The river whispers as it rushes past your waist. Through khaki hip waders, you feel the vibrations of the current tugging at you like a little boy begging to point out an anthill. In the water below, the fin from coquettish bluegill brushes against the top of your boot. Elbow in, you raise your forearm and point the fly-rod tip to the sky; the line unfurls behind you. In one fluid motion, you bring your arm straight down and send the line gently over the stream.
Congratulations, you’ve just become addicted to fly-fishing, where each river is a new chessboard ready to be played, and where each fish is a uniquely beautiful competitor. Fly-fishing is that rare sport that can be a mystical experience or simply good ole fun for couples, friends, and families alike.
And yes, fly-fishing is a sport, a quiet sport of stealth and strategy set in some of the most scenic places on earth. The once simple pastime of lazy afternoons and passed-down split-cane fly rods has transformed over the years into a high-tech competition. Yet purists and newcomers alike prefer the old-fashioned way, one rod against one river, two hands deftly tugging the line against a battle-tested armada of trout, tiger muskies, and northern pike.
This experience is reeling in people from all corners with fly-fishing tours and packages available for those who have never baited a hook. These packages include lavish nights in picturesque hotels, savory meals, top-notch gear, expert training, and a guide to lead you to the best spots on the river. All you need is the desire to connect with nature and a trusted travel agent to find you the best package.
A worldwide sport, fly-fishing’s birthmark on Americana can best be seen in the great northwest, where pine trees reach the clouds and the rivers run on clear through eternity.
Also near Anchorage is the Talachulitna River, called “the Tal” by anglers from all over, where special tours are designed especially for women, teaching the sport in a non-competitive environment. Remote and productive, the Tal is perfect for bank fishing in the wild surroundings.
Just don’t be startled as puffins, sea otters and eagles watch nearby, critiquing your form.
In the lower 48, Washington and Oregon are states full of fabled fishing locales hidden throughout the verdant forests and snow-capped peaks. The Yakima River is considered by many to be Washington’s finest trout stream, with more than 80 miles of prime catch-and-release waters that amble through the canyons. If you find yourself in the Olympic Peninsula, then aim for the Sol-Duc River, where the sock-eye salmon come for the scenery and stay for the fly at the end of your line.
Oregon’s fabled fishing holes include the McKenzie River, regarded as the preeminent trout river in the Pacific Northwest, and the Sandy River, a completely natural waterway near Portland without dams, creating a haven for elusive steelheads waiting for the morning’s first cast.
Which leaves Montana, a fly fisherman's idea of heaven. Right outside of Butte, the Beaverhead and the Big Hole Rivers make a formidable pair for any adventure seekers. Two of the most scenic trout streams in the country, these crystal blue mountain waters hold many surprises, along with many species of trout, for an angler with a well-presented fly.
Fly-fishing tours are perfect introductions to this majestic sport and great gifts to surprise your loved ones. A guide will show you the flies and lead you up to the water’s edge for your first perfect cast, but falling in love with the sport is all up to you.
FESTIVALS & EVENTS Washington Washington State International Kite Festival — August Northwest Folklife Festival — September Washington Annual Beer Festival — October
Oregon Spring Beer & Wine Festival (Portland) — April Annual Sandcastle Contest (Cannon Beach) — June Llama Festival (Redmond) — June World Championship Timber Carnival (Albany) — July Annual Basset Hound Olympics (Lebanon) — July Annual Elephant Garlic Festival (North Plains) — August Hot Air Balloon Bash (Pendleton) — October
Idaho Gene Harris Jazz Festival (Boise) — April Horseshoe Bend Banjo Contest & Festival — June Frontier Music Festival (Kosskia) — June Idaho International Folk Dance Festival — July Gospel Music Festival (New Plymouth) — August
Montana Montana State Chili Cook-Off (Billings) — September Annual Montana State Chokecherry Festival (Lewistown) — September Montana Festival of Books — September