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The Best Fly Fishing in Southwest Colorado

by | Mar 4, 2021 | Fly Fishing | 0 comments

Our guide to The Best Fly Fishing in Southwest Colorado

Whether you are looking to fly fish the San Juan’s high mountain creeks, the Piedra’s canyon gorge, or the Animas River’s Gold Medal Waters, this area has something for every angler.

With some help from our friends at Duranglers Flies and Supplies we put together a comprehensive list of some of our favorite rivers and fishing spots for you to discover.

Each week on Thursday mornings we will be update you with a new location and some advice to help you make the most out of your weekend fly fishing trip. Scroll to the bottom of this post to have these updates sent to your inbox.

Animas river fly fishing

When is the best time to fish in Colorado?


Between March and May, the snow melt has begun, the weather is unpredictable, and you’ll likely see more anglers on the rivers.

That said, spring conditions can be volatile. Before you head out, you’ll have to be very pragmatic when choosing which river you intend to fish, be well aware of its specific turbidity, and understand the runoff of the winter snow melt. To have a safest, most enjoyable experience, we always recommend going out with experienced local guides.

Fly fishing near Durango, Colorado

 Where is the best fly fishing in Southwest Colorado?

  1. Animas River
  2. San Juan River
  3. Dolores River
  4. Rio Grande River
  5. Piedra River

1. The Animas River

Best for easy access, Gold Medal Waters, the Animas is one of the last remaining freestone rivers in Colorado.

Along the Animas you can find small creek fishing in the high mountains, fishing in the heart of downtown Durango, and elusive private water only avalible through Expedition Outside.

Read our guide to fishing the Animas.

2. The San Juan River

Much of the San Juan runs through private land, that said there is some good public access.

Here you can find some remote high country fishing and headwaters. There are also some elusive spots running through Southern Ute Tribal land.

Read our guide to fishing the San Juan.

3. The dolores River

The last of southwest Colorado’s great rivers before crossing into Utah. Here you will find almost no one, this is some remote country. Well worth the drive from Durango.

Read our guide to fishing The Dolores river

4. The Rio Grande

Flowing southwest of the Continental Divide, the Rio flows past Creed, South Fork, then into New Mexico, eventually flowing all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

This is a great river for exploring small feeder streams, has plenty of public access, and is usually pretty good. The only downside is that some spots on this river are overpressured by anglers.

Read our guide to fishing the Rio.

5. The Piedra River

There is some really unique fishing on this river, but be prepared to hike. A number of rugged beautiful creeks that flow into this river are only accessible by going deep in the Weminuche Wilderness.

We recommend you hire a guide for this river as many of the goods are well off the beaten path.

Read our guide to fishing the Piedra.


the best fishing spot on the Animas River


we have access to private fly fishing on all these rivers

There is something really unique about fishing all by yourself. If you want to go on an adventure right in your backyard, checkout our private fishing access. We have several sections of river that have only seen a handful of anglers just minutes from Durango.

You don’t to search anymore, just give us a call. We can put you on the best water, guide optional.


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