At one time, fly fishing was exclusively a trout catching activity, but today, fly fishing has expanded to include all forms of fresh and salt water fish and is now popular throughout most of North America. For many fly fishermen today, it is the ability to wade into a river or stream and be in contact with some of the most pristine and private regions of the US.

Exceptional river fisheries to consider

Most importantly, whether you are an aspiring beginner or a seasoned veteran, you can enjoy the same benefits of the sport. If it’s a fishing vacation that you are thinking about, you should consider a fly fishing vacation. Here are our recommendations for the top places to fly fish here in the US.

San Juan River, New Mexico

This is considered one of the top fly fisheries in the US because of the arm-length trout that it has always been noted for.  Very large browns, cutthroat-rainbow hybrids, and rainbows are not uncommon in this fishery.  It has been said that 4 to 5 pounders are caught regularly, with the occasional 8 to 9 pounder being a real possibility as well.

Big Horn River, Montana

You cannot have read or seen anything about fly fishing without hearing this river mentioned on a regular basis.  Easily one of North America’s prime fly fisheries, the Big Horn attracts fly fishers from around the world.  For all practical purposes, this is the #1 trophy brown trout fishery in North America.

Alagnak River, Alaska

Nestled in the Bristol Bay region of southwestern Alaska is the Alagnak, the state’s premier fly fishery.  Here you can fly fish for Arctic Grayling (a trout relative), all 5 species of Pacific Salmon, and of course, larger-than-average Rainbows.  Rainbows ranging from 2 to 10 pounds are very common in the Alagnak, hence its huge popularity.

Multi-river environments

If you want the best states for different fisheries to choose from instead targeting a single location, then the first states that come to mind are Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.  You’ll want to consider the following:

Blue and Colorado Headwaters, Colorado

There are numerous “Catch-and-Release” guide services available that can show you numerous fisheries that feature large populations of 2 pounders and larger.

The blue ribbon fly fishing streams of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

Guide services are available for numerous streams in these three states including the  Henry’s and South Forks of the Snake River; the Falls, Madison, Teton, and Warm Rivers; and Yellowstone’s numerous rivers and streams

All of these have healthy populations of trout and anyone of them would make for an excellent experience.

Privately-guided fly fishing

If you’re willing to pay the price and want a rewarding yet unique fly fishing experience, then you need to consider the opportunities found in Potter County, Pennsylvania.  Trophy-sized brooks, browns, Kamloops, and rainbows are always on the menu here.