Fly Fishing in the Pacific Northwest



Imagine a more beautiful geographic location to wet a fly line than in the Pacific Northwest.

I'll bet that you can't. There are very few places where the average fly fisherman can have a reasonable chance at hooking a 10+ pound fish. In the Pacific Northwest, the rivers are big, the fish are big, and the weather is generally mild. Yes, it can be wet at times, but this is a small price to pay for such opportunities.

For those who are unfamiliar with the sport, Fly fishing is an angling method in which an artificial "fly" is used to catch fish. Fly fishermen often use hand tied flies that resemble natural invertebrates, baitfish, other food organisms, or lures to provoke the fish to strike. The fly is cast using a fly rod, reel, and specialized weighted line. Casting a nearly weightless fly or lure requires casting techniques significantly different from other forms of casting and plenty of practice is advised.

Fly fishing can be done in fresh or saltwater. One of the most important factors in chasing anadromous (ocean going) fish is to remember that they are not always present in freshwater. They are almost ALWAYS moving. It's not unusual to find fish one day and then return to the same spot the next day to find that there is nothing there. Similarly, just because you didn't catch any fish in a prime location one day doesn't mean that you shouldn't check back again the next. Every river system is different.


Big Rivers

With the amount of precipitation that the pacific northwest receives, many of our rivers are broad, wild, and beautiful places. Because of this, fisherman would be wise to consider improving their casting if they're hoping to be successful. Regardless of when you're here, pay careful attention to the weather and precipitation forecasts so that you can stay safe. Because of the amount of rain we receive, especially in the winter and early spring months, rivers that were safe one day can change overnight to become raging torrents that  can take an unaware fisherman's life. When you're out fishing, it's wise to have a backup set of clothing handy. Should you get wet, hypothermia can set in quickly.


Most of the fishing for Pacific Salmonids in the Northwest is done using 4 to 8 pound rods, depending upon the targeted species. A good reel, a good line, and plenty of backing are a necessity. Also, fly lines that incorporate multiple heads (from floating to various sink tips) often give the fly angler the edge needed to be successful. A standard salmon/steelhead leader of 9 1/2 feet will work for floating line presentations. If sink tips are used, a simple 4-5 foot length of strong leader is all that is required. Tippets may vary between 5-15 lbs. depending upon which species is being targeted.

In addition to the above mentioned gear, one cannot under estimate the value of having a good pair of polarized glasses. Polarized lenses allow the angler to peer into water that would otherwise prevent the naked eye from distinguishing fish. Knowing where the fish are located and being able to observe your fly and how the fish react with it can make or break your day.