Flathead River Fly Fishing

The Flathead River flows through the broad and beautiful Flathead Valley near Glacier National Park, Whitefish, MT, and Bigfork, MT. Enjoy dry fly fishing for native westslope cutthroat trout while floating down this glacial influenced gin clear western freestone.

Flathead River Description

The Flathead River near Glacier Park is a large beautiful western freestone river. Draining a size-able portion of NW Montana, including parts of Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, the waters of the Flathead River flow swiftly through some of the most beautiful scenery Montana has to offer. We guide our fly fishing float trips on the Flathead River above Flathead Lake.  Here the Flathead River flows through the upper Flathead Valley, home to such popular towns as Whitefish , Columbia Falls, and Kalispell, MT.  The river here is wide and frequently quite deep and fly fishing is best done from a drift boat. As the water in the Flathead River is fed predominantly by snowmelt and mountain lakes, the water is usually quite cold even well into the summer keeping our wild cutthroat trout hungry for dry flies through-out the warmest times of late summer . For most of its journey above the lake, the Flathead River flows very swiftly but gently, not slowing down until it reaches the lake effected waters south of Kalispell.

Flathead River Fly Fishing

Flathead River Fly Fishing

Most of the fly fishing we do on the Flathead River during the summer is done with dry flies. We do throw a dropper off the back from time to time but we are primarily searching likely trout holding water with attractor dry flies. The Flathead is a glacial influenced river so the hatches are not as prolific as some of the more famous rivers in Montana. But neither are the crowds. This results in much less fishing pressure and generally more willing fish. We do get slightly muted versions of all the western freestone hatches. Opportunities to match the hatch and cast to rising cutthroat trout are common the first half of summer and again in the fall. The latter part of summer is typically terrestrial fishing with ants, hoppers, and small foam variations as our main patterns of choice.

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Flathead River Cutthroat Trout

The Flathead River is one of the last strong holds for pure strain wild westslope cutthroat and bull trout. We also have a decent population of wild rainbows that have sustained in the system since their introduction in the 70’s. Fish size is generally 8-16″ but we normally get opportunities at larger fish and an occasional fish approaching the 20″ mark on our guide trips.

Flathead River Fly Fishing Patterns & Hatch Guide

Kids love fly fishing the Flathead River
A chunky fall Flathead River native westlope cutthroat