Pennsylvania has some of the best trout fishing opportunities in the United States, with fly fishing for trout to steelhead and warm water species such as bass, pike, walleye, muskie, and carp among them. In Pennsylvania, you can fish for trout all year, and within the state, over 125 stocked trout streams are open to year-round fishing.
As a general rule some of the best places to fly fish in Pennsylvania include:
- Youghiogheny River
- Allegheny River
- Susquehanna River
- Little Juniata River
- Big Fishing Creek
- Cedar Run
- Falling Springs Creek and more.
Fly fishing in the Keystone State can be an enjoyable experience for anglers of all experience levels. This article will look at all 25 of Pennsylvania's best spots for fly fishing.
Best Fly Fishing locations in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is lucky to have an abundance of great fly fishing spots. Some of the best places to fly fish in Pennsylvania are:
1. Allegheny River
The Allegheny River is a 325-mile (523 km) long headwater stream of the Ohio River in western Pennsylvania and New York. The Allegheny runs from its source barely above the midpoint of Pennsylvania's northern border northwesterly into New York, then zigzags southwesterly across the state line to merge with the Monongahela.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Allegheny River, Pennsylvania:
- Trophy Dungeon - Natural- Size 8
- Flashback Pheasant Tail Beadhead Gold - Size 18
- Jig Caddis Pupa Nymph - UV Olive Tungsten - Size 10
2. Big Fishing Creek
Big Fishing Creek, in Clinton County, is Pennsylvania's northernmost limestone stream with public access. From its source near Rte. 80 in the highlands east of Tylersville to its mouth on Bald Eagle Creek near Lock Haven, this waterway is Class A all the way through.
Big Fish Creek is a 29.98-mile (48.25 km) long tributary of the Susquehanna River in Columbia County, Pennsylvania. It flows into the Susquehanna River at Rupert, East Bloomsburg, and Bloomsburg, respectively. The watershed encompasses 385 square miles (1,000 km2).
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Big Fishing Creek, Pennsylvania:
- Elk Wing Caddis Tan- Size 16
- Flashback Hare's Ear Beadhead Natural - Size 20
- Autumn Splendor- Size 4
3. Big Spring Creek
Big Spring Creek, a 5.0-mile-long (8.0 km) tributary of Conodoguinet Creek in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, is the fifth largest spring in Pennsylvania and has a median flow of 18 million US gallons/27 cfs per day. Big Spring Creek rises near US Route 11, approximately 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Shippensburg, and feeds Conodoguinet Creek near Newville.
It's the ideal location to catch a 5-pound wild brook trout on a dry fly with a constant supply of cool, fertile water. Wading is permitted but not required in the 1.5-mile catch-and-release-only fly fishing area.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Big Springs Creek, Pennsylvania:
- Zebra Midge Black - Size 20
- Trico Dun and Spinner - Size 18-22
- Spanish Bullet Olive Tungsten - Size 14-16
4. Cedar Run
Cedar Run is a north-flowing tributary of Pine Creek in Lycoming and Tioga counties in Pennsylvania. It begins just north of White Horse Hollow and runs south to just south of Oxbow Hollow beneath the Route 414 overpass.
While Cedar Run isn't stocked, it has a healthy population of wild brown trout and brook trout in its source streams. Fahnestock Run and Minehole Run are neighboring tributaries with plenty of streambed brown trout.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Cedar Run, Pennsylvania:
- Trico Dun and Spinner - Size 18-22
- Zebra Midge Curved Silver - Tungsten - Size 18
- Spotlight Caddis Emerger - Olive - Size 14
5. Elk Creek
Elk Creek is a 30.4-mile (48.9 km) tributary of Lake Erie in Erie County, Pennsylvania, United States. The creek belongs to the Lake Erie watershed and drains a basin of 99.4 square miles (257 km2). The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission regularly stocks Elk Creek with brown trout and steelhead.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Elk Creek, Pennsylvania:
- Disco Midge - Pearl - Size 18
- Glo Bug Red Dot (Egg) - Orange)- Size 10
- Pheasant Tail Jig Hot - Size 12
6. Falling Springs Creek
Falling Springs Creek is a limestone spring creek in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. It travels for four miles from a spring before merging with Conococheague Creek. The stream boasts a large population of wild rainbows and browns, which are not stocked by the state between the spring and I-81. Some rainbows grow to be as big as eighteen inches in length.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Falling Springs Creek, Pennsylvania:
7. Fishing Creek
Fishing Creek is a minor tributary of the Susquehanna River in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, United States, with a length of 29.98 miles (48 km). It joins the Susquehanna River near Rupert and Bloomsburg, and its watershed covers an area of 385 square miles (1,000 km2).
Canoeing, birdwatching, and fishing are some of the recreational activities available. The creek is renowned for its trout population, which includes brook, brown, and rainbow trout, but it also harbors various other species of fish.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Fishing Creek, Pennsylvania:
- Elk Hair Caddis CDC - TAN- Size 16
- Sexy Walt Worm Tungsten - Size 16
- Slump Buster with Cone - Black - Size 6
8. Kettle Creek
The Kettle Creek is a tributary of the West Branch Susquehanna River that flows through Tioga, Potter, and Clinton counties in Pennsylvania. It measures around 43 miles (69 km) long.
Although many streams in the Kettle Creek watershed are classified as "Class A Wild Trout" by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, lower portions of the stream suffer from acid mine drainage. The upper reaches of the creek are considered to be of excellent quality.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Kettle Creek, Pennsylvania:
9. Lake Erie
Lake Erie is North America's fourth-largest lake (by surface area) and the eleventh-largest globally. It is also the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest (by volume) of the Great Lakes, resulting in a short average water stay time. Lake Erie's maximum depth is 210 feet (64 meters).
Fly fishing in Lake Erie is popular for targeting steelhead, brown trout, and smallmouth bass. The best time to go is from July through September, during the prime walleye season, but fish can be caught year-round.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Lake Erie, Pennsylvania:
- Copper John Hot Wire Beadhead - Red Gold- Size 12
- Glo Bug Red Dot (Egg) - Pink- Size 10
- Slump Buster with Cone - Black - Size 6
10. Letort Spring Run
Even the most seasoned anglers find Letort Spring Run hard to fish. The sparkling water ensures that if you are not careful, the trout will see you. In Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, Letort Spring Run is a 9.4-mile-long tributary of Conodoguinet.
The most difficult sections of the stream to fish are at the headwaters, where the water is thick with plant life. The largest trout may be found in the upper reaches; however, because of the dense aquatic vegetation, they are difficult to catch. The mile-and-a-half stretch of the stream with the biggest brown trout in any portion is catch-and-release only. This sector begins at route 481 above the bridge and ends near Reading Railroad Bridge.
Stick to the lower sections of the stream, which have some broad open areas that are easier to cast into. The bottom portion also contains runs and riffle areas with faster water, making it simpler to catch trout.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Letort Spring Run, Pennsylvania:
11. Little Juniata River
The Little Juniata River is a 32.1-mile (51.7 km) tributary of the Juniata River in Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River basin. It is formed at Altoona by the confluence of several short streams. The Logan Valley is where it flows northeast, at the base of Brush Mountain. Fly fishing on this river is excellent; it has a Class A wild brown trout population and does not require stocking.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Little Juniata River, Pennsylvania:
12. Little Lehigh Creek
The Little Lehigh Creek is 24 miles (38.6 km) long and flows through the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania's easternmost portion. It begins in Longswamp Township, Berks County, and flows generally northeast through Lower Macungie Township and Salisbury Township before emptying into the Lehigh River near Allentown.
The stream is bountiful in Berks County, but the best fishing on this creek is in Lehigh County. It has some nice hatch of aquatic insects, as well as lots of scuds, and good dry fly fishing. A “Delayed Harvest Fly Fishing Only” zone extends from the T-508 bridge downstream to the T-510 bridge. This section of water includes both wild and stocked trout.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Little Lehigh Creek, Pennsylvania:
13. Monocacy Creek
The Monocacy Creek (pronounced muh-naw-cuh-see) is a tributary of the Lehigh River in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. It is one of only 56 limestone streams in the state of Pennsylvania's Slate Belt region. With its headwaters near Chapman, the Monocacy follows a 20.3-mile (32.7 km) course through the limestone Lehigh Valley.
There's a 1.9-mile stretch of the creek that begins at the #987 bridge and flows downstream to the #248 Bridge, which is designated as "wild trout water." It's classified as "Class A" and has a healthy population of wild brown trout.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Monocacy Creek, Pennsylvania:
14. Neshannock Creek
Neshannock Creek is a 25.65-mile long tributary of the Shenango River that originates at the confluence of Cool Spring and Otter Creek in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. It flows south to Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. Volant, Pennsylvania, is the prime spot on the Neshannock known for its fly fishing.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Neshannock Creek, Pennsylvania:
- Quil-Mayfly Tungsten - Size 14
- Barr Emergers BWO Beadhead - Size 20
- Caddis Larva - Beadhead - Tan - Size 16
15. Oil Creek
The Oil Creek is a 46.7-mile (75.2 km) Pennsylvania tributary of the Allegheny River, which it joins at Oil City in Crawford and Venango counties. It has a basin area of 319 square miles (830 km2). The Drake Well Museum and Oil Creek State Park are among the attractions along the river.
Oil Creek is best fished below Pine Creek, downstream to the Allegheny River. This region encompasses both Delayed Harvest areas and is ideal for fly fishing, with riffles, pools, and runs perfect for anglers of any skill level.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Oil Creek, Pennsylvania:
- Spanish Bullet Quill Nymph Tungsten - Size 14
- Barr Emergers BWO Beadhead - Size 20
- Elk Hair Caddis CDC - TAN - Size 16
16. Penns Creek
The Penns Creek is a major river in central Pennsylvania, with a 67.1-mile length (108 km). The upper reaches of the creek have some of the most spectacular trout fly fishing in the Northeast, with a Green Drake hatch that occurs at the end of May and is one of the world's largest.
Anglers also prefer additional Hendricksons, Sulphurs, and Tricos. As the water continues south, temperatures gradually rise to levels best suited for panfish.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Penns Creek, Pennsylvania:
17. Ridley Creek
Ridley Creek is a 22 miles (35 km) long tributary of the Delaware River that flows through Chester and Delaware counties in Pennsylvania.
The entire drainage basin is in suburban Philadelphia, but the upper creek and extensive parklands on the creek maintain a rural feel, while the river's mouth has long been heavily industrialized. In terms of water quality, its watershed is regarded to have the highest concentration of high-quality water in Delaware County.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Ridley Creek, Pennsylvania:
18. Slate Run Creek
Slate Run is a 7.3-mile-long (11.7 km) tributary of Pine Creek in Tioga and Lycoming counties, Pennsylvania, formed by the confluence of two of its branches, the Francis Branch and the Cushman Branch. The entire length runs through the Tiadaghton State Forest in Lycoming County, after which it enters Tioga County for 0.5 miles (0.8 km) before reaching Slate Run.
The Slate Run, a popular trout fishery, is home to wild brook and brown trout. Fishing is permitted all year round, but anglers are restricted to fly fishing with barbless hooks and must release all caught fish back into the creek. Other species in the creek include eastern blacknose dace, longnose dace, slimy sculpin, and white suckers.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Slate Run Creek, Pennsylvania:
- Hot Wing Caddis - Olive- Size 12
- Copper John Beadhead - Copper - Size 12
- Blowtorch Tungsten - Size 16
19. Slippery Rock Creek
Slippery Rock Creek is a smaller stream that flows into Connoquenessing Creek in Western Pennsylvania. It begins at Hilliards in Butler County and meanders through McConnells Mill State Park before emptying into the Connoquenessing near Ellwood City. Then, the Beaver River flows into it just three miles south of Slippery Rock's mouth.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Slippery Rock Creek, Pennsylvania:
- Parachute Adams - Size 14
- Spanish Bullet Quill Nymph Tungsten - Size 14
- Last Chance Cripple BWO - Size 20
20. Spruce Creek
Spruce Creek is a 16.5-mile (26.6 km) long tributary of the Little Juniata River in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. Spruce Creek joins the Little Juniata River at the small town also named Spruce Creek.
A half-mile public access stretch near the Penn State University Campus is being used for a long-term study of brown trout, where they allow anglers to fish catch and release on their property. They do, however, let anglers fish catch-and-release on their land, and the fishing matches or surpasses expectations.
The water is cold year-round, and the trout population is maintained through regular stocking by local private game clubs and fisheries that own the majority of Spruce Creek's banks.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Spruce Creek, Pennsylvania:
21. Susquehanna River
The Susquehanna is a major river that runs through the mid-Atlantic area of the United States. It is 444 miles (715 km) long, making it the longest river on the East Coast of the United States. It is also one of only two rivers in North America—the other being the Yukon River —that does not flow entirely within Canada's borders.
The West Branch of the Susquehanna River originates in western Pennsylvania and joins the main branch near Northumberland, Pennsylvania, forming one of two major branches. The North Branch emerges in Cooperstown, New York, and is considered by federal mapmakers to be the primary branch or headwaters.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania:
- Murdich Minnow - Size 4
- Boogle Bugs - Size 6
- Zoo Cougar White - Size 6
22. Tulpehocken Creek
Tulpehocken Creek is a 39.5-mile-long (63.6 km) tributary of the Schuylkill River in southeastern Pennsylvania, and it was once part of half of the Union Canal that connected Philadelphia, the largest American city, and other Delaware Valley communities with the Susquehanna basin and Pennsylvania Canal System via the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers at Pittsburgh.
The Blue Marsh Dam, located near Reading, is used to impound the creel. The dam's bottom-release design allows for a constant temperature of cold water to be released, creating an excellent environment for rainbow trout and brown trout, which are introduced into the stream annually.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Tulpehocken Creek, Pennsylvania:
- Elk Hair Caddis CDC Tan - Size 16
- Disco Midge Pearl - Size 18
- Flashback Pheasant Tail Beadhead Gold - Size 20
23. Wissahickon Creek
Wissahickon Creek is a tributary of the Schuylkill River in Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties, Pennsylvania, United States. It rises in Montgomery County and flows about 23 miles (37 km) to the city of Philadelphia before emptying into the Schuylkill River. Its area is about 64 square miles (170 km2).
In April, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission floods Wissahickon with rainbow and brown trout in preparation for opening day. The river has riffles that lead into flat, deeper pools before leading to more riffles.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Wissahickon Creek, Pennsylvania:
24. Yellow Breeches Creek
Yellow Breeches Creek, also known as Callapatschink Creek or Callapatscink Creek, is a 56.1-mile-long (90.3 km) branch of the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania. It runs through Huntsdale, where the Huntsdale State Fish Hatchery is located.
The popular "catch and release" fishing destination on the Breeches between Boiling Springs and Allenberry Resort is heavily populated with brown, rainbow, and brook trout almost all year. Upstream from this location, some sections of the river house excellent wild brown trout populations.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Yellow Breeches Creek, Pennsylvania:
25. Youghiogheny River
The Youghiogheny River is a 134-mile-long (296 km) tributary of the Monongahela River in West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It drains an area on the western slope of the Alleghenies north into Pennsylvania, providing a smaller watershed in extreme southwestern Maryland to its tributaries.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Youghiogheny River, Pennsylvania:
- Soft Hackle Hare’s Ear - Tan/Natural Tungsten - Size 12
- Holy Grail-Tungsten Hairs Ear - Size 16
- Adams - Size 12
What Gear do I need to Fly Fish in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania is home to a wide variety of fish, and as such, anglers need to be prepared with the right gear. Depending on the time of year and the type of fish you're targeting, your fly fishing gear list will vary.
To get started fly fishing in Pennsylvania, you'll need a few key pieces of equipment. If you're looking for something lightweight but durable, go with a 9-foot 5-weight fly rod with a floating line.
You will also need a good selection of flies, a tackle box or bag to keep your gear organized, and a wader if you plan on wading into the water to fish. Waders will keep you dry and comfortable while fishing in Pennsylvania's streams and rivers.
Additional Facts about Fly Fishing in Pennsylvania
Where is the biggest trout in PA?
The biggest trout in PA will typically be found in Lehigh Creek or Lake Erie. Both locations have yielded record size trout catches in Pennsylvania.
What is the best trout stream in PA?
The best trout stream in PA is often debated, but some of the more popular streams include Yellow Breeches Creek, Fishing Creek, and Susquehanna River.
Does Pennsylvania have good trout fishing?
Pennsylvania has excellent trout fishing. The state is home to numerous streams, rivers, and lakes that are stocked with trout each year.
Can you fly fish in Pennsylvania?
You can fly fish in Pennsylvania year-round. Some of the finest months to fly fish are April through June when many streams and rivers have hatches that attract hungry trout. Spring is a wonderful time to fly fish for warm water species like bass, carp, and walleye in lakes and ponds.
Fly fishing in Pennsylvania provides anglers with a wide variety of opportunities to catch both coldwater and warm water species. With so many great locations to choose from, it's hard to go wrong when fly fishing in the Keystone State. Be sure to do your research before heading out, and always follow the local regulations in place to help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.