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Fly Fishing Rifle Gap Reservoir – Colorado

Rifle Gap is a productive reservoir outside of Rifle, Colorado on the western slope. This reservoir is host to a variety of species, and you can target most of them with a fly rod. It is also a short drive from Harvey Gap Reservoir, which we have covered previously.

If you are looking for a good lake to target a variety of species, look no further than Rifle Gap. Although this lake is more popular among spin fishers, fly fishers can have success here as well. Populations of Northern Pike, Bass and Brown Trout offer anglers plenty of fishing opportunities.

Although you can fish from the shore, Rifle Gap is best fished from a boat. You can use a regular motor boat, a raft, drift boat, or even a kayak. As long as you have a way to get around the lake, you should have more success than fishing from shore.

Since Rifle Gap is a Colorado state park, there is a $9 daily entry fee. You must also get your boat inspected to make sure there’s no invasive species.

Fish Species At Rifle Gap

Rifle Gap is unique in that it holds both warm water and cold water species. Below, you can see just how many species Rifle Gap has.

  • Rainbow Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Northern Pike
  • Walleye
  • Catfish
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Crappie

The trout here can grow pretty big, and can be fun to target. However, I really like to target the Northern Pike here. I use a 9 weight rod with big flies in hopes of a trophy pike. They are hard to come by, but they are here!

The Bass fishing can also be really good in the bays and more shallow areas. Trophy Bass come out of this lake every year.

Catfish and Walleye can be pretty hard to target with a fly rod, so I usually don’t bother.

A lot of times, you’ll hook into a Perch or a Crappie when you’re fishing for other species. However, I don’t really target them.

Gear To Use

For the Trout and Bass, I like a 7 or an 8 weight fly rod with a sink tip line. This allows my flies to get down deeper, and these bigger rods allow for more fighting power.

When targeting the Northern Pike, I go even heavier. A 9 weight, fast action rod is my go-to. I will either use a sink tip or a full sinking line depending on the conditions. Later in the summer, the Pike will move deeper, which can require a full sinking fly line. In the spring and early summer, the Pike are in shallower water, so a sink tip works well.

If you’re going after the Perch and Crappie, a 5 or 6 weight rod works well. These fish don’t get too big, so you don’t need a heavy weight rod.

These are all just my personal preferences for fishing at Rifle Gap, and your preferences may differ. However, I like to bring at least 2 rods with me to target different species.

Flies To Use

For the Trout and Bass here, I use a lot of Clouser Minnow patterns, and large Woolly Buggers. You can even use regular trout streamers such as Dungeons, Circus Peanuts, etc. Whatever streamer you have confidence in will work just fine. Change up your retrieves and also your colors, depending on conditions.

For targeting the Pike, I like to use large EP flies and Bucktail flies. These are often patterns I tie myself, since they are hard to find in fly shops. Mark Englers Pike fly also works well here. Don’t be afraid to go big with your patterns, and fish them on sinking fly lines.

If you are targeting the Perch and Crappie, use small Woolly Buggers and other small streamers. You can even get them on popper flies as well.

The main thing with fishing here is to change flies. If you’re not getting bites, keep shuffling through your patterns until you have success.

Directions To Rifle Gap

From Rifle, go north on Railroad Avenue until it turns into County Road 13. Follow this road and then take a right onto Route 325 – and follow this all the way to the reservoir. From Rifle, this drive only takes about 10 minutes.

Rifle is just off the I-70 corridor, so it is pretty convenient for most people traveling through. If you’re in the Glenwood Springs area, make sure to put Rifle Gap on your fishing list.


All in all, Rifle Gap is a productive fishery as long as you’re willing to put the time in. This lake can be tough, and you’ll definitely have some slow days. It can take a lot of trial and error before you start getting bites. Make sure to change up your retrieves, and change your fly patterns as well. Covering water is always a good choice, instead of fishing the same areas all the time.

If you put the work in here, you’ll certainly be rewarded with some good fish. Rifle Gap is a true gem on the western slope, and fly fishers should give it a shot.