Fly Fishing the Guadalupe River

Guadalupe River Fly Fishing

As you have worked to develop your fly fishing skills you have learned a great many things. Some of these fly fishing basics include proper casting techniques, choosing the right fly, working on your presentation of that fly, and reading the water for suitable fish habitats. One of the most basic skills a fly fisherman must develop in order to be consistently successful is the ability to recognize fish feeding signs.

Your odds of catching fish will drastically improve if you locate fish that are feeding. The reason behind this is simple- feeding fish are more likely to attempt to eat your artificial fly!  Not only do you have to be able to recognize when fish are feeding, you also must learn to distinguish where in the water they are feeding and what specifically they are eating.

Fly Fishing Guadalupe River
Fly Fishing Guadalupe River by Casavell

Let’s say that you can see movement on the surface of the stream, which tells you that the trout are actively feeding. You throw on a floating fly and present it perfectly to them, but they fail to take it. Why would the fish continue eating all around your fly but avoid taking it? The probable answer is that you are not recognizing where and what they are targeting. These skills are definitely fly fishing basics that you should take the time to learn!

To be able to see feeding behavior you must have the proper equipment. You will need a hat to block the sun’s glare and polarized sunglasses to see through the water. The first step is to find a nice hidden spot with a good view of the water and observe the behavior of the feeding fish for several minutes. Watch for repeating patterns.

Fishing Spots along the Guadalupe River

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner looking to cast your first line, knowing where to go can greatly enhance your fishing experience.

Spring Branch, Texas

One of the most popular access points is the Guadalupe River State Park, located near Spring Branch, Texas. This park offers ample parking and well-maintained trails that lead to prime fishing spots. The river here is known for its clear, cold waters, making it an ideal habitat for trout, particularly rainbow and brown trout.

guadalupe river fishing
Guadalupe River Fishing by PaddyMurphy

New Braunfels

Another favored spot is the section of the river that runs through the town of New Braunfels. Here, you’ll find public access points and riverfront parks that cater to fly fishing enthusiasts. The stretch from the Faust Street Bridge to the Gruene Road Bridge is especially productive, with deep pools and riffles that hold abundant fish.

Canyon Lake area

For those seeking a more secluded fishing experience, the section of the Guadalupe River that flows through the Canyon Lake area is worth exploring. Access points such as Overlook Park and Potters Creek Park provide opportunities to fish in serene surroundings. Keep in mind that this area is also popular for recreational activities, so it’s best to plan your fishing trips during weekdays or early mornings to avoid crowds.


Further downstream, near the town of Seguin, the Guadalupe River offers diverse fishing opportunities. Paddling access points like Lake Placid and Max Starcke Park allow anglers to explore different sections of the river, each with its own unique characteristics and fish populations.

Signs When Fish are Feeding

Try to determine how often the fish are presenting a specific type of feeding behavior. Look for specific signs that tell you what they are eating and where they are feeding. Only after you have spent some time determining these factors should you attempt to throw an artificial. Here are some signs to look for.


The typical fish rises with a bubble indicates that the fish is eating off the surface of the water. This is sometimes called ‘boiling’ and it creates the classic rings surrounding the exact spot where the fish is feeding. This is an amazing sight to see and it means that you will have a good chance at some dry fly surface fishing action. Watch for consistent patterns and try to throw a fly within those patterns.

Tail at Water Level

If you happen to only see a trout’s tail at the surface of the water, that means that the fish is nose down at the river’s bottom, probably digging out nymphs, scuds, or other larvae. Aggressive tail action may mean that they are pulling snails off of the rocks. This situation can be tricky to fish, but try going underwater with a nymph, scud, or worm artificial.

Swirls or Whirlpools

Very often fish are feeding neither at the water’s surface nor at the bottom, but instead are eating in the zone between. There are several signs that advertise that fish are eating emergers, wounded insects, or other prey in the mid-level water column. Look for small swirls or whirlpools just below the surface. This is a fish moving and changing direction to feed just under the water’s surface. Also, look for the typical ‘boiling’ rise but without bubbles.

The Sip

The sip is another sign that a fish is eating an emergency just below the surface tension of the water. The sip is when the fish’s mouth slowly comes up and sips the insect in, usually without breaking the water tension. Very often you can hear this sip. Throw a crippled spinner or an emerger pattern without a lot of hackles to catch fish feeding in this manner.

The Porpoise Sign

Finally, there is the porpoise sign. This is when you see just the back of the fish break the water, rather than its head and mouth. This means that the fish is swimming up from below, then eating something and turning to head downward before it reaches the surface. Again, crippled spinners and emerger patterns will probably work well in this situation.

hungary trout feedingThere are also signs that fish are aggressively feeding on something. Splashes, bow waves, and fish leaping out of the water should tell you that the fish are aggressively feeding on some fast-moving prey. This prey could be quick insects, flying insects, or baitfish. Watch carefully and figure out what they are hunting, then mimic the prey and its quick, evasive movements and you will get plenty of hits.

Be aware of inspecting behavior as well. Inspecting is when the fish are not actually feeding, but are carefully and cautiously inspecting potential food items. If the fish are approaching your fly, looking at it, and then slowing backing away from it- then you are spooking them with the wrong artificial. Wait a good period of time and present them with something else.

By learning how to recognize the various feeding signs of fish you will have a much better chance of being able to present them an artificial that will fool them into eating it. This process takes practice and time, as well as a little experimentation. The better you can get at recognizing specific feeding patterns- the more fish you will catch!

Fly Fishing Gear

When it comes to fly fishing the Guadalupe River, having the right gear and equipment is essential for a successful and enjoyable experience. Here are some must-have items to ensure you’re well-prepared for the adventure.

  1. Fly Rod and Reel: Opt for a fly rod specifically designed for river fishing, such as a 9-foot, 5-weight rod. Pair it with a reliable reel that has a smooth drag system to handle the strong and feisty fish in the Guadalupe River.
  2. Fly Line: Choose a weight-forward floating fly line that matches your rod weight. This type of fly line will allow for better control and presentation of your flies on the water’s surface.
  3. Flies: The Guadalupe River is known for its diverse aquatic insect life, so be sure to pack a variety of flies that imitate different insects. Effective patterns include nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Popular choices include:
    • Pheasant Tails
    • San Juan Worms
    • Woolly Buggers
    • Elk Hair Caddis.
  4. Leader and Tippet: Use a 9-foot tapered leader with a breaking strength suitable for the size of fish you expect to catch. Carry a range of tippet sizes (3X to 6X) to adjust to different fishing conditions and fly sizes.
  5. Waders and Wading Boots: Invest in a good pair of breathable waders that will keep you dry and comfortable during your fishing sessions. Pair them with sturdy wading boots with felt or rubber soles for better traction on the river bottom.
  6. Fishing Vest or Pack: Stay organized and have your essential tools within reach by wearing a fishing vest or using a fishing pack. These will provide ample storage for your flies, leaders, tippet spools, tools, and other accessories.
  7. Polarized Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from the sun’s glare and improve your visibility in the water with polarized sunglasses. They will enable you to spot fish, read the water, and enhance your overall fishing experience.
  8. Landing Net: A landing net is crucial for safely landing and releasing fish. Look for a net with a rubberized or knotless mesh to minimize harm to the fish’s delicate scales and fins.
  9. Accessories: Don’t forget to pack a fly box, forceps or hemostats for hook removal, nippers for trimming lines, and a reliable fishing hat or cap for sun protection.

Fly selection and best patterns

Selecting the right flies is crucial for a successful and rewarding experience. The river is home to a variety of fish species, including rainbow trout and brown trout, each with its own unique feeding habits and preferences.

San Juan Worm

This simple yet highly effective pattern imitates the worms that are abundant in the river’s ecosystem. When fished correctly, the San Juan Worm can entice even the most selective trout to bite.

Woolly Bugger

Another popular fly pattern for the Guadalupe River is the Woolly Bugger. This versatile streamer pattern mimics a variety of aquatic creatures such as small baitfish, leeches, and even crayfish. Its lifelike movement in the water and enticing profile make it a go-to choice for many fly anglers.

Mayfly and Caddisfly

For hatches and dry fly fishing, it’s important to have a selection of mayfly and caddisfly imitations in your fly box. Patterns like the Adams, Elk Hair Caddis, and Blue Winged Olive are known to be effective during various hatches on the Guadalupe River. Matching the size and color of the natural insects will greatly increase your chances of enticing trout to rise to the surface.


Don’t forget about terrestrials. During the warmer months, grasshoppers, ants, and beetles become an important food source for trout. Having a few foam or rubber-legged patterns, such as the Chornobyl Ant or Dave’s Hopper, can be deadly when fished along the riverbanks or near overhanging vegetation.

Prime times to fish the Guadalupe River

The Guadalupe River is a renowned destination for fly fishing enthusiasts, offering a diverse and thriving ecosystem that supports a variety of fish species. To make the most of your fly fishing experience on the Guadalupe River, it’s crucial to consider the seasonal patterns and identify the prime times to cast your line.

Fly Fishing the Guadalupe River
Fly Fishing the Guadalupe River by PaddyMurphy

1. Winter (December-February)

During the winter months, the Guadalupe River becomes a popular spot for anglers seeking to catch the elusive and highly prized rainbow trout. As the river is stocked with trout by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the winter season offers excellent opportunities to reel in some impressive catches. It is worth noting that trout are more active during the warmer parts of the day, so planning your fishing trips accordingly is essential.

2. Spring (March-May)

Springtime ushers in a period of increased activity and abundance in the river. As the water temperature rises, various insect hatches occur, attracting hungry trout. This is an excellent time to utilize dry flies and nymphs that imitate the emerging insects. Additionally, the Guadalupe River experiences a transition from trout-focused fishing to warm-water species such as bass and sunfish during the spring, providing anglers with a diverse range of fishing options.

3. Summer (June-August)

The summer season presents its own unique set of considerations for fly fishing on the Guadalupe River. As temperatures rise, the water levels may decrease, making fish more cautious and selective about their feeding. It is advisable to focus on early morning or late evening fishing when the temperatures are cooler, and the fish are more active. Bass fishing can be particularly productive during this time, as they seek shelter in the deeper pools and shaded areas.

4. Fall (September-November)

Autumn brings cooler temperatures and renewed fishing opportunities on the Guadalupe River. As the water cools down, the trout becomes more active, feeding aggressively in preparation for the winter months. This period offers excellent chances to catch trophy-sized trout. It is worth noting that fall is also the time when the river receives its annual trout stocking, attracting anglers from near and far.

Final Word

We hope you found our ultimate guide to fly fishing the Guadalupe River helpful and informative. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or new to fly fishing, this guide provided you with all the essential information and tips to make your fishing experience on the Guadalupe River unforgettable. From the best fishing spots to the right gear and techniques to use, we’ve covered it all. Now, it’s time to grab your fly rod, tie on your favorite flies, and head out to the Guadalupe River for an incredible fly fishing adventure. Tight lines, and may your net be filled with trophy-worthy catches!

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