Fly Fishing Streams
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Our Top 5 Favorite Trout Fly Fishing Streams in the U.S.


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There's nothing quite like fly fishing for trout. Not only is the fishing itself exciting, but my fly fishing trips have led me to some pretty incredible places and introduced me to some pretty great people. Over the years, I've been lucky enough to fly fish some of the best streams and rivers in the country. Some of them were filled with nonstop action, and others, while maybe slow, provided me with some incredible views of magazine worthy landscapes. The scenery itself is yet another of the big draws of fishing the country's best trout waters for most fly anglers. If you're looking for a new spot to fly fish, one filled with monster fish and beautiful scenery, these are the five trout streams that I try to visit whenever I get a chance.

The Elk River, West Virginia

Fly Fishing Streams

Dylan Hayward

The Elk River is one of my all-time favorite streams to fly fish. It sits inside the Allegheny Mountains and has a catch-and-release section that is about five miles long. If you do visit the Elk River, be prepared to see a lot of fellow anglers, as it draws people from all over the country due to how large the rainbows and browns get. Some of these are native, but the stream is also stocked annually. I have caught rainbow trout well over 20 inches in The Elk River and the browns will give you a fight that is hard to beat in the eastern United States. There are several fishing guide services and fly schools along the Elk River. For a newer fly fisherman, I can heartily recommend this one as one as an ideal place to learn the ropes.  The Ruby River, Montana

The Ruby River, Montana

Fly Fishing Streams

Fly Fishing Streams

If you're an experienced angler, you've probably heard countless recommendations about fishing The Ruby River. Well, I'm here to say, it's true. Take those recommendations and grab your fly rod. The river starts in the southwest corner of Montana in the Gravelly Range, as it flows down big sky mountains and leads into the Ruby Reservoir. The upper half of the Ruby offers some great fishing for rainbows and cutthroat, while the bottom half has some of the best brown trout numbers I have ever experienced. Access to this river is pretty limited and might require some wading to get out of brushy banks. Most of the river flows through private land, but I have had great success knocking on doors to ask for permission. If you're willing to put some miles on your boots and get waist deep, you can consistently land rainbows in the 16 to 20-inch range, As if the fishing opportunities weren't already great, this river provides gorgeous mountain views like you have never seen before.

The Arkansas River, Colorado

Fly Fishing Streams

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The Arkansas River offers possibly the best trout fishing in all of Colorado. The season is year-round but perhaps the best time of the year to get out there with your fly rod is in late April and early May when the annual Caddis hatch occurs. The river also offers some of the best views in the country with the snowy peaks of 15,000-foot mountains shining in the backdrop. So, even if your fishing is slow, it will at least be easy on the eyes and allow for some great pictures. This is a great one if you just want to relax on your fly trip. There is great public access for anglers near Buena Vista and the mild river is great for those who prefer to wade. A recent study of the river showed that it averages nearly 4,000 fish per mile, and most are rainbows that can reach nearly 20 inches in length. Caddis, midges, and mayflies are all great fly choices in this river, as the hatches are very abundant.

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Brookville Tailwater, Indiana

Fly Fishing Streams

Dylan Hayward

If you live in the Midwest like I do, you might be thinking that fly fishing locally is out of the question, and that any hope of landing big trout is hundreds of miles away. This is simply not true. The Brookville Tailwater gives Midwesterners a taste of fly fishing paradise that offers monster browns and rainbows! The tailwater is only about two miles long and flows into the Whitewater River, but those two miles can be as productive as some of the best streams in the country when it is timed right. The best time to fish the tailwater is early to mid-spring, drifting a midge or nymph, although I have had great luck using baitfish pattern streamers. For the Midwesterner that doesn't have much experience fly fishing, there are several guides near Brookville that offer fly fishing schools and wading tours year-round. The tailwater also offers some great largemouth and smallmouth fishing during the summer months when the trout aren't biting. We also love the easy access. It's located less than a day's drive from multiple states including Michigan, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, and West Virginia.

Au Sable River, Michigan

Fly Fishing Streams

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For anyone that lives in Michigan, the Au Sable River is the mecca for trout fishing. It's a honey hole that they probably wish was kept quiet, and I don't blame them. The river starts just northwest of Grayling and flows eastward to Lake Huron. Au Sable is known for its heavy population of brown and rainbow trout, however, you can expect to encounter some salmon and steelhead near Lake Huron, depending on the time of the year. My favorite time to fish the Au Sable River would have to be in the early summer when hatches of hex flies are abundant. Get there at the right time, and the evenings are nonstop action as browns attack the hex like they're candy. This hex hatch is what makes the Au Sable River so incredible and why it should be on every angler's bucket list.
There are countless streams in the US that offer incredible trout fishing for new and experienced anglers, but these are the five we can recommend to anyone at any time. Ensure that you bring the proper gear and equipment, and check with local guides and fly shop owners to hear about the recent hatches. Soak up every second of the excitement that fly fishing brings, but also make sure to enjoy the beautiful views that nature offers to us daily.

READ MORE: WHAT I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I STARTED FLY FISHING

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