Fly fishing has been a growing sport in the United States. In fact, there are great fly fishing waters in almost every state. Whether you are looking for scenic beauty, secluded areas, large trophy trout, a specific species, wild fisheries, or just a classic hot spot this article will have something for everyone.
If you are planning your next adventure and looking for the best places to fly fish in the United States, consider some of these locations that rank the USA's top 26 best fly fishing areas.
The top fly fishing destinations in the United States
- North Platte River, Wyoming
- Bristol Bay, Alaska
- Florida Keys, Florida
- Green River, Utah
- Lake Taneycomo, Missouri
- South Platte River, Colorado
- Yellow Breeches Creek, Pennsylvania
- Gunnison River, Colorado
- White River, Arkansas
- South Fork of the Flathead, Montana
- Delaware River, New York
- Missouri River, Montana
- Big Horn River, Montana
- Deschutes River, Oregon
- Provo and Weber Rivers, Utah
- Kettle Creek, Pennsylvania
- Jordan River, Michigan
- South Fork of the Snake River, Wyoming
- Tanasee Creek, North Carolina
- McCloud River, California
- Pemigewasset River, New Hampshire
- Henry's Fork, Idaho
- Penn's Creek, Pennsylvania
- Slough Creek, Wyoming
- San Juan River, New Mexico
- Pyramid Lake, Nevada
- BONUS: Current River, Missouri
North Platte River, Wyoming
Why we love it: Large trout, Blue Ribbon water, 150+ mile fishery, escape from crowds, High trout populations
Species: Brown & Rainbow Trout
Known as the crowning jewel of central Wyoming, the North Platte River is a hot spot for fly fishing with room for all.
If you love to catch large blue ribbon (wild) brown and rainbow trout, then the North Platte River in Wyoming is one of the best fly fishing areas you can try. The river boasts an estimate of 4,000 fish per mile stretching over 150 miles, giving you and your family plenty of opportunities to catch some wild fish away from crowds. The river below Alcova Reservoir also provides cool water for people who want to cool off during the humid summer heat. So, if you want to have a fun time all year round while catching trout, the North Platte River will provide you with one of the best experiences.
Bristol Bay, Alaska
Why we love it: Large trout, Blue Ribbon water, Diverse Species, Wildlife, Scenic Beauty
Species: Salmon, Steelhead, Rainbow Trout, Grayling, Pike
Home to the larger-than-average Arctic grayling and rainbow trout.
Of course, Alaska should be on the list. We can't leave the northernmost state, considering it's the home to big Arctic grayling and rainbow trout. There are also a lot of Pacific salmon, northern pike, grayling, and steelhead that you can catch when you are fly fishing with your buddies. If looking for a river to fish, look no further than the Alagnak River.
You may also spot some animals such as the caribou, Alaskan brown bear, and moose. Going off-grid is indeed an adventure, and if it's an adventure that you seek, then Alaska is truly the place. You'll be met with picturesque landscape, wild animals, and plenty of fish to catch.
Although the salmon and steelhead run is a short season, you are sure to leave with memories that will last a lifetime.
Florida Keys, Florida
Image Source: rubeo.onthefly
Why we love it: Saltwater fish, Scenic Beaches, Escape from the Crowds, Diverse Species
Species: Tarpon, Redfish, Permit, Snook, Bonefish
The saltwater fly fisherman's paradise.
If you want to look for saltwater fish, the coastal regions of Florida and the Florida Keys allow you to fish for a wide array of species. Stretching from the tip of Florida to Key West, you can fish for tarpon, redfish, permit, and snook. Several guides offer fly fishing trips and luxurious resorts for you to spend your vacation. It is truly one of the best saltwater fly fishing areas in the United States.
Green River, Utah
Why we love it: Large trout, Scenic Beauty, Drift Boat Fishing, Dry Fly Fishing
Species: Rainbow trout, Brown trout, Cutthroat, Cut-bow
One of the best fly fishing areas for experienced anglers.
The Green River is a popular fly fishing area for experienced fishermen and fly fishing enthusiasts. The water in the Green River comes from Wyoming's Wind River and flows below the Flaming Gorge Dam. There are three sections in the river to fish for large rainbow and brown trout. Section A is the home to a huge trout population, so we suggest focusing on this area.
Lake Taneycomo, Missouri
Why we love it: World Record Size, high trout populations, great surrounding fisheries, family friendly, diverse activies
Species: Rainbow trout, Brown Trout
One of the best trout fishing areas for new and experienced anglers.
Lake Taneycomo is your go-to destination if you love to fish for huge trout in the Midwest. It is estimated that 90 percent of anglers caught in Lake Taneycomo are rainbow trout, while 6-7 percent are brown. To maintain the number of trouts in the area, it is stocked annually with 560,000 rainbow trout and 15,000 brown trout, but the spacious body of water and plentiful food sources gives these fish time to mature and grow into real fighters.
Did we mention that a near world record brown trout was caught in this fishery with a length over 40 inches and weighing in at 40lb 6oz. Just 1lb 7oz shy of the world record caught in New Zeland!
The uppermost portion of the lake is ideal for fly fishing and is a reserved for artificial lures/flies only. The rest of this tailwater is recommended to use a boat or kayak to fish unless fishing from a dock. The area also has lot’s of family friendly activities ideal for families.
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Why we love it: Gold Medal Fishery, High Trout Populations, Large Trout, Scenic Beauty, Diverse Activies
Species: Rainbow trout, Brown Trout, Brook Trout, Cutthroat
A picturesque fly fishing paradise for every fisherman.
Nothing beats a good fly fishing area with a picturesque scene of the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains. It's truly not a surprise that Colorado is one of the best places to fly fish in the USA. Its cold rushing water offers you one of the best areas to fly fish.
Others consider it the geographic center of the best fly-fishing area in the state since it's near the Eagle River, the Frying Pan, and the Gunnison, while it merges with the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers. Moreover, Glenwood has a bunch of natural springs, beautiful local shops, and enchanting lodges you can try. Truly Glenwood Springs offer the best combination of lodging, scenery, and trout for every angler.
Yellow Breeches Creek, Pennsylvania
Why we love it: Spring fed streams, well stocked browns, accessibility, surrounding area
Species: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout
Home to world-renowned limestone streams great for beginners
Suppose it's your first time to try fly fishing, Yellow Breeches Creek in Pennsylvania is one of the best-hidden gems of trout fishing due to the consistent supply of spring water and drainages. This spring-fed and freestone creek provides ample opportunity for you to catch brown and rainbow trout.
It's also a few hours drive from the cities in the Northeast. Aside from the Yellow Breeches Creek, you can also try other spring-fed mountain streams that produce native and eager brook trout.
White River, Arkansas
Why we love it: Tailwater, Drift Boat Fishing, Diverse Species, Trophy Sized Trout, Streamer Fishing
Species: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Cutthroat, Bass, Crappie
World-class trout fishing for new and experienced anglers
Famous for its world-class trout fishing, White River runs approximately 720-miles from the Ozark Mountains until it connects with the Mississippi River. The crystal clear water and stable temperature of the White River offer you a chance to fish for trophy trout all year long. This river primarily requires a drift boat, but when the dam is not letting out lots of water, you can find access points to wade.
One of the best areas of the White River to fish is a section just below the "Bull Shoals Dam!" Along with its tributaries, this section is considered by many to be the best in the world for landing trophy-sized Brown trout.
South Fork of the Flathead, Northern Montana
Why we love it: Escape from Crowds, Dry Fly Fishing, Wild Fishery
Species: Cutthroat, Bull Trout
One of the best remote fly-fishing spots in the U.S.
Are you looking for a secluded, serene, and remote fly-fishing spot? You don't have to look far because of the South Fork of the Flathead River in Northern Montana. The spot is found in the Flathead Valley, where you can find good native Bull Trout and Cutthroat trout.
This native fish has thrived in this river drainage. However, you need to be mindful of the limited season for trout fishing. You also need to look out for release policies in the area.
Delaware River, New York
Image Source: jake330
Why we love it: Large Trout, Diverse Water Types
Species: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Brook Trout
Considered the best fly fishing in Eastern United States.
With over 75 miles of connected water, Delaware river provides ample opportunities for catching large rainbow trout with opportunities for other species. This is a great river to test your skills in identifying and fishing a variety of water types.
This is big water and is recommended to fish from a boat in most areas, although there are points in the river low enough to wade. If you are in the northeast and looking for a great place to catch trout on the fly, this river should top you list.
Missouri River, Montana
Why we love it: Dry Fly Fishing, High Trout Populations
Species: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Carp
One of the best Montana dry fly fishing areas.
Missouri River is the fourth largest river globally, and it is one of the best Montana fly fishing rivers. There are over 5,000 fish per mile wherein it produces large trout and carp fish. The river starts at Three Forks and ends at Canyon Ferry Lake. The river is known for thick hatches throughout the season, making it an ideal location for dry fly fishermen.
You can fish for brown and rainbow trout year around while carp fishing is typically desired in the summer. The area below the Holter dam is also a famous part of the Missouri River. This is a great place to fish when other rivers are high from runoff in early June.
Big Horn River, Montana
Why we love it: Blue Ribbon Water, High Trout Populations
Species: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout
The best "Blue Ribbon Trout Fishery" in the United States.
Bighorn River is one of the best fly fishing areas in the U.S. due to its cool and clear river that hosts some of the best wild trout in the country. It's estimated that there are 5-6 thousand rainbow and brown trout per mile. The size of the Brown trout you can catch is about 15 inches, while rainbow trout is about 16 inches.
The river also has outstanding hatches. You'll enjoy fly fishing in Montana because you can do it for the entire year, unlike other rivers that have a specific season for fly fishing. The river is allows for both wading and floating.
Deschutes River, Oregon
Why we love it: Large Fish, Scenic Beauty, Escape from Crowds
Species: Rainbow Trout, Salmon, Steelhead
Summer Steelhead and 100+ miles of water
If you want to fight, then visiting the Deschutes River during the Summer Steelhead run is calling your name. With over 100 miles of pristine river, you are sure to find a spot all to yourself.
If you can’t make it in the summer, no worries. You can still land the native redside rainbow trout that swims these waters in the Spring and Fall.
Provo and Weber Rivers, Utah
Image Source: tynantrimble
Why we love it: Trophy sized browns, Scenic Beauty
Species: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Cutthroat
Twin rivers for trophy-worthy brown and rainbow trout.
Provo and Weber Rivers may have the same origins, but they have different characteristics. Provo River is known for its all-year supply of top-notch fishing, unlike Weber River, whose supply is dependent on the farming irrigation along its path. The only downside to the Provo River is it can get a bit populated due to its proximity to towns and local areas.
Although the Weber River can have an inconsistent supply of fish for anglers, it doesn't mean that you can't catch amazing fish in the area. In the upper Weber river which is above the Rockport Reservoir, you can catch brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout while the lower Weber area has trophy-worthy brown trout.
Kettle Creek, Pennsylvania
Why we love it: Blue Ribbon trout, Large Trout
Species: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Brook Trout, Steelhead
A hidden gem for fly fishing enthusiasts.
Pennsylvania offers top-notch steelhead and trout fishing in the US. Kettle Creek offers a cool and fast-rolling stream, making it a Class-A rated wild trout water. The annual fly hatches are also abundant in this area. Hence, wild brown and brook trout roam the area. You can also find large rainbows that thrive in the area.
If you wish to look for the best spot, the Upper Kettle Creek is a great area since it has the most wild trout. The lower river has fewer wild trout, but there are plenty of browns and rainbows. You can still catch wild brown trout in this area, but you need a lot of patience and the right flies.
Muskegon River, Michigan
Why we love it: Large fish, Unique experience, Year Around Fishing
Species: Salmon, Steelhead, Smallmouth Bass, Brown Trout
Muskegon River is one of the best spots for steelhead and salmon.
Our list wouldn't be complete without including the Muskegon River in Michigan. Many would argue that Michigan is among the best fly fishing spots in the country, and with good reason. It is one of the few places within the continental US that is home to steelhead and salmon.
The Michigan River is a tailwater river that starts from Muskegon Lake until Lake Michigan. It's also a good year around fishery since it doesn't freeze in the winter and it is home to diverse range of fish species.
South Fork of the Snake River, Wyoming
Image Source: thelodgeatpalisadescreek
Why we love it: Blue Ribbon trout, Large Trout, Scenic Beauty, Wildlife
Species: Cutthroat, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout
Home to the largest native cutthroat fishery
If you want to look for the largest native cutthroat populations, the Snake River is the best spot in Wyoming where you can fish for these cutthroats. The Snake River snakes across southeastern Idaho and Wyoming and glides past the Jackson Hole resorts. You can also enjoy the beautiful view of the Yellowstone or Grand Teton National parks.
Tanasee Creek, North Carolina
Image Source: high_altitude_
Why we love it: Blue Ribbon, Fly Fishing Trail, Scenic Beauty, Wildlife
Species: Brown Trout
Part of the only Fly Fishing Trail in the USA
If you want a scenic place along the Eastcoast to catch brown trout, then pick Tanase Creek in North Carolina. The creek is found within the scenic Nantahala National Forest. It is also considered one of the top 15 fly fishing spots in North Carolina based on the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail, which is the only designated fly fishing trail in the U.S. What makes it special is the scenic view and abundant supply of brown trout with other great fly fishing waters nearby.
McCloud River, California
Image Source: fishkennedybrothers
Why we love it: Blue Ribbon, Scenic Beauty, Wildlife
Species: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Cutthroat
A Spring-fed oasis in the mountains.
California was bound to make the list with it’s scenic beauty and diverse species of trout. What makes the McCloud River iconic, aside from great trophy sized trout fishing, is that is is one of a just a few spring-fed waters in the state. The McCloud strain of rainbows was also introduced nearly 100 years ago to Missouri where you can catch wild McCloud rainbow trout making this rare species available in the West-coast and the Midwest.
Pemigewasset River, NH
Image Source: 2imen_
Why we love it: High Trout Populations, Nearby Hiking, Scenic Beauty
Species: Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout
Enjoy fly fishing in the scenic Appalachian Mountains.
On a visit last year to New Hampshire, I was taken back by the beauty of the White Mountain National Forrest. The big draw for me in the Northeast is the brook trout, but there are other species to be caught in the area.
Fishing opportunities are plentiful and they have great structure in this river as well as surrounding rivers, making it a fun hike and fish area.
BONUS: Current River, Missouri
Why we love it: Trophy Sized Trout, Blue Ribbon, Floating, Scenic Beauty
Species: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout
Home to rainbow and brown trout and floating adventures for the whole family.
This is my favorite river in the state. The Current River in Missouri is home to rainbow and brown trout fishing against a scenic landscape of clear springfed water and high rock bluffs. You have easy access to a trout park as well as white and blue ribbon areas. The water stays consistently cool year around, making it a great fishing destination any time of the year. The trout are large and abundant set in one of Missouri’s most picturesque rivers.
The area is great for both wade fishing and canoe/kayak fishing. Often seen as a floating destination as well, providing great adventures for your whole family.
Fly fishing is truly a fun and relaxing recreational sport the can easily be turned into destination trips like the spots we listed. We hope the list helps you set your sights on a place wet your fly line in the United States.