Fly Fishing in Reno, Nevada
Reno: what was once a desolate and dying town has now turned into a tourist attraction filled with some great fishing. Due to the proximity of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, there are miles and miles of coldwater rivers and streams that are found within driving distance of Reno. Plus, there are some massive reservoirs and lakes that offer other unique fishing opportunities. Reno, Nevada is a great place to wet a line.
Geography and Topography
Reno, Nevada sits at 4,400 feet above sea level in an area known as the Truckee Meadows. The Sierra Nevada’s lie about 20 miles east of the town, so it has some of the traditional desert characteristics like the rest of the state, but it also has small hints of the nearby mountains.
It benefits from the close mountain range with the healthier vegetation and rolling foothills. It’s not a true mountain town, but it doesn’t look like many of the desert towns found in the rest of the state.
Type of Water
The most famous body of water that is found in Reno is the Truckee River. This river flows out of the world famous Lake Tahoe and into Pyramid Lake. Pyramid Lake is home to the world record Cutthroat Trout. About 40 miles of this river are within the Nevada Department of Wildlife Territory.
The Nevada stretch of river is slow and meandering with beautiful seams and eddies as well as small sections of riffles. It’s a great river to throw dry flies and streamers. The fish like to sit in the deep, cool water and make their movements out to find their food.
Another popular body of water is the Carson River just south of town. The Ruhenstroth Dam is the start of a tailwater that holds nice populations of fish. While the Truckee has proven to be more productive, the Carson River is a great place to learn the ropes of fly fishing.
In the winter, Reno sees average temperatures in the 40s and 50s during the day with temperatures falling to the 20s and 30s at night.
In the spring and fall, temperatures usually hover around the 60s and 70s. In the summer, the average temperatures are from the mid-80s to the mid-90s during the day and mid-50s at night.
It’s a fairly dry climate and it gets only around 8 inches of rain per year and around 20 inches of snow.
Fly Fishing on the Truckee River & Surrounding Waters
The Truckee River has a decent amount of public access and most of the water is fishable year round. Certain sections of the river will look as if they aren’t moving almost at all, and these are good ones to avoid. You want to find water that has a bit more of a current. This means more oxygen will be present and food is moving in at a faster rate.
Also, look for stretches of the river that are deep. You’ll find water that’s 10-15 feet deep in many portions of the river and this is where you should focus. Fish will sit in these deeper sections for most of the year.
The Nevada Game and Fish Department is known to stock upwards of 20,000 to 40,000 trout per year in the Truckee.
Best Time of Year to Fish the Truckee River & Surrounding Waters
The best time of year to fish the Truckee is in the winter, spring and late fall. The summer temperatures that climb into the 90s can cause the fish to swim towards higher elevation and get out of the water in Reno. However, in the winter, spring and fall, fish are active and eager to feed.
How To Access the Truckee River
The Truckee River is best accessed near the McCarran Ranch Preserve on the east side of town and just south of Pyramid Lake along State Highway 447. Again, around 40 miles of this river flows through the Nevada Department of Wildlife, so access is plentiful.
You can cover quite a bit of water by walking along the bank, but driving along the river proves to be the best method. You can easily skip over the non-fishy looking sections.
Gear and Flies to Use
On the Truckee, I like to use a 4-weight or 5-weight 8’6” rod. Some of the casting lanes can be tight, so the shorter length helps me stay out of the vegetation. The rainbows, browns and cutthroat trout within the river can grow upwards of a few pounds, so they’ll give the 4-weight and 5-weight a test, but it’s nothing they should not be able to handle. I’ll use a matching 4-weight or 5-weight reel with a 5-weight floating line.
I’ll bring along 2x-4x 9’ leaders as well as 3x-5x tippet.
For dry flies, I like to use Elk Hair Caddis (size 14-18), Skwala Stone (10-12), Sparkle Dun (size 14) as well as a size 14 March Brown.
For nymphs, I’ve found success with a size 18 Copper John, size 20 Zebra Midge as well as a size 16 Juju Baetis.
Streamer patterns like Woolly Buggers and even a larger Pat's Rubber Legs can work quite well. Generally, I like to stick with larger nymphs and smaller streamers.
Recommended Fishing Techniques
I’m a sucker for meandering rivers filled with spooky fish. I find them to be a true test of my skills. As a result, I like to stay with a fairly light setup and throw a nymph rig. I’ll start with Pat's Rubber Legs and slowly get smaller. I’ll use a Copper John and then finish with a red Zebra Midge (size 20). From here, I’ll work the edges and the seams. I’ll make casts upstream and work my mends so that my flies are leading the way downstream.
I’ll let my flies drift past me, stripping in the slack and raising my rod tip as it drifts. Fishing slowly through those deeper sections seems to produce the most fish.
If I’m throwing streamers, I like to cast them to the opposite bank and let them swing across the current. The fish tend to dart out from that bank and chase after my fly. It’s an easy way to see if the fish are in the mood to eat.
When throwing dries, I look for any rise and cast my fly. I generally start with a caddis pattern if I’m not quite sure what’s hatching.
Type of Fish Near Reno, NV
Rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and brown trout are the primary options near Reno.
Reno, Nevada is the gateway to some great outdoor activities. However, it’s important that fly anglers don’t overlook the water that is near the city. Healthy trout populations can be found within town and all over the outskirts. Even if you’re passing through town, it’s worth wetting a line and seeing if you can nab one of those healthy Reno trout.