9 Best Places for Trout Fishing In The US (Maps Included)

Fly fishing is immensely popular in the US and its popularity has only grown in the last few years. More and more people are becoming fly fishers and using this amazing sport to connect with nature.

trout fishing in the us

If you are lucky enough to live in the US then you are never far from some of the most famous rivers for trout fishing in the world. There are actually so many fly fishing destinations in the US that it can be hard to choose where to fly fish as almost every state offers great trout fishing rivers and lakes to spend one’s time at.

In this article, I am going to run through the best trout fishing in the US so you can have a handy guide, or bucket list, to tick off as you travel around this amazing country with your fly rod in hand.

Yellowstone River, Montana

yellowstone river montana

The Yellowstone River starts its life in Yellowstone National Park and the river flows out of the park and through Montana. It’s one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever had the pleasure of fly fishing on but it doesn’t come without its challenges.

Once the river leaves the national park it gets big and with so much water, it can be hard for fly fishing beginners to work out where the native trout are ready and waiting to sip a fly. That being said, there are a ton of trout in this river and some trophy trout too.

You will find brown and rainbow trout as well as cutthroat trout and mountain white fish in this stunning river.

Being such a big river, the Yellowstone is best fished from a drift boat as this will give you access to the most productive fly fishing holes and you’ll be able to cover a lot more water than by wading.

The dry fly fishing on the Yellowstone is excellent for all the trout species too and you can catch large trout on streamers and nymphs too.

Yellowstone is just one of the places you can visit when fly fishing montana.

Where To Fish On The Yellowstone River

The section of the Yellowstone between Gardiner and Carbella is packed full of cutthroat, rainbow, and brown trout and if you drift this section you will have some of the best trout fishing of your life.

You will find this spot on the map below and trophy fish await!

Recommended Flies For The Yellowstone

Since you will find large brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout in this river, you will want quite an array of flies. Here is what you need in your fly box for all the different trout species.

  • Terrestrials (brown ant, hoppers, beatles)
  • Beadhead prince nymph
  • Beadhead pheasant tail
  • White moth
  • Elk hair caddis
  • Adams
  • BWO

Green River, Utah

green river utah

A rather special spot that is home to some of the best trout fishing in the US is the Green River, specifically where it flows out of the flaming gorge dam, aka flaming gorge reservoir. This part of the river is a blue-ribbon trout stream and is home to an estimated 8000 trout per mile, so the trout fishing is off the charts!

You will find different trout species in this river including brown trout, rainbow trout, cutthroats, and cutbows too. The fly fishing in this river runs all year round as the warm water from the reservoir ensures the water temperature keeps the trout active, so it’s an awesome place to go fly fishing in winter.

This river is home to some big trout and together with using the right fishing gear it is highly recommended to go fly fishing with a guide to get the best of this fantastic river. Aside from the Green River, there are many great places in fly fishing utah that you can also visit.

Where To Fish On The Green River

The most productive section of this river for trout fishing in is the upper portion near the outflow of the dam. This is the area with the whopping 8,000 trout per mile, so be ready for some of the best trout fishing of your life.

Recommended Flies For The Green

The Green is renowned for its midge hatches and thus small flies are the order of the day plus some terrestrials too.

  • Tungsten Zebra Midge – size 16
  • Pheasant tail nymphs – size 14 to 18
  • Chernobyl Ant – size 10
  • Wooly bugger – size 4
  • Parachute Adams – size 18

Deschutes River, Oregon

Deschutes River, Oregon

The Deschutes River is one of the most famous trout streams on the West Coast of the United States and is home to big fish in the form of wild trout and wild steelhead too.

The massive trout in this river will take you for a ride, as will the steelhead, so you will want to fish a little heavier than usual and use a 7 or 8-weight fly rod.

The brown trout and rainbow trout can be rather selective in the Deschutes so having the right flies and matching the hatch is key. If you are looking to catch a wild steelhead then be on the river in early spring for the best steelhead run.

You might want to visit our post here if you’re planning going on fly fishing oregon for a full guide on the best destinations to fly fish!

Where To Fish On The Deschutes

The 100 miles of river between where the Deschutes meets the Colombia River and it flows out of the Round Butte Dam are some of the most productive waters. You will catch trout all day long, and large trout at that, plus steelhead.

You can also head up a few of the tributaries like the white river for some spectacular trout fishing.

Recommended Flies For The Deschutes

  • PMD
  • Purple Haze
  • Renegade
  • Clouser Minnows
  • Wooly Buggers
  • Green Drake
  • Caddis

Madison River, Montana

Madison River, Montana

The Madison River is one of the most famous trophy trout streams on the planet and fly anglers from across the world travel to fish it every year.

What makes this river such a gem is the combination of the larger trout that call it home, great fly hatches, and the stunning Montana scenery that surrounds it. The trout fishing is so good on the river that it is often referred to as the 50-mile riffle which speaks volumes.

The Madison is home to west slope cutthroats, brown and rainbow trout plus native mountain whitefish to boot with between 3000-5000 trout per mile.

There are plenty of great sections to fish between the 183 miles of river which starts at the confluence of the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers and ends where it meets the Jefferson River and Gallatin River to form the headwaters of the Missouri River. Here are some of the hot spots!

Where To Fish On The Madison River

The section of the Madison below Hebgen Lake and Quake Lake is fantastic and always guarantees an amazing day of fly fishing.

If you want a hike and to have the river to yourself head to Bear Trap Cayon where you will find one of the best trout fishing sections of the Madison and one of the most beautiful too.

Recommended Flies For The Madison

  • Salmon flies
  • Beadhead Prince Nymph
  • Pheasant Tail Nymph
  • Stimulators
  • Terrestrials
  • Adams
  • Rubber Legged Stone Fly

Bighorn River, Montana

Bighorn River, Montana

The Bighorn River snakes its way between Wyoming and Montana and is another of the best trout fishing rivers in the US. You will find plenty of cutthroats, browns, and rainbow trout in this amazing river and some large trout pushing 20 inches too.

You will find great hatches between spring and winter on this river ranging from drakes to large terrestrials in July and August. If you love throwing a dry fly, you will love this river!

There are lots of different sections of river to cast a fly on from the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming to the most famous and popular sections around the Crow Reservation in Montana.

So if you ever want to visit Wyoming, you can see our post here on fly fishing wyoming for a full guide.

Where To Fish On The Bighorn River

The fishing around Thermopolis in Wyoming is some of the best you can experience on this river as you won’t have to handle the crowds of Montana. You can wade or float the river, and be sure to hit all the riffles and pools along your way.

Recommended Flies For The Bighorn

  • Green Drakes
  • Midges
  • Tricos
  • PMDs
  • Hoppers
  • Ants
  • Beatles

Snake River, Idaho

Snake River, Idaho

The Snake River is another of the most famous fly fishing rivers in the US and the world. It is home to native cutthroats, browns, and rainbows plus the scenery around which you’ll be casting a fly is nothing short of mind-blowing.

My favorite thing about the Snake is how easy it is to access and that it never feels crowded so you won’t be hustling for space on the bank as you fish it.

The fish in the Snake is not to be fooled around with as big trout over the 20-inch mark are very common.

Where To Fish On The Snake

The 70 or so miles of river that run between Henry’s Fork and the Palisades Reservoir are where you should focus your efforts on this river. This area is stunning and packed full of trout with great access too.

You can wade this section or you can float it, and floating it with give you more success since you can access some of the inner riffles and pools.

Recommended Flies For The Snake

  • Zebra Midges
  • Streamers
  • Caddis
  • Green Drake
  • Salmonflies
  • Caddis

Salmon River, Idaho

Salmon River, Idaho

The Salmon River is a very unique river as it is home to a large range of species including bull trout, rainbows, browns, cutthroats, steelhead, and even salmon.

To get into the waters of Idaho the salmon and steelhead have an amazing 800-mile journey to complete before they find their spawning grounds and you will find them in the river between spring and fall.

If you want to target the salmon and steelhead be sure to bring a heavier rod in the 7/8 weight range, and for the trout, a 4 weight will be the most fun.

There’s a lot of destinations that you can go on fly fishing idaho, and the Salmon River is one of them

Where To Fish On The Salmon

The area around the towns of Salmon and Carmen are great places to cast a fly on this magical river. The access is easy, the river is teeming with fish, and you can wade to your heart’s content too.

Recommended Flies For The Salmon

The North Platte River, Wyoming

The North Platte River, Wyoming

The North Platte flows through both Wyoming and Colorado and it is world-famous since it produces trout that weigh in at 10lbs plus regularly.

You don’t want to go to this river under-gunned so be sure you are casting at least a 6-weight with 6lb tippet as if you hook up to one of these lunkers without this, you will lose the battle. You should also have a trout reel with a disc drag so you can control their blistering runs.

The Colorado section of the North Platte is heavily fished but the parts in Wyoming are far less crowded and offer much better trout fishing.

Here is a more in depth guide on the best places to fly fish in colorado.

Where To Fish On The North Platte River

A large part of this river is privately owned in Wyoming but there is public access to the section in the Beaurea Of Land Management Area. This is a spot with big rainbows and browns so come prepared.

Recommend Flies For The North Platte River

  • Spinners
  • Tricos
  • Large Streamers
  • Clouser Minnows
  • Wooly Buggers
  • Caddis
  • Adams

South Platte River, Colorado

South Platte River, Colorado

The South Platte River is another of the most famous rivers in the US and it is home to more than 3000 fish per mile which also makes it incredibly popular with fly anglers. This means the fish are wise and not so easy to catch but there are some trophies to be had with fish pushing the 20-inch mark regularly.

You should fish the South Platte after the spring snow melt as it can be too high sometimes and you will want to get off the beaten path to avoid the crowds.

Where To Fish On The South Platte

Cheeseman Canyon is, without doubt, the busiest section of the river and it holds a lot of fish too, to get away from the crowds, hike up the spring creeks that flow into this section.

Recommended Flies For The South Platte

  • Parachute Adams
  • Elk Hair Caddis
  • Loop Wing Emerger
  • BWO
  • Copper John

Winding Up

As you can see, there are some spectacular places to go trout fishing in the US, some of the best places in the world for trout fishing in fact. If you live in the US, a road trip to the western states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho is a must, so get planning for your summer vacation.

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