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Popular Fishing Flies for Colorado Fly Fishing in 2023

Here are some of the most popular fly fishing flies for fish specific to Colorado waters. 

Parachute Adams

This versatile dry fly imitates a wide range of mayflies and other insects and is a favorite of many anglers in Colorado. It is a great all-purpose fly that can be used in a variety of situations and water conditions.

Visit our shop for Parachute Adams.

parachute adams fly

San Juan Worm

This worm fly is a popular pattern on the San Juan River in southwestern Colorado, but it is also effective in other rivers and streams throughout the state. It can be fished as a dropper under a dry fly or on its own as a nymph.

Visit our shop for San Juan Worm.

san juan worm bead head

Pheasant Tail Nymph

This classic nymph pattern is a staple in most fly boxes and is effective in a variety of waters, including Colorado’s many mountain streams and rivers. It imitates a variety of aquatic insects and works well as a dropper fly or fished on its own.

Visit our shop for Pheasant Tail Nymph.

Elk Hair Caddis

This dry fly imitates adult caddis flies, which are common in many of Colorado’s rivers and streams. It is a great fly to use during caddis hatches, and it can also be fished as an attractor pattern in between hatches.

Visit our shop for Elk Hair Caddis.


Woolly Bugger

This versatile streamer fly is a great choice for fishing in Colorado’s larger rivers and lakes. It imitates a variety of baitfish and works well when stripped through the water. It can be fished on its own or as part of a larger tandem rig.

Popular Fish in Colorado for Fly Fishing

There are many types of freshwater fish in Colorado, and the fishing flies that are effective for catching them can vary depending on the species, the location, and the time of year. Here are some of the most common types of freshwater fish in Colorado and the flies that are often used to catch them:


Trout are perhaps the most popular game fish in Colorado and can be found in many of the state’s rivers, streams, and lakes. The most common species of trout in Colorado are rainbow trout, brown trout, and cutthroat trout.

For rainbow and brown trout, some effective flies include the Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis, Stimulator, Woolly Bugger, and Pheasant Tail Nymph. These flies imitate a variety of insects and baitfish that trout feed on.

For cutthroat trout, some effective flies include the Royal Wulff, Humpy, Royal Coachman, and Adams. These flies are designed to imitate the specific characteristics of cutthroat trout prey.


Largemouth and smallmouth bass are found in many of Colorado’s lakes and reservoirs, and are a popular target for fly anglers.

Some effective flies for catching bass include the Clouser Minnow, Woolly Bugger, Deceiver, and Poppers. These flies imitate baitfish and surface bugs that bass feed on.

Pike and Muskie

Northern pike and muskellunge are apex predators found in several of Colorado’s larger lakes and reservoirs. They are a challenging but rewarding target for fly anglers.

Some effective flies for catching pike and muskie include the Pike Bunny, Dahlberg Diver, Whistler, and Double Bunny. These flies imitate the large baitfish and rodents that pike and muskie feed on.

Kokanee Salmon

Kokanee salmon are landlocked salmon that are found in several of Colorado’s reservoirs and lakes. They are a popular target for anglers, especially during their spawning season.

Some effective flies for catching Kokanee salmon include the Glo Bug, Sockeye Salmon Fly, and Krystal Flash Woolly Bugger. These flies imitate the eggs and baitfish that Kokanee salmon feed on.

Consult with Fly Shops and Fishing Guides 

Please note that these are just a few examples of the many fishing flies that are effective in Colorado, and that fly selection can vary depending on the specific location and conditions. It’s always a good idea to consult with local fly shops or fishing guides for up-to-date recommendations on the best flies to use in a particular area.