New Mexico Game & Fish: Fly Fishing Tips From Locals

Justin Moquino with one of 12 trout he caught and released using flies at Canjilon Lakes. Courtesy/NLG&F

NMG&F News:

In this week’s New Mexico fish stocking report, Dustin shares more fly fishing and other tips from local anglers.

Fly Fishing with Justin Moquino

I have known and fished with Justin and his family for several years. They are great people and avid anglers. Justin wanted to share some tips and tricks with his fellow anglers, and I felt obliged to share his story with you:

Hi, I am Justin Moquino. I am 8-years-old and from Albuquerque. I started fishing when I was 8-months-old, after I learned how to walk. Fishing is so important to me because it is something I do with my dad and it teaches me patience and perseverance. I love to fish streams because they are a big challenge for me.

Two years ago, I learned how to fly fish and now it is my favorite way to fish. When I was trying to complete my New Mexico Trout Challenge, I fished Willow Creek in the Gila National Forest. It was very challenging because the water level was extremely low and the creek was very narrow. I did not get discouraged. I changed my way of fly fishing by getting really close and sneaking up on the fish. I noticed there were a lot of tiny flies and mosquitos on the water, so I decided to change the fly.

It took me a while, but I did manage to catch two Gila trout finishing my New Mexico Trout Challenge and earning my patch. There is a dam on Willow Creek that prevents non-native fish from migrating to the headwaters. It was really cool to see the dam, and it also made it easier to find and catch a Gila trout. I did not keep any of the Gila trout that I caught. I made sure to release them so that others can catch these cool fish. I find it is easier to catch and release when I fly fish because I use tiny hooks.

I like to fish with a Joe’s Hopper fly when I am fishing a stream during the summer. To use this type of fly, I fish close to the bank around undercuts and in deeper pools.

One of my favorite ways to fly fish is with a casting bubble. I put a bubble on first and then tie on a swivel. Next, I tie on a four-foot leader on a four-pound test line. I use a short leader because I am small. My dad uses a longer leader fishing the same way. I cast out as far as I can and reel it in really slow. This type of set up works best in lakes.   

Dropshot fishing hack

Brandon Marshall of Las Cruces shares with us a perfect dropshot rig that he learned from an Arizona angler.

Instead of always having a set leader length, like on most dropshot rigs, Brandon can adjust his at any time while also preventing tangles.

  1. First, take a bobber stopper and puts it onto his fishing line.
  2. Next, slide a hook onto the line while making sure that the hook is facing up.
  3. Then place another bobber stopper onto the fishing line below the hook.
  4. Lastly, simply tie on a teardrop weight to the end of the fishing line.

With this rig, the hook stays at your desired depth. By sliding the hook and bobber stops up or down on your line, you can easily change the depth of your hook. When a fish bites, the fish and hook slide down the fishing line to the weight, preventing tangles.

Note: make sure the bobber stoppers you use are rated for the pound test line you are using so that the stoppers are not too loose or too tight on your line.

Brandon has had success with this rig at Trees Lake in Deming and Elephant Butte Lake. He likes to use Robo worms for largemouth bass and plastic minnows for white bass.

It is so easy and makes so much sense. Thanks for the tip, Brandon!

Four-year-old Lilly May Lovato reminds us that catching fish does not have to be so complicated. She loves to fish with her Mickey Mouse fishing rod at Eagle Nest Lake. With just her rod, a jar of PowerBait and a few hooks and weights, Lilly is ready to go. What she really likes is how beautiful it is at the lake and being surrounded by nature. She reminds us that it does not always take the most expensive gear or experienced angler to enjoy a great day outdoors with family.

Any anglers willing to share their experiences, techniques or tackle, please contribute by emailing Dustin at