Fly fishing in Jackson Hole is described by the area’s most seasoned guides as a truly magical experience. In fact, few locations worldwide compare to Jackson Hole’s combination of breathtaking scenery, legendary fishing and accessibility for all skill levels. Whether you’re an expert angler on a Jackson Hole fly fishing pilgrimage, or want to cast a fly rod for the first time, come share in the magic of our valley and surrounding waterways. Explore our numerous world-renown fishing options and pursue the revered fine-spotted cutthroat trout in its only native habitat, our majestic centerpiece—the Snake River.
How It Works
Most fishing trips take place as a half- or full-day outing floating downriver in a drift boat big enough for a guide and two guests to comfortably fish from as you pass a variety of water features and landscapes. Wading is difficult in some of our rivers and fishing from shore can have accessibility issues, so this is generally reserved for more instructional trips where certain spots work well. While going at it on your own is rewarding, hiring a guide is strongly suggested. The options and information can be overwhelming without their expert local knowledge and fishing on their drift boats entirely changes the game!
Note: All fishing in Jackson Hole is catch and release in order to maintain our healthy populations of wild trout!
Quick Facts for Jackson Hole Fly Fishing
- Duration: Guiding companies offer mostly half- or full-day trips that can begin early in the morning. Full days usually last between 7-9 hours, but can be as short as 6 or as long as 12, depending on where you go.
- Cost: Prices are discussed per guide, which usually covers 2 guests. Half-day trips cost around $650; full-day trips 750. Some outfitters offer lessons between 2-4 hours on land or riverbank for $150-$400.
- Where? Your guide will generally pick you up and return you to your hotel. Trips often fish the Snake River, its more remote tributaries and other nearby rivers. Discuss your options with a guide based on conditions, where the fish are biting and how far you want to go.
- Ages: For river trips, children should be old enough to enjoy floating in a small drift boat for a half or full day. If the duration is a concern, ask outfitters if they offer shorter wading trips.
- Intensity: Easy. Fly fishing trips are not physically strenuous and have amazing scenery to enjoy for a rest or snack break.
- Highlights: Mastering that perfect cast, meeting the elusive cutthroat trout and the anticipation of what beauty lies around the next bend in the river.
There’s a reason so many fishing guides live and work here. Jackson Hole fly fishing is best for catching fish and improving your fly fishing skills in the solitude of beautiful wilderness.
On your end, a fly fishing trip is a wonderful way to spend a day interacting with Jackson Hole from an entirely new perspective as your focus zooms in on the subtle riffles and eddies of the rolling water while hunting for the ideal spot for that next cast or mend. If a member of the group prefers not to fish, they can still come along—the trips are essentially a beautiful scenic tour regardless if the fish are biting or not.
Guides here are absolute fishing experts who spend hundreds of days a year on the water. They are also instructors whose patience and range of knowledge of technique and terrain will be appreciated by both novice and expert anglers. Even if you’ve never heard of a “fly rod” before, you’ll be up and running at fish on your very first day.
Traveler's Tip: Book ahead if possible!
What Are My Options?
Two big decisions govern any fly fishing trip before you get started: when to go and where to go. It’s entirely your choice, but since conditions can be so particular and different, you’ll want to ask your guide to explain the best options and give a recommendation.
In terms of location, Jackson Hole boasts an array of legendary fly fishing hot spots, each with their own unique features and attractions. Start out with a section of the famous Snake River as it braids its way alongside the spectacular Cathedral Group of the Teton Mountain Range. Other notable options include the Green River, the Henry’s Fork of the Snake in Idaho, Flat Creek on the National Elk Refuge, the South Fork just off Palisades Reservoir in Idaho, the lakes and streams of Grand Teton National Park, and, of course, rivers in Yellowstone National Park, including the famous Firehole.
For more details, check out our related article, An Angler's Paradise and Grand Teton National Park's fly fishing brochure (PDF).
When To Go Fly Fishing?
The best times for fly fishing in Jackson Hole focus on avoiding the big spring snowmelt runoff that swells the rivers and makes them too fast and murky for good fishing. Mid-March into April can be a great, uncrowded time before the snow begins to melt. After this, the best fishing usually doesn’t resume until the runoff dies down in June. The fly fishing season goes strong until November, but of course, the late summer months through September are most popular due to the warm, dry weather and perfect outdoor adventure temps.
With a guide, just about everything:
- Rods and reels
- Boat and lifejackets
- Some snacks and beverages
- Lunch on a full-day trip
- Round-trip transportation
What Should I Bring?
It depends on the time of year, of course, but you’ll want to be comfortable for many hours outdoors on the water. Dress in layers since the temperature can change dramatically over the course of even a nice day. A jacket in case of showers, shoes that can get wet are helpful and any additional snacks or beverages you may want. Sun protection including a hat, sunscreen and buff is important. Sunglasses are a must for fishing and guides will have extras. Polarized eyewear is great to reduce glare while you constantly survey the water surface.
Related article: Packing for Jackson Hole
You will use your own flies and/or lures, so if you don’t have equipment you’d like to bring, your guide will stop at a shop. You are also required to have a fishing license (about $24 per day) and can purchase it at the shop unless you bring one. Don’t forget to bring cash for these expenses.
Travelers tip: It is also customary and expected to tip your guide. They will undoubtedly show you a great trip, and, well, someone’s got to row!
The Last Word
Fly fishing in Jackson Hole is a special and unique way to interact closely with the local rivers. Much of the face of our valley here is dominated by the rough physical beauty of the mountains, so to spend a day focused on the smaller nuances of our waterways is a treat for anyone. These strong rivers, running creeks and delicate streams form the veins of the earth.
Explore them out here in the solitude of the Wild West for a day of fly fishing and make your cast at catching the Big One! Flyfisher’s tip: Look out for bald eagles and don’t let them take your fish!