Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Crystal River Colorado
Crystal River flows from an area of alpine meadows
above the town of Marble, Colorado, named
appropriately for its marble quarries. The river flows
through the town of Redstone and down past the town of
Carbondale where it joins the Roaring Fork River. Most
of the river flows through the White River National
Forest. The river is rarely far from highway #133 which
runs parallel with it for much of its length.
The Crystal River will muddy up fairly easy after a heavy
rain and won't tend to be so "crystal" clear. The stream
drains some very large basins consisting mostly of
shale. The water can get muddy pretty fast. Of course it
is almost impossible to fish it during the spring runoff.
When you catch the Crystal River in good condition, it
can produce some great trout fishing.
During the fall brown trout move up into the river from
the Roaring Fork River to spawn. This provides some
very good fishing. In the public fishing area between
Marble and Redstone, the state stock rainbow and
cutthroat. The aquatic insect population in this area is
low due and the trout don't thrive quite as well as they
do in other areas of the stream. Trout are not stocked in
the other sections of the river. The uppermost areas are
known for their brook trout fishing. The stream's
headwaters are small and the brook trout are plentiful.
Crystal River Colorado
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 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 Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Copyright 2018 James Marsh
Although you can fish year-round, fishing is
not exactly great throughout the year.
It is possible to catch trout during the winter if
the water levels and conditions are right.
Except for the runoff, the springtime is a
Fly Fishing Guide to the Crystal River:
As mentioned in the introduction, fly fishing the Crystal
River is greatly controlled by the amount of melting
snow and particularly the rainfall. It can discolor and
even muddy the stream to the point your wouldn't want
to fish it. Getting the streamflow readings and weather
forecast is important.
If it is just numbers of fish you are interested in or if
you have a beginning angler that want some action
without too much difficulty, the public water between
Marble and Redstone is regularly stocked by the state
of Colorado and one be a good place to fish. You may
also want to consider the brook trout which are plentiful
in the area between Crystal and Lead King Basin. A
hike is required to access this area.
One of the best areas to fish is near the confluence of
the Crystal River and the Roaring Fork River. It is a
great place to catch rainbows when they start their
spawning ritual during the Spring and for the brown
trout when they begin to move to their spawning areas
in the Fall.
Only the last six miles of the river isn't within the
boundaries of the White River National Forest. Just
keep in mind that there is a lot of private property
within the forest. Don't make the assumption it is public
water because of that. Some of the river in the upper
areas can be accessed from the campgrounds along
the river and the road turnouts.
Keep in mind the water is not the best water to be
found in Colorado for aquatic insects. The area has a
lot of mining history and the water has a relatively low
pH and a water chemistry that is not suitable for a lot of
aquatic insects. The closer you fish to a tributary
stream, the more likely it is trout are present. Also, the
closer you fish to its confluence with the Roaring Fork
River, the more likely you will find higher
concentrations of trout. Also, keep in mind that this is a
swift flowing river and the fish will be holding in the
current seams and places the trout can feed yet hold
out of the fast water. Short accurate cast generally
work far better than long cast. Also, nymphs and
streamers generally work better than dry flies.
Crystal River 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 Crystal 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. 1-800-594-4726.
Keep in mind that the Crystal River
headwaters are in a mining district and the
river doesn't have the best habitat for aquatic
insects. You will find more of them near the
tributary streams and the area near its
confluence with the Roaring Fork River than
anywhere else. The insects listed below may
not exist in all parts of the river.
As with most Colorado streams, the Crystal
Rivers first hatch of the year is the
Blue-winged Olives. They hatch starting in
April and last through most of May. These are
bi-brooded insects that hatch again from the
middle of August through September.
The Green Drakes start hatching around the
middle of June and last through the month of
July. There are some Red Quills that hatch
about the same time as the Green Drakes.
There insects are mostly found near the
confluence with the Roaring Fork. You may
also find some PMDs, or Pale Morning Duns
near the Roaring Fork. They start hatching in
July and last until the first week or two of
Golden Stoneflies hatch from about the
middle of June through July. Yellow Sallies, or
Little Yellow Stoneflies, start hatching about
the first of June and last on into August.
Neither of these are plentiful, but where they
do exist, the trout seem to concentrate on
Probably the most important species of
caddisflies are the Brachycentrus
species. These caddisflies start
hatching in late April to the first of May
and last until second or third week of
May. They are most plentiful near the
Roaring Fork River. From June to
September you will find a few Spotted
Sedges. They are the most plentiful
species of caddisflies on the river.
There are also some Green Caddisflies,
or Green Sedges. The larvae of these
caddisflies are called Green Rock
Worms. Imitations of them are very
effective year-round. There are a few
other species of caddisflies present on
the river, but none that hatch in decent
Terrestrial insects become very
important during the summer months
from about the middle of June through
September. That is because there are
few aquatic insects as compared with
most trout streams. Imitations of
grasshopper, ants and beetles are
The Eagle River has some Sculpin,
minnows and some baitfish. Streamers
are very effective when the brown trout
start to spawn in the fall. They also work
anytime the river is a little off color from
rain as well as early in the morning and
late in the afternoons.
If you haven't already done so, be sure
to try our "Perfect Fly" trout flies. They
are the most realistic and effective flies
you can purchase. We are certain you
will be glad you did. We believe in them
to the point we guarantee your
The fishing can be tough at times and
good at times.
Autumn is usually a good time for fly
fishing the Crystal River
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (email@example.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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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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