Michigan Fly Fishing 4 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Cedar River in Michigan

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

November 30, 2021

Cedar River near Gladwin, Michigan

When you want extra privacy and a space where you can have the water all to yourself, Cedar River in Michigan could be a perfect choice. It offers a great time doing something you love without needing to fight through any crowds. If you are planning a fly fishing trip into Michigan, there’s no need to hire a guide to enjoy the Cedar River.Cedar River is best known for offering majestic wild brook and brown trout. Once you know where you’re going and what gear to bring, you can find a spot and fish until your heart is content.

About Cedar River

A glimpse of the Cedar River in northern Michigan

The Cedar River may not be well-known and teeming with anglers, but that doesn’t mean it has nothing to offer. The river is located in the lower peninsula near Beaverton, Michigan. The mainstem of this gorgeous little river runs 30 miles and encompasses three separate branch – the North, Middle and West.  The Cedar River joins with the Tabacco River and eventually flows into the the Tittabawassee.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) formerly designated this river as a blue-ribbon trout stream. It includes a public natural area with more than 6,000 square feet right on the front of the river. Anglers can expect to catch both brook and brown trout.

In addition to fish, Cedar River offers the beauty of other wildlife. The conifer forest that surrounds the water creates the ideal habitat for all sorts of animals. You can expect to run into reptiles, birds, and fur-bearing animals. Deer are common, and you may also see gray foxes, minks, raccoons, rabbits, bobcats, coyotes, otters, and many songbirds.

A few years ago, a trip to Cedar River might not have been as satisfying as today. Many cedar trees had fallen into the water, which slowed the water, blocked water flow, and left sediment in the waters, preventing some insects from hatching. Volunteers have removed many of the trees and the bank was re-stabilized and seeded.

Nowadays, the river is clean and clear with waters that are teeming with trout. This is a great spot for anyone who enjoys small streams and it has plenty of vegetation to keep the sun off your face.

Many anglers who spend time there hook-up with small to medium-sized trout, but there are also a few of bigger fish around for those who get lucky or have the skills to catch them.

Cedar River Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of the best fishing spots on the Cedar River in Michigan

Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Places to Fish the Cedar River

Cedar River is a great trout stream with a variety of feeder streams for anglers to explore. The Cedar eventually joins with the Tobacco River in Beaverton. But, before it does so, it goes through all sorts of natural scenery in Michigan, including swamps, a lake, banks, meadows, and farmland.

For those who want a bit of a challenge with their fishing, consider wetting a line off Townline Lake Road in Hamilton Township. The stream here is slightly tinted but largely clear. However, you may run across a few beaver dams and deadfalls as you work to bring in some trout.

Another option is heading farther upstream and leaving for the water from Hoover Road. Finally, you can head down to Wiggins Lake and fly fish near the dam. This area is only a few miles from Gladwin City Park, where you will find a campground looking over the water.

The easiest access starts out on US 27, taking the old 27 exit in the Harrison area. Then, go toward the east on M 61 until you reach Hoover Road. Take a left on the road and keep driving until you see the water in front of you. 

Best Time to Fish the Cedar River

The right time to fish Cedar River will depend on what kind of fish you want to catch. Since most people are angling for trout, that cuts down the options.

Keep in mind that some streams, including Cedar River, and lakes have specific trout fishing dates, often from April through September. Therefore, if you are out of season, you want to avoid fishing in any of those waters.

Some anglers who visit Cedar River go on to spend time at the Great Lakes. Many of these are open from the first day of the year through either September or October. However, winter and late fall months can get quite cold, so you’ll want to be sure that you are wearing warm clothes and prepared for the temperatures.

Hatches are also something to take into consideration. Stoneflies are typically found all year, while mayflies and caddis may not show up until April. As the months pass, terrestrials may be found at Cedar River and other Michigan waters.

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish the Cedar River. There are no USGS stream gauges on the Cedar River. The gauge on the South Branch Tabacco River near Beaverton, MI will, however, provide a good indication of current conditions.

Best Flies for the Cedar River

What you pack in your fly box will depend on when you visit Cedar River. For instance, you can take advantage of hatching mayflies, caddis and stoneflies for dry fly fishing in the summer months.

Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for the Cedar River:

Dry Flies

  • Yellow Sally (#12 – 16)
  • Yellow Humpy (#10 – 18)
  • Parachute Sulphur (#14 – 18)
  • Parachute Adams (#12 – 22)
  • Light Cahill (#10 – 18)
  • Elk Hair Caddis (#8 – 16)
  • Yellows Stimulator (#8 – 14)
  • Chernobyl Ant (#8 – 12)
  • Griffith’s Gnat (#16 – 24)


  • Pheasant Tail (#12 – 20)
  • BH Hare’s Ear (#12 – 20)
  • Rainbow Warrior (#14 – 22)
  • Pat’s Rubber Legs (#4 – 12)
  • Golden Stonefly (#6 – 10)
  • Tellico Nymph (#12 – 18)
  • Zebra Midge (#16 – 22)
  • WD40 (#16-20)
  • Y2K Egg (#12 – 16)


  • BH Wooly Bugger (#2 – 6)
  • Sculpzilla (#4)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the Cedar River. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Cedar River Fishing Report

Currently, there are no area fly shops, guides and websites that provide a Cedar River fly fishing report and update on current conditions.  You’ll just have to go check it out!

Fishing Regulations

The state of Michigan requires that all people who are 17 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available.

You can purchase a Michigan state fishing license and learn about the most current regulations through the  Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Trip Planning Tips

While spending time at the Cedar River, there is far more than fishing to do. This location has space to canoe, kayak, or even experience camping in Michigan. Choose to stay in a hotel or bring a tent and rough it in nature to create an inexpensive fly fishing adventure.

Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Michigan

Feature image by Tim Kiser