Delaware Fly Fishing 6 min read

DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Delaware

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

June 1, 2024

Delaware is a small state, but it boasts an impressive variety of fishing opportunities. Fly fishing enthusiasts in particular will find plenty to love about Delaware’s waters. From the Brandywine Creek in the north to the Nanticoke River in the south, fly anglers can expect to find a range of fish species and habitats to explore.

One of the most popular fly fishing destinations in Delaware is the White Clay Creek. This limestone stream is stocked with brown, rainbow, and brook trout, making it a great spot for anglers looking to catch these species. The creek is also home to a variety of other fish, including smallmouth bass, sunfish, and carp.

While Delaware may not be as well-known for fly fishing as some other states, it’s a hidden gem for anglers in the know. With its diverse waterways and range of fish species, Delaware offers plenty of opportunities for fly anglers to test their skills and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.


Delaware is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordered by Maryland to the south, Pennsylvania to the north, and New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The state has a diverse landscape that includes rolling hills, flat farmland, and miles of coastline. Delaware is also home to numerous rivers and streams that offer excellent fly fishing opportunities.


The topography of Delaware is primarily flat, with the highest point in the state reaching just 447 feet above sea level. The state is crisscrossed by numerous rivers and streams, including the Brandywine, Christina, and White Clay Creek. These waterways provide ample opportunities for fly fishing, with a variety of fish species available.


The climate in Delaware is generally mild, with hot summers and cool winters. During the summer months, temperatures can reach into the 90s, while winter temperatures typically hover around freezing. Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year, with occasional snowfall in the winter months.

Anglers should be aware of the potential for hurricanes and other severe weather events during the late summer and early fall months. It is important to stay up-to-date on weather forecasts and plan fishing trips accordingly.

Delaware Fishing Map

map of places to fish in Delaware

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

Fish Species

Delaware is home to a variety of fish species, making it a prime destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. Here are some of the most common fish species found in Delaware’s waters:

  • Trout: Rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout can all be found in Delaware’s streams and rivers. These fish are popular among fly fishers due to their challenging nature and beautiful coloring.
  • Bass: Largemouth and smallmouth bass are abundant in Delaware’s lakes and ponds. These fish are known for their aggressive strikes and fighting ability, making them a favorite among anglers.
  • Bluegill: Bluegill are a common panfish found in Delaware’s warm waters. These fish are relatively easy to catch and are a great option for beginners.

No matter what fish species you’re targeting, it’s important to practice responsible fishing techniques. Always follow catch-and-release guidelines and be sure to obtain the proper permits and licenses before fishing in Delaware’s waters.

Popular Fly Fishing Spots in Delaware

Delaware is home to several popular fly fishing spots that attract anglers from all over the country. Here are some of the top spots to wet a line:

White Clay Creek

Fog over White Clay Creek at sunset in Delaware

White Clay Creek is a popular trout stream that runs through Pennsylvania and Delaware. The creek is stocked with rainbow and brown trout, making it a great spot for fly fishing enthusiasts. The best time to fish at White Clay Creek is from March to May when the water is cool and the fish are active.

Fly anglers can have success with a variety of flies at White Clay Creek, including dry flies, nymphs, and streamers. Some of the most popular flies used at this location include the Elk Hair Caddis, Pheasant Tail Nymph, and Woolly Bugger.

Brandywine Creek

Brandywine Creek in Delaware

Brandywine Creek is another popular fly fishing spot in Delaware. The creek is home to several species of fish, including smallmouth bass, rock bass, and sunfish. The best time to fish at Brandywine Creek is from May to September when the water is warm and the fish are active.

Fly anglers can use a variety of techniques at Brandywine Creek, including topwater flies, nymphs, and streamers. Some of the most popular flies include the Clouser Minnow, Woolly Bugger, and Hare’s Ear Nymph.

Christina River

Fly fishing enthusiasts flock to the Christina River in Delaware for its excellent fishing opportunities. It’s home to a wide array of fish species, such as striped bass, shad, and catfish. The best time to fish at Christina River is from April to June when the water is cool and the fish are active.

At Christina River, fly anglers have a huge selection of flies at their disposal, from topwater ones to nymphs and streamers. The most favored options include the Clouser Minnow, Woolly Bugger and Lefty’s Deceiver.

Best Times to Fish

The best times to fish in Delaware depend on several factors, including the weather, water temperature, and the type of fish you want to catch.

Trout Fishing

If you are looking to catch trout, the best time to fish is in the spring and fall when the water temperature is cooler. During these seasons, trout are more active and tend to feed more often. In contrast, during the summer months, trout tend to be less active and seek out cooler water temperatures, making it more difficult to catch them.

Smallmouth Bass Fishing

If you are interested in catching smallmouth bass, the best time to fish is during the summer months when the water temperature is warmer. Smallmouth bass are more active during this time and tend to feed more often. Additionally, smallmouth bass tend to be more aggressive during the summer months, making them easier to catch.

Overcast Days

It is important to note that weather conditions can also impact the best times to fish. Overcast days are typically better for fishing than sunny days because fish tend to be more active when there is less sunlight. Additionally, fishing during low-light conditions, such as early morning or late evening, can also increase your chances of catching fish.

Overall, the best times to fish in Delaware vary depending on the type of fish you want to catch and the weather conditions. By understanding these factors, you can increase your chances of having a successful fishing trip in Delaware.

Equipment and Techniques

Rods and Reels

Delaware fly fishing requires specialized equipment. Anglers should use a lightweight rod, typically between 7 and 9 feet long, with a weight of 4 to 6. A reel with a smooth drag system is also essential. The reel should be loaded with a floating line, which is the most commonly used line for fly fishing in Delaware.


The right fly can make all the difference when fly fishing. It is important to match the hatch, which means using a fly that looks like the insects that are currently hatching on the water. Some popular flies for Delaware fly fishing include the Elk Hair Caddis, Pheasant Tail Nymph, and Woolly Bugger.

Fishing Regulations

Licenses and Permits

Before heading out to fish in Delaware, anglers must have a valid fishing license. Licenses are available for purchase online, at authorized agents or by phone. Prices vary depending on residency status and the length of the license. Anglers under the age of 16 are not required to have a license, but must be accompanied by an adult with a valid license.

In addition to a fishing license, anglers may also need to obtain a trout stamp or a special permit for certain bodies of water. Be sure to check the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife website for specific regulations and requirements.

Catch and Release Policies

Delaware has specific catch and release policies in place for certain species of fish. For example, all striped bass caught in the Delaware River and its tributaries must be immediately released back into the water.

Anglers are encouraged to practice catch and release whenever possible, regardless of species. This helps to maintain healthy fish populations and ensures that future generations can enjoy the sport of fishing.

It is important to note that fishing regulations can change frequently, so be sure to check the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife website for the most up-to-date information before heading out on the water.

Trip Planning Tips

Delaware is a fly fishing paradise, with its numerous streams and rivers teeming with trout and other fish species. Planning a fly fishing trip to Delaware requires some preparation to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience.

Here are some trip tips and accommodation recommendations for a fly fishing trip to Delaware:

  1. Research the best fishing spots: Delaware has several great fishing spots, including the Brandywine Creek, Red Clay Creek, and White Clay Creek. Do some research to find out which spots are best for fly fishing and what types of fish you can expect to catch.
  2. Check the fishing regulations: Make sure you are aware of the fishing regulations in Delaware, including the types of fish you can catch, the size limits, and any catch-and-release requirements.
  3. Plan your trip during the right season: The best time to go fly fishing in Delaware is typically from April to November, when the weather is mild and the fish are most active.
  4. Choose the right gear: Make sure you have the right gear for fly fishing, including a fly rod, reel, line, and flies. You can also rent gear from local outfitters.
  5. Book your accommodations: There are several great accommodations options for fly fishers in Delaware, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals. Some great options include the Inn at Montchanin Village, the Brick Hotel on the Circle, and the Homestead Bed and Breakfast.
  6. Hire a guide: If you are new to fly fishing or unfamiliar with the area, consider hiring a guide to help you find the best fishing spots and improve your technique.
  7. Explore other activities: Delaware has plenty of other activities to enjoy, including hiking, biking, and kayaking. Consider adding some of these activities to your trip to make the most of your time in the area.