Skip to main content

These are the best fly fishing spots in the U.S.

Fly fishing is at its best at these fine towns throughout the U.S.

A man fly fishing in a river
Annette Shaff/Shutterstock / Shutterstock

While there’s no bad time of year to go fly fishing, the sport really heats up in the summer. The long, warm days appeal to the bugs, which in turn appeal to the trout and other fish hanging out in streams, rivers, and lakes.

We’re fortunate to live in a large country full of scenic and wild areas, many of which tout their share of fishable waters. Some towns, however, are so fly fishing friendly that you can spend your entire life there and never fish the same spot twice (let alone take off your waders). Whether you’re an avid angler, just getting into the sport, or only looking for an excuse to get outside for the best kind of social distancing, we’ve got you covered.

Here are the best destinations in the land for fly fishing.

Farewell Bend Park is a 22-acre park along the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon, in the United States.
Amoore5000/Wikimedia

Bend, Oregon

There’s so much to like about Bend, from its world-class snow in the winter to year-round craft beer options lurking around every street corner. Bend is also home to some of the best fly fishing opportunities on the West Coast. The Deschutes, a Blue Ribbon trout river, runs right through town, and there are tons of great creeks and high mountain lakes nearby to explore. Spend a day on the water here and you’re pretty much guaranteed a healthy allotment of stunning Redside trout. There’s a famous Salmonfly hatch on the Deschutes every spring, but there’s great dry fly fishing year-round here, especially in the form of stone flies and caddis patterns.

Mt. Shasta panorama.
ehrenb/Pixabay

Redding, California

With the world-famous McCloud and Klamath Rivers not too far away, Redding is an oasis for the fly fisherman. Hat Creek is just an hour’s drive away and features a beloved spring creek teeming with fish. You get it all here, from fishing on the surface to casting nymphs. Big dries like drakes are excellent if you get the timing right, and it never hurts to toss a streamer around, as they tend to turn the heads of the bigger fish hanging out down where it’s cool.

Montana River with mountains in background
Pixabay / Pixabay

Missoula, Montana

Throw a dart at just about any town in the western half of Montana and you could call it a great fishing town. In short, Big Ski Country is synonymous with great fishing spots. Missoula stands out in its centralized location, with unrivaled options close at hand and a fun college town feel as an added bonus. Among the best fly fishing options within the area include Rock Creek, the Blackfoot River (one of many in the area made iconic by A River Runs Through It), the Bitterroot River, Clark Fork River, and Missouri River. That’s to say nothing of the countless little tributaries and lakes that dot this gorgeous land. Check in with your local fly shop as to what bugs are out, but you can pretty much always count action with PMDs, BWOs, Adams, and, late in the summer, terrestrials like ants and hoppers.

Grassy Ridge Bald in Asheville, North Carolina
Jeremy Hardin/Getty Images

Asheville, North Carolina

Set in a who’s who of fishable rivers, Asheville is a prime spot in which to get some quality fly fishing done. Anglers tend to trek out to productive spots like the Watauga, Pigeon, South Holston, and Davidson Rivers. One can drift or float the larger waters or hike into the backcountry and cast for hungry smaller fish in the many bubbling creeks. There are also bass- and catfish-filled lakes in the area.

Two men fly fishing in a river shrouded in mist and fog
Lukas Gojda/Shutterstock

Albany, New York

Set pretty close to the Catskills, Albany has its share of fly fishing getaways. The Batten Kill and Beaver Kill Rivers are among the most famous with their great hatches and eager trout. More intrepid fishers can head out a bit farther to stellar fisheries like the Neversink River for robust brown trout. Closer in, creeks like the Onesquethaw and Hannacroix can provide very productive days.

Long bridge connecting the Florida Keys
FilippoBacci / Getty Images

The Florida Keys

The Keys are known for deep-water boat fishing, but there are also tons of shallow areas ideal for flats fishing. These tropical spots are home to schools of bonefish, which fight like crazy once hooked. Big Pine Key is the stuff of legends, but there are lots of great spots in this sun-soaked paradise where one can fish for hungry tarpon and permit, among other species. Wading is possible, but you’ll cover more ground with a floats boat (and perhaps a guide if you don’t know the area).

Assortment of fly fishing lures in a case
Mark Stock/The Manual

Viroqua, Wisconsin

A top destination not just in the Midwest but nationally, Viroqua is a small town with big fly fishing options. The area has hundreds of miles of trout water and is home to more than 60 spring creeks. It’s no wonder why it’s often labeled “the Montana of the Midwest.” After other species? The immediate area is home to walleye, pike, pan fish, and more.

A close-up of a fish held in a hand
Mark Allen Stock/The Manual

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Like Bend and Redding, Colorado Springs is situated near some very sought-after water. The South Platte is home to a flourishing trout population and even a good salmon run in the fall. The biggest fish here are often caught on the smallest flies, like midges and tiny mayflies. The Arkansas River is another great option, with a broad spectrum of water styles ranging from meadows and deep banks to quicker water with rocky runs and pools behind big rocks. There are plenty of great reservoir fly fishing gems in the area too.

Next time you’re perusing the web for “good fishing spots near me,” consult this list and see what sticks out to you. Need another nudge to get out on the water? Here’s a beginner’s guide to fly fishing and a piece on tying your own flies. From an angling standpoint, there’s hardly anything better than catching a fish on a fly that you created.

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
The 20 best U.S. national parks to explore now
There are a lot of national parks to see, so here's a list to start with
Hidden Lake, Glacier National Park

Soaring mountains, dune-covered deserts, glacial lakes, primeval forests, and red rock canyons set the stage for memorable adventures in splendid U.S. national parks — "America’s best idea," as filmmaker Ken Burns rightly described it. You could spend years exploring the countless wonders of these cherished reserves, but if time is limited, then focus your attention on the best of the best. Below is our admittedly subjective list of the top 20 parks, presenting a wide variety of landscapes and locales.
National Park Pass programs
Before we get into the list of U.S. national parks, let's cover how you can save money if you're going to be visiting several of America's best national parks. The National Park Pass is a program offered by the National Park Service that allows entrance to many federal recreation sites across the country. Depending on your needs, there are different types of passes to choose from.

Annual Pass: This pass costs $80 and is valid for one year at over 2,000 federal recreation sites managed by six different agencies, including the National Park Service. This is a good option if you plan on visiting several parks throughout the year.
Senior Pass: Citizens 62 and older can purchase a lifetime Senior Pass for $80. It grants the same access as the annual pass.
America the Beautiful Pass: This pass costs $80 and covers entrance fees for a single vehicle, including rentals and RVs, at national parks and federal recreational lands for 12 months.
Military Pass: Veterans get a free lifetime pass to national parks and other federal recreational lands. Here are some additional things to keep in mind about national park passes:

Read more
The best hiking snacks to fuel your time on the trail
Consider these foods to have with you on your hike
Man eating a hiking snack

Warmer weather is here, and it's finally time to dust off the hiking gear that’s been hibernating in the back of your closet all winter, and make some hiking snacks that will get you ready to hit the trails. From getting fresh air and exercise to enjoying scenic vistas, hiking is one of the best ways to get outdoors and enjoy nature. But, whether you're taking on one of the most physically challenging hikes in the U.S. or embarking on a short and simple day hike, it's important to be prepared with the right equipment -- and that includes the best hiking snacks. 

If you're keeping your hike relatively short, there's no need to reach for the dehydrated meals. What you do want are snacks that won’t spoil, don’t take up a ton of space in your backpack, and help you stay energized and feel good all day long. That means you'll want a mix of carbohydrates and protein, both of which your body needs to perform at its best during the hike and recover properly once you're done.

Read more
These are the 7 best golf courses in the world
Championship Course at Royal County Down

Royal County Down Championship Course, Scotland Royal County Down

Visiting and playing at famous golf courses is like skiing at noted resorts. At your local course (or mountain), you can refine your skills and enjoy what the sport offers. Over time, you might yearn for more — like a world-class course design or a towering peak — and traveling to the finest venues lets you realize that goal.

Read more