If you’ve been spending much time on the water in the past few years, you might have noticed that your favorite rivers are crowded. Fly fishing has been getting more popular in the last few years — especially after the COVID-19 pandemic stopped everyone’s routines and encouraged folks to get outside.
While fishing enthusiasts (like us) are happy to see more and more people discovering the joy of a weekend out on the water, it’s hard to deny that this new popularity comes with a few drawbacks. Crowded campsites and skittish fish aren’t a recipe for a successful fishing trip!
But here’s one of the most incredible things about fly fishing: you can do it anywhere.
As long as you can pack up your fly rod and fly box, you can fish practically anywhere on Earth. And frankly, you should! There are rivers, lakes, and oceans worldwide that boast great fishing, breathtaking views, and an experience you’ll never forget.
For those new to the sport of fly fishing, the question. “What are the best places to go fly fishing ?” may come to mind. Let’s look at some of the best places in the world for fly fishing.
Between the icy expanse of Greenland and the European continent sits Iceland, an island nation less than half the size of Colorado (with about 6% of CO’s population). This little country may seem like a fly-over location, but it’s a must-visit spot for anyone who loves to fish.
Why? Two words: Lake Thingvellir.
This gorgeous lake is just over 32 square miles, and it is packed with some of the best fly fishing you’ll find in Iceland (maybe even the world). You can fish for three of Iceland’s five native freshwater fish here — brown trout, arctic char, and three-spine stickleback — while enjoying the stunning forest landscape.
Best Time to Fish: Late spring and summer are the best times to fish Lake Thingvellir. Fishing season runs from April 20 to September 15, though you’ll want to plan your trip around the fish you want to catch. May is prime trout season, and char tends to be best from mid-May to July.
Know Before You Go: The first thing you need to know about fly fishing in Iceland is to plan ahead. Fishing permits for early in the season sell out quickly, so it’s best to start working on getting that permit ASAP. If you want to check out some of the other fly fishing Iceland offers, you can also purchase a “fishing card” that gives you access to 36 lakes across the country. This card comes in at around 70.00 USD and is an excellent value for the traveling angler!
The second thing you need to know: PACK COLD WEATHER GEAR. Even if you visit in the height of summer, the average summer temperature in Iceland tops out at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the time to layer up, grab your thick gloves (Simms GORE-TEX Infinium Half Finger Gloves), and get ready to enjoy some brisk Iceland air.
The Lolo National Forest in Montana is one of the most beautiful locations in Big Sky County, and Rock Creek is no exception. This creek runs for 52 miles of incredible Montana forest, and it’s a hotspot for all kinds of freshwater fish, especially trout. You’ll find rainbow, brown, cutthroat, bull trout swimming in these waters, and some Rocky Mountain whitefish.
Rock Creek is also an excellent location for folks who might be new to fly fishing. The creek has several easy access points, and one of the best salmon fly hatches in the state — which means there are plenty of fish feeding at the water’s surface.
Best Time to Fish: You can fish Rock Creek any time of year (in fact, many anglers prefer fishing here in winter). However, those legendary salmon flies mentioned above start hatching in mid to late June, which can lead to a truly great day on the water with the potential trout of a lifetime.
Know Before You Go: Obviously, you will need a license to fish in Montana. These licenses can cost anywhere from $13 (a two-day resident pass) to $70 (an annual non-resident pass). However, we should note that fishing in Montana is free for kids under 11, and kids 12-14 don't need a license if they're with an adult who has one.
Also, it's important to mention that while fishing is welcome year-round at Rock Creek, fishing from a drift boat or raft is banned from July 1 to November 30. This helps prevent the creek from getting congested with high numbers of float anglers (which is an excellent policy if you ask us). If you're visiting Montana during the summer and looking to target Rock Creek, plan to do your fishing from the banks. This is a great time to invest in a great pair of waders as well. Options like the Simms Freestone Z’s or the G3 Guide Waders are fantastic options at two different price points.
There's a reason that the Florida Keys is called "the sportfishing capital of the world." This group of islands off the Florida coast are home to heart-pumping saltwater fish adventures, with waters filled with bonefish, tarpon, and permit, just to name a few–some of the most sought-after species to chase with a fly rod.
The village of Islamorada is a Mecca for fly anglers, especially those who want to chase tarpon. With the nearby everglades and the vast expanse of the Atlantic ocean, you’ll always find new waters to explore — and new species ready to give you all they’ve got.
Best Time to Fish: One of the great things about fly fishing in the Florida Keys is the year-round availability. The warm weather means that fishing is always an option, and there are different fish on offer throughout the year. If you’re looking to catch a permit or bonefish, you can start in February (sometimes even late January) and fish through March. The Tarpon join the party in April but can be found as early as February, and May is a great month for all three fish.
Fishing remains consistent throughout the summer, with September being one of the best months for fishing in Florida. While Tarpon are typically few and far between in the winter months, you can catch bonefish, snook, redfish, and more well into October, and the winter months are ideal for catching barracuda.
Know Before You Go: You don’t keep the title of “sport fishing capital” without taking steps to avoid overfishing. This is why the Florida Keys have some strict regulations you’ll need to follow during your trip. Regulations vary by species (for example, barracuda have a bag limit of two fish per person, while bonefish are a catch and release only species), so make sure to check the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website before you consider taking your catch home.
One thing you always hear from fly anglers is how much they love the tranquility of the sport. And we get it! Standing in waders, keeping eyes and ears out for fish, and silently soaking in the great outdoors is one of our favorite things about fly fishing. But sometimes, you want a trip that's like nothing you've ever done before, and that is when you head to Tierra Del Fuego.
At the southern tip of Chile and Argentina, this archipelago is known for two things: crazy winds and monstrous fish. Brown trout in this region average 7-15 pounds, but catching a 20-lb beast is hardly uncommon!
Best Time to Fish: The fishing season in Tierra Del Fuego runs from October to April (remember, that's summer in the southern hemisphere). However, most experienced anglers recommend this region in February or March.
Know Before You Go: There are a few crucial things before buying your ticket to Tierra Del Fuego, there are a few essential things. Firstly, keep in mind that all the lodges in the area have a strict catch and release policy–similar to the waters of this caliber in the Western United States. Secondly, if you're fishing in Tierra Del Fuego, you need to be ready for a battle. These big brown trout don't give up without a fight, and they know how to use the river's flow to their advantage. Not only that, but research has shown that the fish in Tierra Del Fuego are about 17% heavier than other trout of comparable size! One thing is sure in Tierra Del Fuego, this South American spot will make for one incredible fishing trip and is a place many only experiences once in a life time.
Alaska may be “The Last Frontier,” but for many fly anglers, it’s number one on their places to visit. And this is particularly true for Bristol Bay! This body of water is home to Arctic grayling and rainbow trout, and Bristol Bay is the world’s largest source of sockeye salmon.
With so many fish in the water, you have a good shot at catching something impressive in Bristol Bay. But even if the fish aren’t biting, this area is well worth the flight. Alaska is full of incredible wildlife, and there’s a good chance you’ll see a brown bear or moose during your visit.
Best Time to Fish: The fishing season in Bristol Bay starts in early June, but the best time for your visit will depend on what you want to catch. King salmon are prime fishing from mid-June through July, but the state strictly stops all king salmon fishing after July 31. Sockeye are biting from late June through July, and rainbow trout make their appearance in the Bay from mid-August through October.
Know Before You Go: The most important thing to know about fly fishing in Bristol Bay (or any part of Alaska) is to check the local regulations before you head out. You will need a fishing license to fish anywhere in the state, but regulations like size limits and rules for reporting non-native species vary in each region. These regulations are subject to change, so always check the state’s Department of Fish and Game website before making your way up north.
This UK fishing spot is right up your alley if you're looking for a trip boasting quantity and quality. The river Tyne in Northumberland, England, is home to tons of salmon and sea trout, and the fish run the river all year long. The adventurous angler can also benefit from the peat-stained water here; it makes the fish more confident, making finding them a much easier task.
Best Time to Fish: The UK's fishing season starts early, with anglers casting out on the Tyne in February. April and May are popular months for trout fishing, but you can catch trout, salmon, and grayling well into September and October.
Know Before You Go: If you're in the UK and want to fish the Tyne, you will have to purchase a one-day Tyne Angling Passport (TAP). You'll also want to make sure that you have some colorful flies (red is a fantastic color–consider that a secret), so the fish can see them through the peat-tinged water. Make sure your hooks are size 6 or smaller, as larger hooks are not permitted. It's also important to note that the Tyne does have some catch and release policies to conserve the river's salmon population. Any salmon caught before June 16 must be returned.
You might have noticed that we didn’t specify a single city here. There’s a good reason: New Zealand offers incredible fishing throughout the country, with wildly different offerings on each island. The North Island is a great spot for plentiful rainbow trout fishing, while the South Island is great for anglers who want to fish for salmon or brown trout with a mouse pattern.
For the experienced fly angler, New Zealand presents a unique set of challenges. This island nation is sparsely populated (especially on the South Island), and the fish tend to be very skittish at the slightest shadow or ripple. If you plan on going to New Zealand stealth will be key but can have you hooked into the fish of a lifetime.
Best Time to Fish: New Zealand, like Tierra Del Fuego mentioned above, sits in the southern hemisphere. This means that ideal fishing is from December through June. However, the specific month for your visit will depend on where you plan to fish; the best fly fishing season on the South Island is December through March, while the North Island offers better fly fishing from October through April.
Know Before You Go: Anyone who plans to do freshwater fishing in New Zealand needs to obtain a fishing license, which you can purchase at most sporting goods stores in the country. You do not need a license to do saltwater fishing, but there are some regulations you will need to heed. These include bag and size limits and species restrictions. Make sure to check up on local regulations before you fish.
Obviously, we couldn’t finish this list without talking about a fishing spot in our own state of Colorado. And what better selection than South Platte River, a 439-mile beauty that boasts nearly 3,000 fish per mile? If you want to get incredible brown and rainbow trout without getting too far from home, this river is the perfect place for you.
Best Time to Fish: The incredible quantity and quality of fish in the South Platte River has reached mythic status. However, this does mean the river can get very crowded and the fish get picky. But don’t worry; caddis flies hatch year-round around the river, so locals can fish pretty much all year long (provided they layer up in the winter). But if you’re looking for optimal conditions, it’s best to wait until spring or summer.
Know Before You Go: Regulations for the South Platte River vary depending on where you’re fishing. For example, anglers from Cheesman Dam down to the Wigwam Club can only perform catch and release tactics only, while fishers from the Wigwam Club down to the Scraggly View picnic ground can take home two fish 16” or longer. Here at Trouts, Colorado is our specialty, we have a laundry list of important landmarks and spots we can offer to the new South Platte Angler.
Of course, there is one thing you should know before you fish anywhere: you need to have good equipment on hand! Here at Trouts, we can help you find the very best rods, reels, flies, and more to help ensure your fishing success.
Trouts Fly Fishing has been one of Colorado’s top fly shops for over 25 years. We are avid fly anglers ourselves, and we’re ready to set you up with everything you need for your next fishing adventure. Check out our selection in our store today, or contact us with any questions about specific items.