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Fly Fishing Oregon's Upper Rogue River

When fly fishing Oregon's upper Rogue River you have a choice. Steelhead is the main focus with good runs of both summer and winter steelhead but you can also target resident rainbow trout.

You also have a choice of water structure. There is something for everyone, from large rocky runs and ripples to deep pockets.

The Rogue River upstream of Gold Hill has good access and footing for anglers who prefer to wade and good access for drift boats. Access is a draw for fly anglers to this section.

Best Time for Fly Fishing Oregon's Rogue River

The Rogue River has low and stable flows from late August to the middle of November. Add to this the mild weather this time of the year and you have a much loved summer steelhead season for fly fishers.

The middle of February to the end of April is your best time to target winter steelhead on the upper Rogue.

You will also have less fishing pressure in April. When fly fishing for winter steelhead the upper section of the Rogue River will often be the only section that will be clear.

Rogue River Stream Flow

Where to Fly Fish on the Upper Rogue

Public use of the river banks between Grave Creek and Lost Creek Dam is in ongoing litigation. At this time I would stay in public use areas or get permission from land owners. 

Upstream of Fishers Ferry is restricted to artificial flies from Sept. 1st to Dec 31st. Always check Oregon Fish and Game Regulations for the latest information.

Lost Creek Reservoir downstream to below Shady Cove

  • The river here runs through a narrow valley and flows at a pretty good pace here.
  • The 3/4-mile "Holy Water" section between the dam and the Cole River Hatchery is fly fishing only with barbless hooks and is catch and release. This area is fishable year round and there are some very nice size (16-20") trout here. Expect a crowd. 
  • Bank access is available at:
  •     From the dam down to Casey State Recreation Site
  •     Rogue Elk Park
  •     The junction of Hwy 227 and 62
  •     Hwy 62 parallels the river most of the way upstream of Shady Cove. 

Shady Cove downstream to TouVelle State Recreation Site

  • The river widens through this section. It flows over gravel bars, and side channels are common. Be aware that below Dodge Bridge Park there are some class II+ rapids.
  • Bank access is available at:
  •     Takelma Park
  •     Dodge Bridge Park, which also offers wheelchair access 

TouVelle State Recreation Site downstream to Gold Hill

  • The river enters a narrow valley and has some of its largest rapids outside the Wild and Scenic section here.
  • Bank access is available at:
  •     TouVelle State Recreation Site
  •     Below Fishers Ferry there is about 1-1/2 miles of bank access.
  •     The parks at Doughton Falls/Lyman Rapids (both have Class IV rapids)

Click here and download the Rogue Water Trail map. It shows bank and boating access to the upper Rogue (scroll down to see each river mile).

Patterns for Fly Fishing Oregon's Upper Rogue River  

Streamers and swinging flies:

  • Streetwalkers
  • Rabbit-strip leech patters (black/purple)
  • Dirk Wiggler (black, olive, pink)
  • Tiger Paw
  • Golden Demon
  • Muddler Minnow


  • Red Ant
  • Morrish's October Caddis Nymph
  • Stonefly nymphs
  • Copper Johns (red, chartreuse)
  • Rubber-leg Hare's Ear Nymph
  • Glo-Bugs

Best Methods for Fly Fishing the Upper Rogue

The best part of fly fishing Oregon's upper Rogue River is that you can use just about any method you like. Whether it is dead-drift techniques or a swung fly, the upper Rogue has water for you.   

If you are going to swing flies you will need to bring some sink tips, especially when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers starts to drop the flow out of the Lost Creek Dam toward the end of September. As the water temperature drops the steelhead are less inclined to move very far for a fly.

For summer steelhead:

  • Dry fly swung
  • Wet fly swung near surface
  • Wet fly swung deep
  • Nymphs lightly weighted
  • Nymphs with indicator
  • Deep-drifted fly (with or without an indicator)

For winter steelhead:

  • Wet fly swung deep
  • Nymphs lightly weighted
  • Nymphs with indicator
  • Deep-drifted fly (with or without an indicator)

See Oregon Department of Fish and Game's fishing report on the Rogue River. They update it a couple of times a month.

Appropriate Gear for the Upper Rogue River

For trout and steelhead

  • Waders and wading staff
  • A drift boat or raft opens up a lot more water but hiring a guide is best for your first run.
  • Wide-brimmed hat, polarized sunglasses, sunscreen 

For steelhead fly fishing

For trout

Campgrounds and Lodging

Rogue Elk Park

Joseph H. Stewart State Recreation Area  

Valley of the Rogue State Park  (Camping by the freeway)  

Upper Rogue River Camping:  

The community of Shady Cove will put you in the heart of the upper Rogue. Lodging can also be found in Medford.

Fly Shops in the Area

Trophy Waters Flyfishing Shop,  Medford (541)-734-2278  www.trophywaters.net 

The Rogue Fly Shop, Grants Pass  (541)-476-0552  www.rogue-flyshop.com  

The Ashland Fly Shop (541)-488-6454  www.ashlandflyshop.com 

For a list of guides who know the Rogue River see: Rogue River Guides  

In Summary: 

The Rogue River is known for its summer and winter steelhead runs and the upper section is one of the easiest fly fishing rivers in Oregon to access so expect a crowd. Like most rivers a remote spot can be found if you are willing to take a hike. 

If you are planning on fly fishing Oregon, you need to include the upper Rogue River. The upper Rogue has something for everyone. If you prefer indicator drift fishing from a drift boat this is the place. But if you prefer to wade and swing flies for steelhead the Rogue is also a good choice. 

Please be aware of spawning fish in the upper Rogue in the winter. Steelhead will be spawning in the mainstream, and disturbing their redds may destroy thousands of eggs. 

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