Letort Spring Run Fly Fishing Guiding and Instruction

Carlisle PA

Fly Fishing

The Letort Spring Run which runs through Carlisle Pennsylvania along with Big Spring, Falling Spring, and pLetort Brown Trout Coming to the Neterhaps Cedar Run is part of the legendary beginnings of fly fishing in America. Many of the theories and fly patterns that are now accepted in the fly fishing world came from these streams especially the Letort. This was the proving ground for the selective trout and the patterns that were developed to catch these fish. Perhaps no stream trout in America are as spooky as those on the Letort. At one time this stream produced some massive fish but like the other spring creeks in Pennsylvania has succumbed to pesticides from cress farms, development and urbanization. You can still catch some large fish on the stream but the stream has changed and its hatches which are still present in some areas there have dwindled. It got so bad that the my legendary friend the late Charlie Fox lamented that the fish wouldn't rise much anymore because of the decline of the Sulfurs. In fact, later in life Charlie didn't fly fish but chose to go after muskie on top water plugs which he designed. (Photo of a Letort Brown coming to the net over the cress; ©2007 E. Macri/Jack Hunter).

How good is the Letort today? The Letort is still a decent spring creek to fish. Locals know where and when the heaviest hatches still come off. If you are not a very accomplished fly fisherman please stay away from fishing the Letort. Perhaps it would be best especially in the upper section to go there with a pair of binoculars and maybe just oVince Marinaro on the Letort Spring in Carlisle PAbserve the stream and the fish. Learn how the fish behave; learn what spooks them; learn how close you can get to he fish. The Letort is inhabited by some of the smartest and wariest brown trout on the planet. A novice on the Letort with bad wading or a few bad casts can put the fish down in an area for the entire day! To fish and cast on this spring creek is considered a nightmare by most. There are trees and bushes behind you; there beds of cress in the middle of and sides of the stream. And the fish of course are in the most difficult lies. You should be a very accurate caster to begin with. If you are not you will probably have little success. The Letort has an unbelievable subtle currents to cause drag. To be consistent on the Letort you must be good at fishing small nymphs, midges, and streamers. If you get them to come up consistently or if you are in a stretch where there is a decent hatch you must take advantage of it. Cress bugs and scuds fished deep will still take fish on the stream if you don't spook them. You must plan your attack first. You must know how you will land the fish even before you start because the clutter of vegetation, trees, bushes, and muddy conditions will work against you. Many fly angler fish the open water on the lower Letort these days. The stream has a periodic trico hatch in sections. I fished this section many times with Vince Marinaro and always gave him a good cigar which he enjoyed. (Photo above shows Vince Marinaro on the Letort; circa early 1960's; ©2007 E. Macri/Irv Swope).


Directions to the Letort

Get off of I 81 at South Hanover St Exit. Head towards Mt. Holly Pa and turn left on Bonny Brook Rd. The headwaters of the Letort start above the bridge. Below is a highway map.

Highway Map to the Letort


Letort Spring Run Evaluation

Score 2.7


Overall Ecological Condition: 2.4 out of 5

Fishery: 2.9 out of 5

Hatches: 2.6 out of 5

Fly Fishing Pressure: 3.5 out of 5 (higher number is better because it means less anglers)

Fly Anglers' Success Ratio 2.0 out of 5 (note this refers to a skilled fly angler)

Overall score 2.7 out of 5

Letort Notes

If it's a bright sunny day and you are thinking of fishing the Letort head for the nearest bar for bourbon and water or a good cold beer because you'll probably catch as many trout in that bar as you will on the Letort. Perhaps it's one of the unfortunate consequences of global warming but there are so many bright cloudless days that make the Letort unfishable. However, if it's a cloudy or overcast day get to the Letort. This will be your best chance. In fact, I always like to fish it right before a storm! You can fish the Letort any day right before daybreak into the first hour using the techniques of Ed Shenk of streamers and sculpin patterns. The same will work on open water after dark. The fish are tough and you must be too to catch them. Sulfur nymphs and pheasant tail nymphs are very productive for trout on stations.

You may use these articles. You can store them. You can read them. You may not change, republish, sell or redistribute these articles in anyway for any monetary gain. You may not add them to your collection and sell them etc. These articles are copyrighted and we will strictly enforce the copyright.
© 2009 E. P. Macri Jr.


What Flies Should You Carry on These Streams?



Late August to Late September

Limestoner Stream Reports: Pod Casts

Big Spring Creek

Falling Spring Run


Yellow Breeches Creek   


Letort Spring Run

Green Spring