South Fork Of the Snake River Fly Fishing | A Great Place to Fish

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If you could only fish one river for the rest of your life, pick the South Fork of the Snake River. It’s got over 60 miles of water, so there are trout everywhere.

With thirteen different access points, getting to the fish is easy. And where there’s lots of water, there’s lots of trout – over 5,000 fish per mile! From Palisades Dam to Lorenzo, Idaho, this river is full of fish like browns, rainbows, and cutthroat.

They’re usually around 15 inches long, but sometimes you’ll find ones up to 20 inches. The biggest fish ever caught fly fishing on this river was a whopping 22 pounds! And guess who caught it?

In this guide, we will discuss the south fort of the snake river fly fishing, equipment required and the best places to fish.

South fork of the Snake River Fly Fishing

The South Fork of the Snake River is the best place in the West to catch cutthroat fish. It’s been made great thanks to efforts by Idaho Fish and Game, local guides, and people releasing the fish they catch.

This shows that special rules can help protect these beautiful native trout in the Northern Rockies. The river starts from Palisades Dam, on the border between Wyoming and Idaho.

Big Fishes In The River

The South Fork has some giant fish. They’re about 16 inches long on average, but it’s common to find ones over 20 inches.

a big fish

The biggest catch in 2009 was a whopping 29 inches, and the most memorable one, caught by Head Guide Tom Fenger, weighed in at 22 pounds! You can find brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout here.

Best Fly Fishing Spots on the South Fork Snake River

The South Fork of the Snake River is renowned for its abundance of prime fly fishing locations. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, this section will guide you to the best spots along the river to find excellent fishing opportunities.

From popular access points to hidden gems, I’ll provide detailed descriptions and recommendations to help you plan your fishing trips effectively.

best places

So pack your gear and get ready to reel in some trophy-worthy trout!

The 5 Best Fly Fishing Spots on the South Fork Snake River

1. Palisades CreekLocated near Irwin, IdahoCrystal-clear waters, abundant insect life, and breathtaking scenery
2. Cottonwood CampgroundSituated in Swan Valley, IdahoEasy river access, riffles, deep pools, and excellent hatches
3. Spring CreekFound near Heise, IdahoWell-stocked with trout, challenging wading conditions, and impressive cutthroat
4. Ashley CreekLocated near Conant Valley, IdahoSecluded spot, diverse insect population, and rewarding dry fly fishing
5. Upper CanyonSituated above America Falls ReservoirLess crowded, breathtaking canyon views, and large rainbow and brown trout
The 5 Best Fly Fishing Spots on the South Fork Snake River


Here’s a breakdown of the critical hatches on the South Fork of the Snake River:

  • March through June: Best for nymphing, but PMD hatches occur during bad weather.
  • Late June: Salmon fly hatch starts, followed by yellow Sallys and PMDs, then small golden stoneflies until August.
  • July: Yellow Sallys and PMDs continue, plus a green drake hatch in the third week.
  • August: PMDs hatch and a unique stonefly hatch lasting until early September.
  • September: PMDs and mahoganies hatch, followed by blue-wing olives in late September to mid-October.
  • Late Fall/Early Winter: Streamer season, targeting large brown trout in shallow water.

Nymphing works well year-round, especially in winter and early spring. Stay updated with local fly shops for fishing trends during shoulder seasons.

Fly Fishing Tips and Techniques

To maximize your success on the South Fork, it’s essential to have the proper fly fishing techniques and gear. This section will provide valuable tips for casting, presenting flies, and reading the water.

I’ll also cover essential gear you’ll need, such as rods, reels, lines, and flies. Applying these tips and using the right equipment will increase your chances of landing that trophy trout.


  • Practice your casting technique regularly to improve accuracy and distance.
  • Use a smooth and fluid motion when casting to avoid spooking the fish.
  • Start with shorter casts and gradually increase your distance as you become more proficient

Presenting Flies

  • Observe the water to identify key feeding areas where trout will likely be present.
  • Match the hatch by using flies that imitate the insects present in the water at that time.
  • Present your fly upstream or across the current to mimic natural drifts.

Reading the Water

Understanding the characteristics of the water can significantly improve your success in fly fishing. Look for:

  • Ripples and seams where the water transitions from fast to slow, as trout often position themselves here.
  • Deep pools where trout seek refuge and feed on larger prey.
  • Current breaks are created by rocks or structures where fish can hold and conserve energy.

Essential Gear

The right gear is essential for a successful fly fishing adventure on the South Fork. Here are the essential items you’ll need:

Fly RodA lightweight, flexible rod designed specifically for fly fishing.
Fly ReelA reel that holds the fly line and provides drag for controlling fish.
Fly LineA specially designed line that allows the angler to cast the fly effectively.
FliesArtificial imitations of insects or baitfish used to attract trout.
Essential Gear

With these fly fishing tips, techniques, and the right gear, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle the South Fork of the Snake River. Prepare for an exciting angling experience and the chance to land impressive trout!

SOUTH FORK OF THE SNAKE Trips and Vacations

If You want to take a trip to south fork of the snake river, I recommend Ten ton Valley Lodge trip.

Final Words

Fly fishing on the South Fork of the Snake River is a fantastic experience in Idaho’s beautiful wilderness. Whether you’re new to fishing or a pro, this river has plenty of trout and breathtaking scenery for everyone to enjoy.

big fish

To make your fishing trips successful, learning proper techniques and having the right gear is important. Practice casting, know where to find fish, and bring quality rods, reels, lines, and flies.

Consider hiring a knowledgeable guide for insider tips and to discover the best spots. Follow fishing rules to protect the river and its trout.

Stay informed with fishing reports and understand seasonal changes for better planning. Get ready for unforgettable adventures on the South Fork of the Snake River!


What makes the South Fork of the Snake River a popular destination for fly fishing?

The South Fork of the Snake River in Idaho is renowned for its stunning scenery and excellent trout fishing opportunities. Its diverse habitat and prolific insect life make it a haven for fly anglers seeking adventure and memorable catches.

What are some recommended fly fishing techniques for the South Fork?

Some effective fly fishing techniques for the South Fork include nymphing, dry fly fishing, and streamer fishing. It’s essential to adapt your approach based on the time of year, water conditions, and the specific hatch patterns to enhance your chances of success.

What fly fishing gear should I bring for the South Fork?

When fly fishing on the South Fork, it’s essential to have the right gear. Some necessary items include a quality fly rod, reel, fly line, leader, tippet, waders, boots, and a wide selection of flies that match the local insect population.

Where are the best fly fishing spots on the South Fork Snake River?

The South Fork offers numerous excellent fly fishing spots. Some popular locations include the Irwin area, the “Canyons” stretch, and the river sections below the Palisades Dam. However, the river is over 60 miles long, and various stretches offer productive fishing opportunities, so it’s worth exploring different areas to find your favorite spot.

Are there any regulations I should be aware of when fly fishing on the South Fork Snake River?

Yes, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the South Fork Snake River fishing regulations. These regulations cover creel limits, fishing seasons, catch and release policies, and any special regulations or restrictions in specific stretches of the river. Compliance with these regulations helps maintain the health of the fishery and ensures a sustainable experience for future anglers.

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