Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Fly Fishing On The Farmington River In
The Farmington River consist of two main branches,
the East and the West Branch, but most all of the
better trout fishing is on the West Branch tailwater.
The water comes from Colebrook Reservoir and the
West Branch Reservoirs. The water from both the
East and the West Branches stays cool throughout
the summer and doesn't ice over during the winter.
There are some wild as well as a huge number of
stocked trout with some holdovers. Fly fishing the
Farmington River can produce some trophy size trout.
The dams were built primarily for flood control and
water-reservoirs, not electrical power generation. That
resulted in steady flows of water with no real high
peaks in the flows. Theres a hydroelectric generator
on the Hogback dam on the West Branch but it
doesn't affect the constant flow of the release to any
drastic extent. The water is released from the bottom
of the reservoirs and stays near a constant cold
The best trout waters are found upstream of
Collinsville. The river has two separate Trout
Management Areas in that section of the river. Both of
these areas have excellent access and plenty of trout
but there are miles of other areas on the river with
excellent fishing opportunities.
This river also has several feeder streams that are
stocked by the state including the East and West
Branches of the Salmon Brook, Sandy Brook, Mill
Brook, Roaring Brook, Cherry Brook, Unionville Brook,
Nepaug River, Still River, and the Pequabuck River.
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Photo Courtesy of David Knapp Photography
Recommended Tackle & Gear
5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 & 12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Superb Five or Ultimate Six
For 5/6 fly line
Floatants and Misc Items:
Loon Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
The season runs year-round in the Trout
Springtime is probably the best season
for fly fishing the Farmington River
The water stays cool during the hottest
days of summer and the fishing is
Farmington River Fly Fishing Guide:
As mentioned above, the Farmington River that most
fly anglers refer to is the West Branch of the
Farmington River, in particular the section from
Riverton downstream to New Hartford. This section has
the highest trout population. The cold water releases
from the dam keep its water near 50 degrees
throughout the summer.
Summertime is a good time to fly fish the Farmington
with one exception. Kayaks, canoes and tubers are
there in numbers during the summer. It is best to fish
early in the day on summer weekends.
The river is heavily stocked with fully grown trout that
probably average 12 inches. Holdover brown trout are
caught much larger. The river also receives a good
amount of fishing pressure during the prime months.
Most of the food in the form of aquatic insects in the
Farmington River are small. Many anglers are guilty of
using much larger flies than they should. Midges and
Blue-winged Olives make up much of the aquatic
insect population and fishing small flies is always more
The larger size pools usually flow fairly smooth. They
are more difficult to fish than runs and riffles because
the trout can get a much better look at your fly. A
common mistake anglers make fishing the river is to
overdo the dry fly fishing. While the Farmington
produces some good dry fly opportunities, the times
are far and few between. Most of the time an angler is
far better off using a nymph. Unless you see fish
feeding on the surface or a good hatch occurring, you
odds of success will be much better if you stick with
Farmington River Hatches and
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
Farmington River 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.
As with most any trout stream, one of the
most important and abundant aquatic
insects are the Blue-winged Olives. They
hatch during a long period in the early
season and again later in the year.
As with many Eastern trout streams, the
Hendrickson and Red Quills are a very
important hatch. It takes place the last part
of April and last into mid May.
There are a few March Browns, Light and
Cream Cahills in the fast water sections of
the stream. These are usually quite sparse
Sulphurs are important from mid May
through most of the month of June. Tricos
and the White Drakes hatch in July and
Little Black Caddis (Grannoms) start
hatching in April and the first of May.
Green Sedges, and Short-horned Sedges
will also hatch starting about the first of
The Cinnamon Caddis species are the
most important caddisflies. They, together
with their Little Sisters, will hatch for a very
long period of time. They usually start in
mid May and the different species hatch
off and on through September.
Starting about the middle of June and
lasting until after the first frost, terrestrial
insects will also come into play. The
beetles, ants, and hoppers are common
along the banks of the river.
As with any tailwater, midges are always
very important, especially when there are
no other hatches taking place. All season
long, midges are probably the most
important insect to imitate. You can always
count of them. They range in hook sizes
from 18 down to a 26.
Don't forget to have a good selection of
streamers for the larger brown trout.
Sculpin patterns usually work better than
most streamers but there are a variety of
baitfish in the river.
Fall is an excellent time to fish. There is
less pressure from anglers and good
The water stay ice free below the dams
and can be fished during the winter.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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 (email@example.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.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Headlines: The river is in good
shape for mid January. Discharges
and resulting stream levels are
relatively low. The weather has
been very cold but it is going to be
right the opposite this coming week.
This has little to do with the water
temperature except in the middle
and lower sections of the tailwater.
Midges, Winter stoneflies and Black
flies are still the most important
hatches. Click the Farmington River
fishing report link above, for the
Map of Farmington River
10/14/15 Brown trout are spawning and some big ones are being caught. Great weather and
stream levels should continue. Great Autumn Brown sedges are hatching. There are still a
good many other aquatic insects hatching including a lot of little blue-winded olives.. Even
though it is just early Fall, don't overlook the mighty midge.
10/21/15 The stream levels have been low for a good while now with few discharges and lots
of opportunity to wade. Blue-winged olives have been hatching good, better of course, when
it is cloudy or overcast. There have been a few trout caught on the surface. Brown trout are
in the pre-spawn mode and very aggressive. They are taking our Brown Sculpin streamer fly
10/28/15 Stream levels have been low most of the past week and anglers able to wade about
anywhere they wanted to. It is raining as I write this and a chance again Sunday, so we expect
higher levels. Great Autumn Brown caddis are still hatching,. Good numbers of Blue-winged
Olives are emerging, especially on cloudy days. Brown trout are spawning.
11/04/15 It is very warm for this time of the year but you can rest assured it won't last for long.
It is a good time to fish the Farmington. There are still some hatches but mostly Blue-winged
olives. Some big brown trout have been caught in the past two weeks on the Brown Sculpin
streamer fly. The browns have been spawning and some are probably post spawn by now.
11/11/15 It is finally getting a little colder. It has been unseasonably warm. Hatches are down
to mostly Midges and Blue-winged Olives. Of course, the brown and white Belly Sculpin
streamers is always great flies to use at this time of the year. It is always necessary to check
the stream levels on this river. The discharges vary greatly.
11/18/15 The Farmington is flowing low at this time but that can and probably will change. It is
raining and more is to come. Keep a close check on the levels. Blue-winged olives and
Midges are both hatching good and are the insects you should be imitating. The Brown
sculpin has been the hot fly recently.
11/25/15 The Farmington is in as good of shape as you could ask for at this time of the year.
Good flows, but a little low, and good weather is in the forecast. Blue-winged olives and
midges should be hatching. The Brown sculpin streamer fly has been the American Express
card for the post-spawn brown trout and should continue to work.
12/02/15 The stream levels and discharges have been low and wading possible much of the
time. It is raining now, so be sure to check the discharge schedule. Midges are the only
insects you need to be concerned with imitating. Fish the larva and pupa imitations in tandem.
The Brown sculpin has been a very good fly this past week.
12/09/15 The stream is in good shape. We are recommending the tailwaters, of course.
Winter Stoneflies are hatching but the most important insect to imitate is still the midges. Little
Blue-winged olives are also plentiful. Don't forget the Brown Sculpin. It has caught a lot of big
brown trout lately. Fish the midges in tandem with the larva fly the bottom one and the pupa
about a foot up the tippet.
12/16/15 The river is in good shape and should remain in good shape most of the time this
coming week. There is some rain in the forecast and discharges could be heavy but unlikely.
Midges and Winter stoneflies are the only insects you need to be imitating. The Brown
Sculpin streamer should still be a good choice especially with the cloud cover that should be
around most of the week.
12/23/15 The Farmington River is a good choice to fish this coming week. The tailwater
section is where you need to fish because the water is a little warmer. Be sure to check the
discharges though. There is some rain in the forecast. Midges and Winter stoneflies are the
only insects you need to imitate. Don't forget about the Brown Sculpin streamer fly. It has
been a good one the last month.
12/30/15 There has been a lot of rain, yet the power company isn't currently running as much
water as I expected. They may be holding back to let the downward streams and lakes get
lower. You will just have to keep a close check on the discharges. Midges and Winter stonefly
nymphs should be the choice flies. Notice we added Black flies to the list.
01/06/16 The Farmington River is in very good shape considering it in January. The stream
levels are good and the weather is good. You should be able to catch some trout fishing
winter stonefly nymphs, midges, with the pupa and larva imitations in tandem, and the White
Belly Sculpin. This streamer has really produced some big brown trout for two of our
01/13/16 The river is running high right now but is up and down as you probably know. We
don't think the high discharges will last long but you will just have to keep a check on the
schedule and flows. Midges and winter stoneflies are the choice flies at this time. Black flies
should begin to hatch soon if not already. The White Belly sculpin streamer works great when
there is cloud cover.
01/20/16 The Farmington is in good shape from a stream level and flow standpoint, or near
normal for this time of the year. The water is cold and you need to fish areas with slow current
such as holes in the bottom and pockets. Trout won't hold in fast current this cold. Midges
and winter stonefly nymphs are the flies you need to be using. The White Belly sculpin will get
the larger trout.
01/27/15 The river is in good shape from a stream level standpoint. The discharges have
been low but be sure to check them. The power company can run water whenever they
choose. We don't think they will be running a lot of water because there is no rain or snow in
the forecast of any significance. Midges, Winter stonefly nymphs and Black flies are the
insects to imitate.
02/03/16 The river is in good shape for the first of February. Yes, the water is cold but not too
cold to catch trout near the bottom discharge of the dam. Fish holes in the bottom of the runs
and pools in water out of the current. Trout won't hold in fast water at low temperatures.
Midges, little winter stoneflies and the White Belly sculpin streamer are the best flies to use.
02/10/16 The weather is turning much colder but it has little effect on the water from the
bottom discharge from the dam. Fish as near the dam as it is legal to do so for the warmest
water. Midges and Winter stoneflies are the insects to be imitating. Fish the holes in the
bottom of the runs and pools where the trout hold out of the main current.
02/17/16 The coming week is going to feel like Spring compared to the last one. With that
comes more chances of rain and some snow. Right now the power company is running water
big time and it likely will continue for a day or two. You will just have to check the schedule.
Once the discharge subside, you should find much better conditions.
02/24/16 It is raining with a chance of freezing rain but the bad weather should clear up by
Friday morning. The flows are back down to normal but make sure you check them. The
water is still cold and midges, winter stoneflies, sculpin and Black Flies are the main foods you
should be imitating. This weekend could be good for those who fish midges in the slack
03/02/16 The stream levels and discharges are up due to rain that should end today. Midges,
creams and blood midges or red ones, are hatching and the most important aquatic insects to
imitate. Winter stoneflies and Black flies are also hatching. The water is still cold and you
need to fish slack water, not fast water sections of the river.
03/09/16 The discharges from the dam and stream levels are in very good shape right now. It
is going to be much warmer, and there is only a little rain in the forecast and conditions
should remain good for the next few days. Midges, creams and reds, are the main insects you
should be imitating. Winter stoneflies and black flies are still hatching.
03/15/16 The river is in good shape for this time of the year. The weather has been very
warm but is returning to a more normal early spring pattern. The discharges have been low
and stream levels in good shape. Blue-winged olives and midge have been hatching along
with some Winter stoneflies.
03/22/16 The Farmington is in very good shape for the middle of March. Discharges are low
and the stream levels good for wading. It is a good time to catch a large brown trout. The
Brown sculpin streamer is the fly to use. Fish it early in the morning, late in the day or anytime
during cloudy conditions.
03/29/16 The river is in very good shape from a stream levels and water temperature
standpoint. The weather has been nice and warm and it will continue. There is some rain in
the forecast at the end of the week and first of next week, so make sure you check the
discharge schedule. Midges and little Blue-winged olives are the insects you should imitate.
04/06/16 The river is in great shape. It is a little low but that makes it easy to wade about
anywhere you normally can. Midges and little BWO are hatching. Sculpin streamers are
catching trout when it is cloudy or early and late. There is some rain coming this week, so
watch the levels.
04/13/16 The river is in greeat shape right now and should continue to be for the next week.
There is no rain in the forecast adn the weather is going to be much warmer. New hatches will
begin very soon and we will keep you up to dat on them. As for now, midges and little Blue-
winged olives are still the insects to imitate.
04/20/16 The discharges and stream levels are low and there is little rain in the forecast to
change that. You can easily wade the stream now, that is in most places. Some areas are too
deep to wade, so that with caution. Midges, and little Blue-winged olives are still the main
aquatic insects to imitate.
04/27/16 The discharges are low and of course, the stream is low. The low water tends to
warm faster but there is one day this coming week with a freeze warning. Don't get the
bathing suits out yet. Little Black caddis have begin to hatch on the lower end of the river.
There is some rain forecast for this coming week, but it is needed.
05/04/16 The past week has been good to those fishing the Farmington. Discharges and
stream levels have been good and little Blue-winged olives and little Black Grannom caddis
are hatching good. There is a lot of rain in the forecast, so make certain you check the
discharges and flows. It is likely to change within the next few days.
05/11/16 The river is in good shape. Stream levels are fine and anglers are catches fish. The
water is getting warmer and new hatches will be starting up soon. The weather forecast looks
good for the next week. Blue-winged olives, midges, sculpin and little Black caddis are the
main foods to imitate at this time.
05/18/16 The weather is a little more stable and the water is gradually warming up. New
hatches are starting up, mostly caddisflies, but soon to be, the almighty Sulphur. They are
considered the most important hatch on the river by many. Blue-winged olives are also
hatching and more regular than any other insect.
05/25/16 The stream level is currently in good shape and the discharges are likely to remain
favorable for anglers for the next few days. There are a lot of caddiflies hatching along with
other insects. Our customers are reporting catching good numbers of trout and some on the
surface. There is rain in the forecast but the odds are rather low most days.
06/01/17 The Farmington is in good shape with low discharges and good stream levels. From
the looks of the weather forecast, it is likely to remain in good shape. There are a lot of
caddis hatching and our customers have been catching a lot of trout on the hatch and egg
layers in the later afternoon. The Sulphurs are sporadic but should be getting better this
06/08/16 The Farmington is down at a good level and in good shape in all respects. Anglers
are sending in some good reports. The Sulphur are hatching much better but still not
dependable. There is little rain in the forecast and the coming week should be a good one to
fish the tailwater. There are two different caddisfly species hatching at this time.
06/15/16 The Farmington has really been producing lately. Our customers reported catching
good numbers and sizes of trout this past week. The conditions should remain good this
coming week. Lots of caddis are hatching and the egg laying activity is bringing about some
good late afternoon dry fly action. Sulphurs are also staring to hatch good.
06/22/16 The river is in very good shape with low discharges most of the time, and good
stream levels. Wading opportunity is there if you get the discharge schedule and plan when
and where to fish. There are a lot of hatching starting up, including Sulphurs. Caddis are thick
at times. Fish the pupa during the hatch and adults when the are laying eggs late in the day.
06/29/16 The Farmington is in as good of shape as it ever gets, with lots of trout being
caught. There are a lot of caddisflies hatching, ot three different species, bring about some
good egg laying action late in the afternoons. It is probably best later in the day than anytime,
but you should be able to catch trout throughout the day.
07/06/16 he river is in very good shape. The low discharges have given the wading anglers
plenty of opportunity to catch trout. Our customers wading and fishing from drift boats have
sent in some very good reports. There are a lot of insects haching and some trout are being
caught on the surface on dry flies. The outlook for the coming week looks great.
07/13/16 The river continues to be in good shape with good stream levels from low
discharges giving anglers plenty of good wading opportunities. This next week looks like it
should be even better. There are still a lot of insects hatching. They are mostly caddis but the
mid afternoon hatches and late afternoon egg laying events are bringing a lot of trout to the
07/20/16 We received two good reports this past week from customers fishing the tailwater.
Sulphurs are hatching good along with lots of Cinnamon Caddis. The last two or three hours
of the day is the best time to fish due to the little Yellow stoneflies and caddisfly egg laying
activity. The Cinnamon caddis hatch anywhere from 2 to 4 PM. Fish the pupa imitation at that
07/28/16 Notice that we added a map of the public fishing access on the West Branch
Farmington. We received two good reports from customers fishing this past week. Discharges
and stream levels have been low most of the time but there is rain in the forecast this coming
08/03/16 The discharges and resulting stream levels are staying low. That makes for easy
wading but in some cases, makes it easy to spook the trout. Stay low and as hidden as you
can. There are lots of caddis hatching and the egg laying in the late afternoons is bringing a
lot of trout to the surface to feed. That is the best time to fish.
08/10/16 The river is running very low but hopefully, that will change soon. There is a chance
of rain in the forecast everyday this coming week. There are a lot of caddisflies hatching and
the late afternoon egg laying is bringing a lot of trout to the surface to feed. Fish as late as
you can see for the best results.
08/17/16 The river levels are still very low. There is a good chance of rain this weekend and
hopefully, that will help the overall situation. Caddisflies are still hatching in very good
numbers and the late afternoon egg laying activity is bringing a lot of trout to the surface to
feed. Fish as late in the day as you can. Tricos are also hatching good with good late
morning spinner falls.
08/24/16 It continues to be very hot. The stream levels and discharges continue to be low.
There is little chance of rain this coming week. Fish very early in the morning using steamers
and again, the last two or three hours of the day for the best results. You can catch trout
during the day in the tailwater using nymphs as well.
08/31/16 The river is running very low with little chance of rain other than tomorrow. There
are a lot of caddisflies hatching along with Tricos. Fish sculpin streamers in the early
mornings and the last two hours of the day, fish the egg laying caddis. In the late mornings
you should see the Trico spinner fall followed by the hatch.
09/07/16 More hot weather is on the way. Some parts of the river will be getting little too
warm to fish. Do not fish water above 68 degrees. The section below Goodwin dam is
probably the best bet for stocked trout. It is catch and release. Cinnamon caddis and some
Little sister caddis are the main insects hatching. There are sill some Tricos and terrestrials
will also work.
09/14/16 The discharges and stream levels are still low. It makes it easy to wade but easy to
spook trout. Use longer, lighter leaders and tippet. Stay low and dress to blend in with the
background. Notice we added Mahogany duns to the hatches as they have begin.
Terrestrials are working good as well as matching the hatch.
09/21/16 Little change has taken place. The few anglers fishing are just mostly spooking the
trout. It isn't easy to stay hidden but there are a few guys that can fool them. Longer
presentations with lighter, longer leaders and tippets and fishing very early and late will help a
lot. There are still plenty of hatching insects including Cinnamon Caddis, BWOs and
09/28/16 The stream levels are still very low. The good news is the weather is much cooler
and the water temperature is coming down. The best news is there is a chance of rain
everyday for the next week. Great Autumn Brown sedges, Mahogany duns, Blue-winged
olives and some other insects are hatching. Brown trout will begin to look for spawning areas.
10/05/16 It is getting downright boring and not much fun to continue to write about very low
water but that is what you have. The only good news lately, is the temperature of the water is
down and the fish okay. You can play hide and seek and still catch some fish, but it is very
low. Hopefully, this will soon change.
10/12/16 We think our flies are far superior under the low, clear water conditions that exist
now for one reason. The trout get a much better look at them. You have to stay low and make
longer presentations using lighter and longer leaders and tippets. The weather and water is
cooler and the fish in good condition, just more difficult to catch.
10/19/16 Help is on the way. The stream levels are still very low but there is rain forecast from
tomorrow through Saturday. The temperatures will be much cooler and that too will help. You
can catch trout now, but staying hidden is a problem. There are some very good Blue-winged
olive hatches taking place. The Great Autumn Brown sedges should be hatching as well.
10/26/16 The discharges and resulting stream levels are still very low. The water is cool and
the trout active. They will eat. You just have to keep them from seeing you as well as make
good presentations. Our Perfect Flies help a lot because the more closely resemble the real
things. There are a few chances of rain this week, so maybe that will change.
11/02/16 It looks as if we were over optimistic about rain last week. There is a chance
tomorrow, but we don't think it is going to have much effect. You can expect more low water
levels. You can catch trout. The levels just make it more challenging. You have to stay hidden
from the trout make longer presentations using lighter leaders and tippets.
11/09/16 The water levels are still very low but not quite as low as last week. There isn't any
rain in the forecast for the coming week. The water temperature is low enough that the trout
are staying active and feeding. You can catch them if you can make good presentations and
stay hidden from them. They will eat. It may help to use lighter, longer leaders and tippets.
11/16/16 Some large brown post-spawn brown trout are being caught. The Brown sculpin
streamer works great for them. Small Blue-winged olives and midges are the main insects you
can expect to hatch. The water levels continue to be very low and you have to stay hidden
from the trout to catch them. It is unlikely this will change during the coming week.
11/23/16 Keep your fingers crossed. It could rain during the next three days and the river
sure needs it. The discharges and stream levels are very low right now. Midges and Blue-
winged olives are the only insects hatching. Sculpin streamers are still catching some of the
larger trout but need to be fished when you have low light conditions.
11/30/16 The river levels are on the way up, thanks to some good rain showers. Midges and
Blue-winged olives are the only major hatches taking place right now. This should be a good
week to fish the Farmington. Sculpin streamers should catch the larger trout. Be sure and
check the discharge schedule and stream levels.
12/07/14 The river is in very good shape and angles are catching trout in the special
regulation areas. Red and Cream midges are hatching good. Fish the larva and pupa
imitations in tandem, with the larva the bottom fly. There could be some small Blue-winged
olives and Winter stoneflies hatch as well.
12/14/16 The river is in decent shape for the first of December. The levels are low right now
but there is some snow in the forecast this weekend. Midges continue to be the top producing
flies. Reds and Creams are the ones currently hatching. Fish the larva and pupa imitations in
tandem for the best results. The Sculpin streamers will catch the larger size trout if fished
under low light conditions.
12/21/16 If you catch the discharges and stream levels low enough to wade, you can catch
plenty of trout. The water temperature stays about 39 or 40 degrees below the dams. Fish
tandem rigged red (blood) or Cream midges with the larva and pupa imitations in tandem.
Winter stoneflies and Black flies are also hatching.
12/28/17 We have reports of lots of Winter stoneflies beginning to hatch. You can easily see
the adults in the snow, since they are dark brown, almost black. Fish the Winter stonefly
nymph close to the banks late in the day. They crawl out of the water at night to hatch.
Midges, creams and reds, continue to hatch.
01/04/17The discharges and stream levels are back up to near normal levels for this time of
the year. The weather and water will be colder this coming week. Fish as near the dam as
legal and safe for the warmest water. The only insects that will be hatching will probably be
Midges, the creams and reds. There could be some Winter stoneflies and Black flies hatching