Copyright 2019 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Neversink River New
The Neversink River is both a tailwater trout stream
and a freestone stream. In its upper reaches, the
East and West Branches of the river provide small
stream brook trout fishing. Most of the water is on
The East and West Branches merge near the little
town of Claryville, New York to form the main river.
From there the river flows into the Neversink
Reservoir a few miles to the south. All of the upper
section of the river is on private property. Public
Fishing Rights (PFR’s) or permanent easements
purchased by the NYSDEC from willing landowners,
give anglers the right to fish and walk along the bank
(usually a 33’ strip on one or both banks of the
Below the dam at the Neversink Reservoir the river
provides good brown trout fishing for about six miles.
The water consist of a lot of long pools with rather
slow moving water.
The river has a variety of aquatic insect hatches and
dry fly fishing can be great at times. Quill Gordon,
Hendricksons, Blue Quill, Blue-winged Olives, March
Browns and Slate Drakes make up most of the mayfly
population. There are also a few stoneflies along with
a lot of different species of caddisflies.
Brown trout exist in the lower headwater section of
the main river. Most of the six mile long tailwater
section, from Woodburne to the dam, is open to
public fishing. Fishing it is very different from fishing
most other tailwaters.
This tailwater has long, slow moving pools with short
riffles between them. It is relatively smooth water. The
water stays cool year round. It is a relatively short
stretch of tailwater and is well shaded the entire
length. Even though it is short on public waters, fly
fishing the Neversink River can be very productive
and a lot of fun.
One mistake anglers make fishing the Neversink
River is they don't use small flies. Most of the food is
small and most of the food in the tailwater section
consist of midges. Midges range from a hook size 18
down to a hook size 26.
Another problem we have noticed fishing the
Neversink is that many anglers attempt to catch trout
on the surface when they are feeding down on the
bottom. There are some dry fishing opportunities,
but anglers tend to over do it. Although it is much
more fun to catch trout on the surface, we
recommend fishing dry flies only when you observe
trout feeding on the surface, or during a hatch.
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Photo Courtesy of David Knapp Photography
Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 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 Supreme Four, Superb Five or
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
The fly-fishing season is best in late spring
and early summer.
Springtime is prime time for the Neversink
River. This is when most of the hatches
Fly Fishing Guide to the Neversink
Fishing in the upper East and West
Branches is all brook trout fishing. The fish
are small averaging about six to seven
inches long. The river is stocked by the state
of New York. Both wild trout and stocked
trout exist in the river. Much of the popularity
of this stream has to do with the history of
the fly fishing more than the fishing. It was
the home of Theodore Gordon and other
early fly fishing writers.
As mentioned before, the Neversink River is
both a tailwater trout stream and a freestone
stream. Its upper branches consist of small
brook trout streams. The tailwater section is
completely different from the freestone
sections. Therefore, the fly fishing strategies,
techniques and methods change drastically
depending on where you fish the river.
As with most any tailwater, you should
never overlook the mighty midge. It can
be the number one most productive
insect to imitate at times.
The tailwater has its pools, runs, riffles
and even pocket water sections. The
water discharged from the reservoir stays
about fifty to fifty-five degrees
year-round. It is mostly shaded by plenty
of streamside trees so it stays cool even
during the hot summer.
Most of the main stem from Woodburne
to the dam, has been opened to the
public.(Exceptions to General Angling
Regulations) Brown trout, most ranging
from 8 to 12 inches long, are more
prevalent in this part of the river.
Neversink River Hatches and Trout
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
Neversink 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.
The flies you need to fish the Neversink
River depends on the particular section you
plan on fishing. The stocked trout are fairly
easy to catch and can be caught on just
about any fly for a short time after they are
stocked. To catch one of the larger
holdover trout, or one of the few wild brown
trout there, requires skill and a lot of luck.
Streamers fished during very low light
conditions sometimes pays off. Other than
that, mayfly nymphs and caddisfly larva and
pupa imitations fished near the bottom
produce most of the wild and holdover
One thing you should not overlook is the
terrestrials. Again, the low light situations
provide the best opportunity. Beetles, ants
and hoppers all three work at times. Just
don't expect to catch one every few cast. A
larger wild brown trout or even a year, or
two year old holdover brown trout, should
be considered a very good catch.
If you are fishing during the early spring,
you may encounter some good hatches in
the tailwater section.
There are even some Little Brown
Stoneflies in the tailwater. If you do run
into a hatch of any aquatic insect, by all
means fish it. Day in and day out, this will
not be the case in the tailwater section.
Be prepared to fish subsurface most of
There are plenty of caddisflies in the
tailwater section and all in all, they
provide the best dry fly opportunity. The
Cinnamon caddis hatch most of the late
spring and summer. There is a decent
Little Sister caddisfly hatch. Green
Sedges and Short-horned Sedges make
up most of the balance of the caddisfly
habitat in the tailwater section. Be sure to
have plenty of "Rock Worms" (larva stage
of the Green Sedge) on hand. They work
very well most of the season. If you stick
with the caddisflies, midges and nymphs
fished deep and you are likely to be
Just don't forget about the midge. It
usually becomes the most important
insect to try to match in the tailwater
section. I would have plenty of them in
hook sizes 20 and 22.
Terrestrial insects become a choice about
the middle of June. Imitations of inch
worms, beetles, grass hoppers and ants
will catch trout until the first frost appears.
We always recommend our own "Perfect
Flies". They are the most realistic and
most effective imitations that are
commercially available. You will find our
caddisfly imitations work great for this
stream. We hope you give them a try.
The early part of summer is the best time
for the freestone area. Fishing is good in
the tailwater section throughout the
Early fall is a good time for fly fishing the
Neversink River in either the freestone or
the tailwater sections.
Thumbnail Images: Click to enlarge
Neversink River Fishing Report - 10/20/19
Stream levels are above a normal level in the freestone and in the tailwater and rain the
next few days could bring it up further. There are still lots of hatches taking place. Our
customers were catching good numbers and sizes of trout before the high water.
7 Day Weather Forecast: There is a chance of rain Tuesday through Friday, then
clearing. Highs will range from 42 to 61 degrees and lows from 25 to 50 degrees.
Recommended Trout Flies:
Strategies, Techniques and Tips:
Blue-winged Olives are hatching..
Mahogany duns are hatching.
Slate Drakes are hatching.
We still think a good strategy is to fish a tandem Midge rig under a small strike indicator
with the midge lava as the bottom fly and the midge pupa as the top fly. Fish the adult
midge only when you observe trout feeding on the surface
Fishing Report Updated 10/28/19
(Bottom Of Page)
Brown Sculpin and White Belly Sculpin, Brown sculpin, articulated streamers, size 4 and 6
Blue-winged Olives: size 18 and 16, nymph, emergers, duns and spinners
Mahogany Duns, size 18, nymphs, emergers, duns and spinners
Slate Drakes are hatching.
October Caddis, size 6, pupa and adults
Midges: Blood (Red), sizes 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
Midges: Cream, size 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
Midges: Light Green, size 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
|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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