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ANGLER MANAGEMENT
ON THE SAN JUAN RIVER
FLYFISHING JOURNAL

San Juan River Fishing Tips

Are you looking for San Juan River Fishing tips? Find some of the best fishing tips below from Chris Gallegos, one of the best San Juan River fishing guides to help you catch more fish on the San Juan.

San Juan River Fishing Tips from Chris Gallegos, Fly Fishing Guide

San Juan River Fishing Tips from Chris Gallegos:

  • The San Juan River is a sight fishing river, you have to pay attention to the fish and not just the indicator. Fish eat and spit out the flies fast, so it's important to watch the fish, not your indicator.

  • Often people don't realize that the fish has taken a fly, but the fish may have taken the fly multiple times, and the indicator doesn't move so people don't set the hook. Learn how to see the fish and recognize their movements.

  • The majority of this river has slow moving water, so it's important to pay attention to the fish more so than the indicator. The indicator is only used to keep your flies at the right level. Watch the fish, not the indicator!

  • Don't go to the same spot every time you fish. While many guides take people to the same holes over and over, Chris takes people to new water including shallower water and helps teach people how to be successful on their own, and every guide trip will be different so you can enjoy and learn something new every time. Don't just circle the same holes over and over again.

  • Experience is king, so keep fishing, try new water, new holes – don't just fish the same spots every time, so you can learn something new every time you're out on the San Juan river.

  • Lighter rods: What Chris does differently than most other guides is that he uses 3 or 4 weight rods, while most guides use 5 or 6 weight rods. What happens is that when the water is clear and slow, you need to use real thin line to get the fly to move more naturally in the slow current. We're using 24 and 26 sized flies, so with these small bugs, too thick of a line will not move naturally in the water, so you'll get less bites. Chris uses 6x line that allows you to present the fly perfectly to the trout. Having a light, shorter rod will also help you set the the hook faster, which results in more hookups.

  • Dress for the sun! Wearing lightweight shirts with long sleeves, a wide brimmed hat, neck protection such as gators, polarized sunglasses, and lightweight fast drying long pants will keep you comfortable. A rain jacket is always good to have for potential afternoon rain showers. Bring layers on cooler days.

  • A one or two-fly setup is best for the San Juan river. You don't want to snag the fish on the back or sides which is terrible for catch-and-release as it can drown and kill fish. We want to make sure there are plenty of fish to catch for everyone to enjoy, so we make sure to protect the fish and use safe patterns that allow for fish to thrive. Let's work together to protect our fishery for future generations!

  • It's not so much about the fly, it's about how you present it to the fish. If you can present flies perfectly and keep them clean, fish will take them. Chris will help you learn how best to present flies so that they encourage fish to take a bite. That said, Chris uses his own tied-flies that match the hatch, and sets up your rig to float the baetis, midges and larvae at the right level so that will increase your hookup success.

  • Be careful who you choose for a guide, just because they are available and cheaper than other guides, it doesn't mean that you're getting a better deal. Less experienced guides often undercut more experienced guides to get business, but often you won't catch many or any fish. Experienced guides will let you know if the fishing is not good, and we'll work with you to pick the optimal time for the best fishing. You get what you pay for! Experience is king on this river.

  • This is one of the hardest rivers to fish, if you don't do what you need to do to catch fish, you won't hookup. This is a sight-fishing river. It's all about understanding how it works, keeping an eye on the fish, and sight-fishing and set your hooks when you see the fish turn on your fly. Don't miss fish by focussing just on your indicator! Chris will help you learn how to sight fish for the best success.

  • Some days are better than others – you'll have to use different techniques on windy or rainy days. When it's windy, keep your rod low to the water. Windy days are not uncommon on the San Juan River, so be sure to learn techniques to fish better in the wind and you can still catch fish! Keep your rod at your waist so that you can control the hook set and retrieve or release line right in front of you and you can see everything that is going on. Chris can teach you all the techniques and help you overcome bad habits to ensure you can hook and land fish in all conditions.

  • Learn how to fish in the Wind! The San Juan River can often be windy, so knowing how to hold your rod and cast in windy conditions will greatly improve your ability to catch fish.

  • When a fish bites a fly, you can see it's gill flare when it's opening it's mouth – it's all about seeing what they're doing. Sight-fishing is vital on this river!

  • Be fast to set the hook. Scoop your rod quickly off the water to get better hook-sets! Don't be too slow to hook a take.

  • You don't have to be on a boat to catch fish, the San Juan is pretty easily accessible walking through every crook and cranny. Go above the Texas Hole to give yourself a better opportunity to catch fish – boat guides don't go above the Texas Hole!

  • Observe the water when you get there, observe the people who are catching fish, and DON'T follow these people catching fish. Instead, follow the people who are not catching fish if anything and wait until they move on from the spot. This will ensure that the area that you move to will be prime for hookups and hasn't been run-through yet – the fish will not have been recently caught.

  • Learn new sections of the river so you can get better, don't always go to the same place you've caught fish before. Try new sections, and learn! The whole San River river is amazing, so keep exploring and give every section a chance. Don't be afraid of change, and keep moving. Keep it fresh!

Chris's San Juan River Flyfishing guide trips he will teach you and help explain how to set the hook, what rod to use, what line to use, and how to best present the fish so you can hookup. You'll walk away from your trip a better fisherman and learn something new on every guide trip with Chris. Book a trip today »


San Juan River Fishing Tips - giant rainbow


Chris Gallegos can take you out for the best San Juan River fly fishing there is to be had. He'll share with you all of his best tips for landing a trout on the San Juan. The San Juan River is filled with beauties and Chris knows where to find them. With Chris, you won't just fish the Texas Hole, there are tons of great holes with less pressure that consistently provide nice looking giants for fly fishing connoisseurs who are looking for more solitude. Whether you're just getting started with fly fishing, or if you're an experienced fly fisher, Chris will teach you techniques that will help you fish for your entire lifetime – book a guide trip for a day to remember on the famous San Juan River!


Check out some recent photos below.

Beautiful brown trout caught on the San Juan River – San Juan Fly Fishing Tips from Chris Gallegos, Fly Fishing Guide

Beautiful Brown Trout caught on the San Juan River, above.

Rainbow Trout on the San Juan River Fishing Tips from Chris Gallegos, Fly Fishing Guide

And here's a giant rainbow, what a catch!

"Thank you Chris had a great time will see you soon!" - Richard

Nice catch! Fly Fishing Guide on San Juan River - Rainbow Trout on the San Juan River Fishing Tips from Chris Gallegos, Fly Fishing Guide

"Thanks Chris for being such a great guide. Looking forward to the next trip." – David R.


Chris has five star reviews on Google for a reason, his experience and love for teaching allows for a judgement-free day on the river that will surely result in becoming an even better fisherman no matter what your skill level.


"Chris is all you can hope for in a fly fishing guide on the San Juan."


Chris has been guiding on the San Juan Fiver since 2012 and knows where all the big fish are. Of course, this world-class river is FULL of fish, but Chris can help get you setup so that you can cast the perfect pattern to catch those elusive beautiful Browns and Rainbow trout.

"During the last 20 years I have fished with three other good guides on the San Juan River. I met Chris Gallegos by chance a few years back when the guide that I was scheduled with didn't show and Chris took me out. It has definitively been my good fortune! Chris is the best!" – Robert O., Google Review


Chris has a ton of San Juan River fishing tips to get you into fish no matter what your experience level. He loves working with kids, women, men of all skill levels – his goal is to make you a better fly fisherman (or woman) by helping you improve your casting skills, learn how to read the water better, how to bring in giant fish successfully on 6x tippet, and share all the best tips that come with experience on the San Juan.


Hookup on the San Juan River - San Juan River Fishing Tips from Chris Gallegos, Fly Fishing Guide

"Chris took my teenage son and myself on a float trip on the San Juan, and we had the most amazing fishing experience ever! He immediately had us bringing in some of the largest trout we have ever caught. We clearly caught many more fish than all of the other boats we saw that day on the river. If all you expect in a guide is to catch some fish, then Chris will definitely deliver, but he will give you so much more than that. His goal is to make you a better fly fisherman by honing your casting skills, learning how to read the water better, learning how to bring in giant fish successfully on 6x tippet, and by sharing many of the pearls that he has learned over the years. It is evident that he has earned a reputation on the river of being the guide's guide, as witnessed by the many nods of respect from other guides as we pass by. The amount of detailed knowledge he possesses about fly fishing on the San Juan River is mind-blowing. He is an extremely patient teacher, giving advice in a calm and professional manner, never being overly critical. He is also a lot of fun, providing a lot of entertaining conversation on a wide variety of topics, and was able to easily relate to my teenager, which is not always an easy task. It is inspiring to learn from someone who is so dedicated and passionate about the sport, and so willing to share his knowledge to those who are eager to learn from the best. Thank you Chris for an amazing day on the river. We look forward to fishing with you again!" – John O., 5-star Google Review


Best Fly Fishing Guide  Tips for the San Juan River.jpg

Chris is all you can hope for in a fly fishing guide on the San Juan. He studies the river-- intensely – and has made it his goal to know how to explain it to the experienced, or like me, the inexperienced. I learned so much with him. I'm grateful for his sharing of his expertise. He explained it well for me, a total novice on only my second day of fly fishing ever. If I didn't understand, he explained it a new way. Professionally speaking, I am also a teacher, and I understand sometimes you need to explain or show things in new ways to communicate a new technique. He embodies this as he is a lifetime learner himself. I can't recommend Chris highly enough. He's the one. Look no further. Worth every penny!” – S H, Google Review


Giant Rainbow Trout caught on the San Juan - Best Fly Fishing Guide on the San Juan River.jpg

Chris's fly fishing guide trips include everything from lunch and rods to hand-tied flies and you'll learn the best San Juan River tips and techniques to help you be the best fisherman you can be!


Reach out today to talk about your fly fishing guide trip. Chris offers San Juan River guide float trips as well as on foot, whatever you prefer – he'll teach you how to be a better fisherman, and get you into some nice fish for a fun day on the river. Call Chris at 505.363.6658 or contact him online to get your guide trip scheduled.



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