Farmington River that most fly anglers talk about is the West Branch of
the Farmington River, in particular the section from Riverton
downstream to New Hartford. This section of river, which has the
highest trout population density in the state - rivaling some western
waters - is the product of a 200-foot-high dam which releases a fairly
consistent flow of cold water year round. This is called a tailwater
The combination of the river's size and the release of
50-degree water from the bottom of the dam creates the ideal habitat
for trout to thrive and grow. For Fairfield County fly fishermen, the river is
particularly important as a summer fishing stream, as it is often at
its best when our rivers are at their lowest and hottest conditions.
Even better, for the majority of Fairfield County residents, the river is just an
hour and a half away. (The only problem with summer fishing on the
Farmington River are the frequent interruptions as canoers, kayakers and
tubers float downstream.)
Additionally, access on the river is
completely unrestricted in this section, which also includes two Trout
Management Areas, the Upper TMA reserved for catch and release fishing
with barbless hooks only. The Upper TMA, considered the best area for
anglers, particularly those looking for dry fly fishing, runs from one
mile above the Route 318 bridge downstream to the Route 219 bridge.
river is heavily stocked with adult trout, with the average fish in the
12 to 14 inch range. Much larger trout, mostly brown trout, can be
caught, with many fish over 20 inches hooked each season.
What to use
the Farmington River, there is no problem using a long, heavy weight
rod. Most anglers fish with a 9-foot, 5-weight rod, though some will
use shorter, lighter rods when casting dry flies, and others will use
longer, heavier rods when fishing nymphs or streamers.
a full day, weekend or longer on the river should bring a few rods and
reels, and also an assortment of lines. While the Farmington River is known
for its prolific insect hatches and many dry fly pools requiring
tactical casts and gentle presentations with floating lines and long
leaders, in the deeper and faster pools and currents a sink tip line is
For leaders, it is best, also, to have an
assortment when fly fishing the Farmington River. For mid-summer dry fly fishing,
many an angler has watched in frustration as their fly floats
undisturbed through a thick pod of trout feeding on the surface.
Because the Farmington River is such a productive river, it receives a
significant amount of fishing pressure and the trout quickly become
experts at spotting an imitation fly among a sea of naturals. for dry
fly fishing a 9-, 12- or even 15-foot leader in 6X through 8X is
recommended. Some anglers even go down to 10X to 12X on their tippet,
though this makes it harder to land large fish.
When nymphing, a 9-foot 5X or 6X leader is adequate, and for streamer fishing a 9-foot 3X or 4X is the best choice.
the basic flies (pheasant tails, hare's ears, wooly buggers, light
cahills, sulphurs, hendrickson, griffith's gnats and the like) work
well, what works best on a given day depends on what's hatching and
what the trout are showing interest in. Local fishing shops and shops
on the Farmington River will be able to point anglers in the right
get to the Farmington River, anglers should take Route 8 north to Route
44 and then head east. A left turn on route 318 towards Pleasant Valley
takes anglers to the head of the Upper TMA at the Church Pool, where a
blue steel bridge crosses the river.
Anglers can head up either
East River Road or West River Road, which, as their names indicate,
parallel the river on the eats and west sides all the way north to
Riverton. Another option is to head south on Route 181, River Road, for
additional access within the TMA.
Route 181 comes back out on
Route 44, which leads through the town of Barkhamsted to New Hartford,
where Route 219 marks the downstream end of the Upper TMA.
Guiding and lessons in Fairfield County and beyond