Best Fly Fishing in Idaho

A man wearing fishing gear casts his fly rod into a rushing river in Idaho, surrounded by lush green trees and mountains in the background.
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Idaho offers an abundance of prime destinations for fly fishing enthusiasts. Nestled among scenic landscapes with clear rivers, serene lakes, and majestic mountains, the state caters to anglers of all proficiency levels. Whether you’re casting lines in renowned fisheries like the Teton River and Henry’s Lake or exploring secluded streams, the rich biodiversity of Idaho’s waters promises a rewarding experience. Before heading out, ensure you’re familiar with the fishing regulations, as they are essential for preserving the natural splendor and sustainability of these fishing havens.

Henry’s Fork

Henry’s Fork of the Snake River is a prime destination for exceptional fly fishing experiences. Famed for its rainbow trout, many anglers find themselves drawn to the diversity of trout species, tranquil wilderness settings, and prolific hatches.

When fishing on Henry’s Fork, you’ll encounter sections such as the Box Canyon and Railroad Ranch with favorable conditions for dry fly fishing. It’s the kind of river where a well-presented fly can result in a thrilling catch, especially during the notable mayfly hatches like the famous grey drake.

Before heading out, ensure you have a valid fishing license. Public access points are plentiful, allowing you to enter the river at various prime fishing locations. Remember, this is not just about the fish; it’s an immersive experience in some of Idaho’s finest trout streams.

Recommended Gear:

  • Fly rod: A versatile 9-foot 5-weight fly rod is recommended.
  • Flies: Stock up on various dry flies, nymphs, and streamers to match the local hatches.
  • Waders: Breathable chest waders will keep you comfortable in varied conditions.
  • Leader and Tippet: Bring a selection to match the size of flies you’re using.

In the late spring through summer, expect to see hatches that bring trout to the surface, including westslope cutthroat trout.

Remember, while aiming for that perfect catch, conservation is key. Practicing catch and release helps maintain the river’s natural balance, ensuring Henry’s Fork remains a top fly fishing spot for years to come.

Silver Creek

Silver Creek in Idaho is a pristine spring creek renowned for its world-class fly fishing. As you plan your trip, keep in mind that this creek is famous for its challenges and the rewarding experience of catching brown trout and brook trout.

Recommended Gear

When you’re selecting gear for Silver Creek, consider these essentials:

  • Dry Fly Rod: Aim for a medium-action rod that can handle delicate presentations.
  • Reels: Opt for reels matched for 5/6 fly line to balance your rod.
  • Flies: Have a variety of caddis, midges, and pheasant tail nymphs.
  • Accessories: Nippers, forceps, and retractors are handy.

Remember, unlike a freestone river, Silver Creek’s clear waters require stealth and precision. Dry fly fishing here can be especially rewarding. The hatch of caddis and midges is something to anticipate, and using patterns that mimic them can lead to a successful catch. Be sure to present your fly naturally to avoid alerting the crafty trout.

Wading through Silver Creek requires care to protect the aquatic environment and the fish, particularly in the Picabo area. If you’re new to the creek or seeking to refine your skills, consider hiring a guide to gain local insights.

By gearing up appropriately and respecting the creek’s unique ecosystem, you stand a good chance of enjoying a memorable fly fishing adventure in one of Idaho’s most stunning settings.

South Fork of the Snake River

The South Fork of the Snake River offers some of the premier fly fishing experiences in Idaho. As you plan your adventure targeting the river’s robust trout populations, it is essential to understand what makes this waterway a standout destination.

Spanning over 60 miles, this river is a haven for cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout. You’ll find the conditions prime for fly fishing, with fish in the 15-25 inch range not uncommon.

Season and Hatches:

  • June: The salmon fly hatch marks the start of the season, drawing anglers eager to witness large stoneflies.
  • July-Oct: Optimal dry fly action is noted in these months, but always be mindful of runoff conditions that can vary the timing.

Fishing Regulations:
In the interest of conservation, the South Fork implements regulations like slot limits, underscoring the need for catch-and-release practices for certain sizes and species.

Recommended Gear:

  • Rod: Opt for a 9-foot, 5 or 6-weight rod for the right balance of casting ability and control.
  • Flies: Keep a variety of nymphs, streamers, and dry flies.
  • Leaders: A 9-foot leader with 4X to 6X tippet is versatile for most situations.

By adhering to regulations and equipped with suitable gear, your time at the South Fork is sure to be a highlight of your fly fishing pursuits.

Kelly Creek

When you venture to Kelly Creek in Idaho, you are greeted by a pristine environment that’s home to impressive native West Slope cutthroat trout. These trout can reach up to 20 inches in length, offering a rewarding experience for fly fishing enthusiasts.

Recommended Gear:

  • Rods: A 4 to 6 weight fly rod is suitable.
  • Flies: Dry flies, nymphs, and streamers that imitate local insects.
  • Leaders: 9-foot leaders tapering to 5X or 6X.
  • Waders: Breathable chest waders for comfort and mobility.
Gear ItemDescription
Rods4 to 6 weight fly rods for optimal versatility.
FliesA selection of dry flies, nymphs, and streamers.
Leaders9-foot length with 5X or 6X tippet for delicate presentations.
WadersBreathable chest waders for navigating varying water depths.

Kelly Creek has embraced catch-and-release regulations since 1970 to preserve its trout population. The creek’s environment supports the growth of its trout, with an average size ranging from 12 to 14 inches.

To access Kelly Creek, you’ll find that a road runs alongside the river for the first 10 miles, with hiking trails providing additional access. The creek’s clear waters and abundant aquatic life create a perfect habitat for cutthroat trout, ensuring that your fly fishing experience will be both challenging and rewarding.

Big Wood River

The Big Wood River is a prime destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. Its waters, nourished by snowpack, usually run clear by mid to late June, offering optimal fishing conditions.

Location: Nestled in Central Idaho, the Big Wood River is easily accessible near Ketchum. The river boasts a freestone stream environment, which sustains a diverse trout population. You’ll find it starts west of Galena Peak and travels southeast towards Sun Valley, paralleling Route 75.

Fish Species:

  • Rainbow Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Brook Trout

These species eagerly rise to dry flies, and while the river may not host the largest trout, the nutrient-rich environment supports growth beyond 20 inches.

Recommended Gear:

  • Fly Rod: 4-6 weight
  • Leaders: 9-12 feet, 4-6X
  • Flies: Midge Patterns, Winter Stoneflies

Current Conditions: As of February 22, 2024, the river flow is slightly above normal and mostly clear with good hatches of Midges and Winter stoneflies providing excellent fishing opportunities.

Fishing Regulations: Pay attention to local regulations, which have helped maintain a healthy fish population since 1992. Always check the current rules as they can change seasonally.

Ensure your tackle box is equipped with flies that match the prevalent hatches. Additionally, be prepared for variable weather and water conditions, as mountain streams like this one can be unpredictable.

Clearwater River

The Clearwater River in Idaho is a prime destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. Its waters are renowned for their populations of steelhead and cutthroat trout, providing a challenging and rewarding experience for anglers of all levels.

Current Conditions (as of February 22, 2024):

  • Flow Rate: 7460 cfs
  • Water Level: 4.78 ft
  • Temperature: 46 degrees Fahrenheit

Recommended Gear:

  • Rod: Medium-fast action, 9-foot, 6 or 7 weight for steelhead
  • Reel: A strong drag system to handle the powerful runs of steelhead
  • Line: Weight-forward floating line for most conditions, with sink-tip options for deeper pools
  • Flies:

Locations: The North Fork and the lower river are accessible with differing characteristics. The stretch between Orofino and Lewiston offers a variety of water structures including riffles and pools. Kelly Creek, a tributary to the North Fork, provides excellent catch-and-release waters and is accessible via hiking trails for the first 10 miles.

Remember, conditions can change, and staying up to date with current reports is essential for a successful outing. With its outstanding fishing and beautiful scenery, your time on the Clearwater River can be both peaceful and exhilarating.

Teton River

The Teton River is a hidden jewel in the Idaho fly fishing scene. You’ll find it offering less crowded conditions compared to other popular rivers, allowing for a serene experience as you cast your line. Flowing through beautiful scenery characterized by willow, sage, and aspen, the river provides a habitat rich for trout.

Fishing Seasons:

  • Best Time: June to October
  • Hatches: Quality hatches similar to the South Fork

River Characteristics:

  • Upper Reach: Over 25 miles of pristine waters.
  • Accessibility: Limited, with select licensed outfitters guiding in this area.

When you prepare for your excursion on the Teton River, choosing the right Recommended Gear is crucial:

  • Rods: 4 to 6 weight, suitable for the varied conditions of the river.
  • Flies: Ensure you have a selection that matches local hatches, such as midges, with which you will find good success.
  • Waders: A reliable pair for the cool trout waters you will traverse.

As for techniques, focus on areas around bridge access points where trout are likely to be found. With the Teton River’s clear flowing waters, you have an excellent opportunity to practice dry fly fishing, taking advantage of the river’s natural features.

Remember to respect the local regulations and preserve this magnificent fly fishing destination. Your efforts in environmental stewardship will ensure the Teton River remains a treasured spot for anglers in the years to come.

St. Joe River

Idaho’s St. Joe River is a premier destination for fly fishing, particularly for those seeking the thrill of catching Native West Slope Cutthroat trout. Renowned for its clean, cold water and stunning panhandle scenery, the St. Joe offers a serene environment that promises a combination of relaxation and adventure.

Fishing Conditions:

  • Best Time to Fish: Early June to mid-October for optimal conditions.
  • Access Points: The lower portion allows for floating, while areas above Avery are walk and wade.

Recommended Gear:

  • Fly Rod: 4 to 6 weight, 8.5 to 9-foot length for versatility.
  • Flies: Hoppers, ants, BWOs, and Caddis are effective, especially during late summer to mid-October.

Specific Hatches:

  • Summer: Grasshoppers and ants.
  • Fall: Mahogany Dun, BWO, and October Caddis.


  • Hopper/Dropper: Utilize during the summer.
  • Dry Fly Fishing: Ideal during prolific hatches.
  • Nymphing: Effective during non-hatch periods.

As you plan your trip, consider guided excursions to maximize your experience on the St. Joe. Prepare your gear appropriately, pay attention to hatch schedules, and look forward to the vibrant fly fishing community that frequents these Idaho waters.

Fall River

When you set out for fly fishing on Fall River in Yellowstone National Park, you’re in for a serene experience with possibilities of catching beautiful trout. It’s a river less traveled by the big crowds, offering a sense of solitude and connection with nature.

Recommended Gear:
To get the most out of your time on Fall River, equip yourself with a 9-foot 6-wt fly rod coupled with a floating line. This setup works well for various styles, whether you’re fishing dry flies, nymphs, or streamers. Use a tapered 9-foot leader, selecting a tippet size between 3X to 5X, corresponding to the flies you intend to cast.

  • Fly Rod: 9-foot 6-wt
  • Line: Floating
  • Leader: Tapered 9-foot
  • Tippet Size: 3X to 5X

While sections of the river are accessible for wading, be cautious near Mountain Ash Creek as the area can be slick and poses a challenge to wade safely. Remember to wear sturdy wading boots to ensure a secure grip.

The river is dotted with cutbows, and the access from Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road near Ashton, Idaho, makes it a straightforward trip. You’ll find the Falls River Campground conveniently located just outside the park for a comfortable stay close to your fishing adventure. For unencumbered fishing, make your way to the river early in the morning or during the weekdays when there are fewer people.

Boise River

The Boise River is a renowned destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. Spanning from the Sawtooth Mountain Range, it includes three significant forks — the South Fork, Middle Fork, and North Fork. The river’s diverse sections offer various fishing experiences that cater to both novices and veterans alike.

Locations to Consider

  • Anderson Dam: Renowned for consistent flows and reliable hatches, it’s particularly recommended for its excellent fly fishing conditions.
  • Confluence Areas: The joining points of the North and Middle Forks near Idaho City are notable for their fishing opportunities.

Recommended Gear

When preparing for a fly fishing trip to the Boise River, consider equipping yourself with the following gear:

  • Flies: Have a variety of local patterns; conditions determine the best choice, but hatches tend to be diverse.
  • Rod and Reel: A versatile 5-weight fly rod with a matching reel is suitable for most situations on the river.
  • Waders: Breathable waders allow for comfortable navigation in various water conditions.

Hatch Information

Consistent fly hatches provide ample feeding opportunities for trout, making the Boise River a dynamic place to fish throughout the seasons. It’s advisable to stay updated on the local hatch reports, as provided by resources like Perfect Fly Store, to choose the most effective flies.

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