Across the United States, fly fishing is growing. Due to the lockdown, people have been searching for new hobbies and fly fishing has seen a massive increase as a result. Once the fly fishing gear is purchased, the next step is to choose where to fish.
Believe it or not, no matter where you are in the United States you have wonderful access to some great water. With a little research and extra effort you can have yourself a wonderful day on the water exploring the best past time in the world.
Hi, David here the guy behind this website. I’d love to invite you to learn more about fly fishing. Sign-up below and attend a video workshop and workbook teaching how to setup a fly rod for dry fly fishing.
Here is a list of the 31 best places to fly fish in the United States.
1. Madison River, MT – Legendary Fly Fishing
The Madison River in Montana is one of the best fly fishing rivers in the entire world. Anglers from the area often refer to it as the 50 Mile Riffle. There are wonderful hatches, large fish and ample water to explore. The portions below Quake Lake as well as Hebgen Lake are always guaranteed to be filled with fish.
Another great place to access the Madison is within Bear Trap Canyon. It’s a difficult portion of the river to access, but it’s less pressured so you’ll have more success in landing some of those trophy rainbow and brown trout. Pay attention to the caddis and spinner hatches in the evenings! They’re unreal.
Map of Where to Fly Fish on the Madison River
Madison River Lodging, Guides and Gear
- Madison Valley Ranch– one stop shop for all things fly fishing on the Madison.
- Madison River Fishing Company- Great local knowledge on Montana rivers.
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Fly Selection for the Madison River
Go with some classic flies like a:
- Rubber Legged Stone, those legs seem to draw in trout.
- Prince Nymph, get the beadhead version.
- Salmon flies are the most important thing to have in your box!
- A Stimulator pattern like a Madam X.
2. Yellowstone River, MT – Big Water for Flies
The Yellowstone is one of the more intimidating rivers in the United States. The strong current and massive amount of water make it a difficult spot to fish for the novice fly angler. If it’s your first time on the Yellowstone, I would recommend hiring a guide.
You’ll find cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout in the Yellowstone. Be equipped with some larger streamers as well as a fair share of salmon flies as well as terrestrial flies. Don’t be afraid to switch up your tactics. If possible, fish the Yellowstone from a boat. It’s going to provide the best access and lead to the most fish.
Access the Yellowstone anywhere in Paradise Valley and you’ll have yourself a field day. Between Gardiner and Livingston is going to have a massive amount of fish for you to catch.
Yellowstone River Lodging and Guides
- Yellowstone Valley Lodge– Beautiful lodge located in Paradise Valley.
- Sweetwater Fly Shop– Exceptional fly selection and wonderful guided trips.
Flies and Gear for the Yellowstone River
Pay attention to the Caddis, Salmonfly and BWO hatches. Those flies always work! Bring your 6 weight fly rod with a floating weigh forward line.
3. Boulder River, MT – Low Pressure Fly Fishing
The Boulder River is one of the lesser known rivers all across Montana. It starts near the Beartooth Mountains and flows out of the Yellowstone River. It’s filled with wonderful pockets, riffles as well as pools. Access can be somewhat challenging, but the minimal pressure makes it well worth it.
You can access the Boulder near the Natural Bridge in Big Timber and wade all the way down to Two-Mile Bridge. Be careful that the runoff isn’t too strong before you begin wading. You’ll find yourself with some nice rainbow and brown trout on your line.
Nymphing the banks and pockets is going to lead to the most fish. It requires quite a bit of hard work, but you’ll find yourself in some amazing landscape landing impressive fish.
Boulder River Lodging, Guides and Gear
- Boulder River Outpost– Perfect place to visit when looking to fish the Boulder River.
- Sweetcast Angler– The Sweetcast Angler has everything you need for a successful day on the Boulder.
Flies and Gear for the Boulder River
Proven flies are best for the Boulder River, Pheasant Tail and Prince Nymphs are going to work wonders on the Boulder! Fast water filled with pockets means that drifting a nymph with a longer fly rod is best. A 4 weight 10 foot is perfect. Trout will spit a fly fast so strike often whenever you see or feel a change in your drift.
4. Missouri River, MT – 1000’s of Fish/Mile
No Montana list is complete without the mention of the Missouri River. It’s the fourth largest river in the world and the portion between Holter Dam and Pelican Point is downright mind boggling. There are over 4,000 fish per mile and the amount of insects will help you quickly realize why the Missouri is worth your time.
Up until the 4th of July, you’ll find the fishing to improve. As the summer heat begins to increase, fishing can slow down, but it’s always going to be worth your time. Be sure that you have your 6-weight with you. The average fish in the Missouri is right around 17 inches and they often climb over 20 inches.
The Missouri can be waded, but the most success is going to come from a float trip.
Missouri River Lodging, Guides and Gear
- The Missouri River Lodge is going to be a wonderful place to visit on your next adventure.
- The Trout Shop has everything you would need for a day on the Missouri.
Heavier flies for the mid-mornings and late afternoons and get ready for the Spinner hatches in the evenings. Favorite flies include:
- Beadhead Hare’s Ear Nymphs – Try to find the flashback version in size 14.
- Sow bugs are always great in a tailwater like the Missouri River.
- Zebra Midges, lately I’m liking the tungsten jig heads.
A popular quote is “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Give a man a fly rod and he’ll move to Montana” If your looking for more maps, fly recommendations and gear, check out my article – 21 Best Places to Fly Fish in Montana (Maps Included)
5. Bighorn River, WY – Wade or Float
The Bighorn River flows between Montana and Wyoming, but the far more popular portion is in Montana. There is, however, a stretch near Thermopolis, WY that is rarely fished and filled with quite a few trout. You’ll find populations of both brown, cutthroat and rainbow trout in the waters.
Access from the town of Thermopolis is fairly easy to find and well worth your time. This river can be both waded and floated, but the most success is going to be floating. You’ll want to bring your 6-weight and fish the variety of seams, pockets and pools. There is a nice amount of Drake, BWO, PMD and Trico hatches on the river to keep you busy.
Also, the terrestrial hatches come late July through early September are amazing. Late morning and early evening are going to be the prime time for terrestrials. Be sure to spend some time in the Wind River Canyon as well!
Bighorn River Lodging, Guides and Gear
- Bighorn River Outfitters– Lodging, gear and guided trips are all offered at the Bighorn River Outfitters.
- Bighorn Trout Shop– These guys have everything you need for a successful day on the Bighorn.
Gear- A variety of flies are going to be needed! Pay attention to the hatch chart. PMD’s, BWO’s and Midge flies will always work.
6. North Platte River, WY – Double Digit Catches
The North Platte River is extremely well known and heavily fished in Colorado, but the Wyoming portion is relatively untouched and a great spot to fish. The Grey Reef portion of the river is one of the best rainbow trout fisheries in all of the United States. There are roughly 8,000 fish per mile, but quite a bit of it is privately owned.
With all the private land on the North Platte, check out the section managed for fishing by the Bureau of Land Management. Website https://www.blm.gov/visit/north-platte-river
Many compare this fishery to the San Juan and Bighorn rivers. You don’t have to travel far to hook into a double digit rainbow. Be sure that you’re well equipped with Clouser Minnows, Wooly Buggers as well as a variety of dries. BWO’s, Spinners and Tricos are all going to work well.
Be prepared to fish riffles, pocket water as well as some nice pools.
North Platte River Lodging, Guides and Gear
- North Platte Lodge– The North Platte Lodge offers great access to the Grey Reef section of the Bighorn.
- North Platte River Fly Shop– You won’t need to go anywhere else to prepare for your time on the North Platte River.
If you’re looking for a great fly selection. Read this article – 21 Best Flies for the Beginner
Fly Fishing Gear- Be sure to have your 6-weight on hand and disc drag on your reel. These fish are strong and will give you a run for your money.
7. North Tongue River, WY
The North Tongue River is one of the prettiest fly fishing rivers in the entire country. It flows throughout the Bighorn Mountains and is filled with massive brown and rainbow trout. There are phenomenal pools, riffles and pockets throughout the Tongue.
The portion just north of Burgess Junction is going to be the most accessible as well as the best fishing. There are numerous access points and since it is all national forest land you won’t have any trouble with land ownership rules.
North Tongue River Lodging, Guides and Gear
Fly Shop of the Bighorns– Located in Sheridan, they offer guided trips as well as ample information on how the surrounding waters are fishing.
Gear- You’ll want your 4 or 5-weight when fishing on the North Tongue. It’s tight and technical, but the fish are large.
Wyoming is a fly fishing destination state. 100’s of rivers and great access. The trouble can be narrowing down where to cast a rod. Check out my article 15 Places to Fly Fish in Wyoming.
8. South Platte River, CO
The South Platte River is one of the most famous rivers on this list. This river has nearly 3,000 fish per mile and many are upwards of 18-20 inches. Most people spend their time in the Cheeseman Canyon and the fish are much more picky as a result.
If fly fishing in Colorado, you’ve got to plan it out. Find more spots to fish, in my article Best Places to Fly Fish in Colorado (with Maps) The South Platte can get crowded and can run high in the spring and having an alternate place is recommended.
If you’re looking for a bit more privacy, spend your time outside of the canyon and fish the 15 miles or so that will eventually connect to the South Platte River. This river can be both wade fished as well as floated, but floating is always going to provide more access and more chances at a trophy fish. If you visit this river in the late fall and throughout the winter you’ll likely have it to yourself.
South Platte River Lodging, Guides, Gear
- North Fork Ranch– The North Fork Ranch on the South Platte River has all inclusive packages perfect for your next outing.
- South Platte Fly Shop– The fly shop offers guided trips and has all of the gear you could need for a day on the South Platte.
Gear- Be sure to use your 5 or 6-weight along with a nice variety of BWOs, PMDs as well as Caddis flies.
9. Yampa River, CO
The Yampa River offers a true western fly fishing experience. You’ll be spending your time in the midst of beautiful forests, clear water and trophy fish. You’re able to fish this river throughout the town of Yampa as well as Steamboat Springs. It’s one of the more accessible rivers in Colorado.
This river will flow nicely throughout the year so the season never has to end! There are nice populations of rainbow and brown trout throughout the waters. Be sure you pack Trico, midge as well as Golden Stone flies. These are the main hatches and life is quite exciting on the Yampa when insects are hatching!
Yampa River Lodging and Fly Shops
- Steamboat Fly Fisher– These guides offer wonderful insight on the Yampa River as well as many other rivers in Northwestern Colorado.
- Bucking Rainbow Outfitters– This is another great option for equipment as well as guided trips.
- Elk River Guest Ranch – Is a great for fly fishers and mountain bikers.
- If you like camping the State of Colorado has camping. Read more here: https://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/YampaRiver
Be sure to read Where to Fly Fish in Colorado Springs, great lodging, rivers and people.
10. Snake River, ID
The Snake River in Idaho is one of the best fisheries in all of the United States. The population of Wild Cutthroat trout is something anglers from all over the world target. You’ll also catch brown as well as rainbow trout in the waters.
Fishing below the Palisades reservoir all the way to Henry’s Fork is solid. You can’t go wrong with any of the access points along the way. You’ll want to float this river if at all possible. It’s wide and there are a variety of necessary stretches of water to cover.
These fish are often found upwards of 20 inches through a variety of portions of the river. Be sure to target the seams, riffles and pools throughout the 60 miles. You rarely have to worry about overcrowding so enjoy the opportunity to fish some of the most beautiful water in the world in seclusion.
Snake River Lodging, Guides and Gear
Pack a 5 or 6-weight with salmon flies, PMD’s as well as heavier streamers is necessary.
- Lodge at Palisades Creek– This lodge is perfect for your next adventure to the Snake River. All-inclusive packages are available for a variety of stays.
- Snake River Fly– These gentlemen have all the information you need to fish the Snake.
11. Salmon River, ID
The Salmon River is one of the most unique fisheries in the world. The Steelhead and Salmon travel upwards of 800 miles to the river to spawn. Trying your hand at catching one of these is an opportunity that should be cherished.
You’ll also find a nice population of Cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout throughout the Salmon River. Fish anywhere in Lehmi County and you’ll find quite a few fish. If you’re targeting the Salmon and Steelehead, be sure you bring your 7 or 8-weight to handle their power.
If you’re just after trout, you’ll be fine with your 5 or 6-weight.
Salmon River Lodging, Fly Shops and Guides
- China Bar Lodge– This lodge offers a unique stay and the opportunity to land some impressive fish.
- Salmon River Fly Box– This fly shop has a nice amount of region specific flies and opportunities for guided trips.
I think of Idaho as a “fly fishing secret”. Surrounded by those famous fly fishing states like Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. Idaho gets overlooked, which is great for people in the know. Find less crowds and excellent dry fly water in my article: 11 Best Places to Fly Fish in Idaho.
12. Kenai River, AK – Take Heavy Duty Gear!
For any fly angler, Alaska is a must visit. It can be intimidating to tackle on your own so I would highly recommend hiring a guide to help you on your excursion. You can catch rainbow and brown trout, but the salmon and Steelhead fishing are what make the Kenai special. These massive fish make a return every year and are amazing to catch.
Be sure to hire a guide to take you through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Your time on the boat will be spent landing fish, but also offer amazing opportunities to view wildlife and the amazing scenery.
Be sure you bring your 8 to 10-weight fly rods. These are going to be able to withstand the massive amount of power of the fish. Flies are going to vary depending on where you fish. Be sure to get in touch with local fly shops or speak with your guide before you make fly decisions.
Kenai River Lodging and Guides
- Kenai River Trout Anglers– The Kenai River Trout Anglers are some of the most well-known guides on the river. The decades of expertise are well worth the money.
- Kenai River Fly Fishing– This is another solid option for anyone looking to fish with experienced guides on specially reserved water.
13. Russian River, AK
The Russian River is a bit more accessible than the Kenai. The conditions aren’t as difficult to maneuver and it offers more family friendly opportunities to land some of the Steelhead and salmon. The majority of this river is fly fishing only so you’ll have to work a little harder to attract these fish.
You’ll find these fish spending time in the slower and deep water. You may have to cross the stream multiple times throughout your day of fishing to reach the most successful spots. It’s a challenging river to fish, but it’s extremely beautiful and there are impressive numbers of fish.
Russian River Lodging, Guides and Gear
Kenai Cache Outfitters– These guides offer trips on both the Kenai and Russian Rivers. They have all of the gear and knowledge you need to land some of these fish.
Gear/Info- The Russian River receives a salmon run starting in early June and a larger one in mid-July. Both of these are great opportunities to land Sockeye salmon. The limit is three per day.
Alaska is filled with fishing opportunities. As a fly fisher you can get to see what the rivers, and landscape looked like before urbanization. Find more information in my article 15 Best Places to fly fish in Alaska.
14. Green River, UT – Thousands of Trout/Mile
The Green River has some of the best fishing in the entire United States. The three sections below the Flaming Gorge Dam are extremely productive and filled with healthy fish. There are rumored to be over 8,000 fish per mile in these portions of the river.
It’s filled with brown, rainbow, Cutthroat and Cut-Bow trout. The river is both able to be fished from shore as well as floated. Floating Section A and B is what is going to put you on the most fish. If possible, hire a guide. They’ll show you the true wonders of the Green River!
Green River Lodging and Guides
- Flaming Gorge Resort– Flaming Gorge Resort will provide you all-inclusive packages and put you on some amazing fish.
- Western Rivers Flyfisher Guides and Shuttle Service– Here, you’ll have ample access to flies, rods and guided trips!
15. Weber River, UT
The Weber River is a lesser known river in Utah. The Green River draws the majority of the attention so the Weber is a great place to visit for some seclusion. Fish upwards of the Rockport Reservoir in the spring and you’ll find some massive rainbows. You can also catch impressive browns as well.
The middle and lower sections of the Weber also hold quite a few fish and quite a bit of the river flows through National Forest so public access is solid. Bring Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis and Chernobyls with you when fishing the Weber.
Weber River Lodging, Guides and Gear
Fly Fishing Gear – Bring your 5-weight, floating and weight forward line along with 5x tippet for the days the water is clear! Felt bottom wading boots are nice, the Weber River is slippery. Pack for a long day if you’re wading, walking a little bit farther than most will get you to fishy water.
- Utah Fly Guides– These guides are a great option for your next trip to the Weber.
- Park City Outfitters– This service is another smart choice when planning your trip to the Weber.
16. Logan River, UT
The Logan River is considered a Blue Ribbon trout stream. It has pockets, riffles and beautiful pools. Located in northern Utah, this river is in some of the prettiest landscape in the west. You’ll catch brown, rainbow, brook as well as cutthroat trout throughout the river.
The water between three dams on the Lower Logan near Cutler Reservoir are well worth your time. These are filled with fish. You can keep working your way north as well towards the Idaho border and find your seclusion.
Logan River Lodging, Guides and Gear
The Logan river is fun with a little bit lighter equipment. Grab your 4-5 weight and cast a light tippet to these wild trout. Bring Trico’s, Royal Wulff’s, Prince Nymphs and Humpy’s to your next day on the Logan.
Roundrocks Fly Fishing– These guides are well versed in the Logan River. Plus, they have all the equipment you might need for a day on the water!
I spent weeks writing and investigating Utah’s fly fishing opportunities. Lucky for you I summarized it all in this monster guide. 26 Best Places to Fly Fish in Utah.
17. Battenkill River, VT – A Classic Fly Fishing Destination
The Battenkill River is a beautiful river in the midst of the Green Mountains. The riffles and seams make it an ideal river for a die hard angler. It’s going to require some technical casts, but the fish are willing to eat as long as you’re able to present things properly.
If you start in Arlington and work your way west, you’ll have ample access points as well as beautiful scenery that surrounds you. The river flows through farm land and the casting lanes are magnificent. This river will frustrate you. The fish are smart and have seen quite a few flies, but spending time on this river is going to be fulfilling!
Battenkill River Lodging, Guides and Gear
- The Battenkill Lodge is a wonderful spot for an all-inclusive trip on the Battenkill.
- The Battenkill Angler offers guided trips all throughout the river.
Fly Rod and Flies – Bring your 3 or 4-weight to the Battenkill. Also, light 12-foot leader is a necessity. For flies classic dry flies like Red Quill’s and Hendrickson flies.
18. Rapid River, ME
The Rapid River in Maine is another must visit fly fishing destination in the United States. The brook trout are amazing to look at as well as catch. This river is going to require you to put in quite a bit of work to reach, but the fish are well worth your time.
Maine has all the makings of a perfect fly fishing adventure. Cool summers, shady rivers and wild trout. Read about all the great places to fly fish in Maine in my article. Places to Fly Fish in Maine with MAPS
The most fish you’ll land will be on nymphs. Small French Nymphs, Prince as well as Pheasant Tail nymphs are going to be successful. A solid place to set up base camp is Lake State Park near Upton. You’ll have to drive and hike back to the river, but it’s well worth your time.
Rapid River Fly Fishing Guides
Magalloway & Rapid River Guide Service– There is a small cabin available to rent as well as a full guide service for you to utilize.
19. Deschutes River, OR
The Deschutes River is one of the most famous rivers on the West Coast. There are both native trout and wild Steelhead in the river available to be caught. The Wild and Scenic portion of the river from the last dam all the way to the Columbia River stretches across 100 miles and is beautiful water.
You’ll have the opportunity to fish throughout a gorgeous canyon and land brown and rainbow trout as well as Steelhead. Bring your PMD’s, Renegades as well as Purple Haze flies. They’re going to be the most successful.
Deschutes River Lodging, Guides and Gear
Deschute Canyon Fly Shop– The fly shop offers both lodging as well as guided tours. It’s a perfect spot for your next adventure.
Steelhead is the name of the game in Oregon. Read about my favorite flies in this article – 17 Best Flies for Steelhead
Gear- Bring your 7 or 8-weight to the Deschutes. The fish are large and you’ll need the extra power to fight these fish. Also, Wooly Buggers and Clouser Minnows will land you the larger fish.
20. McKenzie River, OR
The McKenzie River is another must visit for anyone looking to fish in Oregon. The majority of the river is public so you don’t have to worry about being on top of several anglers. You’ll find salmon, rainbow, cutthroat and bull trout throughout the waters.
The lower portion of the McKenzie is likely going to be the most successful. You can access the river at the McKenzie River Trailhead. Bring along stonefly representations, Wooly Buggers as well as a nice variety of BWO’s.
Fly Fishing Gear for McKenzie River – Bring your 7-9-weight to the McKenzie. The fish are going to require it. Also, 0 or 1x leader is necessary if you’re throwing streamers.
McKenzie River Lodging and Fly Shops
- McKenzie River Lodge– This lodge offers all-inclusive trips with access to some phenomenal portions of the McKenzie.
- Caddis Fly Angling Shop– This is a wonderful fly shop as well as guide service that will put you on some phenomenal fish on the McKenzie.
Don’t let this article be the last thing you read about for fly fishing in Oregon. My article 21 Best Places to Fly Fish in Oregon! can point to other great places to toss a fly.
21. Yakima River, WA
The “Yak” is a must visit on your next trip to Washington. It flows over 200 miles throughout Washington and is filled with Chinook Salmon as well as rainbow and brown trout. These fish are a blast to catch and they’re spread throughout the entire river.
If you focus your time below Lake Easton, you’ll land some impressive fish. Also, the Yakima Canyon is another must visit when fly fishing the river. Bring Stoneflies, BWO’s as well as Red Quills to the Yakima. There are a variety of hatches, but remember that streamers will always work.
Yakima River Lodging for Fly Fishers
Canyon River Ranch– The Canyon River Ranch is going to provide you with a world class experience on the Yakima.
22. Wenatchee River, WA
The Wenatchee River is a 55-mile tributary of the Columbia River. The Steelhead population in the Wenatchee is phenomenal due to some extra work that was put in during the early 2000’s to restore the population.
If you do fish the Wenatchee, you are required to release all the wild fish and keep the hatchery steelhead. Start your day in the town of Wenatchee and you’ll have a plenty of fishable water to keep you preoccupied. Bring Clouser Minnows, Sex Dungeons and Wooly Buggers.
Wenatchee River Lodging, Guides, Gear
Emerald Water Anglers– This guide service will put you on an impressive amount of fishand give you an enjoyable day on the water.
Fly Fishing Gear to bring, Bring your 6 to 8-weight to the Wenatchee. Also, 0 or 1x tippet with floating line will help you land some impressive fish. Streamer fishing requires a fly rod with a little backbone a heavier weight rod like a 6-8 can lift this streamers up from the depths.
Washington State has a growing fly fishing culture. One of the most popular clubs is the North Sound Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Check out even more places to fly fish in my article. 13 Best Places to fly fish in Washington.
23. San Juan River, NM
The San Juan River is one of the coldest tailwaters in the entire United States. It’s filled with 18-20 inch brown and rainbow trout more than willing to hit your flies. Be sure to visit this at a point of the year when the outside temperatures are a little cooler so the fish are more active.
Spend your time near the Upper Flats and the Texas Hole. Bring your Wooly Buggers, Prince Nymphs, Pheasant Tail nymphs and caddis flies. If possible, float this river because it will provide you great access.
San Juan River Lodging, Guides, Gear
For Fly Fishing Gear, a weight forward line balanced to a 5 or 6-weight fly rod is perfect for the to the San Juan. These fish are healthy and will give you a run for your money. Try to be flexible with your setup dries, streamers and nymphs will all work.
Learn exactly how to setup a fly rod with my VIDEO article How to Setup a Fly Rod from Reel to Fly
The Rainbow Lodge is a wonderful lodge with all-inclusive accommodations. Rainbow Lodge is an all inclusive resort, with some of the friendliest folks in the business. Seriously you can walk out of the lodge and be on 7 miles of world class fly fishing water.
One of the places I know I’ll return to in New Mexico. Great weather, lots of fish and everyone is an outdoors enthusiast. Read where to go in this article. 11 Best Places to Fly Fish in New Mexico.
24. Spearfish Creek, SD
Spearfish Creek runs through Spearfish Canyon in the northern Black Hills in South Dakota. It’s a smaller stream that flows through Spearfish Canyon. The creek is filled with wild brown and rainbow trout.
Access it near the Spearfish Fish Hatchery and you’ll have plenty of success. You’ll want to fish size 18-22 Prince and Pheasant Tail nymphs. The water is extremely clear so the fish can be quite picky. The stream is easily wadable and a pair of grippy sandals will be enough to spend some time in the water.
Spearfish Creek Lodges, Guides, Gear
Spearfish Creek Fly Shop– These guides will show you all the best spots in the canyon. Give them a try!
Fly Rod and other Gear- A 3 or 4-weight with 4 or 5x leader and tippet is essential.
Read about even more great fly fishing places in this article 9 Best Places to Fish in South Dakota
25. White River, AR
The White River holds some of the best fishing on this entire list. Arkansas is not a place many people think of when they imagine trout fishing. This works out well for fly anglers looking to land massive fish.
You’ll find large brown trout and this river below the Bull Shoals Dam is required to be fished by a boat. If you time it correctly to fish during the Shad kill you’ll land dozens of fish in a day. Be sure to dead drift streamers on the river. Wooly Buggers and Shad streamers are the way to go.
White River Lodging, Guides, Gear
Gaston’s White River Resort– This resort is a great spot to make your home base! I’ve stayed at Gaston’s a couple of times. Boats, Food and Rooms on the river.
Gear- A 6-weight rod and 3 or 4x leader is going to do the trick on the White River.
Arkansas is perfect for a little warm up if you live in the north. I’m in Michigan and the fishing is great in the early spring. Day time temps are in the 60’s so you get warmed up and you could easily catch 100 plus fish in a day. Read about other spots to fly fish in Arkansas in my article: Places to Fly Fish in Arkansas
26. Pemigewasset River, NH
The Pemigewasset River is a beautiful river that flows right through the heart of New Hampshire. You can spend most of your time in the White Mountain National Forest and land quite a few fish. Follow Interstate 93 and exit on State Highway 3 to get to the river.
You’ll find nice populations of rainbow, brook and brown trout!
Pemigewasset River Guides
New Hampshire River Guides– This guide service is going to put you on some impressive fish!
27. Holston River, VA
The Holston River in Virginia and Tennessee is a must visit. The tailwater is located in Tennessee, but the water above the Tailwater is located in Virginia and well worth your time. You can find accessible spots near Marion, VA right near the fish hatchery.
You’ll catch rainbows, brook and brown trout.
Holston River Fly Fishing Guides
- South Holston River Company– These guides have everything you need!
- Rocky Top Anglers has all the knowledge, gear and guides to put you on fish. They specialize in tossing flies in Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. They sneak into Virginia as well.
28. Youghiogheny River, PA
Yes, this is a difficult word to say, but the fly fishing in the Youghiogheny in Pennsylvania is definitely worth the effort. You’ll catch brook, rainbow and brown trout in the water. If possible, fish this river via drift boat, but it’s possible to wade as well.
17 Best Places to Fly Fish in Pennsylvania has details on the Youghiogheny and MANY other watersheds.
Fish upstream of Ohiopyle if at all possible. This is going to be the most productive portion. Articulated Streamers, Adams, Pheasant Tales, Hare’s Ear Nymphs and Stoneflies are the way to go!
Youghiogheny Guides and Fly Shops
- Laurel Highlands Guide Service will provide you with a wonderful day on the water!
- Wilderness Voyageurs is a one stop shop for fly fishing, rafting and bike tours.
29. Watauga River, TN
The Watauga River in Tennessee is a beautiful option when looking to land some fish in Tennessee. It’s a tailwater so the fish are often active throughout the day. You’ll find brook as well as rainbow trout in the waters.
Be sure to bring your Caddis flies to the Smalling Bridge. This bridge is the start of a 2.5 mile Quality Trout Zone.
Watauga Lodging, Guides, Flies
Watauga River Guides– These guides are extremely experienced and are well worth the money!
ave you ever met someone that has moved you 5 steps forward in your fly fishing journey? If yes you’ll know the type of fly fishing guide that Dave Knapp is. I fish with him most years in the Great Smokey Mountains. Find him at Trout Zone Anglers. and read about all the places to fly fish in Tennessee in this article. 13 Best Places to Fly Fish in Tennessee
30. Pere Marquette River, MI
The Pere Marquette makes the list because of the variety of fish that can be caught year round. Spring means Steelhead, Summer has mousing for big browns at night and Fall has King Salmon. Pick a season and grab a 7 to 10 weight rod and test your equipment.
I broke a fly rod salmon fishing on the PM. I thought a little 6 weight rod would be enough, but on my second fish I heard that gun shot CRACK! – Ugh… broken fly rod and a ruined day.
Lots of access is another reason to love the Pere Marquette River, flowing through the Huron-Manistee National Forest you only have to follow a two track to get to any water.
Favorite flies include Eggs, Hex Nymphs and Bright Streamers like Drunk and Disorderly Flies.
31. Au Sable and Manistee Rivers, MI
Centrally located in Michigan both the Manistee and Aus Sable Rivers will test a fly fishers skills. These trout are heavily fished and thy get wise after a while. Spend a week in June chasing these fish and you’ll be part of the fishing culture.
Both rivers are easy to wade, and are open enough for a clear back cast. Floating is the best way to cover a lot of water but I’ve caught many fish on a summer morning in just a couple hundred yards of water.
Where to toss a fly? Check out two great access points below.
Where to Fly Fish on the Au Sable River
Where to Fly Fish on the Manistee River
With Michigan being my home state I wanted to list it farther up – I debated making it #1. I’m hoping you don’t read this far down and find out why Trout Unlimited was born in Michigan. If your looking for more places read my article 11 Best Places to Fly Fish in Michigan, I reveal some secret spots.
Hey David here the maker of Guide Recommended. I’m super passionate about everything fly fishing fishing; writing, teaching and even video.