California Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Little Truckee River in California

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

May 31, 2020

Little Truckee River in California

In Little Truckee River’s cool waters, you’ll find an impressive population of brown and rainbow trout. These trout are known for their fighting spirit and large size. The surrounding scenery and thriving wildlife will ensure a memorable experience as you reel in your prizes.

Some sections of this River are special regulation, and you’ll want to make sure you have the right patterns to match the hatch.

Check out our guide so you can be well-equipped to tackle the Little Truckee River and enjoy this breathtaking fishery.

About Little Truckee River

Fly Fishing in the Little Truckee River

The Little Truckee River is a 30.6 mile long river that serves as a tributary to the Truckee River. It is both a freestone and a tailwater fishery. The River begins at Webber Lake in the Tahoe National Forest. The River flows southeast to the Stampede Reservoir and ends at the confluence with the Truckee River. It is fed by Independence Creek which flows from Independence Lake. 

The Little Truckee is mostly made up of riffles and pocket water that first flows through the canyon, but gradually winds through the meadows. In the meadow, the Little Truckee is joined by the Perazzo Creek, which holds brown trout and Kokanee salmon. The tailwater section of the Little Truckee consists mostly of pocket water.

At the Little Truckee River, you’ll see deer, ospreys, bald eagles, and coyotes. The River is lined with beautiful willows, pines, and sagebrush. It also has an impressive aquatic insect population, with Midges, Mayflies, Stoneflies, and Caddisflies being the most important hatches. 

Your fly fishing experience will depend greatly on the releases of the dams during the time of your visit.  

Little Truckee River Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing access sites on the Little Truckee River in California

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

Best Places to Fish the Little Truckee River

The upper section of the Little Truckee River is available to the public west of Highway 89.  The rest of the upper reaches is located on private property. The best section to fish the Little Truckee is the area below Stampede Reservoir, which is a three mile long wild trout paradise. This section is catch and release only, and you can only use barbless hooks and artificial lures.

You can also find good trout fishing in the Little Truckee’s tributaries, such as Independence Creek and Perazzo Creek.

Best Time to Fish the Little Truckee River

The Little Truckee River is open to anglers from the last Saturday of April to November 15. The best time to visit the stream is in the summer, but you can also have luck during early fall due to the spawning brown trout and Kokanee salmon. 

In the winter, the tailwater section is open for fishing with special regulations. Fishing success in the spring depends entirely on the discharges. 

Blue-winged Olives kick-off the action in March followed by March Browns and Green Drakes in the late spring. Pale Morning Duns come off in mid-May and joined by a variety of caddis in June through August. Little Yellow Stones are on the menu all summer along with terrestrials that extend into the fall. Midges are available year-round.

Fly Box – What You’ll Need

Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Little Truckee River:

  • Blue Winged Olive (#12-18)
  • March Brown (#12-14)
  • Mahogany Dun (#14-18)
  • Pale Morning Dun (#14-18)
  • Red Quill (#16-18)
  • Slate Drake (#10-12)
  • Green Caddis (#12-18)
  • Green Drake (#10)
  • Grannom (#10-18)
  • Sulphur (#14-18)
  • Scud (#10-16)
  • October Caddis (#6-8)

Gear Recommendations

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

The Little Truckee River Fishing Report

Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide the Little Truckee River fly fishing report are listed below:

Fishing Regulations

The state of California requires that all people who are 16 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available. You can purchase a one-year, 10-day, two-day, or one-day license. Some areas also require a permit. You can purchase the license and learn about the most current regulations through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to the Little Truckee River is the Reno Tahoe International Airport. You can also travel to the Sacramento International Airport, which is located about 85 miles away from your destination. You can travel to any major or municipal airport in Central California and arrive at the Little Truckee River after a few hours of scenic driving.

The Lower Little Truckee Campground is located on the banks of the Little Truckee River and is a popular choice among wildlife enthusiasts. You can enjoy the numerous hiking and biking trails in the area. Because bears frequent the area, it is extremely important to hide all food items completely out of sight, or use an approved bear container. 

If you are looking to venture off the beaten path, the Redlight Hostel might be the perfect choice for lodging. The hostel’s building was originally constructed in the 1880s, but burned down in the 1920s. The building has since been rebuilt, but its rich history remains. You’ll enjoy meeting other outdoor lovers, and the close proximity to other local attractions.

The Little Truckee River is a dynamic and lively fishery that is guaranteed to satisfy even the most seasoned angler. 

Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing California

Feature image by Tom Hilton