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What is Urban Fly Fishing?

When most people imagine fly fishing they picture pastoral scenes back-dropped by mountains or nailing fish on saltwater flats in the Florida sun. We all have romantic notions of angling destinations but what about fly fishing a couple blocks away from a pawn shop? Under an overpass?

Though fly fishing has long been associated with the wilderness and getting out to untouched beauty, urban fly fishing is the next step in fly fishing’s evolution. Let’s learn more about urban fly fishing including what it is, how it works, and what sets it apart from other types of fly fishing. With urban fly fishing your next fishing hot spot could be right down the street.

What is Urban Fly Fishing?

Urban Fly Fishing Basics

Urban fly fishing is using a fly fishing setup to target fish species in an urban environment. That urban environment could be a river that winds through downtown, an impound lake next to a new development, or any other body of water where you wouldn’t normally imagine fly fishing.

There’s nothing inherently different about fishing in an urban setting compared to a rural setting so you don’t need to worry about buying a whole new rod and reel setup. Find out what type of fish live near you, set up for those fish, and pull in a lunker in the heart of the city.

Where Can You Urban Fly Fish?

Not all cities and urban areas are great hosts for urban fishing but if a city has water and fish – you can fly fish. You can fly fish in Atlanta, Miami, Denver, Seattle – heck you can fly fish in New York City’s Central Park. The only limits to urban fly fishing are a lack of water and fish species so cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas are more difficult for fly fishing than cities filled with water like Minneapolis.

What Types of Fish Can You Catch in the City?

The types of fish you can catch in the city depend on many factors including where you are in the country, what type of water you’re fishing in, if that water is managed, and many other factors. Sometimes the fish in the city are similar to fish outside city limits, other times the urban fish population is totally different.

Let’s take Nashville and Denver as examples. In Nashville you can fly fish for bass, bluegill, and other panfish both in the heart of the city and in surrounding rural areas. In Denver you’ll fish for trout outside city limits but carp downtown.

What Type of Equipment for Urban Fly Fishing?

Like any other fishing excursion, the type of equipment you should carry depends on the target fish. If you’re fly fishing for rainbow trout in downtown Boise, Idaho you’ll use the normal setup you would for fishing trout in more rural settings. If you’re fishing carp in Denver, you’ll need a heavy rig that can support fish up 10 pounds.

The good news about fly fishing in an urban setting is your car will likely never be more than a few yards away compared to miles in a traditional fly fishing setting. Because of this easy access you can pack heavy and bring almost anything you think you’ll need.

Getting Started

Your first step is finding out if there are any viable urban fishing spots in your city and what type of fish live in them. Both online resources and your local fly shop are great go-tos to figure out how to fish in your city but if you’re eager to go now let’s review a list of some of the best cities for urban fly fishing.

Five Great Cities for Urban Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing in Denver, CO

Many fly fishers know Denver as a hub for nearby fly fishing destinations but the Mile-High City is a popular urban fly fishing destination too. You can fly fish for mega carp downtown in the South Platte or angle for rainbow trout at Sloan’s lake.

Fly Fishing in Boise, ID

Boise is another great hub for fly-fishing but like Denver you can crank in nice fish in the heart of downtown. You can target browns and other types of trout in the Boise River, considered one of the top urban fly fishing destinations in the country.

Fly Fishing Minneapolis, MN

Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes and some of those lakes are in the thick of the city in Minneapolis. It’s not hard to find an urban fishing spot in Minneapolis as parks with stocked ponds and creeks are plentiful. Some of the best destinations in the Twin Cities include St. Anthony Main close to the Stone Arch Bridge, Lake Calhoun, and Como Lake in St. Paul. Aim for panfish like bluegill and crappie when fishing urban Minneapolis waters.

Fly Fishing in Atlanta, GA

The south is known for big bass and some of those bass lurk among the traffic and looming buildings of the ATL. The tail waters of the Chattahoochee River run right through Atlanta for excellent urban trout fishing. A few miles away in the suburbs is Stone Mountain Lake and its plethora of panfish.

Fly Fishing in New York City

Sprawling Central Park is an excellent fly fishing destination located in the center of Manhattan and Prospect Park offers an option for Brooklyn visitors and residents. You’ll be fly fishing mostly for panfish in NYC.

More Resources

Local Resources

Your local fly shop is an ideal place for feedback on local urban fishing. Stop by a local fly shop to ask about city-based fishing hotspots and what you can catch there. Any fly fish shop worth its salt will know if there’s fish biting close to the shop.

Online Resources

Thanks to the internet you can punch in “Your City” followed by “urban fly fishing” and be met with a host of local resources depending on the fishing in your area. You can use online resources to find out where people are fishing and what for and you’ll likely be surprised how close fishing is to you.

Get Out and Get Urban

Your favorite fly fishing spot might be five miles into the wilderness but you could actually have a great spot five blocks from your home. Check out your local fly shop and online resources for urban fly fishing in your area, grab your gear, and take advantage of fly fishing destinations on your back doorstep.