Get Hooked on Fly Fishing in the Hudson Valley

Hiking, antiquing, and fine dining typically highlight any Hudson Valley agenda. For people now more than ever, fly fishing is also part of a perfect upstate day.

Google “fly fishing” and this definition pops up: the sport of fishing using a rod and an artificial fly as bait. Technically correct—but not at all evocative of this growing-in-popularity pastime that involves water, time, skill, and most of all, patience. Given the (glorious!) givens of the Hudson Valley, this area is a sublime setting for casting, for a first (or five hundredth!) time.

Photo by Peter Crosby

To get started, here is some topline advice from Dan Swart, president of the Dutchess County-based Mid-Hudson chapter of Trout Unlimited, a terrific organization for both seasoned and newbie anglers:

  • Livingston Manor in Sullivan County is considered the birthplace of American fly fishing. Learn more about its history, heritage, and environmental stewardship at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, a 53-acre campus with trails, a gallery space, and fully operational bamboo rod making shop ( Afterwards, you can even spend a day casting in hotposts such as Willowemoc Creek, Beaver Kill, and certain branches of the Delaware River.
a man in the Esopus Creek
The Esopus Creek is known as a prime fly fishing spot. Photo by Peter Crosby.
  • Well-regarded Hudson Valley fly fishing sites include the Wappinger Creek above Red Oaks Mill, the Sprout Creek, Ten Mile River, and the Wassaic Creek. In Ulster County, Esopus Creek (and all its tributaries) above the Ashokan Reservoir is famous.
  • In terms of gear, you would need a fly rod, reel, line, leader, and some flies. Next up would be waders, wading boots, and a vest or sling pack.
a fly lure
Adobe Stock / Aleksei
  • A good way to start out is to hire a local guide (ask around) for a morning or afternoon outing. Ideally, they will provide all the necessary equipment and show you how to use it.
  • Kenco Outfitters ( in Kingston offers fly fishing 101 classes on certain Saturday mornings. Outdoor retailer Orvis ( also books one- and two-day classes at their fly fishing school in Millbrook—which is on Sandanona’s famed sporting grounds.
a fly lure
Adobe Stock / Aleksei
  • Local chapter of nonprofit Trout Unlimited ( helps new anglers and seasoned ones make friends and share knowledge.
  • Know that casting requires lots and lots of practice. YouTube videos are a solid source of guidance.
  • Be aware that freshwater fishing in New York state generally requires a license for anyone 16 or over except in certain circumstances. Cost is $25 per full year for NYS residents. Find all the details at


a skunk
Adobe Stock / Jemastock.

In fly fishing, getting skunked simply means not netting a single fish. In other words, though your heart might be a little sad, your nose is safe. Experts agree that getting skunked happens to everyone. Trout are revered for laser-sharp eyesight. Keep trying!

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Related: 5 Hudson Valley Glamping Destinations for Outdoor Getaways

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