The 7 Best US States for Fly Fishing

The 7 Best US States for Fly Fishing

For the passionate fly fisher or those simply seeking to discover America’s top spots for this activity, this article on 7 Best US States For Fly Fishing is an essential read. Our comprehensive guide will take you through some of the most beautiful and bountiful waters across America.

From Montana’s world-renowned trout fisheries to Alaska’s pristine wilderness teeming with salmon, we’ll introduce you to destinations that every fly angler should have on their bucket list. Discover why Colorado is home to some of the largest brown trout in North America and how Wyoming offers unparalleled access to wild cutthroat trout populations.

We’ll also delve into Idaho’s vast array of rivers and streams, perfect for catching rainbow and brook trout alike. Additionally, Oregon provides prime steelhead fishing opportunities while New Mexico boasts unique high desert landscapes filled with hungry trout waiting for your perfectly placed cast. Prepare yourself as we embark on a journey exploring these 7 Best US States For Fly Fishing!

1. Montana: The Best Fly Fishing State in the US

Montana is renowned for its pristine rivers and streams, making it one of the best states for fly fishing in the US. Anglers can find a plethora of chances to land trout, bass and other fish in the 3,000+ miles of rivers and streams.

The Big Sky Country’s Top Fly Fishing Destinations

  • Gallatin River: Known for its wild rainbow trout population and beautiful scenery from Yellowstone National Park to Bozeman.
  • Bighorn River: A tailwater fishery that offers consistent flows and abundant hatches year-round, providing excellent brown trout fishing.
  • Missouri River: One of Montana’s most famous blue-ribbon trout waters with a healthy population of rainbow and brown trout.
  • Ruby River: A smaller river offering great wade-fishing opportunities for anglers seeking large brown trout amidst stunning landscapes.

Fly Fishing Seasons in Montana

In general, the prime fly fishing season in Montana runs from late spring through early fall. However, each river has its own unique characteristics which may offer better or worse conditions depending on factors such as water temperature or insect hatches. For example, Yellowstone Angler suggests that some rivers like Gallatin are at their peak during June while others like Missouri might be more productive later into July or August. It’s always a good idea to research your target destination before planning your trip to ensure the best possible experience.

For those seeking the ultimate fly fishing experience, Montana is an ideal destination with its varied rivers and streams. Transitioning to Alaska now, let’s explore what makes this state an ideal spot for fly fishermen.

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2. Alaska: A Fly Fisherman’s Paradise

Alaska is a paradise for fly fishermen with its abundance of wild salmon and trout. The state offers an unparalleled fishing experience, thanks to its pristine waters, breathtaking landscapes, and diverse fish species. From the Kenai River to the Copper River, there are plenty of opportunities to catch some of the biggest fish in North America.

  • The Kenai River: Known for its world-record King Salmon, this river also boasts abundant runs of sockeye salmon, silver salmon, and rainbow trout. Anglers can enjoy guided trips or explore on their own using public access points along the river.
  • Copper River: Famous for its delicious red salmon (sockeye), this glacial-fed river provides anglers with excellent opportunities to catch not only sockeye but also king salmon and steelhead during various seasons throughout the year.
  • Bristol Bay Watershed: Home to one of the largest wild sockeye salmon populations in the world, Bristol Bay offers incredible fly fishing experiences targeting all five Pacific Salmon species as well as trophy-sized rainbow trout.
  • Kodiak Island: This remote island is known for its giant Kodiak brown bears and equally impressive fly fishing opportunities targeting steelhead, dolly varden char, pink & chum salmon in crystal-clear streams surrounded by lush greenery.

In addition to these popular spots, Alaska has countless other rivers and streams teeming with fish just waiting for your fly. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or new to the sport, Alaska’s fishing opportunities are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories and stories to share.

Fly fishing enthusiasts can revel in the natural splendor of Alaska’s rivers and streams, teeming with wild fish. Colorado also offers world-class trout fishing opportunities in some of the most beautiful settings imaginable.

3. Colorado: Home to World-Class Trout Fishing

Colorado offers remarkable trout fishing, making it a go-to spot for fly fishermen all over. With its high mountain lakes and fast-flowing rivers, anglers can find plenty of opportunities to catch rainbow, brown, cutthroat, and brook trout.

Fly Fishing Hotspots in Colorado

  • The Frying Pan River: This river is known for its large population of trophy-sized rainbow and brown trout.
  • Gunnison River: The Gunnison offers excellent dry-fly fishing for big browns and rainbows during the summer months.
  • South Platte River: Anglers can expect great year-round action on this tailwater fishery with healthy populations of wild brown and rainbow trout.
  • Rio Grande River: Known for its gold medal waters that are teeming with wild brown and rainbow trout throughout most of the year.

In addition to these famous spots, there are countless other lesser-known streams scattered across the state where you can experience amazing fly fishing adventures. One such hidden gem is the Yampa River near Steamboat Springs which boasts an impressive population of native cutthroat trout as well as migrating steelhead from nearby tributaries.

Besides incredible fishing opportunities, Colorado also offers breathtaking scenery that makes your time on the water even more enjoyable. From snow-capped peaks to lush green valleys, Colorado’s diverse landscape makes every trip out on the water a memorable experience.

Colorado offers extraordinary angling prospects, offering some of the premier trout fishing globally. Wyoming takes this experience to a whole new level with its unique and diverse fly-fishing opportunities.

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4. Wyoming: An Angler’s Dream Destination

Wyoming is an angler’s dream destination with its wide variety of fish species and stunning scenery. From Yellowstone National Park to Grand Teton National Park, there are plenty of places for fly fishermen to explore and cast their lines into some great waters.

Fly Fishing in Yellowstone National Park

Wyoming is the proud host of Yellowstone National Park, a haven for fly fishing that features over 200 miles of rivers and streams filled with trout. Native to the park are cutthroat, rainbow, brook and brown trout, all of which thrive in the area’s unique geothermal rivers. One popular spot within the park is the Firehole River, known for its unique geothermal features that create a perfect habitat for aquatic insects – making it a haven for hungry fish.

The Snake River in Grand Teton National Park

A trip to Wyoming would not be complete without visiting Grand Teton National Park where you can find excellent fishing opportunities on the Snake River. This river offers breathtaking views as well as prime spots for catching cutthroat trout and whitefish.

Other Notable Fly Fishing Locations in Wyoming

  • North Platte River: Known for its trophy-sized brown and rainbow trout.
  • Bighorn River: A tailwater fishery providing consistent flows throughout the year, ideal conditions for large populations of healthy trout.
  • Gros Ventre River: A smaller stream located near Jackson Hole which boasts beautiful scenery along with fantastic dry-fly fishing opportunities.

With its diverse landscape and abundance of fish species, Wyoming is a must-visit destination for any fly fishing enthusiast.

Wyoming is an angler’s paradise, with its plentiful waterways stocked to the brim with trout just waiting for a line. Idaho also offers a great opportunity for fly fishing enthusiasts, boasting numerous rivers and lakes teeming with fish species that will excite any fisherman.

5. Idaho: A Haven for Trout Fishermen

Idaho is a haven for trout fishermen with its abundance of wild rainbow trout and cutthroat trout in many rivers and streams throughout the state. From small creeks to large reservoirs, anglers can discover numerous spots for successful fishing expeditions.

The Henry’s Fork River

The Henry’s Fork River, a tributary of the Snake River, offers some of the best fly fishing opportunities in Idaho. Known for its crystal-clear waters and healthy populations of rainbow and brown trout, this river is perfect for both experienced anglers and beginners alike.

Silver Creek Preserve

Silver Creek Preserve, managed by The Nature Conservancy, is another popular destination among fly fishermen due to its spring-fed waters that provide ideal conditions for catching trophy-sized rainbow and brown trout.

Owyhee River Canyonlands

If you’re looking to catch native red band rainbow trout or big brownies, then head over to the remote Owyhee River Canyonlands. This desert oasis offers incredible scenery along with outstanding fly fishing experiences.

  • Fly Fishing Season: The prime fly fishing season in Idaho typically runs from May through October, with the best hatches occurring during late spring and early summer.
  • License Requirements: To fish in Idaho, you’ll need a valid Idaho fishing license, which can be purchased online or at various retailers throughout the state.

In addition to its excellent trout fishing opportunities, Idaho also offers anglers chances to catch other species like bass, salmon, and sturgeon. So pack your gear and head out west for an unforgettable fly fishing adventure.

Idaho is a great place for trout fishermen, with its numerous rivers and streams offering an abundance of opportunities. Oregon stands out as a premier destination for steelhead anglers, with its numerous lakes and coastal waters offering plenty of chances to catch these fish.

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6. Oregon: A Prime Spot For Steelhead Fishing

Oregon is a prime spot for steelhead fishing, with its abundance of wild steelhead in many rivers throughout the state. These hard-fighting fish provide anglers with an exhilarating experience, making it a popular destination for fly fishermen from all over the world.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife provides useful resources for anglers, such as the best locations to find steelhead and advice on how to catch them. Some of the top rivers for steelhead fishing in Oregon include:

  • Deschutes River: Known for its summer and winter runs of both hatchery and wild steelhead.
  • North Coast Rivers: The Wilson, Trask, Nestucca, and Nehalem Rivers offer excellent opportunities during winter months.
  • Rogue River: Home to one of the largest populations of summer-run steelheads in North America.
  • Columbia River Tributaries: Many tributaries like Hood River, Klickitat River (Washington), Sandy River, and Clackamas River offer great chances at catching these prized fish.

When planning your Oregon steelhead fishing adventure, make sure to check local regulations and obtain the necessary licenses. Prepare yourself and you’ll be ready to enjoy some of the top-notch steelhead angling in America.

Oregon is a prime destination for those in pursuit of steelhead, offering plenty of chances to snag this prized species. Moving on from Oregon, New Mexico offers an excellent trout fishing experience with its many rivers and streams.

7 Best US States For Fly Fishing

New Mexico is a fantastic destination for fly fishermen looking to catch big trout, as well as smaller species like bluegill and crappie in the many rivers throughout the state. With its diverse landscape ranging from mountains to deserts, there are plenty of locations where anglers can find success on their next fishing trip.

The San Juan River: A Premier Fly Fishing Destination

The San Juan River is a premier destination for fly fishing, with its ample population of rainbow and brown trout. This river offers excellent year-round opportunities for anglers due to its consistent water temperatures and rich aquatic life.

Pecos River: Scenic Beauty Meets Exceptional Fishing

The Pecos River is another great spot for catching trout in New Mexico. Flowing through picturesque canyons and lush forests, this river provides both stunning scenery and exceptional fishing opportunities with healthy populations of rainbow, brown, and native Rio Grande cutthroat trout.

Gila National Forest: An Undiscovered Gem For Anglers

If you’re searching for a more remote location to cast your line, look no further than Gila National Forest. Home to several pristine streams teeming with wild Gila trout – a rare species found only in this region – it’s truly an undiscovered gem that adventurous anglers will love.

New Mexico is just one of the many states in the United States that offers incredible fly fishing opportunities. Here are six more states that should be on every fly angler’s bucket list:

1. Colorado: The Trout Capital of the US

Colorado is home to some of the most beautiful rivers in the entire United States, including the Colorado River, the San Juan River, and the Arkansas River. With a variety of fishable water, from high alpine lakes to spring creeks, Colorado is a fly fisher’s paradise. Anglers can expect to find brown trout, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and even large brown trout in these waters.

2. Florida: Saltwater Fly Fishing Heaven

While most fly fishing enthusiasts think of freshwater when they think of fly fishing, Florida offers some of the best saltwater fly fishing opportunities in the world. From the Florida Keys to the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll find salmon, tarpon, bonefish, and many other species that will put your fly rod to the test.

3. North Carolina: A Hidden Gem for Trout Fishing

North Carolina is home to some of the most beautiful rivers in the eastern United States, including the White River, the Missouri River, and the North Platte River. These rivers offer excellent fishing opportunities for brown trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout, and are often overlooked by fly fishers in favor of more well-known destinations.

4. Wyoming: The Land of Large Trout

Wyoming is home to some of the largest trout fisheries in the United States, including the Green River, the Bighorn River, and the North Platte River. These rivers are known for their large brown trout and rainbow trout, and offer excellent fishing opportunities for fly fishers of all skill levels.

5. Pennsylvania: A Fly Fishing Mecca

Pennsylvania is home to some of the most famous trout streams in the world, including Penn’s Creek, Spring Creek, and Yellow Breeches Creek. These streams are known for their large populations of wild trout and are a must-visit destination for any serious fly angler.

6. Oregon: The Deschutes River

The Deschutes River in Oregon is one of the most famous fly fishing destinations in the United States, and for good reason. This river is home to large rainbow trout and steelhead and offers excellent fishing opportunities for fly fishers in the early spring and summer months.

With so many beautiful rivers and fishing opportunities throughout the United States, it’s no wonder that fly fishing has become such a popular pastime. Whether you’re a seasoned fly fisher or just starting out, there’s no shortage of incredible destinations to explore.

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FAQs 7 Best Us States for Fly Fishing

Which US state has the best fly fishing?

The Big Sky State offers diverse opportunities for anglers to catch various species of fish such as rainbow, brown, cutthroat, and brook trout. Some popular destinations include the Yellowstone River, Missouri River, and Bighorn River.

Where is the fly fishing capital of the United States?

The town of West Yellowstone, Montana is often referred to as the fly fishing capital of the United States due to its proximity to world-class fisheries like Madison River, Gallatin River, Henry’s Fork, and Yellowstone National Park.

What is the #1 trout river in the US?

The Madison River, located in Montana near the West Yellowstone town borders Idaho state line, is widely regarded as one of America’s top trout rivers. It boasts a healthy population of brown and rainbow trout that attract anglers from all over.

What is the trout capital of the United States?

Cotter, a small city in Arkansas along White River, is known for its excellent year-round tailwater fishery which supports large numbers of rainbow, brown, cutthroat, and brook trout, making it an ideal destination for avid anglers seeking trophy-sized catches. Its nickname “Trout Capital USA” reflects this reputation.


From the mountains of Montana to the deserts of New Mexico, America is blessed with some of the finest fly fishing spots in existence. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, these seven states offer plenty of opportunities to catch trout, steelhead, and other fish species.

For those seeking to witness stunning vistas and unforgettable fishing encounters, consider adding one or more of these locales to your must-see list. With so many beautiful rivers and streams to explore, there’s no better time than now to plan your next fly-fishing adventure!

Ready to start planning your trip? Check out SunWaterDirt, an outdoor adventure company that specializes in guided fly fishing trips throughout Colorado. Book your trip today and experience firsthand why Colorado is considered one of the top fly fishing destinations in the country!

  • Montana: Known as the “Capital of Fly Fishing,” Montana is home to some of the best fly fishing rivers in the world. The state is particularly famous for its brown trout, which can be found in abundance in the Madison, Yellowstone, and Missouri Rivers.
  • Colorado: With over 6,000 miles of streams and rivers, Colorado is a paradise for fly anglers. The state is home to a variety of fish species, including rainbow trout, brown trout, and cutthroat trout. The Arkansas River and the South Platte River are two of the most popular fly fishing destinations in the state.
  • Alaska: If you’re looking for a truly unique fly fishing experience, head to Alaska. The state is home to some of the largest salmon and trout in the world, including the famous rainbow trout of the Kenai River.
  • Idaho: Idaho is a hidden gem for fly fishing enthusiasts. The state is home to over 3,000 miles of rivers and streams, including the Henry’s Fork and the Snake River. Brown trout and rainbow trout are the most common fish species found in Idaho’s waters.
  • Wyoming: Wyoming is home to some of the most beautiful rivers in the country, including the Snake River and the North Platte River. The state is particularly famous for its cutthroat trout, which can be found in abundance in many of its rivers and streams.
  • Oregon: Oregon is a fly fishing paradise, with over 300 miles of coastline and countless rivers and streams to explore. The state is particularly famous for its steelhead, which can be found in many of its coastal rivers.
  • New Mexico: New Mexico may not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of fly fishing, but it’s home to some of the best trout fishing in the country. The San Juan River is particularly famous for its large brown and rainbow trout.

With so many amazing fly fishing destinations to choose from, it’s hard to go wrong. Whether you’re looking to catch brown trout, steelhead, or any other fish species, these seven states offer some of the best fly fishing experiences in the world.

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