Fly Fishing on the Middle Fork

Middle Fork Salmon River Fly Fishing Guide

The configuration of our fleet of boats provides a range of activity options, including fly-fishing. Oar rigs that carry 2-4 guests and are rowed by a guide. This setup offers the best fly-fishing option. Although these boats are not rigged exclusively for fly fishing, they work perfectly for the casual fisherman. If you are specifically interested in a fly-fishing trip, we highly recommend our September Middle Fork Trip, designed exclusively for fly fishing enthusiasts.

Idaho Fly Fishing Checklist

Here is our list of gear suggestions for Middle Fork anglers, from beginner to seasoned veteran.

  • License | You can purchase an Idaho fishing license at fly-fishing shops in Stanley or Boise. Licenses are also available online or by phone at 1-800-554-8685. Licenses are required for any anglers aged 14 or older. Non-resident licenses are sold by consecutive days. If you are taking a September fishing trip, purchase your license to cover all the days of the trip. If you are on a summer rafting trip and won’t be doing a lot of fishing, get a license for the middle days of your trip, as they provide the best fishing opportunities.
  • Rods | If you choose to bring your own rod any fly rod that is balanced for line weights 4-7 and lengths 8-9 feet will set you up for success. Make sure the rod is in an unbreakable case. Avoid bringing classic or collector rods. We provide Echo and Orvis rods that are 8 to 9 feet in length with 4 or 5 weight line.
  • Lines | Floating fly line, either double-taper or weight-forward, is recommended. The fly line weight should be matched with the rod weight. Behind the fly line should be enough backing (18- to 20-pound test Dacron) to fill the reel.
  • Leaders | We recommend 4X or 5X tapered leaders. Two or three should be plenty to get through the trip, allowing for backups. Bring a spool of 4- or 5-pound tippet material as well.
  • Sunglasses | Eye protection is important. We recommend polarized sunglasses for spotting fish through the reflective glare of the water. A lanyard or other retaining device is essential.
  • Hat | A wide-brimmed hat comes in handy for protection from the elements and the occasional misguided fly
  • Tools | Bring a fingernail clipper, or “angler’s clipper,” for trimming leader and tippet. Small needle nose pliers, or similar tools, are helpful for “debarbing” hooks. Middle Fork regulations require that all barbs on hooks be flattened.
  • Flies | See our recommended flies below

Middle Fork Salmon Flies

The Middle Fork of the Salmon supports a hearty population of westslope cutthroat and rainbow trout. Trout thrive here and are aggressively attracted to a variety of fly patterns. Below are some recommended flies that our guides have had success with. The images below show flies with barbs. Keep in mind that the Middle Fork is a catch and release stream and fishing must be done with single, barbless hooks.

Selecting a Fly

“I usually start with a fly that coincides with recent hatches. From there, I’ll try different colors. For me, the fly color is almost more important than the fly. I’ve seen Middle Fork fish go crazy for a purple pattern but won’t even rise for the same fly with a black pattern.” – Skip Volpert, Idaho River Journeys Guide

Learn more about choosing a fly and the different strategies that go into it.