Discover the best spots and techniques for fly fishing in Colorado during the run off season.

Understanding Run Off Season


Colorado is an amazing destination for fly fishing enthusiasts, but it is important to be aware of the run-off season to make the most of your fishing experience. Typically occurring in spring, the run-off season arises when the snowmelt causes the rivers and streams to become swift and muddy, making fly fishing quite challenging. However, with the right knowledge and techniques, it can still be a successful fishing season.

During the run-off season, the water conditions can be significantly impacted by the snowmelt. Due to increased water flow, it can be quite difficult for fish to see and track flies. Fly fishing enthusiasts must, therefore, adjust their strategies accordingly. Additionally, the muddy water can make it harder for fish to spot flies, which is why using larger and brighter flies could be more effective.

While the run-off season can be an exciting time for fly fishing, it is also crucial to consider safety. The swift and powerful currents can be dangerous, and it is essential to take appropriate precautions. Wearing a life jacket and being cautious while wading in the water are some of the essential safety measures to follow. It is advisable to fish in slower-moving sections of rivers and avoid areas with strong currents to ensure maximum safety.

Top Fly Fishing Locations in Colorado

Colorado is known for its exceptional fly fishing opportunities, attracting enthusiasts from all over the world. Even during the run off season, when the water levels in rivers and streams are high due to melted snow and spring rains, there are several excellent fly fishing spots in Colorado that are worth exploring. With its clear, pristine waters and stunning natural scenery, Colorado remains a popular destination for fly fishing throughout the year.

  1. The Colorado River: Known for its abundance of trout, the Colorado River offers excellent fly fishing opportunities year-round. During the run off season, anglers can target fish in calmer sections of the river and focus on using large nymphs and streamers.
  2. The South Platte River: The South Platte River is famous for its challenging fishing conditions, but it can also be rewarding during the run off season. Anglers can find trout in slower-moving sections of the river and use attractor patterns to entice strikes.
  3. The Arkansas River: The Arkansas River is known for its diverse fish population, including brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout. During the run off season, anglers can find success by fishing near tributaries and using stonefly nymphs and attractor patterns.
  4. The Roaring Fork River: The Roaring Fork River offers stunning scenery and excellent fly fishing opportunities. During the run off season, anglers can focus on fishing in calmer sections of the river and using larger flies to attract fish.


Gear and Equipment for Run Off Fly Fishing

The run-off season in Colorado can be a challenging time for fly fishing enthusiasts. The increased water flow and murky waters can make it difficult for fish to see and locate bait. Therefore, having the right gear and equipment is essential to optimize your chances of a successful catch. This includes a good quality fishing rod, appropriate fishing line, and effective lures or bait. It is also recommended to wear proper clothing and gear to stay comfortable and safe while fishing in potentially unpredictable weather conditions. With the right tools and preparation, you can make the most of your fly fishing experience during the run-off season in Colorado.


  • Waders and Boots: A good pair of waders and boots is essential for staying dry and comfortable while wading in the water. Look for waders that are breathable and durable, and boots with good traction for slippery conditions.
  • Fly Rod and Reel: Choose a fly rod and reel that is suitable for the size of fish you will be targeting. For trout fishing in Colorado rivers, a 9-foot rod with a weight of 5-6 is a popular choice. Match the reel to the rod weight for optimal performance.
  • Flies: During the run-off season, fish can be less selective, so larger, brighter flies can be effective. Some recommended fly patterns include stonefly nymphs, attractor patterns, and streamers. It is always a good idea to have a variety of sizes and colors in your fly box.
  • Leaders and Tippet: Use leaders and tippet that are strong enough to handle larger fish and the fast water conditions. A 9-foot tapered leader with a 4X or 5X tippet is a good starting point.
  • Accessories: Don't forget to bring essential accessories such as a fly box, nippers, forceps, and floatant. These tools will be useful for changing flies, cutting lines, and handling fish.


Tips and Techniques for Successful Fly Fishing


Fishing in Colorado during the run off season can be challenging because of the increased water flow, making it harder to catch fish. However, you can still have a successful fishing trip with a few adjustments to your usual techniques.

During the run off season, fish tend to move to slower-moving sections of rivers and near tributaries where the water is clearer. Focusing your fishing efforts in these areas can increase your chances of hooking a fish. The muddy water during the run off season can make it harder for fish to spot flies. Using larger and brighter flies can increase your visibility and attract more strikes. Stonefly nymphs, attractor patterns, and streamers are good choices.

The increased water flow during the runoff season can change the fish-holding depth. Try adjusting the depth of your fly by adding or removing weight to find the optimal level where the fish are feeding. The swift currents during the runoff season make it harder for fish to swim against the flow. As a result, fish tend to hold in slower-moving and deeper sections of the river. Focusing your fishing efforts in these areas can increase your chances of success.

Safety should always be a priority when fly fishing, especially during the run off season. Wear a life jacket, use a wading staff for stability, and be cautious when wading in fast-moving water. It is also advisable to fish with a buddy for added safety.

Conservation Practices for Fly Fishing in Colorado

As fly anglers, practicing conservation to safeguard Colorado's rivers and fish populations is crucial. Conservation practices such as catch and release, respecting wildlife and vegetation, packing out your trash, following fishing regulations, and supporting conservation organizations are some of the important things to keep in mind. When handling fish, it's important to wet your hands before touching them, use barbless hooks, and release the fish unharmed. Be mindful of the environment, avoid trampling on vegetation or disturbing wildlife, stay on designated trails, and avoid walking through sensitive areas. Always clean up after yourself and pack out any trash or litter, leaving the river cleaner than you found it.

Familiarize yourself with fishing regulations in the area you are fishing in and adhere to them. They are in place to protect fish populations and ensure sustainable fishing practices. By donating or volunteering, consider supporting local conservation organizations that protect and preserve Colorado's rivers and fish habitats. By practicing conservation, we can help protect Colorado's rivers and ensure that future generations can enjoy the beauty and abundance of fly fishing in the state.

Tymothe Meskel
Post by Tymothe Meskel
June 11, 2024
Tymothe Meskel is an avid fly fisherman who spends every week out on the water, rain, shine, or snow. He is an outdoor enthusiast who shares their experiences, tips, and insights on this fly fishing blog. With a wealth of knowledge about various techniques, equipment, and fly patterns, he helps anglers of all skill levels improve their fishing game. Join Tymothe on this journey as he uncover the joys of fly fishing and inspire others to appreciate the wilderness and preserve our natural resources.