Skip to content

Fly Fishing in Montana: An Angler’s Paradise

The Best Fly Fishing Spots in Montana

Montana is a dream destination for fly fishers around the world. With its stunning landscapes, pristine rivers, and abundant trout, it’s no wonder that fly fishing in Montana is at the top of many anglers’ bucket lists. From the famous Clark Fork River to the lesser-known hidden gems, this article will guide you through the best fly fishing spots in Montana.

Clark Fork River

One of the must-visit rivers for dry fly fanatics, the Clark Fork River offers incredible fishing opportunities throughout the year. Whether you prefer throwing pmd’s in the summer or mahoganies in the fall, there will always be fish rising in this river. With its back eddies filled with pods of rising fish, the Clark Fork River is a paradise for dry fly fishing enthusiasts.

Blackfoot River

Made famous by Norman Maclean in his book “A River Runs Through It,” the Blackfoot River is a magical place for fly fishing. With its stunning beauty and abundant native trout, it’s no wonder that anglers flock to this river. Whether you prefer fishing with attractor dry flies or nymphs, the Blackfoot River won’t disappoint.

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot River offers some of the best spring fishing in Montana. With the skwala stonefly hatch in late March and early April, anglers have the chance to catch some of the biggest trout in the river. But the fishing doesn’t end there – major stonefly, mayfly, and caddis hatches happen all summer and fall. Whether you enjoy dry fly fishing or nymphing, the Bitterroot River has something for everyone.

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is a true trout stream that every angler dreams of. With its riffles, runs, pools, cutbanks, boulders, and strainers, it offers a variety of habitats for trout. Known for its famous salmonfly hatch in late May and early June, Rock Creek provides year-round fly fishing opportunities. Whether you’re a dry fly purist or prefer nymphs or streamers, this river will not disappoint you.

Missouri River

The Missouri River, often called “the Mo” by locals, is a giant spring creek that offers excellent fly fishing opportunities. With its impressive population of trout, you can fish small dries or nymphs and still have a successful day on the water. As a tailwater river, the Missouri fishes well all year round, making it a popular destination for anglers. Be sure to check out the latest fishing reports before heading out.

Gallatin River

With its close proximity to Bozeman, the Gallatin River is a great option for anglers visiting the area. From pocket water and riffles to braids and undercut banks, this river has it all. The cookie-cutter rainbows and browns make for a great day of catching, whether you prefer dries or nymphs.

Madison River

The Madison River is one of the most famous rivers in Montana, renowned for its incredible fishing and stunning scenery. With its shallow and fast-moving water, fishing behind boulders and in mid-river buckets is the way to go. The river is best known for its salmonfly hatch in late June, but there is good dry fly fishing throughout the summer and fall.

Beaverhead River

The Beaverhead River, located near Dillon, is a tailwater river with big browns and rainbows. While it may look like an irrigation ditch, don’t be fooled – the fishing here is fantastic. Whether you’re using small dries or nymphs, there are plenty of fish to be caught. In August, when the water is released from the dam, the streamer fishing becomes downright amazing.

Big Hole River

The Big Hole River is a freestone river in southwest Montana that offers spectacular fishing opportunities. Known for its salmonfly hatch in June, this river attracts anglers from across the globe. But the fishing doesn’t end with the hatch – springtime skwala fishing, as well as fall mahoganies, BWOs, and streamer fishing, make the Big Hole River a must-fish destination.

Smith River

The Smith River is a hidden gem known for its breathtaking scenery and wilderness feel. To float-camp along this 60-mile stretch, you’ll need to obtain a permit through a lottery system. While the Smith River is not known for its trophy potential, it offers fantastic fishing for brown and rainbow trout in the spring and early summer. Be sure to make the most of nymphs and streamers when fishing this river.

Yellowstone River

Montana’s biggest un-dammed river, the Yellowstone River, is a paradise for cutthroat, rainbow, and big brown trout. Whether you’re fishing in Yellowstone National Park or the lower trout water near Big Timber, this river will not disappoint. With its impressive hatches, including salmonflies, PMDs, BWOs, and terrestrials like hoppers, ants, and beetles, the Yellowstone River offers a diverse and exciting fly fishing experience.

Bighorn River

The Bighorn River near Fort Smith is one of Montana’s most famous tailwater rivers. With its abundance of browns and rainbows, you’ll have the opportunity to catch lots of fish in the 14-18 inch range. The Bighorn River is best fished with small tailwater flies like scuds, sow bugs, and small mayfly patterns. Don’t miss the massive hatches of small tricos and BWOs that occur throughout the year.

Jefferson River

While not as well-known as its neighboring rivers, the Jefferson River should not be overlooked. Despite past issues with dewatering for irrigation, this river offers great fishing opportunities in the spring and fall. Whether you’re targeting drake and BWO hatches or throwing streamers for big fish, the Jefferson River has something for every angler.

Ruby River

The Ruby River is a small and intimate river below Ruby Dam. With its productive grasshopper fishing and abundance of brown and rainbow trout, it’s a wade fisherman’s paradise. While floating is limited, the Ruby River offers great opportunities for dry fly fishing with caddis, PMDs, and terrestrials. Don’t overlook this river, as it often gets overshadowed by its more famous counterparts.

Hidden Montana Fly Fishing Spots

In addition to the well-known rivers, Montana offers countless hidden gems for adventurous anglers. These secret spots are closely guarded by those who hold them dear. Exploring the blue lines on a map in the western half of the state can lead to discovering streams and rivers with big fish that few people know about. These untouched waters can become your personal haven, creating memories that will last a lifetime. When people ask where you fished in Montana, simply reply, “Nunya” – because some secrets are best kept to ourselves.

In conclusion, fly fishing in Montana is a dream come true for any angler. With its abundance of stunning rivers and unparalleled trout fishing opportunities, Montana truly lives up to its reputation as an angler’s paradise. Whether you choose to fish the famous rivers or explore hidden gems, one thing is certain – Montana will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. So pack your gear, grab your flies, and experience the magic of fly fishing in Montana.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *