Fly Fishing in Arizona, get out there!

Fly fishing in the high country in Arizona can be amazing and so over looked by many people.
This weekend I hit a beautiful lake that had big brown and rainbow trout. The cicadas are hatching in parts of the state. I lost the biggest fish of my life in this lake.
The fish hit like a freight train,, my biggest Hopper just engulfed taking off for deeper water , instantly it seemed I was really getting down into my backing. Rod high hanging on. Unreal so powerful it blows my mind the strength of this fish. After a brief struggle he was gone!!!!
Next my buddy Marc had on a great cicadas fly that was hit so hard that the fish just instantly snapped off the fly and line. I heard the hit from 70 yards away, that deep sounding splash, you just know is a monster. Gone just like that!!!
We also fished a great creek, Marc landed a beautiful wild 20 ” rainbow taken again on a big juicy dry fly.
Later in that same pool as Marc had moved on I hooked a beautiful wild brown, probably the biggest brown that I would have landed. Unfortunately for me, I just could not get him to the net. I had him on for at least five minutes shouting up stream to Marc to come and help me landed this big bugger!! He did not hear me and after the fish took off for deeper water and some big rocks, I tried to turn him away and snap, he just broke off the line. However I got to see him up close and personal for quite some time!
So get out there, go explore there are some great fish in the state you just have to get into rugged country, it will be worth it, believe me.

Funny Thing about writing about Fly Fishing

Funny thing I started writing about my Fly fishing experiences and sharing those experiences online via Facebook and also creating a blog.


I first started fly fishing as a young boy overseas, but stopped when we moved away from the trout streams in my home land of Wales Great Britain. At the urging of my wife to get out of the house. I began again many, many years later at the ripe old, young age of sixty two. Fly Fishing has taken on a new life for me that I am eternally grateful to my wife to pushing me over the edge!!

Totally enjoy being out in the wilds, bush whacking my way around. I have met some new wonderful friends who share the same love. However I have also come across so much negative input from people that do not know me and are so opinionated about telling me why I should not post where I fish and how I fish. It frankly blows me away!

I understand that some streams are very fragile and have to be protected, I get that and I have accommodated that position on fragile streams and creeks.  I only catch and release I do the best I can to get the fish safely revived and put back into the water. I have fished with some that are not as carful as I, but it is not my place to critique, there is enough of that already all over social media.

Fly Fishing in Arizona by the nature of the terrain means you have to do a lot of driving and exploring, as I do not live in the White Mountains or near the Reservations where most of the good trout fishing is. I have and do fish the Salt and also the canals in Phoenix, which are much nearer. I have the full experience of Fly Fishing here in the desert. I put my time and research in.

Just about every stream I fish is well documented in Arizona Fly fishing books, they give you very great details, how to get there, when to fish, what hatches to look for and lastly what flies to use. Great information!

So why when I post do I get the negative comments and innuendos, now I also get some great replies as well, it is not all bad. The point is I want to share with likeminded Fly Fishermen, it makes it easier for them to plan their trips with the latest information. Not everyone lives right on the streams, most work and have their commitments that leaves them with less time than other to fly fish.

Are my feeling hurt? Hell no! But come on before you post a negative think! All I am doing is passing along what little knowledge I learnt from my last trip to help others.

Like on Memorial weekend do not fish the East Folk of the Black river it will be crowded with bait and spin fishermen taking all that they can. Hopefully keeping to the limits’ imposed! Just get more out onto the wild of the Black and you will probably be alone all day. That is great info to know in advance!

Basic comments from a guy who does not profess for one moment to be an expert! I am no guide, but I can and do catch fish and only want to help others!

The world will be a better place for us all if we are kind to one another.

Fly Fishing on the Apache Reservation and the White mountains of Arizona

Went to different locations on the reservation as well as the white mountains.

Marc and I fished reservation lake. Marc fished from a boat with a friend of his and I fished from the shore line. The wind was very gusty and strong, they fished all over the lake with a couple of strikes but no fish landed.

I fished from the South end on the dam,which had a little bit of sheltered water from the winds. In the calmer water I fished with a black woolly bugger and a price nymph under an indicator. The lower fly was at least eight feet down. In the morning I landed three good rainbows. Marc and his friend on coming to check on how I was doing, decided to fish along side me for the rest of the day. I landed at least seven or eight fish, all rainbows of good size. Marc and his friend did as well, plus they both caught some browns. We stayed until almost dark, looking for a dry fly magical last hour, but no luck.


Next, Marc and I hit X Diamond ranch, fished all day catching a lot of rainbows of all sizes, with a few good rainbows netted. The water was very high and fast with a little color. We tried using hoppers with nymphs under neath, but that was very difficult fishing as they just moved way to fast in the currents.


We decided to change up to stripping black woolly buggers with trailing nymphs about twenty inches behind. The idea was to strip back up against the edges of the main currents and also near the banks in calmer waters. Had a great day! caught so many fish we lost count!!!


Next it was off to a very remote part of the Black river on the reservation, away from all the holiday makers who were bait fishing like crazy on the East Folk of the black, we went wilderness for sure. Great day hiking, bush waking, fishing deep pools and small ripples. Marc did well on brown trout and I on wild rainbows. Same method with black woolly buggers stripped. Hard long day but very rewarding!


Our next experience was for a relaxing Fly Fishing on a  small lake . sun was out but the wind was blowing. Fished Dry flies with small nymphs underneath. Fished all morning catching so many rainbows some of good size it was fun.


The last couple of hours we hit a small stream to end the trip and caught a few rainbows and some browns. Long drive home but well worth the efforts. 

The confluence of Tonto Creek and Christopher Creek AZ

The struggle to get to Tonto Creek and Christopher Creek from Hwy 260. There are various  ways to get onto these streams, we decided to take a different route after looking at a bunch of Topography maps and Google earth. Big mistake!!


We were looking for a quicker way to get to the confluence, rather than walking down Tonto creek as it does get very over grown in the summer, with a lot of scrambling up and down and around cliff faces.


We ended up in going in over a ridge that is between the Quarry entrance  and Tontozona camp entrance. There is a jeep trail that follows the power lines on top of the ridge, unfortunately it is fenced off with a locked gate. So you walk in  under the lines on top of the ridge that runs between these two creeks. At the end of the dirt road you have to chose between going down a very steep rock slope face that is all crumbling rocks and shale, very slippery into Christopher creek then walking down the creek which merges into Tonto creek.  


Or dropping off to the side heading down into Tonto creek, looking for any animal trails you can find that takes you through small trees,bushes, cactus and shrubs, all that cut ,prick or rip your skin. Doing this all on a very steep incline with again slippery shale and crumbling rocks. Bloody brutal!!!!



Hard to say what the vertical drop was exactly, but it must have been close to 1000 feet for sure, all at an altitude of around 6000 feet. Going down was sliding and cutting your skin, going up was trying not to slide back down and stopping every minute or so, to catch your breath and just hope to make it out. This after a hard day fly fishing!


After making is down we explored the stream finding some nice pools and small ripples. We all fished different techniques, catching a bunch of rainbows and brown trout but nothing big. We did catch a few beautiful wild rainbows that are so different than the stocked rainbows.

The surprising fact for us was that after that climb down we felt that we would be the only ones fishing that stretch of stream. It was a Saturday which is not good, usually I fish in the week it is much quieter on the streams as most fishermen are working! Within minutes of us starting to fish we were passed by two Fly Fishermen who had walked in from Tontozona, they were heading further down to fish. Then half an hour later three spin fishermen past us by. Crazy!!!


We fished on and a few hours later bumped into the two fly fishermen who were moving quickly back up stream. They stopped briefly to tell  us they came very close to a mountain lion that was walking in the tall grass along the stream line.


They were off, two of us carry bear spray so out came the cans, locked and loaded!!! We stayed together fishing on down talking loudly banging rocks with our walking poles and generally sounding like Times square on a busy day. Making sure he knew where we were.

It is hard work, the stream is very rocky with large and small boulders, so you have to be looking down, watching where you place your feet so you do not hurt yourself. Looking down and then looking up at all the cliff ledges, trees hiding spots etc:  No sign of the mountain lion so that was the good news. All in all a very hard day fly fishing with no trophy browns caught.


At the end of the day when we finally made it back to the truck we all concluded that it was worth doing once, we got rid of that nagging feeling of what if! However never again in future we will just take the stream down and deal with the bush at that time, just easier!

Tonto Creek fishing up from Bear Flats AZ

Spent the day exploring, fly fishing up from Bear Flats. Started at Eight am finished at dark around Seven Thirty pm.



Caught many small rainbows with a few small browns thrown into the mix. The water was running pretty high with just a slight color but really pretty clear.


I fished using a black woolly bugger, with a black and silver size eighteen nymph under an indicator. I put a small split shot on the head of the woolly bugger to be able to get down deeper. The key for me was altering the depth as the pools we came across varied in depth. Some only three to four feet deep, others around eight feet deep.


It was key to get down to just above the bottom, the fish were deep. Dead drifting down with the current. Ken used a woolly bugger and small nymph but he stripped down current  high sticking, we both caught fish with these different methods.

It was along day the idea was to fish up to where Christopher creek converges with Tonto, we never made it! At three thirty we bumped into some other guys who had walked down from the Bears Trail head and told us it was another mile and a half to reach the confluence, plus the terrain was getting very difficult again. Not enough time, I will try again coming in from a different point onto Tonto I have in mind in the future.


Both Ken and I lost a big fish each with snapped lines, bummer!!! It was a great day with beautiful scenery, there are some big fish hiding away in the pools and deeper runs. I think next time in the deep pools, I am going to strip big streamers to see if I can get some of these big boys.

There is so much of this stream to explore, I have fished up from Kohls Ranch to Horton creek where it joins Tonto and down from Kohls Ranch for eight hours, fishing all the deep pools and runs. I have never reached Christopher Creek hitting Tonto. It is rugged country and not for the feint of heart. Then there is the stream as it continue down from Bear flats, where many miles later it is converged with Haigler creek then running into and thru Hells Gate wilderness. So much to Fly fish! If you go I would suggest taking someone with you, there is no cell services and a lot of cliff climbing up and down to get onto the creek in places. If you get hurt you are in big trouble!!!

If anyone is looking to explore call me I am always looking for fly fishing partners to go chase the wild ones!! 480 450 3102


Canyon Lake AZ

Canyon Lake AZ. Marc and I went out for the day, first time there. The water was pretty brown with dying shad all over the place. I guess as there was a water temperature change.


We used floating lines and also sinking lines. Ended up with some blue gills and one yellow bass. First for me!!!


The yellow Bass and some of the Blue Gills took either a green woolly bugger or black, stripped just under the surface at a place called fish creek that is up at the top end of the lake,which saved our bacon!!.


The main lake and small inlets produced nothing for us.

A full day under the sun in a small boat that does 8 knots max took us just over an hour to get up to the top of the lake by the dam.


Great first time ended up with burnt feet, wearing flip flops under the mid day sun in not a good idea! Saw some Bighorn Sheep high up and one Eagles nest just above us on the cliffs very cool!!!


Keep your eye on the trout

In the high country chasing those elusive wild browns.
Went off grid, was lucky enough to catch 5 or so, but I lost the prize. Hooked a big brown who fought me hard taking off, I learn’t a valuable lesson, I got complacent, figured he was closed to beat, reach around to get my net and at that moment he turned and headed down stream in a strong current, just enough surprise that I let a little slack in the line and he was gone!!! I fish barb-less so you have to stay on top of them.
Beautiful big Brown you all know the story of the one that got away, well he was it!!!
Drifting a black woolly bugger about three feet under an indicator, worked well with a dead drift.
Later in the day it went very quite, tried all sorts of techniques and flies no further luck. It was later a full moon maybe that had something to do with it.