Skip to content
Home » The Easy Guide to Fly Fishing the South Platte River

The Easy Guide to Fly Fishing the South Platte River

Gearing up for a fishing escapade on the South Platte River? Hold on to your hats, because you’re about to dive into the most comprehensive guide on how to fly fish this iconic Colorado waterway. We’re talking river biography, best fishing spots, tackle guidance, fly selection, pro techniques, rigging how-tos, local laws, and more. With our help, you’ll be landing rainbow trout like a seasoned pro in no time.

The South Platte River: A Fisherman’s Tale

Winding its way from the Colorado Rockies to its confluence with the North Platte River in Nebraska, the South Platte is a mecca for fly fishing. The river’s storied reputation boasts diverse landscapes, from mountainous terrain to vast plains, and an impressive variety of trout species including Brown, Rainbow, Cutthroat, and Brook.

Best time to fish? Spring to early summer (April-June) and fall (September-November) are prime periods. Expect a plethora of bugs and active fish, but remember, every season has its charm and secrets.

Perfect Places for Casting Away

Spot NameDirectionsLocal Guide Shop
DeckersTake Hwy 67 from SedaliaFlies and Lies
Cheesman CanyonLocated near Deckers, off Hwy 126Angler’s Covey
Eleven Mile CanyonOff Hwy 24, near Lake GeorgeThe Peak Fly Shop
Dream StreamNear Hartsel, off Hwy 24South Platte Fly Shop
Badger BasinNear Lake George, off Hwy 24Blue Quill Angler

For Solitude Seekers: Eleven Mile Canyon

This is your sanctuary. Eleven Mile Canyon, despite its stunning beauty and plentiful fish, is often overlooked by crowds due to its $7 entry fee. Yeah, it’s not free, but the solitude and scenic splendor are worth every penny.

For Social Fishers: Deckers

If you don’t mind a bit of company, Deckers is your go-to spot. Its accessibility and ample trout population make it popular among anglers, resulting in a bustling fishing community.

Gear Up Right: Rod and Reel Selection

Go with a 9ft, 4-6wt rod for versatility. Reel-wise, opt for a mid-arbor disc drag reel. Load it up with a weight-forward floating line to match your rod weight, and you’re good to go.

Fly Selection: Your Secret Weapon

SeasonFly NameFavorite ColorHook Size
WinterMidge LarvaRed#20
WinterBlack BeautyBlack#22
WinterMercury BaetisOlive#20
SpringBlue-winged OliveOlive#18
SummerElk Hair CaddisTan#16
SummerPMD Sparkle DunYellow#16
SummerSan Juan WormRed#14
FallTrico SpinnerBlack#20
FallEgg PatternOrange#16

How to Fly Fish the South Platte: 3 Pro Techniques

  1. Nymphing: Get ready to go deep. Start with a 9-foot, 5X leader and attach 1-2 BB split shots 8-16 inches above your fly.
  2. Dry Fly Fishing: Wait for the hatch and go for a 9-foot, 5X-6X leader. Keep your fly dry and keep a keen eye on your target.
  3. Streamer Fishing: Try an intermediate sinking line with a short, stout leader. Cast upstream and across, then strip the fly back towards you in short, abrupt pulls.

Rigging Up Right

Begin with a 9-foot 5X leader. Add tippet size to match the flies you are using, but remember, the smaller the fly, the finer the tippet. If you’re nymphing, attach 1 or 2 BB split shots 8-16 inches above your fly. If you’re dry fly fishing, no weights are needed. Depth? Go 1-2 feet below the surface for nymphs and keep dry flies on the surface.

Follow the Law: Local Regulations

Be respectful, keep an eye out for private property, and practice catch and release to maintain the river’s trout population. A valid Colorado fishing license is required, and daily catch limits apply.


There you have it, your ultimate guide on how to fly fish the South Platte River. Armed with these tips, you’re ready to tackle this angling mecca, respecting the ecosystem while honing your craft. Remember, the river is as much about the journey as it is about the catch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Compare Products
No products were added to compare list
Return to Shop
Elk Hair Caddis
0 customer review
Blue Wing Dunn
0 customer review