Fly Fishing on the Frying Pan River in Colorado

Fly Fishing on the Frying Pan River in Colorado

A Gold Medal fly fishing destination in Colorado, Frying Pan River can be an ideal spot for anglers who are looking for year-round access, a variety of wild trout, and an abundance of hatches.

The 14-mile stretch of Colorado Frying Pan River, located in the White River National Forest, is legendary for its quiet streams, as well as its tailwaters and confluences. From the Ruedi Reservoir to the west all the way to the Roaring Fork River at Basalt to the east, the Colorado Frying Pan River (or “the Pan” as it’s nicknamed) provides ample opportunities for novices and experienced anglers to catch various species of trout—including brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, and cutthroat trout.

No matter what time of year you are considering making the trip, here is everything you need to know to make the most of your next fly fishing adventure on the Pan.

Best Places for Fly Fishing Colorado's Frying Pan River

Weaving through a scenic canyon lined with gorgeous evergreens and red sandstone formations, the Pan has 8 to 9 miles of public access. The portion designated as Gold Medal by the Colorado Wildlife Commission is the area from the Dam, known as the “Toilet Bowl,” to the Roaring Fork confluence. 

Hatches are abundant along this stretch, especially during the summertime. In fact, this cold, clear, buggy water abounds with Trico, Caddis pale morning dun (PMD), blue winged olive (BWO), and Green Drake hatches. That can be opportune for sight fishing, dry flies, and small flies throughout the year, particularly in some of the most popular fishing spots along the Pan, including Baetis Bridge, Bend pool, Mean Joe Green, The Flats, and the Toilet Bowl.

Colorado Frying Pan River Access

  • Take Frying Pan Road east, traveling away from Basalt. Follow the road to the clearly marked public access points.
  • For more remote fish spots on the Pan, access the lower river points or try your luck above Ruedi Reservoir.

frying pan river fly fishing

Best Time to Fly Fish on the Colorado Frying Pan River

One of the reasons the Pan is so popular among Colorado fly fishing anglers is that dry flies are fished year-round. Here’s a look at active hatches by season:

  • Winter and spring: midge & Baetis
  • Summer: mayflies, Stoneflies, Caddis & Green Drake (also ants, hoppers, and beetles)
  • Fall: mayflies, Baetis & Red Quills

Gear for Fly Fishing on the Colorado Frying Pan River

The right gear for fly fishing on the Pan depends on what you’re looking to catch, the type of flies you are throwing, and your skill level. While you will definitely need your fishing license and waders, consider the following for your next fly fishing trip to the Pan:

  • A 9-foot, 5-wt fly rod with a floating line
  • A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 6X
  • A map, a guidebook, or a professional guide if you are new to the area or new to fly fishing

Planning a Fly Fishing Trip on Colorado’s Frying Pan River?

Riversmith has the durable, top-rated equipment avid anglers need to experience the best fly fishing that the Frying Pan River has to offer. Whether you needrod tubes, rod racks, or other equipment to transport your gear, Riversmith has the high-quality, affordable equipment that makes it easy to pack up for your next fly fishing adventure, whether it takes to you the Pan or any other Gold Medal destination!

Our team of engineers, anglers, and guides are always searching for ways to solve fishermen’s problems and make the adventure that much better. We love what we do, and we are known for designing premium fly-fishing products. If fly fishing is your passion, Riversmith is here for you. 

Wherever your journey takes you, we’ll keep you geared for the catch.

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