Little Cottonwood Canyon is a more rugged canyon than her bigger sister. The drop in elevation is steeper than in Big Cottonwood Canyon and the creek itself flows fast and hard. Flowing over large granite boulders, fishing this creek is a juggling act of rock crawling and fly fishing.
Getting to Little Cottonwood Canyon is fairly simple, follow the signs for the ski resorts. You'll want to take I-215 towards the East Bench, or South if you're already on the East Bench. Take the 6100 South Exit, #6, and head South, make sure that you don’t take the right-most turn lane as that is a forced turn that takes you through the business district of Cottonwood Heights, but you can still get to the Little Cottonwood Canyon from there (just follow the signs for the ski resorts). After about 4 miles you'll come to a fork in the road, take the fork to the left and you'll be in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Little Cottonwood Canyon is beautiful in its domineering strength. Lined with cottonwoods, pines, willows and granite protrusions, it's a creek that needs to be respected. Little Cottonwood Creek has been known to take the life of careless recreational enthusiast. It cannot be emphasized enough that some of the stretches of the creek should be approached with extreme caution. This pristine example, though, of nature still reigning dominant over man is one reason this canyon is so popular with the teeming urbanites.
Along the creek there are numerous obstacles to overcome depending on where you choose to fish. In most stretches of the creek you'll run into vegetation that makes it more than difficult to back cast and overhanging tree limbs make you wish you wouldn't have tried to set the hook on the rock that grabbed your nymph. In other stretches it is narrow corridors of rock walls that make casting difficult.
Little Cottonwood Canyon, as pristine as it appears, harbors a dark secret that has yet to be resolved. Like it's neighboring canyons, and others just like it across the nation and world, Little Cottonwood Canyon was mined for the rare ore that was found there. The water still runs polluted from the mine tailings and the creek is considered a put and take fishery for the State DWR. We would never suggest keeping any fish from this water! There are very fish in the water and catching them can be difficult. While we've caught fish on most every trip we've taken to this canyon, we've never met our self imposed "Rule of Three."
In the pocketwater it's more about presentation and making sure everything looks right and less about which fly you choose. Standard midge, mayfly, and caddis patterns work well, with the occasional stonefly. In the summer and fall try some terrestrials. Our most productive setup has been a hopper-dropper with a standard, generic nymph about 18" from the hopper.
No more than thirty minutes from anywhere in the Salt Lake Valley, Little Cottonwood Creek is a welcomed reprieve from the bustle of the city. Even though the canyon itself is heavily used, you are more than likely the only fisherman that you’ll see. As always, Good Luck and Guid Luck!!