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Top 3 Fly Fishing Rivers in Idaho

Several of the most famous fly fishing waters in the country flow through Idaho. The eastern border with Montana and Wyoming is geographically defined by the Continental Divide where the cold clean headwaters of the major Northwest rivers flow off the Rocky Mountains. This region provides anglers a lifetime of trout fisheries to explore.

Here is an introduction to the 3 best fly fishing rivers in Idaho:

  1. The Middle Fork of the Salmon River
  2. The Henry’s Fork of the Snake River
  3. The South Fork of the Boise River
best idaho fly fishing rivers

Middle Fork of the Salmon River



Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Bull Trout, Chinook Salmon (no fishing season), Steelhead (no fishing season), Mountain White Fish

Region: Central Idaho Wilderness

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River flows 109 miles from the north end of the Sawtooth Mountains (near Stanley Idaho) to its confluence with the Main Salmon River (near Salmon Idaho).  The Middle Fork cuts through the 2.3 million acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area, and is one of the most pristine wild and scenic rivers in the country.  The river flows through the Impassable Canyon which is the third deepest canyon in the country.  Since it’s in the middle of an enormous wilderness area, it’s important to consider access to the river.  The best way to experience Middle Fork Salmon River fishing is to float from Boundary Cr (or Indian Cr later in the season) either on a private trip with experienced boaters or on a guided Idaho fly fishing trip.  The other ways to access the Middle Fork are to hire a backcountry air service to fly you into one of the few airstrips along the river, or to take the trails on foot or horseback (20 miles minimum to get to the river) from the trailheads surrounding the edge of the wilderness boundary.

About the River

The Middle Fork has been a catch & release, single barbless hook, wild fishery since 1973.  The Middle Fork has one of the highest density population of wild cutthroat trout population over a 100+ mile section of river of anywhere in the world.  The Middle Fork is famous for dry fly fishing.  There are 3 major tributaries (Big Creek, Camas Creek and Loon Creek) that are also productive cutthroat and rainbow fisheries.  There are wild Chinook and Steelhead that travel over 900 miles to and from the ocean to spawn on the Middle Fork.

Fishing Regulations for the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

Middle Fork Salmon River Fly Fishing Trips with Solitude River Trips

Our Summer Fishing Season is from July to August, and our Fall Fishing Season will often run from September into October. Salmon River Idaho Summer Fly Fishing trips are unforgettable – you will fish the largest variety of stimulating fly water in one float than anywhere else in the West. 

Fall Fly Fishing the Middle Fork of the Salmon River involves some ideal fishing conditions. The temperature cools, the water gets lower and slower, and we have the whole Wilderness nearly to ourselves. We offer Drift Boats or custom fishing rafts during our summer season, and Fishing Rafts only during our smaller September trips. 

We also offer mild to wild Middle Fork Salmon River rafting trips throughout the summer and into early fall.


idaho fly fishing rivers

Henry’s Fork of the Snake


Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Mountain Whitefish

Region: Eastern Idaho

Some of the best fly water in the country flows westward from the Teton & Yellowstone Mountains, where ribbons of aquatic life stream into the desert of Eastern Idaho. The Teton River, The Henry’s Fork and the South Fork of the Snake (ordered from smallest to largest) are the three major headwaters of the mighty Snake River. Their confluence is near Rexburg, Idaho. The most prestigious is the Henry’s Fork, although a trip to Eastern Idaho mandates an adventure on each of these unique fly waters (as well as Henry’s Lake).

About The River

Henry’s Fork is famous for large Brown and Rainbow trout, thick hatches, and technical presentations (dry and subsurface). There are 3 major sections of the Henry’s Fork: Henry’s Lake to Island Park Reservoir (including the confluence with Big Spring), from Island Park Reservoir to Mesa Falls, and below Mesa Falls.  Of the 130 miles between Henry’s Lake to the confluence with the Snake River, the middle section (including Box Canyon and Railroad Ranch) is the most acclaimed.

Rules & Regulations on Henry’s Fork of the Snake.

best fly fishing rivers in idaho

South Fork of the Boise


Rainbow Trout, Bull Trout, Whitefish, Brook Trout (above Anderson Ranch Reservoir), Kokanee (above Anderson Ranch Reservoir), Smallmouth Bass (near confluence with Arrowrock Reservoir)

Region: Southwest Idaho

The headwaters of the South Fork of the Boise River flow off the south and west slopes of the Sawtooth Mountains and the Smoky Mountains.  The upper and lower sections are separated by Anderson Ranch reservoir.  

About the River

The most popular and productive section for fly fishing is the tailwater between Anderson Dam Reservoir and the Blacks Cr. Bridge.  From the dam to Danskin Bridge provides easy road access.  The canyon section below Danskin Bridge provides some fantastic and less pressured trout water, but can only be accessed by a committing and challenging float.  The South Fork of the Boise doesn’t have the prestige of Idaho’s traditionally acclaimed trout waters (such as Henry’s Fork, Silver Creek, South Fork of the Snake, The Middle Fork if the Salmon, or Kelly Creek), but this cold tailwater holds some of the largest rainbows in the state for a river of its size.  Along with the Owyhee River, this is a popular day trip destination for Boise anglers.

Rules & Regulations on the South Fork of the Boise.

idaho fly fishing rivers - middle fork fly fishing


Contact Us at Solitude River Trips for More Information


Solitude River Trips offer the most comfortable, convenient, and unforgettable wilderness Middle Fork Salmon River fly fishing and Idaho whitewater rafting experiences in North America. We are ready to get you out on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River! Our 6-day trips are designed to provide families, friends, lovers, or solo travelers with the most unforgettable and high-quality adventure vacation of their lives.


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