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4 Reasons to Try Fly Fishing in Alaska

Last updated November 14, 2022

Dubbed as “the Last Frontier”, there is no other state quite like Alaska. It is the northernmost and westernmost state in the U.S. Alaska is a land of mountains, rivers, glaciers and Arctic tundra. It also happens to be renowned for its fly fishing opportunities—for hobbyists, beginners and expert anglers alike.

If you’re into fly fishing, there’s no doubt you will love the experience. But if you’ve never cast a fly rod, be prepared to fall in love with this wonderful sport. 

Let’s start with an introduction. What exactly is fly fishing?

What is Fly Fishing?

Fly fishing is a sport. This category of fishing sport gets its name from the type of lure that is used. The key difference between traditional fishing and fly fishing is the lure. 

 A “fly” is a small lure designed to resemble an insect floating on the water. Fly fishing doesn’t involve a baiting method. In fact, there is no live bait involved. All you need is your rod, line, hook, and fly.

Where do I get lures for Fly Fishing?

You can get a lure for fly fishing from a number of outdoor recreation stores. Stores such as Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, REI, or any store that sells outdoor recreation merchandise. It is most likely that they sell a variety of fly fishing lures. You can support small businesses and buy fly fishing lures from welders on Etsy or Shopify. Or put that Amazon Prime membership to use and have them delivered to you in less than 3 days.

You can also choose the option of making your own fly fishing lures. All you need is a fishing hook and some fluff from your golden retriever. Making your own fly fishing lure is great because you can design it as simple or as complex as you want. 

Why Fly Fishing?

What makes fly fishing so captivating? Especially in Alaska? Here are four reasons why you need to try fly fishing in Alaska.  

Brown bear with fresh salmon

1. Fly fishing in Alaska offers a diversity of species 

Alaska is hands-down one of the most popular destinations for anglers. Why? The diversity of fish species is unbelievable. Dubbed “the salmon fishery of the world”, Bristol Bay offers five species of salmon: coho, chum, pink, sockeye and Chinook.

 If you’re not a huge fan of salmon, don’t throw in the towel yet!

Bristol Bay is also home to freshwater fish. There are seven species roaming Bristol Bay: rainbow trout, Arctic char, Arctic grayling, Dolly Varden, lake trout and northern pike.

Docking float plane on a still inlet in southern Alaska

2. Witness the magic of Alaska by float plane 

Alaska is the largest state in the U.S. Most of it is inaccessible by car. Most lodges offer a float plane for anglers. Float planes are the Alaskan version of chairlifts at a ski resort. The float planes take you from your lodge to the fishing docks. There’s no better way to discover the lakes and rivers and the true beauty of Alaska than by float plane. 

Fly fishing in Alaska—angler braves the cold on the Kenai River to fish for early season trout

3. Experience the real Wild West

Want to escape from the crowds? Wilderness and wildlife are the claim-to-fame for this state. Alaska is the most sparsely populated state with slightly over 700,000 residents. This makes it an undisturbed wildlife refuge disguised as a state. That being said, Alaska includes about eighty percent of North America’s wildlife refuge. No wonder it is a popular location for campers, anglers, backpackers, and travelers alike! Imagine the experience of fly fishing and observing the wildlife in solitude. Alaska provides peace in its purest form.

quietude of Alaska

4. Health benefits of fly fishing

While fly fishing may seem like a low-intensity sport, it is actually physically demanding— burning between 500 to 1,000 calories per fly fishing session. It also involves a great deal of mental stimulation. Fly fishing has positive effects on your mental health by boosting your mood. Studies show that spending time near water has positive impacts on personal health, well-being, and happiness. Spending time in nature improves your well-being. It reduces blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels. So get out there and enjoy the vast blue spaces of Alaska!

Five frequently asked questions about fly fishing in Alaska

Fly fishing in Alaska

1. Can I take home my catch? 

There are restrictions for non-residents. The size limitations for your catch vary from fish to fish. You can find the general rules here.

2. What should I pack for a fly fishing excursion?

These items are must-haves for a fly-fishing excursion in Alaska: 

  • waterproof bags 
  • chest waders 
  • warm clothes with multiple layers 
  • sunscreen 
  • a fishing vest 
  • polarized sunglasses 
  • waterproof gear 
  • fingerless gloves.

3. Is fly fishing legal in Alaska? 

Yes, it is legal. But you will need a sports fishing license. 

4. Where can I find fly fishing essentials

  • Mossy’s Fly Shop
  • Alaska Fly Fishing Goods
  • Three Rivers Fly and Tackle
  • Alaska Outfitters 
  • Mountain View Sports

5. Which places should I go for fly fishing? 

Kenai River should definitely be on the list. The Kenai River is one of the most iconic fly fishing rivers in Alaska. Others include Kasilof River, Kvichak River, Yukon River, Naknek River, Situk River and the Russian River. Also keep in mind Quartz Creek, American Creek, Lake Creek, Willow Creek and Minto Flats. 

6. What seasons are for fly fishing in Alaska?

Not every season is fly fishing season. It depends on the temperature and which species you plan to target. Alaska’s trout and summer season opens in early June. For Dolly Varden, char, grayling or shellfish, plan your excursion in  June. For king salmon, aim for mid to late June. Sockeye is plentiful at the beginning of July; while peak season for coho is at the beginning of September. Target rainbow trout between May and mid-June.

About the author: Cory Harrison is a fishing enthusiast who runs the fishing blog FishingSolve with a group of friends. His blog features everything about fishing, from the best fishing equipment to invest in, to the best time of day and attitude you need to catch any fish of your choice. You can always find Cory with a fishing rod, jig or bait in hand.


Satisfied with your catch? Have you gotten bit by the fly fishing bug? Vacayou’s travel concierge team can help you discover, book and plan your next fly fishing experience in Alaska. Contact us at bookingsupport@vacayou.com.

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