Alberta is a fly fisherman's paradise, we have many world class rivers and streams a short distance from Calgary.  In fact, sometimes making the decision where to fly fish can be difficult because there is so many options.  No two rivers are the same, each river and tributary has it's own feel to it and offers a unique experience of scenery and fish.  There is no wrong choice as to what river or stream to fish, the decision comes down to how many, what kind, and how big of fish you want to catch, and your experience level.  Matching the river to the anglers expectations and experience ensures a successful and enjoyable day.  Fly fishing Calgary fly fish Calgary fly fishing Alberta

We will provide some details on the most popular Alberta fly fishing destinations, but there are too many rivers and streams in Alberta to go into detail on all of them.  Some other rivers and streams that provide excellent fly fishing in Alberta are: The Castle River, Highwood River, Dutch Creek, Racehorse Creek and Cataract Creek to name a few.  We also know of some rivers and streams that don't see as much fishing pressure, and aren't common knowledge, we won't list them here as we would like to keep it that way.  Fly fishing Calgary fly fish Calgary     

Oldman River
The Oldman River has a lot to offer any angler, and has several sections that look and fish very differentially.  In the upper section it is a small river that offers numerous little cutthroats.  As it moves through the mountains in a section known as "The Gap", it increases in water flow, the fish size also increase and rainbow and bull trout begin to show up.  This section is the most popular and offers stunning mountain views and deep gin clear pools carved through the rocks.  After leaving the mountains the river flows through sections of private land, but still offers some excellent fishing below the Oldman Reservoir.  Dry fly fishing can be spectacular, and summer evenings often find heavy hatches and large trout sipping flies late into the evening,  Access is easy but our favourite sections require some longer hikes into more remote areas of the river.
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Fish  Cutthroat Trout and Rainbow Trout 12-16" average, fish over 20" are not uncommon.  Bull Trout over 30". 
Fly fishing Calgary fly fishing Alberta
Difficulty  Some sections can be more difficult to access.  Intermediate to advanced experience levels.    
Travel  90 minutes from Calgary
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Livingston River
With beautiful scenery, frequent pools and dry fly water, and the forestry trunk road paralleling the river, it's easy to see why the Livingston River is Alberta's most popular cutthroat stream.  Thankfully the province recognized this and turned the Livingston River into a catch and release stream.  This river is an excellent choice for anyone newer to fly fishing, it's a smaller river that doesn't have a poor fishing section.  You are always near the next pool or run and the cutthroats are often eager to take any well presented fly on the surface.  Hatches are frequent on the Livingston River and nymph fishing usually isn't required because dry flies are often successful throughout the day.  Easy to cross and wade the Livingston River is made for walk and wade fly fishing trips. 
Fish  Cutthroat Trout 13-17" average, fish up to 20" are not uncommon.  Bull Trout over 30".
Difficulty  Easy to cross and wade, the Livingston is made for walk and wade trips. 
Excellent for beginners and all experience levels.
Travel  90 minutes from Calgary fly fishing
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Ram River
Although, the North Ram and South Ram Rivers don't have as many fish per mile as the Livingston, and you likely won't catch as many fish here, they more then makes up for in the size of fish they do have.  Cutthroats in the Ram River average an impressive 16-18" and larger fish are not uncommon as we usually net one or two over 20" per trip.  The scenery is also second to none with towering two hundred foot cliffs surrounding the river, several waterfalls and mountain sheep often seen on the cliff walls.  The further drive from Calgary can easily be justified.  Being farther north the season is short in this area and fish are opportunistic feeders, when hatches occur the dry fly fishing can be excellent.  Anyone looking for an adventure and big fish will find it on the North Ram and South Ram River.    
Fish  Cutthroat Trout 16-18" average, fish over 20" are not uncommon and can get up to 24".
Difficulty  Access is difficult in areas, accurate and further casting can be required for some runs.  Intermediate to advanced experience levels.   
Travel 150 minutes from Calgary
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alt="Ram River cutthroat trout"

Crowsnest River
One of Alberta's most well know rivers, the Crowsnest River parallels Hwy 2 through the Crowsnest Pass in Southern Alberta, offering easy access for fly fishing.  The Crowsnest River is the essence of what a fly fishing stream should be, with lots of pools, holding water, beautiful runs, and large, strong fighting fish.  It is the hatches though, that sets this river apart and makes it a dream for any dry fly angler.  Hatches occur frequently and give dry fly opportunities throughout the day, and with dry fly water at almost every bend in the river there isn't often a need to try other tactics.  Evenings are usually spent looking for large trout sipping flies, and the evening hatches can be prolific at times, I can recall a few occasions that PMD's were so thick it was hard to focus enough to cast.    
Fish  Rainbow Trout 10-18" throughout the river,  fish up to 20-23".  Some Brown Trout in lower section and some Brook Trout in the upper section.  

Difficulty  This is an easy walk and wader stream with many access points along the hwy.  Good for anglers or all experience levels. 
Travel  120 minutes from Calgary 
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Bow River
Of all Alberta's world class rivers and streams, the Bow Rivers is the most famous with the best reputation, and brings fly fisherman from all over the world to fish it's blue ribbon waters each year.  With up to 2500 fish per mile,  and rainbow and brown trout regularly topping 20" with some approaching the 30" mark, it's easy to see why.  Even more impressive maybe, is that the Bow River flows through a city with a population of  over 1.2 million people, and offers easy access along almost all of the river.  For all it's reputation, the Bow River can be frustrating for newer anglers, as they hear about how many fish the river has and how good the fishing has been but can't seem to catch anything.  Having worked at a couple of the local fly shops, I can't tell you how many people would come in and say they were on the verge of quitting fly fishing based on their experience learning the sport on the Bow River.  The Bow River requires a different strategy than other rivers, as it's size can seem intimidating and reading the water is very different from smaller rivers.  Our walk and wade trips on the Bow River can be as much learning and teaching class, as it is putting you on fish, depending on your experience level.  We can cover casting, how to read the water and find feeding fish, how to match the hatch, tips and techniques, and then apply those skills to try and catch a large brown trout. 
Fish  Rainbow Trout 16-23", fish over 20" common.  Brown Trout 18-24", some specimens 24-29". 
Difficulty Easy access and wading.  Intermediate to advanced experience anglers, as mentioned trips can be designed for new and beginner anglers.     
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Mountain Streams
These are beautiful little streams and creeks in remote areas, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  They are small and intimate, teaming with wild trout.  These steams are very enjoyable for anglers of any experience level to fish, and opportunities of 50 plus fish days are not uncommon.  They also make the ideal environment for anyone new to fly fishing.  These streams are not very wide, making it easy to cover the water and cast, plus the trout are aggressive, and are willing to take most flies on the surface.  In fact, someone who has never fly fished can literately start catching fish in 5 minutes on most of these streams.  
Fish Cutthroat Trout 6-14", with some fish up to 16-18".  Some large Bull Trout live in these streams also. 
Difficulty Easy access and wading.  Anglers of all experience levels, great for beginners or anyone who has never fly fished. 
Travel 60-150 minutes from Calgary
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Cutthroat Trout
Brook Trout
Cutthroat trout were made for fly fishing, they live in stunning mountain streams and love to take dry flies.  Cutthroats are not usually selective feeders and will often take a well presented fly on the surface, making them an excellent species for beginner anglers to target.  They are present in most of the streams we fish and with beautiful colours and markings.  They are a personal favorite.   
Brook trout are a stunningly beautiful fish, with bright markings and colour.  These fish are easy to catch on the fly, and strike at most presentations on the surface, making them an excellent choice for beginner anglers.  Large Brook Trout are hard to find in Alberta, most coming from remote lakes and beaver ponds.  They are present in several streams, the most popular being Cataract Creek. 

Rainbow Trout
Rainbows trout are a hard fishing fish that can grow large in some river systems in Alberta.  They can be successfully targeted with nymph, dry fly, and streamer fishing.  They are very common in Alberta, but the best rivers to fish for them is the Bow River, Crowsnest River and the Oldman River.  The rainbows in the Bow fight notoriously hard, often making several jumps, and long runs taking you to your backing often.   

Brown Trout
Brown trout have a reputation for being spooky, selective, and hard to catch.  This also makes them very popular among fly anglers due to the challenge of catching them, particularly the large ones.  Brown Trout are present in the Bow River and most of Alberta's central streams.  Attempting to sneak up on a large brown trout sipping flies tight to a river bank, is one of my favorite experiences fly fishing.     

Bull Trout
Bull trout are an awesome fish.  They are the top of the food chain in the river systems they are present in.  Bull Trout are predators, and are territorial, most pools will only have one adult bull trout in them.  They grow to very large sizes, even in small streams and creeks.  It's not uncommon for a large bull trout, to attack a cutthroat that you are reeling in.  The Oldman River, is one of the better river systems for large bull trout, with the best technique being streamer fishing.

Although, we don't target whitefish, they are often caught using nymphing techniques when fishing for trout.  They are a strong fighting fish, which can make then enjoyable to hook, even if they aren't what we are targeting.  Whitefish are present in most of the rivers we fish, and when they begin their spawning run in September, in numbers by the thousands, they can be hard to ignore.  
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