animas valley anglers guided  fly fishing
trophy trout as long as your leg

winter fly fishing

Animas River details
Durango Area
The Animas is a stunning, free-flowing river that tumbles its way through Durango Colorado before heading into New Mexico and merging with the San Juan near Farmington New Mexico.

The Animas is (was) one of the West's best kept secrets. It is know for some monster trout, but they will not come willingly. Animas trout can be very technical and a challenge to catch. There is a reason most of the other guide services in the area stay clear of the Animas. To help decode this river and learn a few tricks book a day with an AVA guide. Highlight hatches include caddis, salmon flies, PMDs, BWOs, midges and tricos.

North of Durango to Silverton
The upper Animas is a wonderful freestone river with small water feel. Fishes OK in the summer and fall. Rainbow, brown, cutthroat, cutbows and brook trout call the upper Animas home. Insect hatches range from caddis, mayflies and stone flies to ants and hoppers.


Animas River
The Animas River is Durango's home waters. It is a diverse fishery that is home to rainbow, brown, brookies and cutthroat trout. From the high altitude headwaters to the Quality Waters and Ute waters there is a lot of great trout habitat. The Animas is best known for tricky fish and big brown trout.

Animas River Guide Report, Flows and Hatches

First off, winter fly fishing on the Animas can be fantastic. It rarely (thanks climate change) ices up. Only during very cold periods will the river slush. Most days it will be open and clear. Most trout in the Animas have settled into their "winter water" at this point. Winter water is made of the deeper runs, pools and pockets on the Animas. The fish stack-up looking for caddis larva, annelids, midges, small mayfly nymphs, worms, eggs, stoneflies and sculpins. Long nymph rigs fished deep will produce the best results. Some days strong midge hatches will get some trout to look up. Mid-day is typically the best for dry fly action. Streamers fished slow to medium fast can also get fish moving.

Big and small fish will continue to search out midges, BWOs and tricos for the next few weeks. A few late season caddis will bounce around, but small bugs will be the focus for Animas trout. The larger browns are starting to move as they get itchy for the spawn. Our guide program of late is to fish small dries and full nymph rigs, then go back through with a streamer. Amazing how different techniques move different fish. Remember to remind friends and fellow anglers to leave spawning fish alone.

Animas Flows
Durango & Downstream
Fall flow range: 150-2000+ CFS
(usually these extremely high flows will be from mega fall storms)
Durango Historic Fall Floods
Winter flow range: 150-250 CFS
Spring flow range: 300-5000+ CFS
Summer flow range: 180-800 CFS

Creeks and Headwaters
all flow range: 50-1200+ CFS
Winter: Cold, ice and snowed over
Spring flow range: 200-2000+ CFS
Summer flow range: 60-180 CFS

Animas Hatches
The hatches on the Animas, like all of our rivers, change with the seasons and section of river. Here is an an idea what to expect.

  • Fall: Hoppers, BWOs, sculpins, young trout and sucker minnows
  • Winter: Midges, sculpins
  • Spring: Midges, BWOs, caddis, stones, sculpins, fry, ducklings
  • Summer: Micro caddis, PMDs, tricos, ants, hoppers, sculpin, fry, small birds and mammals

Insects and food in the system
Caddis pupa (both cased and free), caddis larva, midge larva and pupa, mayfly nymphs, snails, stones, eggs, worms and sculpins.

Animas Fly Patterns
Summer and Fall
Pale Morning Duns (PMD) Pheasant Tails, PMD nymphs and emergers in sizes 14 to 18. Hair wing dries in the same sizes.
Ants in black or red.
Hoppers in tan, yellow and green.
Caddis pupa and larva in tan, gray and olive in sizes 16 to 22. Elk hair caddis in the same colors and sizes.
Baetis mayflies (BWO) in brown and gray with a size range of 18-22.

Sculpin patterns in olive and natural.

Winter and Spring
Midge pupa size 18 to 24. Red and brown larva plus caddis nymphs fished deep. Keep a few small Adams and midge adults in the box in case you spy a fish up on the surface. Baetis nymphs and emergers in gray and brown, sizes 18 to 22. Dries are about the same size and will be dark olive to light dun in color. Caddis pupa and larva in 16s and 18s. Cased caddis in the same size range. Streamers in black, brown, olive and natural. Vary your streamer size based on water clarity and temperature. The more stained the water, the bigger the bug.

Guided Fly Fishing on the Animas River
The Animas is one of our favorite guide rivers. It sends a lot of other local guides home with their tail between their legs. Not us, our guide service was built on this challenging river. We offer full day, 1/2 day and evening float and wade trips on the Animas. Looking to learn a few of the Animas secrets? Book an AVA guide to help you learn this tricky but great fishery.

Animas Valley Anglers offers guided wade and float trips on over 60 plus miles of the Animas River. We offer Animas Head-waters, tributary creeks, upper Animas Canyon via the Durango-Silverton Historical Train, valley floats, Durango wade and floats, Gold Medal Waters south of Durango, private waters and float trips into New Mexico.

animas river fly fishing

animas valley anglers fly fishing