pools.

The locals are proud of their sight fishing on the
Colorado. The water is crystal clear and during the
spawning times the rainbows can be found in very
shallow water. A popular method is to cast to individual
fish during the long spawning season.

Fly fishing the Colorado River at Lees Ferry is almost
all done below the surface although there are a few
conditions where you can catch trout on the dry fly.
The great majority of the food is either midges or
scuds. There are few other sources of food for the

Fly Fishing Guide for the Colorado River
(Lees Ferry) Arizona
Fly fishing the Lees ferry Colorado River tailwater is
mostly nymph fishing. Long, good drifts using midge
larva and pupa imitations is the best way to go about
catching trout. The Lees Ferry tailwater is a big river. It
flows clear and cold from the Glen Canyon dam
providing the ideal trout habitat. The setting is
gorgeous, deep canyon country, that resembles the
Grand Canyon not far away downstream. Wildlife is
abundant and includes eagles, mountain sheep, deer,
and mountain lions.

You can fish from the banks. The best water is reached
using drift boats. Some use jet boats and sometimes,
regular power boats. The water level fluctuates big time
and it is very important to keep up with the changes in

Boating the river can be dangerous. Especially those
making their first trip. The river provides plenty of food
for the big rainbows but they can be picky and
selective at times. The Colorado River gets a
considerable pressure and the fish can be tough to
figure out. Imitating the most plentiful and available
foods for the trout to eat at any given time is the right
strategy to use. Anyone with the opportunity should be
certain to give this tailwater a try. It will be an
experience you won't forget.
Colorado River
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Photo Courtesy of David Knapp Photography
You can catch trout year-round on any
day you can personally stand the weather.
The winter is a great time to fish. The
rainbows spawn during the winter and
sight fishing is very popular.  
Spring fishing depends somewhat on the
snowpack around Lake Powell. It has a big
effect on the discharges in the spring.
Colorado River (Lees Ferry)
Hatches and Trout Flies:
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and
nymphs, not guess work. We base fly
suggestions on imitating the most plentiful
and most available insects and other foods
at the particular time you are fishing. Unlike
the generic fly shop trout flies, we have
specific imitations of all the insects in the
Colorado River at Lees Ferry and in all
stages of life that are applicable to fishing.
If you want to fish better, more realistic trout
flies, have a much higher degree of
success, give us a call.  We not only will
help you with selections, you will learn why,
after trying Perfect Flies, 92% of the
thousands of our customers will use
nothing else.

The discharge at Lees Ferry is from the
cold water in the bottom of deep Lake
Powell. That changed some of the aquatic
insects in the stream below the dam from
that of what once lived in a warmer river for
most of the year. The hatches change
depending on the distance you are fishing
below the dam.

Most of the insects are midges. It is the
most important insect. Most of the midges
are cream colored midges but there are a
few blood midges or red midges. You need
imitations of the larvae, pupae and adults.

There are also some mayflies, stoneflies
and caddisflies. Over the years, there have
been more and more of these. The first
mayfly and the most abundant mayfly is the
Blue-winged Olive.
Hatches, continued:
They start to hatch in late March and peak
in late April and early May. The hatch ends
in late May. These are bi-brooded and
hatch again in September, October and
early November.

Pale Morning Duns hatch start hatching in
June and last on into mid August. Tricos
hatch in late July, August and September,
mostly in the lower section of the river.

Little Winter Stoneflies start showing up in
March and last into the first of May. Golden
Stonflies hatch in June and last into mid
July. Little Yellow Stoneflies are also
present. They start hatching in June and
last well into August. These are called
Yellow Sallies by most anglers.

American Grannoms, or Little Black
Caddis, start hatching in April. Minnows,
baitfish and sculpin are in all sections of
the river. Streamers are effective all year.

The terrestrial insects along the banks of
the tailwater consist mostly of beetles,
crickets, grass hoppers, and ants.  
Grasshoppers, ants and beetles start
showing up along the banks in late June.
Trout can be caught on imitations of them
on into early October.

Spotted Sedges will show up in April and
last all the way to September. The hatch
peaks in July. Their Little Sisters are also
present. They start hatching in May and
last until August.
Summer time is the most popular time to
fish the Colorado River. The water is very
cool and the fish very cooperative but you
must check the flows. They can be high.
The rainbows start to spawn during the late
fall usually about the first of November.
This is normally a great time to fish.   
Headlines: Stream levels are
significantly above normal, but
falling. Rainbow Trout should begin
to spawn. Midges rigged in tandem
are working and Sculpin patterns
are also working.
Check the above
link to see our Colorado River
fishing report.
Type of Stream

Rainbow Trout


Northern Arizona

Nearest Towns
Marble Canyon, Arizona
Flagstaff, Arizona



Special Regulations

Non-Resident License
State of Arizona

National Weather Service Link

USGS Stream Flow Data
Colorado River at Lees Ferry

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and Trout
1. Email us (sales@perfectflystore.com)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (sales@perfectflystore.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

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