Float 'N Fish Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best flies for the San Juan?                                                              Flies for the San Juan

The best fly for the San Juan is usually determined by insect activity at the time and location you are fishing and the insects available during the last day or two.  Midge larva and pupa in various sizes (18 - 28) and colors (black, brown, tan, cream, olive, red) are generally available to trout most days on the San Juan Quality Water, and these insects are the prevalent species available to trout in the upper river on most days.  From Texas Hole and below mayfly Nymphs (18 - 22) , emergers and adults become more important.  Various annelids or "worms" and Scuds are also available.  Immediately prior to hatches and during hatches trout may begin to feed selectively on specific insects and stages of insect development.  During these periods it is important to identify the insect, size, color and stage of the insect that the fish are feeding on to do well.  When you are able to "Match the Hatch" you will catch trout consistently on the San Juan. 

Insect activity changes during the day, most Midge and mayfly hatches occur after mid morning to the evening.  Early in the morning you will probably want to fish annelid and larval patterns close to the bottom.  In areas where there are good mayfly populations you will want to fish mayfly Nymphs also.  As hatches develop during the day you will probably want to remove some weight and fish higher in the water column to the surface with Midge/mayfly emerger patterns.  If fish are feeding on the surface you may be able to fish Midge/mayfly adults (dries) successfully.  Between hatches do not be afraid to fish attractor patterns both below the surface and on top.  Streamers can also be effective between hatches. 

The best way to anticipate which flies to use is to stop by Float 'N Fish and ask the staff which flies they recommend for the part of the river you will be fishing.  Their intimate knowledge of the San Juan will help you fish the right flies for the part of the river and time of day that you are fishing. 

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San Juan River Info

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Frequently Asked Questions

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San Juan Fishing Regulations

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Flies for the San Juan


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Can I get a Fishing License at Float 'N Fish?                                                       NM Fishing License

Beginning the 2014/2015 Fishing Season, New Mexico has changed license purchasing to an Online System run totally through the New Mexico Game and Fish Web Site.  Float 'N Fish has a terminal where you can purchase a license at the fly shop, during the busy season it is recommended that you purchase your license online before you come to the San Juan.  

New Mexico Game and Fish Online Licensing System

Can I reserve a Fishing Guide at Float 'N Fish?                                          Book Guide Trip Request

Float 'N Fish provides custom wade or drift boat guided trips on the San Juan Quality Water and Lower River.  Guided trips can be reserved for individuals to large groups such as corporate groups. 

Float 'N Fish Guides are seasoned professionals proficient in teaching beginners through experienced anglers the techniques and methods for consistently catching fish on the San Juan River.

How much weight should I use when Nymph fishing?                              San Juan Fishing Techniques

Use only as much weight as you need to get to the depth that you need to fish.  In the early mornings you will probably want more weight as you generally should be fishing close to the bottom.  As hatches begin to develop you will generally fish less weight, especially if you are fishing emergers just below the surface.  The speed and depth of the water also impact how much weigh you will need to use. 

How long does it take to get from the Albuquerque Airport to the San Juan?

The trip from the Albuquerque Sunport to the San Juan takes about 3 1/2 hours.  From the Albuquerque Sunport travel west to Interstate 25 and then to north on interstate 25 to exit 242.  Take exit 242 and then go West on US 550.  US 550 will travel north and west through high desert and cross the continental divide just north of Cuba, NM.  This is a colorful drive through high desert country.  At Bloomfield, follow the junction with US 64 east 11.6 miles to the junction with NM 511.  Turn left on NM 511 (north) and continue 8.2 miles to the community of Navajo Dam.  The route along HM 511 to the community of Navajo Dam is a winding road which follows the south side of the San Juan private water for much of its course.  At the community of Navajo Dam, turn left at the intersection of NM 173 and Float 'N Fish will be down the hill on the right hand side. 

Can I rent rods, reels, waders, wading boots at Float 'N Fish?

Yes,  Float 'N Fish can provide rental rods/reels, waders and boots for fishermen.  Float 'N Fish provides breathable Gortex rental waders in both mens and womens sizes and wading boots in sizes 4 - 16 to fit men, women and children. 

What is the best time of year to fish the San Juan?                                        San Juan Seasons

The unique tail water characteristics of the San Juan make it a river which can be fished effectively almost 365 days a year.  Tactics change depending on the season.  During Spring, Summer and Fall fish are spread out throughout the Quality Water and move in and out of faster water depending on where food is most available.  This makes finding fish relatively easy during these months as they are present in most parts of the river.  During the winter months, fish tend to move to slower water and pool up, so you will generally want to avoid faster water and riffles.  Most fishermen fish Spring, Summer and Fall.  Summer is generally the busiest season.  Locals and many fishermen from northern climates, accustomed and equipped for fishing in cool weather,  look forward to fishing the winter months.
What size tippet should I use?                                                                San Juan Fishing Techniques

When Nymph fishing with small flies (18 - 24) you need to use a light tippet to provide the fly the ability to move naturally in the water.  In general this is 5x - 7x for both monofilament and fluorocarbon materials.  The breaking strength of these lighter tippet diameters is relatively low, so you will need to be very careful when fighting and landing larger fish.  If you are fishing larger flies (8 - 14), you will probably want stronger tippet such as 3x - 5x, but be aware that the fly will move less naturally and you will likely get fewer strikes. 

Other than fishing what other activities are available near the San Juan River?

San Juan area attractions

In addition to world class trout fishing, the area around the San Juan offers a plethora of activities, some of which are seasonal.  The area has Indian Ruins, Golf, Skiing, River Rafting, Hiking, Camping, Boating and many other outdoor activities.  If you are interested in scenic drives the trips to Taos, NM or Silverton/Ouray, CO are beautiful, and are stunning during the fall.  The town of Durango is a year round tourist town with weekly activities, live music, fine restaurants and many other local attractions. 

What fishing tackle (rods, reels, etc) should I bring to the San Juan?          San Juan Fishing Tackle

You will want rods from 3wt to 7wt to fish the San Juan.  Most people will fish a 4wt or 5 wt in a 8 1/2' to 9' rod for general Nymph and dry fly fishing.  If you want to fish streamers you will probably prefer a 5wt to 7wt rod.  Reels should have at least 50 yards of backing and preferably close to 100 yards of backing.  Once you've been spooled, you don't have a lot of good options. 

What type of weather will I experience on the San Juan?                                     San Juan Climate

The San Juan is located in high desert country at an altitude of slightly over 5,700'.  The desert climate provides large temperature changes between afternoons and overnight lows, typically these differences are close to 30ºF per day.  During the spring and fall mornings are cool with some mornings starting below freezing.  Afternoons are generally comfortable with moderate layering and/or an outer shell.  Summer mornings are cool (55º to 65º) with highes from 80ºFto 95ºF.  Sunscreen is recommended all year long but especially during summer.  You should consider longsleeve clothing which protects you from the intense sun during the summer months.  You would be wise to carry rain protection during the summer as July through September can offer up short but intense thunderstorms. 

During the late fall, winter and early spring you will want to layer effectively, carry warm fishing gloves and warm hats.  Winter temperatures will generally start out below feeezing in the mornings, but generally climb well above freezing by afternoon.  Even though the air temperature during the winter may be cool, the water temperatures in the Quality Waters are relatively stable during winter months and fish and insects remain active.