fly fish wa

Fly Fishing in Washington: An Enthusiast’s Report

The Best Fly Fishing Locations in Washington State

Fly fishing in Washington state

Washington State is home to some of the finest fly fishing destinations in the country. From pristine mountain streams to vast lakes, the Pacific Northwest offers anglers an abundance of opportunities for a thrilling day of fishing amidst some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Here are some of the best fly fishing locations you can find in Washington State:

1. Yakima River

The Yakima river, located in Central Washington, is widely regarded as one of the best fly fishing destinations in the state. Its cold, clear water is ideal for trout fishing, and the river is home to rainbow, cutthroat, and bull trout. The best time to hit the Yakima River is between March and November when the river is full of fish.

2. Olympic Peninsula

The Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington is another great fly fishing location, with rivers such as the Hoh, Bogachiel, and Queets offering excellent fishing opportunities. This area is home to steelhead, cutthroat, and rainbow trout. While the Olympic Peninsula can get crowded during peak season, anglers can still find isolated pockets of water where they can cast a line without any distraction from the crowds.

3. Methow River

The Methow River is another excellent fly fishing location in Washington State. The river is home to wild rainbow and cutthroat trout, with steelhead and salmon making an appearance during certain seasons. The Methow has a variety of water to fish, including pools, riffles, and runs, making it an ideal spot for beginners and seasoned anglers alike.

4. Lake Lenore

Situated in North Central Washington, Lake Lenore is a fantastic still-water fly fishing destination. This 4,000-acre lake is home to Lahontan cutthroat trout, which can grow up to 12 lbs. Lenore is popular with fly fishers because of its year-round fishing and the chance to catch monster-sized fish.

5. Klickitat River

The Klickitat River in Southwestern Washington is another popular fly fishing destination, especially during the fall when steelhead enter the river to spawn. The river boasts excellent runs, pools, and riffles that attract steelhead, coho, and Chinook salmon.

These are just a few of the many excellent fly fishing locations you can find in Washington State. Whether you are a novice or an experienced angler, there is always a new spot to explore and a new challenge to be found in the Pacific Northwest. So pack your gear, grab your fishing buddies, and hit the road to see what Washington State’s waters have to offer.

The Yakima River: A Premier Destination for Fly Fishing in Washington State

Yakima River fly fishing

The Yakima River is one of the top destinations for fly fishing in Washington State, and for good reason. Its pristine waters are home to an incredible variety of fish, including rainbow trout, brown trout, and cutthroat trout.

The river is located in central Washington and runs for more than 70 miles. It flows through breathtaking canyons and valleys, providing fly fishers with stunning scenery as they cast their lines.

One of the highlights of fly fishing on the Yakima River is the abundance of hatches throughout the year. From March to May, blue-winged olives and skwala stoneflies hatch, providing an excellent opportunity for dry fly fishing. In the summer months, caddis and mayflies become prevalent, while the fall sees an increase in the number of October caddis and blue-winged olives.

To truly make the most of your fly fishing experience on the Yakima River, consider hiring a local guide. They can help you navigate the river and find the best spots to catch fish, as well as provide invaluable insight into the local fish species and fly patterns that work best on the river.

The Klickitat River: An Underrated Gem for Fly Fishing in Washington State

Klickitat River fly fishing

Fly fishers looking for some solitude and quiet should consider visiting the Klickitat River. While it may not be as popular as the Yakima River, it still boasts excellent fly fishing opportunities, particularly for steelhead.

The Klickitat River is located in south-central Washington and flows for more than 75 miles. Its clean, clear waters are ideal for fishing, and the river’s long pools and riffles provide ample opportunities to catch rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and steelhead.

The best time to fish the Klickitat River for steelhead is from October to November, with the peak season typically occurring in mid-November. During this time, the river sees an influx of steelhead from the Columbia River, making it an excellent spot to catch these elusive fish.

While the Klickitat River is less developed than some of the other fly fishing destinations in Washington State, it still has plenty to offer. It’s an excellent option for fly fishers who want to avoid the crowds and immerse themselves in nature while casting their lines.

The Olympic Peninsula: A Fly Fishing Haven in Washington State

Olympic Peninsula fly fishing

The Olympic Peninsula is a fly fishing paradise in Washington State. Spanning more than 3,600 square miles, this region boasts some of the most diverse and abundant fly fishing opportunities in the state.

The Olympic Peninsula is home to several rivers and streams, including the Hoh River, the Sol Duc River, and the Queets River. These waterways are teeming with fish, including steelhead, salmon, and trout.

One of the standout features of fly fishing on the Olympic Peninsula is the scenery. The region is characterized by its rugged coastline, towering mountains, and old growth forests, providing a stunning backdrop for fly fishers as they cast their lines.

Like the other fly fishing destinations on this list, the Olympic Peninsula offers a variety of hatches throughout the year, ensuring that fly fishers can enjoy excellent fishing no matter when they visit.

Whether you’re a seasoned fly fisher or a beginner, the Olympic Peninsula has something to offer. The region is home to several experienced guides who can help you navigate the waters and catch fish, making it an excellent destination for anglers of all skill levels.

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout is one of the most common species of fish that you can catch while fly fishing in Washington State. It can be found in almost every river and lake in the state and is a favorite among most anglers. Known for its beautiful colors and fighting ability, Rainbow Trout can be caught using a variety of fly fishing techniques.

When it comes to fly fishing for Rainbow Trout, it is important to choose the right fly to match the hatch. Depending on the season and location, Rainbow Trout can feed on a variety of insects. Therefore, it is important to research the area you plan to fish and bring an assortment of flies.

Cutthroat Trout

Cutthroat Trout

Cutthroat Trout is another common species of fish that you can catch while fly fishing in Washington State. It is native to the Pacific Northwest and is often found in coastal streams and rivers. Known for its distinct red or orange slash under its jaw, Cutthroat Trout is also a favorite among anglers.

When fly fishing for Cutthroat Trout, it is important to understand their feeding patterns. They are often found feeding on small insects such as mayflies and caddisflies. Therefore, it is important to bring a selection of dry flies and nymphs to match the hatch. Cutthroat Trout are also known for their aggressive strikes, making for an exciting day on the water.



Steelhead is one of the most sought-after species of fish that you can catch while fly fishing in Washington State. They are known for their incredible fighting ability and can be found in coastal rivers and streams. Steelhead can also be found in some of the larger rivers in Eastern Washington.

When fly fishing for Steelhead, it is important to use the right equipment and techniques. Steelhead are often caught using two-handed fly rods and Spey casting techniques. They are usually caught using large, brightly colored flies that mimic their prey.

It is important to note that Steelhead are a prized catch and are often released back into the water. Therefore, it is important to handle them carefully to ensure their survival.

In conclusion, Washington State is a fly fisherman’s paradise. With a variety of fish species and scenic locations, it is no wonder that anglers from all over the world come to Washington to experience the joy of fly fishing. Whether you are a seasoned angler or a beginner, there is always something to catch while fly fishing in Washington State.

Choosing the Right Fly Fishing Rod for Washington State

Fly Fishing Rod in Washington State

Fly fishing is an excellent way to explore the beautiful rivers and lakes in Washington State while catching some of the most sought-after fish species. When choosing a fly fishing rod, it is essential to consider the type of fish you intend to catch, the size of the water body, and the type of fly fishing technique you plan to use.

For small streams and creeks, a lightweight rod between 6-8ft is suitable. For larger rivers and lakes, a 9ft rod is a good bet. A longer rod gives you more power and casting distance, which can be beneficial when fishing in larger water bodies. Consider choosing a rod with a weight between 3-5 for smaller fish like trout, and 6-8 for larger fish like salmon and steelhead.

When purchasing a fly fishing rod, buy one with a slow to medium action. Slow action rods are more flexible and absorb more of the fight from the fish, while a medium action rod offers more versatility in casting distance and accuracy. Lastly, ensure that the rod fits your casting style and feels comfortable in your hand.

Selecting the Appropriate Fly Reels and Lines

Fly Fishing Reel and Line in Washington State

Once you have a fly fishing rod, it’s time to select the appropriate fly reel and line. The size and weight of the reel should match your rod’s weight and size. A solid design and a well-made drag system are essential in a fly reel. A fly reel with an excellent drag system can save fish from breaking off your tippet or fly during a fight.

Fly lines are available in multiple weights, colors, and styles. A weight-forward line provides the best casting distance and accuracy, while a double taper line provides a delicate presentation and is useful in smaller water bodies. It is essential to match the weight of your fly line with your rod and reel.

Leaders, Tippets, and Flies


Leaders, tippets, and flies are the critical components that help catch fish while fly fishing in Washington State’s rivers and lakes. A leader is a clear, tapered fishing line that connects the fly line and fly together. It provides a smooth transition between the thicker fly line and the thinner tippet, which attaches to the fly.

Tippets come in various lengths and thicknesses. A thicker tippet works well with larger flies, while a thinner tippet works well with smaller, delicate flies. It is essential to match the tippet’s strength to the fish species you intend to catch.

Flies come in different styles, colors, and sizes. It is vital to match your fly with the type of fish food and the fish species in the water body you are fishing. Washington State is home to different species of fish. Therefore, it is helpful to carry a few different fly types in your gear.

Waders and Boots for Fly Fishing in Washington State

Fly Fishing Waders and Boots

Waders and boots are essential gear for fly fishing in Washington State. They provide comfort and protect you from the cold waters while making casting and fishing easier.

When choosing waders, consider the style you want, material, and size. Chest-high waders provide more water protection, while hip waders are useful in shallower waters. Waders made from breathable and waterproof materials like Gore-Tex or neoprene are suitable for fishing in different water body types and during different seasons. Ensure to buy a size that comfortably fits you, allowing room to move.

Boots should provide good traction on slippery rocks and surfaces in the river and should be chosen to match the wader type you own. Felt sole boots provide excellent traction, but many states are banning them due to invasive species issues. Rubber-soled boots with a good tread pattern work well in various conditions.


conclusion fly fishing

Fly fishing gear is an essential part of a successful fly fishing expedition in Washington State’s numerous rivers and lakes. Choosing the appropriate fly fishing gear ensures that you catch more fish, stay comfortable, and enjoy the experience. When shopping for fly fishing gear, ensure that the equipment matches the fishing conditions and the fish species you intend to catch. Remember to stay safe and be responsible while fishing in Washington State’s numerous rivers and water bodies.

Spring: The Season of Trout Fly Fishing in Washington State

Spring Fly Fishing in WA

Spring in Washington State is the season for trout fly fishing. With the warmer weather, the trout start to become more active and feed more aggressively. It’s the perfect time to bring out your dry flies and nymphs to mimic the insects, and catch trout. The Yakima River is a popular spot for springtime trout fishing. The water is clear, and the bugs are abundant.

If you’re looking for something more challenging, try fly fishing for steelhead in the rivers and streams. They are known for their strong fight and acrobatic jumps when hooked but can be a bit challenging to catch. The Hoh River and Skagit River are some popular spots for steelhead fly fishing in Washington.

Summer: Washington State Fly Fishing for Trout and Smallmouth Bass

Summer Fly Fishing in WA

Summer is the time for outdoor fun in Washington State, and fly fishing is no exception. Trout fishing in the high alpine lakes like Lake Crescent and Lake Wenatchee is a must-do in summer. Smallmouth bass in the Snake River is also popular during this season.

But summer is also the season with plenty of other fish varieties available, including carp and cutthroat. Carp can be found in the lower stretches of the Columbia River. On the other hand, cutthroat trout can be spotted swimming in the Cedar River, along with lots of rainbow trout.

Fall: The Best Time for Fly Fishing Washington for Steelhead and Salmon

Fall Fly Fishing in WA

Fall is when the fishing in Washington gets even more exciting. The rivers fill up with salmon, steelhead, and bull trout. The steelhead run is one of the best fishing adventures that Washington State has to offer.

The Olympic Peninsula is an ideal place for fly fishing steelhead in the fall. The Skagit and Skykomish Rivers are also popular spots to catch steelhead. Additionally, fall is an excellent time to fish for Coho and Chinook salmon. The Columbia River is a great spot for salmon fly fishing.

Winter: Winter Fly Fishing in Washington State for Steelhead

Winter Fly Fishing in WA

Winter is a season where most anglers pack up their fishing gear and wait for the warmer months to arrive. Still, winter fly fishing in Washington State is possible, especially for steelhead.

During this season, the rivers are less crowded, and the steelhead are getting ready to spawn. The Olympic Peninsula is still a popular spot for winter steelhead fly fishing. The Hoh River and Sol Duc River are some places worth checking out for this season.


Fly Fishing in WA

All in all, whether you’re an experienced fly fisherman or a beginner, Washington State offers a range of fishing opportunities for different seasons. From the abundant trout in spring to the steelhead in winter, you’ll always have something to catch in Washington. Just don’t forget to get a fishing license before you hit the rivers and streams. Happy fly fishing!

Fly fishing regulations and licenses in Washington State

Fly fishing in Washington State

Fly fishing in Washington State is a popular recreational activity for both locals and tourists. However, it is important to follow the state fishing regulations and obtain the necessary licenses before heading out on your fly fishing excursion.

Washington State has specific rules and regulations when it comes to fishing. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is responsible for managing the state’s fish and wildlife resources, including regulating fishing activities. Before you begin fly fishing, it is important to familiarize yourself with these regulations to avoid penalties and fines.

To fish in Washington State, anglers are required to obtain a valid fishing license. Licenses can be purchased online or in-person at authorized license dealers throughout the state. The license cost varies depending on the type of fishing you plan to do, your residency status, and the duration of the license.

There are several types of fishing licenses available in Washington State, including freshwater fishing licenses, saltwater fishing licenses, and combination licenses that allow for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Additionally, there are licenses available for seniors, disabled veterans, and youths.

Once you have obtained the necessary fishing license, it is important to adhere to the state fishing regulations. These regulations include size limits for fish, catch limits, and specific fishing dates and times for certain species. It is important to check the WDFW website or contact them directly to ensure you are following the regulations for the specific waters you plan to fish in.

Fly fishing is a unique type of fishing that requires specific gear and techniques. Additionally, there are certain rules and regulations specific to fly fishing. For example, in certain designated fly fishing-only waters, only artificial flies or lures with a single barbless hook may be used.

If you are new to fly fishing, it is important to familiarize yourself with the techniques and equipment required. This can include fly rods, fly reels, and specialized flies. Additionally, it is important to research the specific fly fishing waters in Washington State to understand the types of fish that can be caught and the best times of year for fishing.

In summary, fly fishing in Washington State requires a valid fishing license and adherence to state fishing regulations. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with these regulations is important to avoid penalties and fines. Additionally, properly equipping yourself with the necessary gear and techniques can enhance your fly fishing experience in the beautiful waters of Washington State.

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