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Fly Fishing the Crystal Mill in Marble, Colorado

Crystal River Fly Fishing – Crystal Mill

Picture this: You walk up to a late 19th century mill perched on the Crystal River in Crystal, Colorado. You’re surrounded by evergreen trees, colorful peaks, and oh yeah, you can toss your line into that Crystal River for some excellent fly fishing. It sounds like an angler’s fantasy, but you can easily do all the above by fly fishing the aptly named Crystal Mill and surrounding area.

Let’s learn what you need to know to make your journey on the Crystal River perfect including what equipment and flies you need to bring, what fish to target, and when your line should be in the water. If the name didn’t give it away the waters near Crystal Mill are crystal-clear and ready for fishing.

Where is Crystal Mill?

Keeping with the crystal-clear theme Crystal Mill is found in Crystal, Colorado though the closest sizeable town where you can stock up one equipment is Carbondale, CO. Visitors from the Denver metro have an approximately 4-hour drive along Interstate 70-West and down Hwy 133. If you’re coming from the Colorado Springs area the most efficient drive is up through the Denver metro and out west. If you want the best access, you’ll need a 4×4 or all-wheel drive vehicle to take the access roads from Marble, CO.

Fish Found in Crystal Mill / Crystal River

Crystal Mill is home to most trout species found in Colorado including rainbows, brook, brown, cutthroat, and tiger. The rainbows in Crystal River can get huge! Set yourself to target multiple types of trout for the best fishing.

What You’ll Need to Fish Crystal Mill

What flies you fish depend on the hatch and time of year. Check out local fishing reports from anglers to get the best idea of what’s hatching. It’s best to pack a variety of different fly types including dry flies, streamers, and nymphs until you figure out what the fish are doing. With the clear waters, it’s not difficult to tell what’s exciting the fish and what’s best left in your fly box. Make sure your equipment is ready to handle large fish with a heavy rod weight and heavy line – most anglers do well with an 9-foot rod at a medium weight. The Crystal River can get swollen with snowmelt so chest waders and boots with good grip are a must.

Best Time of Year to Fish

Like many fly fishing hot spots in Colorado, Crystal Mill offers the best fishing during the seasonal hatches. The caddis go wild in the spring around Mother’s Day and are followed by stoneflies and other species through spring into summer. A winter midge hatch can get you back on the water if you can’t wait until spring. Though you can fish Crystal Mill all year early spring to early fall are the prime times for big hits.

Time of Day


The summer heat warms the waters near Crystal Mill providing excellent fishing all day and into the early evening hours. There are a few different hatches during the summer including blue-wing olive and stonefly so time your trip to their emergence. Whatever bugs you’re swatting are the flies the fish are going for in the summer.

Spring / Fall

The spring melt brings the caddis hatch to Crystal Mill. The caddis hatch tends to happen towards Mother’s Day, but most shoulder months of spring and fall offer good to great fishing. The colder the water the slower fish move so be more patient in the spring and fall and get your presentation down perfectly. Look to late morning to early afternoon for the best fishing during spring and fall.


You can still get bites during the coldest months on the right days but winter conditions near Crystal Mill aren’t friendly. If you’re winter fishing near Crystal Mill always check local reports including road conditions to be certain you can get up there and make it back. Due to frigid temperatures the middle of the day is the only proper time to fish Crystal Mill during winter.

Crystal River Fly Fishing Resources

Crystal Fly Shop: Carbondale, CO

If you’re fishing near Crystal Mill on the Crystal River, it’s only fitting to stop by Crystal Fly Shop. Crystal Fly Shop is a one-stop resource for learning about water conditions, what fish are hitting, where they’re hungriest and outfitting your tacklebox. If you’re unfamiliar with the area you can take one of Crystal’s guided tours. You can *ahem* polish your skills at Crystal Fly Shop.

Taylor Creek Fly Shop: Basalt, CO

Taylor Creek Fly Shop isn’t as close to Crystal Mill as Crystal Fly Shop but it’s a great local place to grab equipment and information. You can shop around for the most advantageous flies, chat with the locals about their favorite spots near Crystal Mill and book a guided trip to nab the biggest rainbows you’ve ever seen.

Into The Crystals

When the waters are sparkling and they’re rainbows around, you must be in the fantasy fishing world of Crystal Mill on Crystal River. Use a mix of local resources and our info to not only enjoy the scenery but get on the fish too. Lastly, make sure to bring some sunglasses for the brilliant sunshine that reflects off Crystal Mill’s clean waters and enjoy a great day fly fishing.