As the sport of fly fishing gains popularity, more and more anglers from around the globe are discovering new hot spots for trophy fish and the killer views that come with them. From the wild frontiers of Alaska to the exclusive sandy beaches in the Seychelles, these are the 30 most incredible places to fly fish.
From June to September, the Alagnak River, located only an hour and a half from Anchorage, is home to five species of salmon and is truly a fly fishing must. If remote is what you’re looking for, this 80-mile Alaskan river is ideal. Fly fishers planning to visit the Alagnak River must access the river via float plane, so booking accommodation at one of the river’s four lodges is highly recommended. While the fishing alone makes this location exceptional, the Alagnak is also recommended for the other native Alaskan wildlife of which you are sure to catch a glimpse, such as bear, moose, and otter.
The Amazon River
The Amazon Basin is the largest fresh-water system in the world and if adventurous fishing is your game, Brazil is where you need to be. This area is known for its bizarre species of fish such as the piranha and the peacock bass, the latter of which is an aggressive fish that most anglers only dream of catching. To have a really successful fishing trip in Brazil, experts recommend venturing into the remote areas of the Amazon, which can seem daunting. In areas such as these, it is always best to hire a local fishing guide as they will know the lay of the land well and make your experience safer and much more productive. Fishing season on the river can be extremely fickle, but planning a trip from September to March is your best bet. Considered the last “last frontier,” the Amazon River in Brazil is as incredible as it gets.
Crystal-clear water and big catches are only a couple of the perks that come with a fly fishing vacation to the Bahamas. With multiple islands to choose from, planning a trip to one of the Bahamas’ famous fly fishing lodges is extremely attainable. Different islands offer a range of different amenities, depending entirely on your preferences. Remote or easily accessible, wading or boating, affordable or luxurious — the Bahamas have it all. No matter which island you land on, you’re sure to experience some of the best fishing flats in the world. Bonefish, tarpon, and permit fish are easily caught year round, and with such a beautiful setting, don’t be surprised if your family wants to tag along.
For some of the best and most challenging large fighting-fish experiences, book a trip to Baja, Mexico. Anglers visit this saltwater mecca to try their hand at catching local Yellow Tail, Wahoo, Tuna, and several other species. Because of the difficulty associated with fly-fishing in Baja, hiring a guide who is familiar with the area is important and well worth-it. Fly fishing in this area is available year round.
Hop on a two-and-a-half hour flight from the U.S., and you’ll find yourself in the fly fishing paradise of Belize. This Central American country features an entire coastline of saltwater flats that are perfect for catching an assortment of fish, including bonefish, tarpon, and barracuda. With several affordable fishing lodges to choose from, fly fishers both novice and experienced will discover some of the greatest fishing in Belize. If the world-class fishing isn’t enough to get you there, the sandy beaches and luxurious resorts are pretty persuasive, too.
The Biloxi Marsh
Down in Louisiana, fisherman of all skill levels enjoy fly fishing on the 35,000-acre waterland known as the Biloxi Marsh. What the location lacks in beauty and scenery, it makes up for in epic fishing. If it’s a trophy redfish you’re after, plan a trip to the Biloxi Marsh during the fall and winter months. Keep in mind, these waters can be challenging, so tagging along with a local guide will get you one step closer to the hot spots in this fly fishing labyrinth. The good news is, regardless of your luck on the water, there’s a drink waiting for you 45 minutes away on Bourbon Street.
New York is famous for a lot of things, but would you guess it’s where American fly-fishing first gained popularity? Beginning in the 1890s with legendary angler Theodore Gordon, the Catskills are known for being home to some of the best fishing locations in the Northeast. A quick two-hour drive from New York City will put you in Sullivan County, where historic rivers and lakes are abundant and fishermen both new and veteran can find tranquility amongst trout. For a true Catskills experience, spend the day at Neversink River, the place where it all began.
Don’t let the name deceive you. Christmas Island is one of the most remote and unique fly fishing destinations in the world. Officially a territory of Australia, Christmas Island is located somewhere between Hawaii and New Zealand. Surrounded by islands that were once used for nuclear testing during WWII, you can probably guess why these islands are so isolated. Don’t let that deter you, as Christmas Island is made of beautiful saltwater flats that are perfect for wading. Anglers searching for bonefish, the elusive milkfish, and the ginormous trevally will strike gold.
It is hard to discuss fly-fishing without mentioning Colorado. This state takes the sport seriously and because of that, anglers will find some of the most spectacular trout fishing around. When searching for a fly-fishing destination in Colorado, check if the river or stream has been deemed a ‘Gold Medal Trout Water’. This is an award the Department of Natural Resources gives to locations that “consistently support a minimum trout standing stock of 60 pounds per acre”. Some of these noteworthy bodies of water include North Delaney Lake, The Frying Pan River, and the Animas River. These epic locations offer not only some of the best fishing, but also some of the most amazing views in Colorado.
United Arab Emirates
Fly fishing in Dubai is the polar opposite of just about every other destination on this list. Trade tree-lined streams for man-made fish habitats, and mountains for skyscrapers, and you’ve got an idea about what it’s like to fly fish in the UAE. But trust us, fly fishing for game fish in Dubai is just as satisfying as catching a trophy in Montana. One thing that makes the fishing here so special is the variety of fish available. Barracuda, milkfish, and several species of trevally can be found in Dubai waters, making an already unique experience even more appealing to an angler with a bucket list.
A two-and-a-half hour flight from Perth will land you in the remote fishing capital of Exmouth, Western Australia. Famous for having both bluewater and flats, Exmouth is as diverse and fun as it gets when it comes to fishing. In these crystal-clear waters, anglers will find monster trevally, permit, bonefish, and several other species present on their bucket list. There are fish to be caught year round in these parts, but experts recommend skipping February and March as it is peak cyclone season.
One of the most famous fly fishing destinations in the world is the Florida Keys. Home of the “big three” (permit, tarpon, and bonefish), the Keys will provide some of the most exhilarating fishing you’ve ever done or will do. Due to the warm weather, it’s technically always fishing season here. However, experts swear by the fall months. With fewer crowds and hungry bonefish, anglers are sure to make a few noteworthy catches. If you find yourself visiting the Florida Keys during the months of May and June, locals recommend taking a trip to Big Pine Key for the Palolo Worm hatch. Prepare to see hundreds of tarpon putting on a show while they feed on these coral worms. It’s a fly-fishing dream come true.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
North Carolina and Tennessee
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most visited parks in the U.S., and for good reason. Accessible via Tennessee or North Carolina, this National Park is a habitat for wild trout, including the native Appalachian brook trout. With over 2,100 miles of streams to choose from, there’s a section of the park for every angler. The park is open for fly fishing year round, but keep in mind that fishing permits are required and some streams throughout the park are closed to protect certain species.
Iceland offers one of most unique fly fishing experiences around. Rivers in Iceland follow the ‘beat system’, meaning the number of rods allowed on the river each day is determined by how many fish come out of the river in a season. Because Iceland follows this system, anglers hoping to fly fish in this region are guaranteed some of the most exclusive fishing in the world. The rivers receive very little pressure and the fish stock in Iceland is always balanced. Although fishing in Iceland can be very expensive, the promise of large trout, Arctic char, and Atlantic salmon makes the experience well worth it.
Roughly the size of California and with only one access road, the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia is considered one of the most pristine fly fishing locations in existence. Describing Kamchatka as remote is an understatement. Most areas of the peninsula are only accessible via helicopter, making this untouched fishing paradise appealing to those who don’t mind going off the grid. As far as accommodations go, visitors have the option of booking overnight floating trips or staying in fixed basecamps. Both options provide anglers with a rustic experience in wild Russia that is truly once in a lifetime. As for the fish that call Kamchatka home, be prepared to catch wild rainbow, impressive Pacific salmon, and a char species aptly named the ‘Super Kundzha’.
Lake Coeur d’Alene
Due to conservation efforts put in place by the state’s government, Idaho has some of the most pristine and productive fly-fishing environments in America. Although you’ll find supreme fishing destinations throughout the state, Lake Coeur d’Alene in Northern Idaho is especially noteworthy. This secluded area is home to native cutthroat trout that are both abundant and strong. ‘Catch and Release’ areas throughout the Lake have maintained this reputable spot’s integrity and keep locals coming back every season. Clear waters, tree-lined shores, and a skyline of mountains make Coeur d’Alene one of the most serene places in the country.
Lower Zambezi National Park
For one of the most incredible fly fishing experiences you can have, make the trek to Zambezi National Park in Africa. The Zambezi River sits at the top of Victoria Falls, and is home to the elusive carnivorous Tiger Fish. Keep in mind, this unique fly fishing destination is best experienced with a guide, as it is truly in the wilds of Africa. Besides encountering native fish you may not be familiar with, you’re sure to catch a glimpse of a crocodile or resident hippo. Anglers find success all year round on the Zambezi River, but locals recommend visiting from May through December for the best odds.
While it may come as a surprise to some, northern Mongolia is at the top of our list when it comes to epic fly fishing locales. Home to some of the most picturesque rivers in world, Mongolia is famous among anglers for having a bounty of the largest fish around. Often measuring between 30-40 inches long, the Mongolian taimen is a trout worth seeing. In northern Mongolia, only four rivers are open to international fishers, and guests must be accompanied by a fishing guide. It’s also worth noting that because the rivers are considered sanctuaries, all fly fishing is catch and release. It is these regulations that help keep Mongolia’s rivers pristine and the experience so memorable.
When it comes to fly fishing in the U.S., Montana may be the most well-known — which also means crowds. Some rivers in Montana, such as Smith River, are so coveted that they award their fishing permits on a lottery system. Thankfully, the state of Montana has more fishable streams and rivers than you could fish in a lifetime. A few noteworthy spots worth checking out: Firehole River, where the banks are lined with geysers and the water smokes; the Madison River, a wide and shallow river where good fishing spots run for 50 miles and the trout average at 16 inches long; and Bighorn River, considered one of the best fisheries in the world and home to 6,000 fish per square mile.
Narrow Hills Provincial Park
To experience several incredible fly fishing locations in one, visit Narrow Hills Provincial Park in Saskatchewan, Canada. This popular fly fishing destination is home to more than a dozen beautiful lakes where the fish are as abundant as the views. Frequenters of the Canadian park recommend visiting the Gem Lakes, a series of small lakes aptly named because of their clear, picturesque waters. When you’re not catching native walleye, perch, pike, or trout, take a hike through the park and experience Canadian wildlife first hand. With campsites and nearby beaches, this is a spot the entire family can enjoy.
When it comes to fly fishing in New Zealand, you have two options: the North Island or the South Island. The good news is, regardless of which side of New Zealand you decide on, stellar fishing and even better views await you. The North Island is known for its pristine lakes and streams where rainbow and brown trout grow large. If you’re a beginner angler, you may find you prefer the North Island as fishing in the South is considered a bit more laborious (think ‘quality-vs-quantity’).
In the 1970s, Norway waters were introduced to a parasite that was severely detrimental to the salmon population. Since then, Norway has worked hard to eradicate the parasite and regain its reputation as a world-class fly fishing destination. Known for its large salmon (some of which weigh in at 30 pounds!), the Norway fishing scene is unparalleled. Heavily wooded areas and pristine emerald waters make for some of the most beautiful views available, while easily accessible waters make Norway a great location for veteran and amateur anglers alike. Just keep in mind, there are several conservation efforts at play in Norway and it’s important to adhere to what is expected.
As a state, Arkansas is streaked with streams and rivers throughout. But when it comes to the best spots for the fly fishing, visitors and locals flock to the Ozarks. The Ozarks are where you’ll find the famous White and Norfolk Rivers. These bodies of water are fed via the Bull Shoal Dam, which makes the water ripe with nutrients and ideal for trophy brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout. With over 100 miles of fishable river, anglers of all degrees will find success regardless of whether their preferred method is wading or floating. While in the Ozarks, make it a priority to also check out some the warm water fishing spots, such as the Buffalo River, where you can try your luck at catching the indigenous Ozark Bass.
Chile and Argentina
Perhaps one of the most well known fly fishing destinations (with good reason) is Patagonia. Located between Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is famous for its breathtaking wilderness and untamed rivers. One ‘must-fish’ river in Patagonia? The Rio Grande. Perfect for wading, this Argentinian/Chilean river is home to the Sea-Run Brown Trout, which can weigh in at a monstrous 30 pounds. Regardless of which side of Patagonia you decide on (Argentina or Chile), you are guaranteed epic fishing and breathtaking views.
What has recently become one of the most popular spots for fly fishing, Cuba is a beautiful untapped fishing destination that is well worth the visit. Whether you are looking to catch permit fish on beautiful sandy beaches, or visit a fresh-water fishery near the Bay of Pigs, Cuba has a fishing trip for everyone’s bucket list. Because traveling to and around the area can be complicated, booking a tour is highly recommended. Be prepared to book your excursion well in advance as openings fill up quickly.
If you only make one fly fishing expedition, why not make it where modern-day fly fishing began? Those hoping to make the pilgrimage will find themselves an hour and a half outside of London at the River Test. Made famous by angler and author F.M. Halford, the River Test is not only worthy of a visit because of its history, the fishing isn’t bad either. The river runs for 40 miles and is home to trout, grayling, and Atlantic Salmon.
San Juan River
With year-round fishing and trout aplenty, experts say the San Juan River is a location every fly fisher should experience at least once. Located just south of Colorado, this New Mexico fly fishing destination is set in the high desert, which makes for a unique and picturesque day on the river. Because the San Juan receives tailwater from the Navajo Dam, the river stays consistently cool with nutrient-rich water. This makes for an ideal breeding ground for bugs — and feeding ground for trout. With that being said, local guides remind visitors that warm clothing is always a must (even in the summer season), and good quality waders are extremely important. If a floating tour is more your style, local guides are always available for hire. Due to the unique setting, the San Juan River does have a tendency to become crowded. Locals recommend visiting the river on weekdays during peak season, or experiencing the San Juan from November to March.
One thousand miles off the coast of Africa, visitors from all over the world are experiencing epic fly fishing on the islands of the Seychelles. Famous for isolated lodges, giant fish species, and some of the most beautiful beaches you’ll probably ever see, the Seychelles are at the top everybody’s bucket list. This saltwater paradise is home to some of the most exclusive fishing tours in the world. We’re talking as few as six guests per week, with some seasons lasting only four weeks. Once there, expect to see one of the most diverse lineup of fish. Local species include milkfish, parrotfish, permit, and bonefish.
Steelhead Alley, Lake Erie
Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania
Spanning three states is a section of Lake Erie locals affectionately refer to as Steelhead Alley. Along this “alley” you will find 14 separate streams that are trout tributaries and therefore prime for fly fishing. The best months to plan a visit to Steelhead Alley are October through December, or March and April. This 200-mile stretch is an ideal location for both new and veteran fly fishers, mainly because of its diversity. With a variety of streams to choose from, every fisherman can have an incredible experience.
Yellowstone National Park
Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming
With over 2,600 miles of streams, Yellowstone National Park offers the largest fly fishing opportunity in America. One of the many perks of this famous destination is the variety of experiences found in the Park. Whether you are looking for an easily accessible stream, or willing to hike miles to find the perfect remote location, Yellowstone has an area for every fisherman. Fishing season runs from May to November. No matter what time of year you choose to visit, make it a goal to catch a native Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.