New Mexico Fly Fishing
This is a general guide that we have compiled to help our fellow fly fisherman who plan on exploring the great waters of New Mexico.
The majority of New Mexico trout streams can be found close to Santa Fen in the northern part of the state. Anglers can fish a variety of streams – small mountains streams, freestone, meadow streams etc. Towards lower elevations larger rivers (20-40 ft in width), lakes, and tailwaters abound. Almost all of which are public access. See San Juan River.
Keep scrolling for more information.
- Brazos River Private Section – Fly Fishing
- Cimarron River Fly FIshing
- Jemez Watershed River Fly Fishing
- Lower Rio Grande Fly Fishing
- Pecos River Fly Fishing
- Pecos River Winter Flyfishing
- Red River – Rio Grande Box Fly Fishing
- Rio Chama Fly Fishing
- Rio de los Pinos Fly Fishing
- Rio Peñasco Fly Fishing
- San Juan River Tailwater Fly Fishing
- Valle Vidal Fly Fishing
- Fly Fishing New Mexico Lakes
Local expert Jim Buckmelter provides an extensive overview of fly fishing New Mexico lakes.
This is a small creek near Questa that offers great fishing for small (6-10″) trout and the occasional 12-14 incher. The fish are plentiful and willing. We have had many 50+ fish days here. The best patterns are the Elk Hair Caddis (#12) and Parachute Adams (#14). All four species reside here.
This is one of our favorite rivers. The Cimmaron offers great fishing for browns and rainbows throughout the summer and early fall until the flows are cut back. The stone fly hatch begins in May and lasts through the end of June. During this time large Stimulators, Zug Bugs, and Double Hackle Peacocks work extremely well. There is also a short Green Drake hatch in mid-June. After the stone flies are gone, productive patterns include the Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Adams, Humpy, Pheasant Tail, Hare’s Ear, Scud (orange and olive), and of course, the Woolly Bugger. Good patterns for the beaver ponds are black midges and gnats. There is a section of Special Water just below the Tolby Campground, but the fishing is great all the way to Philmont Boy Scout Ranch. Browns here average 12″ and rainbows just a bit smaller. A 29″ brown was taken from a beaver pond in the Special Waters earlier this summer.
The Middle Fork of the Red River does not hold a great number of fish because of its steep gradient. This is a cutthroat fishery and holds some large (14″) cuts for its size. Standard dries do well here.
1 hour from Santa Fe. Browns and raibows. Flies: White Stone, Sofa Pillow, Red Quill, Elk Hair Caddis. Fishes best from April to early May, mid-June to August. More info.
The Upper and Lower Red Rivers offer great fishing. Matt and I landed about 15 fish each on the Upper Red one morning last August. These fish average 8 to 15 inches and are plentiful. All species reside here and can be taken on standard dries and nymphs. The Lower Red is enclosed in a deep canyon and covered with Volkswagen sized boulders. We caught many browns and rainbows in these swift waters this summer on Pheasant Tails, Zug Bugs, and Olive Woolly Buggers. This section of the Red is very productive during the fall run.
2 hours from Santa Fe for browns and rainbows. Flies: Brooks Stone, Bird’s Stonefly, Humpy, Elk Hair Caddis, Woolly Worm. Fishes best May to mid-June, September and October.
This is one of New Mexico’s best cutthroat rivers. Fishing is best here on the weekends because of the high irrigation flows during the week. The water is cut down on Thursday evenings and picks back up again on Sunday evenings. The fishing here was much better than usual last summer. Hopefully, this is an omen of what is to come. The upper section, Valle Vidal opens July 1 and offers the best fishing. The best way to fish Costilla is with any dry fly drifted through anyone of the inviting currents.
Flies: caddisflies, stoneflies, mayflies. Fishes best late spring through early fall. More info on the Rio Chama.
Rio de Los Pinos
3 hours from Santa Fe, for brown and rainbow trout. Flies: Golden Stonefly Nymph, Brooks Stone, Peacock Simulator, Bird’s Stonefly, Brown Wulff, Adams, Light Hendrickson, Elk Hair Caddis, Griffith’s Gnat, Green Caddis Larva. Read this article about the Rio de Los Pinos
Rio Grande near Pilar
1.25 hours from Santa Fe , featuring Browns, Cuttbows, and Rainbows. Flies: Little Brown Stonefly Nymph, Brown Hackle Peacock Nymph, Green Caddis Larva, Elk Hair Caddis, Blue Dun, Midge Clusters. Fishes best from October and November, January and February.
2 Hrs from Santa Fe for Brown and Rainbow Trout. Flies: Bird’s Stonefly, Kaufmann Stone Nymph, Humpy. Fishes well late May to June, September.
We have only fished this river once, and the water was unusually clear. There are thousands of browns and cuts per mile and they love stone fly imitations.
The Rio Penasco is possibly Southern New Mexico’s best fishery. There are many gargantuan browns and ‘bows in this rich spring creek. There is a heavy spinner fall every morning all year and thick Baetis hatches during mid-day in the winter. Fish here range from 10 inches on up, and fish in the twenties are not uncommon. Tricos, BWO’s, Caddises, Para Adams, Dave’s and Joe’s Hoppers, Midges, Pheasant Tails,… work well here. Unfortunately, one of the best stretches of this river is now off limits (unless you want to pay a grand a year to fish it). The Cleve Ranch can still be accessed through the Mesilla Valley Fly Fishers Club for $10 per day. One fish over 20″ may be kept here, but we encourage you to release all fish. If a guided trip is what you desire, contact The Real Life at 1-888-268-FISH
More info on fishing the Rio Penasco
This river also hold browns and rainbows, and they are unbelievably healthy. These fish look like San Juan fish, only smaller. The river floods during the summer, making it primarily a winter fishery. Patterns here are the same as on the Penasco. The Hurd Ranch contains a great stretch of the Ruidoso, and can be accessed through the Mesilla Valley Club. Regulations are one fish per day over 20 inches.
Rio San Antonio
1.5 Hrs from Santa Fe. Brown and Rainbows. Flies: Kaufmann Stone, Adams, Red Quill, Light Cahill, Humpy, Green Caddis Larva. Fishes best from April to June, September.
Rio Santa Barbara
This river offers great fishing for browns and rainbows, but is known for its cutthroats. The upper reaches of this river are accessible by foot only and hold many of these crimson sided beauties. Fishing near the campground is great, but the West Fork (a 5 mile hike) is by far the best fishing. The fish average 12″ here (as compared to 10″ near the campground) and will readily thrash an Elk Hair Caddis. If you go, don’t spoil you trip by not fishing the West Fork. This river offers some of the best scenery in New Mexico.
San Juan River
The San Juan is one of the most well known tailwaters in the Rocky Mountains. This river is known for its monstorous trout that feed almost constantly on small flies like midges and beatis. This is also the most crowded river in New Mexico because it is a great fishery that gives any skilled angler a chance for a trophy. There are numerous fly shops and guides on the river that will be able to outfit you and lead you in the right direction so you can get out there and going.
More info on fly fishing the San Juan
Information about Cimarron Canyon in the northern New Mexico Sangre de Cristo Mountains area.
New Mexico Fly Fishing with Ed Adams!
The Cimarron is an intimate tailwater fishery issued from Eagle Nest Dam and Lake, flowing eastward through the Cimarron Canyon State Park.
by Doc Thompson
Detailed flyfishing information for the Cimarron River in New Mexico, including an overview of the river, local lodges, flyshops, fishing reports, weather, hatch charts and more
includes hatch chart
East Creek Flyfishers offers a full service guide trips to the San Juan river quality waters, and an informative website for Four Corners area fly fishing.
Fishing southern New Mexico’s peaceful Rio Penasco….
Northeast New Mexico is notable for the number of small streams and lakes that provide excellent fishing, including some great fly-fishing.
Big fish? Little fish? It
Tail end of chilly months offers secret season for seclusion, success
Penasco Spring River Flyfishing Club
Known for its superb trout fishing, the state of New Mexico offers surprising fishing opportunities for anglers hoping to hook a spunky largemouth or smallmouth bass!
from The Reel Life
Fly Fishing New Mexico
Insects, Flies, Lures, and Rods – from GORP.com
There’s absolutely no mistaking an adult striper for any other game fish in New Mexico
Northern New Mexico provides a great variety of fishing opportunitites and we list just a few here to whet your appetite – by High Desert Angling
includes hatch chart
includes hatch chart
The Rio Costilla is also a small tailwater, 10-15 feet wide, flowing through sweeping green valleys.
Article/Excerpt from Frank Amato Publications River Journal
includes hatch chart
The Rio is a rough wild freestone river roaring from Colorado on through Taos and on down into the Gulf.
The best fly fishing in late summer is to be found at the high elevations and on the tail waters…
Michael Shook Fly Fishing Guide Books for Colorado and New Mexico contain detailed maps and information on hatches, local patterns, public access, tips & technique and much more.
The Valle Vidal is one of the last holdouts on public land of the rare indigenous Rio Grande Cutthroat trout – from www.losrios.com/
The fishing experience on the Valles Caldera National Preserve Fishing is just one component of the recreational opportunities we offer.
GORP’s guide to fishing spots perfect for the weekend angler from Albuquerque – the Rio San Antonio, the Rio Cebolla, and Fenton Lake, all in the Jemez Mountains….
from New Mexico wildlife
“Simple but deadly. That
is dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of trout fishing in New Mexico’s waters through restoration of riparian habitats and through the education of the public
from Fishheads guide service
from ESPN Outdoors
from The Reel Life
Gila Wilderness area fishing report in Southwest New Mexico
Bonito Lake, Grindstone Lake, Rio Ruidoso,
Pecos, Jemez, San Juan, Rio Grande & Tribs, Cimarron, and Chama River
by Sandstone Anglers
What to use and river flow-by Abe’s Motel & Fly Shop
from The Rainbow Lodge
Red River, Rio Grande, Cimarron, Culebra Creek, & Valle Vidal – from www.thesolitaryangler.com
USGS Real-Time Data for New Mexico
2801 Sudderth Drive, Suite F, Ruidoso, New Mexico 88345; 505-257-4968
451 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87501; 505 988 7688
Sanbusco Market Center, 500 Montezuma Ave. Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501; 1-877-733-5543
83 CR 2929, Aztec, NM 87410; 888-339-9789
830 Hill Drive, Taoes NM, 87571; 505 751 0944
PO Box 6340, Navajo Dam, NM 87419; (800) 866-2719
126 W. Plaza Drive Taos, NM 87571 505.758.2798