Idaho, known as the "Gem State," is a fly fishing paradise teeming with abundant rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Fly fishing enthusiasts flock to this breathtaking state to experience its pristine waters and diverse fish species. In this article, we will explore Idaho's top 17 fly fishing destinations, each offering unique experiences, stunning landscapes, and remarkable fishing opportunities. From the Big Lost River to the Teton River, let's dive into the wonders of fly fishing in Idaho.
Best Fly Fishing Locations in Idaho
Idaho is well-known for its exceptional fly fishing locations featuring clear rivers, high mountain lakes, and diverse ecosystems. Trout species such as rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout are abundant in rivers like Henry's Fork, Snake River, and South Fork of the Boise River. The state also offers great fishing opportunities in alpine lakes, such as Silver Creek and Redfish Lake, where anglers can enjoy peaceful solitude.
From challenging rapids to calm meandering streams, Idaho's fly fishing options cater to all skill levels, making it an ideal destination for anglers seeking adventure and abundant fish populations.
1. Big Lost River
The Big Lost River in Idaho is a pristine fishing destination renowned for its abundant trout population and scenic beauty. Flowing through the Big Lost River Valley, this freestone river offers excellent opportunities for fly fishing enthusiasts. Access points along its course, such as Mackay Reservoir, Darlington Bridge, and Wild Horse Creek, provide convenient entry to the river. The Big Lost River is characterized by its crystal-clear waters, challenging currents, and diverse trout species, including rainbow, brown, and cutthroat.
Recommended Flies for the Big Lost River, Idaho:
2. Big Wood River
Flowing through the Wood River Valley, the Big Wood River offers excellent fishing opportunities for both beginners and seasoned anglers. This freestone river boasts healthy rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout populations. Its easily accessible stretches and picturesque surroundings make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
Recommended Flies for the Big Wood River, Idaho:
3. Brownlee Reservoir
Brownlee Reservoir is a renowned fly fishing destination for warm water species situated on the Snake River in southwestern Idaho. Anglers can target smallmouth bass, crappie, catfish, and trophy-sized rainbow trout. The reservoir's vast expanse and diverse fishery make it a must-visit location for fly fishing enthusiasts.
Recommended Flies for the Brownlee Reservoir, Idaho:
- Poppers - Size 6
- Clouser Minnows - Size 0/1
- Muddy Buddy in Black - Size 6
4. Clearwater River
Known for its remarkable steelhead fishing, the Clearwater River in northern Idaho offers thrilling angling opportunities year-round. This iconic river is home to a robust population of steelhead and is considered one of the premier steelhead fisheries in the United States.
Recommended Flies for the Clearwater River, Idaho:
5. Coeur D'Alene River
Flowing through the scenic Bitterroot Mountains, the Coeur D'Alene River is a haven for fly fishers seeking solitude and exceptional trout fishing. This scenic river, nestled in the heart of the Coeur d'Alene Mountains, boasts abundant trout populations, including rainbow, cutthroat, and bull trout.
Anglers can access the river through various points, such as Enaville, Kingston, and Cataldo. These access points provide convenient entry to the river's prime fishing spots, where anglers can cast their lines in pristine waters teeming with fish.
Recommended Flies for the Coeur D'Alene River, Idaho:
6. Hayden Lake
Nestled in the northern panhandle of Idaho, Hayden Lake is a picturesque destination for fly anglers searching for rainbow and cutthroat trout. This peaceful lake is surrounded by towering pines and offers breathtaking views. Fly fishing from a drift boat, or kayak is a popular method to explore the lake's diverse fishing spots.
Recommended Flies for Hayden Lake, Idaho:
7. Henry's Fork
Regarded as one of the finest trout streams in the country, Henry's Fork is a legendary fly fishing destination in eastern Idaho. This river system boasts exceptional populations of rainbow trout, brown trout, and cutthroat trout. Anglers can enjoy challenging dry fly fishing, nymphing, and streamer fishing in this world-class fishery.
Recommended Flies for the Henry's Fork, Idaho:
8. Henry's Lake
Situated near the western border of Yellowstone National Park, Henry's Lake is a renowned stillwater fishery that offers exceptional fly fishing opportunities. This high-mountain lake is known for its trophy-sized cutthroat and brook trout. Anglers can enjoy fishing from the shoreline or by using float tubes and small boats.
Recommended Flies for Henry's Lake, Idaho:
9. North Fork CDA River
Flowing through the scenic Idaho panhandle, the North Fork Coeur D'Alene River is a secluded and stunning fishery. Known for its exceptional trout fishing, this river offers a serene and untouched fishing experience. Access points such as the town of Prichard and the Murray area provide easy entry to this scenic river.
The North Fork CDA River is famous for its healthy cutthroat, rainbow, and bull trout populations. Anglers can explore its crystal-clear waters, pristine riffles, and deep pools, all set against a backdrop of lush forests and rugged mountains.
Recommended Flies for the North Fork CDA River, Idaho:
10. Owyhee River
The Owyhee River is a popular destination for fly fishermen in southwestern Idaho. This river runs through the high desert, offering stunning canyon views and abundant fish populations.
Anglers will find plenty of trout species here, including brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout. The Owyhee River also has unique features that make it stand out from other fisheries, such as its plentiful nymphs and caddisflies. Its remote location and challenging fishing conditions make it an adventure for passionate anglers.
Recommended Flies for the Owyhee River, Idaho:
11. Salmon River
Known as the "River of No Return," the Salmon River in central Idaho is a legendary destination for fly fishing and rugged wilderness experiences. This iconic river is home to steelhead, Chinook salmon, and various trout species. Anglers can enjoy thrilling fishing adventures amidst stunning landscapes and untouched beauty.
Recommended Flies for the Salmon River, Idaho:
- Fat Albert Purple - Size 6
- Half Chernobyl Brown/Orange - Size 14
- Parachute Adams Indicator - Size 12
12. Silver Creek
Tucked away in the Wood River Valley, Silver Creek is a renowned spring creek fishery cherished by fly anglers. This meandering creek is famous for its challenging and technical fishing, primarily focused on selective trout. Its hatches and diverse insect life make it a paradise for dry fly enthusiasts.
Recommended Flies for the Silver Creek, Idaho:
13. South Fork Boise River
Flowing through the stunning Boise National Forest, the South Fork Boise River offers exceptional fly fishing opportunities in a picturesque setting. Access points such as Anderson Ranch Dam, Barber Flat, and Pine are popular entry points for fly fishing.
The South Fork Boise River is home to healthy populations of rainbow, brown, and native Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Anglers can test their skills in its challenging currents and scenic stretches, surrounded by stunning canyon walls and dense forests.
Recommended Flies for the South Fork Boise River, Idaho:
14. South Fork of the Snake River
Considered one of the best tailwater fisheries in the United States, the South Fork of the Snake River attracts fly anglers from around the world. This iconic river is renowned for its prolific hatches and trophy-sized cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout. It offers diverse fishing techniques and is a paradise for avid anglers.
Recommended Flies for the South Fork of the Snake River, Idaho:
15. St. Joe River
Flowing through the scenic Bitterroot Mountains, the St. Joe River is a hidden gem for fly fishing enthusiasts seeking solitude and exceptional trout fishing. This remote river offers breathtaking scenery and abundant populations of westslope cutthroat trout. Its crystal-clear waters and challenging fishing conditions make it a true angler's paradise.
Recommended Flies for the St. Joe River, Idaho:
16. Teton River
Located near the majestic Teton Mountains, the Teton River is a picturesque fishery cherished by anglers seeking remarkable trout fishing experiences. This freestone river is home to healthy rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout populations. Fly anglers can enjoy both dry fly fishing and nymphing in this scenic and captivating river.
Recommended Flies for the Teton River, Idaho:
17. Warm River
Nestled in eastern Idaho, Warm River is a hidden gem known for its scenic beauty and excellent fly fishing opportunities. This spring-fed river boasts healthy populations of rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout. Its serene atmosphere and picturesque surroundings make it a tranquil and memorable fly fishing destination.
Recommended Flies for the Warm River, Idaho:
What Gear Do I Need to Fly Fish in Idaho?
To enjoy fly fishing in Idaho, it is essential to have the appropriate gear. Some essential items include a fly rod (typically 8-9 feet in length for trout), a reel with a matching weight-forward floating line, leaders and tippets of varying sizes, a selection of dry flies, nymphs, and streamers, waders, wading boots with felt or rubber soles, a landing net, and polarized sunglasses for better visibility. It is advisable to consult local fly shops or experienced anglers to get specific gear recommendations based on the fishing location and target species.
Additional Facts about Fly Fishing in Idaho
Fly fishing in Idaho offers more than just exceptional angling opportunities. The state's pristine waters, diverse ecosystems, and breathtaking landscapes make it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Idaho is home to an array of wildlife, including moose, elk, deer, eagles, and osprey, providing a truly immersive nature experience.
Additionally, the state offers a range of fishing seasons, with different rivers and lakes providing excellent fishing opportunities throughout the year. It is important to check fishing regulations and obtain the appropriate licenses before embarking on a fly fishing adventure in Idaho.
Where is the best place to fly fish in Idaho?
Determining the "best" place to fly fish in Idaho depends on personal preferences and fishing goals. However, renowned destinations like the Henry's Fork, South Fork of the Snake River, and Silver Creek are widely regarded as top-tier fly fishing locations due to their exceptional fish populations, scenic beauty, and challenging fishing conditions.
Where is the best trout fishing in Idaho?
Idaho offers a plethora of exceptional trout fishing opportunities. Some of the best trout fishing destinations in the state include the Henry's Fork, South Fork of the Snake River, and Clearwater River. These rivers boast healthy populations of rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout, providing anglers with exciting and rewarding fishing experiences.
Where are the biggest trout in Idaho?
Idaho is home to some of the largest trout in the United States. The South Fork of the Snake River, Henry's Fork, and Salmon River are renowned for producing trophy-sized cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout. These rivers provide anglers with the opportunity to target and potentially land trout of significant size and weight.