We’ve already compiled lists of our favorite bass fishing and ice fishing states. Today, we’ve come up with our top eight favorite locales for fly fishing.
Undoubtedly, we’ve left off a few great fly fishing states, so let us know which of your favorite spots we’re crazy for excluding.
Otherwise, enjoy the slideshow and start planning your 2014 fly fishing vacation.
If you’ve read our other lists of top fishing states, you probably knew that you were going to see Michigan on this one. And while we’ve opted to list our favorite fly fishing states in no particular order, without much hard science to the choices we’ve made, there’s a good chance that Michigan would still be at the top of the list if we had done a ranking.
RELATED: Top 10 States for Bass Fishing
The combination of the stunning, sprawling Great Lakes and countless other bodies of water put Michigan above other states that only have access to one or the other.
However, Michigan isn’t on the top of this list simply because it has a lot of great waters for fishing. On the contrary, the state earns its badge as a great fly fishing state because it is essentially the cradle of fly fishing in the United States. Brown trout, the fish that most fly anglers go after on a daily basis, were first released to United States waters in Michigan in 1884 (they’re a native European fish, in case you weren’t aware). And Trout Unlimited, the organization that works toward the conservation of trout and salmon nationwide was founded in Michigan back in 1959. Without this state, who knows what American fly fishing would even look like?
Florida is for saltwater fly anglers what Michigan is for freshwater fly fishermen: the absolute mecca of all that is great in the sport of fly fishing. The Florida Keys, the Everglades, and a range of spots along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are what makes Florida famous as a fly fishing destination, but the state’s range of inland waters are worth checking out as well. Sizable bass can be found pretty much anywhere in Florida, whether you’re fishing a quiet pond or a city-side canal.
Montana’s appeal is very similar to that of Wyoming. A state with a county called “Big Sky” obviously has a lot to offer in terms of sprawling, wide open expanses, and those expanses contain plenty of great fly fishing locales for anglers to seek out.
Montana is all about the rivers, streams, creeks, other tributaries, and it frankly doesn’t really matter where you go: the fishing is great almost across the board. For sizable trout, our recommendation is the Bighorn River in the eastern portion of the state, but if you’d prefer to just get off the grid and find fishing spots on your own, then more power to you.
If you start looking at lists of the best fly fishing destinations in question, you’ll probably see Wyoming pop up more than you might expect for the union’s least populace state. But think about it: a state with a lower than average population is actually a great place to fish. In Wyoming, you’ll find a greater number of wide open expanses and more great fishing lakes with nobody fishing them than in possibly any other state.
Sure, Michigan and Florida are great for fly fishing, but everyone knows they are great. In Wyoming, it’s like every fishing locale is a best-kept secret. If what you’re looking for is solitary fly fishing and time alone with your thoughts, then Wyoming can’t be beat. The Wind River Canyon is probably the state’s most famous fly fishing spot, with huge trout for anglers who decide to fish it, but the state has plenty of other treasures for intrepid angling explorers to discover on their own.
No self-respecting list of the nation’s best fly fishing states could possibly leave off the Empire State. From the Oceanside fishing available to residents (or visitors) of Long Island and Montauk, all the way to the traditional river and stream fishing you’ll find in the Adirondacks or especially in the Catskills, there’s little doubt that New York is a stunning fishing destination for anglers.
You didn’t think we were going to leave Colorado off the list, did you?
Residents of the state are fond of saying that it has a wider reach of trout residing waters and a greater number of fly anglers than any other state in the country. Those boasts aren’t wholly inaccurate: Colorado is a haven for fly fishermen, and if you want to retire in a great fishing state, then Colorado might well be your best bet.
The big attraction here, of course, is the rivers, as the Platte River, the San Juan River, and the Colorado River all have great things to offer in terms of fly fishing. But like Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, and so many other great fishing states, this state is on our list as much for its number of beautiful locales as for its number of trout.
Speaking of getting off the grid, if you really want to disappear, then nothing compares to the escape you’ll get from heading to Alaska for a fly fishing endeavor. The landscapes will undoubtedly be some of the most beautiful you will ever see, but the real draw of the state (for us, anyway) is the great fly fishing.
You can catch a wide range of species here from salmon to rainbow trout to pike, and the wilderness is so vast that you will never exhaust the number of fishing spots you still want to try.
It would be impossible to leave Idaho off this list, because it’s the place that all anglers go when they want to face the ultimate challenge of the fly fishing world.
Read enough fly fishing literature and you’ll hear time and time again that Silver Creek and the Snake River (specifically the Henry’s Fork portion) are two of the most viciously challenging trout fishing locales on the planet. Idaho houses both of them. Win or lose, succeed or fail, these rivers simply must be fished if you’re a diehard fly angler.