Fly fishing the Flathead River does not require exact fly imitations nor does it require perfect technique. The fish in the Flathead River aren’t especially picky about what is thrown at them.

The Flathead River holds a decent population of medium sized rainbow and cutthroat trout. The trick to finding them is to cut the river down to size, fishing obvious holes and pools behind rocks, fishing around the numerous forks in the river, and along bank cover, such as downed trees. A caddis fly (size 12-14) floated over prime territory is always a good bet. A hopper during late summer also works well, especially around Kalispell where fields come right up to the river bank.

During the day, trout can also be found down in the river depths. To get at them, use a prince nymph with a sink-tip line and weights, bouncing it along the bottom.

South of Kalispell, the Flathead River slows considerably and branches off into numerous sloughs. This is northern pike country. The best time to fish for these beasts is during the spring and fall when they cruise the shallows. A large streamer for the fly fisherman or a spoon such as a daredevil for the spin fisherman work well.

Finally, mountain whitefish are common all along the Flathead River. The Old Steel Bridge FAS in Kalispell, MT offers an excellent place to catch whitefish for anglers who do not have a boat.

The headwaters of the Flathead River are located in British Columbia and drain the western slope of the Rockie Mountains. The river’s namesake comes from the Flathead Indians who lived in the region and were named so by Lewis and Clark. The majority of the river is protected within the confines of Glacier National Park as well as Bob Marshall and Great Bear Wilderness areas. In 1976, US Congress designated 219 miles of the Flathead River as “National Wild and Scenic.” The Flathead River offers more than 275 miles of river rafting ranging from peaceful Class I float trips to Class III+ whitewater adventures on the North Fork and Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

The North Fork, considering the rugged and mountainous terrain it flows through, is a relatively tame river for floating. The entire river in Montana is essentially floatable, although the area above Ford access site can have some slow floating and some dragging of the raft during low water. Canoes, rafts and kayaks all work well for a float down the North Fork of the Flathead River. You Will enjoy the beautiful scenery as you float along the west boundary of scenic Glacier National Park.

North Fork Flathead River : River Miles

Canadian Border: 58.3
Kintla Creek: 49
Ford: 44
Polebridge: 33
Camas Bridge: 17.4
Big Creek: 15.1
Great Northern Flats: 12
Glacier Rim: 4


If you are fly fishing, rafting, drift boat, kayak or floating on the Flathead River we will get your vehicle and trailer to your take out spot.