In Oregon fly fishing the Metolius River gives you a chance to test your skills. Read our guide to learn more about when and how to fish the Metolius.
Why Fly Fish the Metolius River?
In Oregon fly fishing the Metolius River will give you a chance to test your skills.
The river runs cold and crystal clear year round and has what sometimes seems like a constantly changing hatch of insects. The trout are not easily fooled.
Why Go Anywhere Else?
Thinking of going elsewhere? How do rainbow and brown trout over 24 inches and bull trout that can go over 10 pounds sound?
I thought so!
The Metolius River (pronounced muh TOLL ee us) begins as two springs about 300 feet apart at the base of Black Butte in central Oregon.
These are not your everyday springs. They maintain a constant rate of 50,000 gallons per minute and a water temperature of approximately 45 degrees.
It is now managed for wild trout, as stocking was discontinued in 1996.
Where to Fly Fish the Metolius?
There are really three different sections to the Metolius River.
The first 11 miles below the springs is a popular Oregon fly fishing area and is the easiest to access.
Headwaters to Allingham Bridge
The water is flat through this section and gets a fair amount of fishing pressure.
There is no fishing within 100 feet of the Camp Sherman Bridge where large trout cruise looking for bread and other goodies tossed by the tourists.
This section can offer some excellent stonefly fishing.
Allingham Bridge to Lower Bridge 99
This section is know as the Canyon Creek Gorge.The water starts to pick up speed through this section.
There is easy access on both sides of the river, which makes for good fishing, but it also gets a fair amount of pressure so make your presentations concise.
Bridge 99 to Lake Billy Chinook
You will find that some of the largest trout are downstream of the gorge.
However, the river here is big and the terrain is steep and physically demanding.
This section is accessible by hiking the forest service road and undeveloped trails, neither of which is close to the river.
Be careful wading can be very difficult here.
Seasonal Metolius Fly Patterns
Keep in mind that the insect hatches will vary in different sections of the Metolius River. Check with the local fly shops listed below before going for up to date information on river conditions, including good imitations.
March through October is the best time to fly fish for rainbows and browns.
November through February is best time for bull trout.
Blue Winged Olive patterns size #16-22, and midges will work great any time.
- Captive Dun
- Knockdown Dun
- Sparkle Dun
- BWO Thorax
- A.P. Nymph
May to October
During this time Pale Morning Duns and Caddis patterns: sizes #16-18 will be successful.
- Beadhead Pheasant Tail
- Thorax PMD
- Olive & Rust Spinner
- Soft Hackle
- Sparkle Pupa
- CDC Caddis
- Elk Hair Caddis
July to October
During this time on the Metolius you will see hatches of Stoneflies & Salmon flies sizes #8-10; which is good eatin’ for the trout.
- Clark’s Stone
- Little Olive Stone
- Beldar’s Stone
- Norm wood Special
- Sofa Pillow #4-6
Streamers will help you target Bull Trout on the Metolius.
- Double Bunny
- Bunker Fly
- Bunny Leech (white)
- Sculpin patterns
May to July
Green Drakes are very common during this time; they are common is sizes #8-12.
- Perrin’s Green Drake
- Green Drake nymph
September to March
Through Fall and Winter you will find hatches of smaller mayflies and caddisflies.
- Cased Caddis
- October Caddis Pupa
Best Methods for Fly Fishing the Metolius
When fly fishing Oregon's Metolius River drifting a nymph is the most consistent method. Focus on getting a good natural drift. Don't overlook the water near the bank.
Dry fly fishing is also very successful in the first 11 miles below the springs. The upper river above Allingham Bridge can have some good stonefly action.
Remember there is a fair amount of fishing pressure on this river and these are wild trout.
Approach low, carefully and keep your false casts to a minimum.
The river upstream of Bridge 99 is restricted to catch and release fly fishing with barbless hooks.
Fishing from a floating device is prohibited.
Always check Oregon Fish and Game Regulations for the latest regulations and more information on "Fly Angling Only" waters.
Appropriate Gear for the Metolius River
• 4 to 6 weight fly rod setup with floating line
• 9- to 15-foot leaders, with 3-foot-long 5x to 7x tippets
Our gear guides will help you in your search for the perfect(for you) piece of equipment.
• Barbless hooks
• Waders and wading staff
• Wide-brimmed hat, polarized sunglasses, sunscreenFly Fishing Supply Guide Fly Rod Guide Fly Line Guide
Campgrounds and Lodging Near the Metolius
There is a number of campgrounds along the banks of the river.
Explore Forest Service Campgrounds. Most campgrounds are on the east side of the river.
The Metolius River Association has a good list of cabins and lodges along the river.
The town of Sisters is also close and has some good lodging available.
The Metolius is Fly Fishing to Challenge the Best
The Metolius River is one of Oregon's fly fishing treasures. It is one of the most beautiful and challenging rivers in the state. Success here is not guaranteed but effort is amply rewarded.
Treat these trout like the wild and wary fish they are. Your persistence and flawless casts will be required even during the best of insect hatches.
The days of high numbers of hatchery trout are gone. The trade off is that once you hook a wild trout you see the tenacity and fight that will come from a wild Metolius trout.
While you are there be sure to make the hike to the springs at the head of the river.