Fly fishing the Salt River in Wyoming

Fly fishing the Salt River in Wyoming is a more intimate fly fishing experience than other Jackson Hole area waters. The Salt River begins its 84 mile course above 10,500 feet on the slopes of Mount Wagner in the Salt River range. It flows south briefly before veering north through the pastoral ranches of Star Valley, WY on its way to Palisades Reservoir.  Along the way it picks up several springs and creeks that add to the flow and keep this smaller river cool all Summer long. Below Afton, WY is where it really takes shape as a trout fishery and floating the Salt River becomes a reality.

Fly fishing on the Salt River in Wyoming is best from mid to late June all the way into November. The Salt River often clears before some other major rivers in the area. Salmonflies and Golden Stones are the first insects to pop and the Cutthroat and Brown trout take notice. Gray Drakes, Yellow Sallies, Caddis and Pale Morning Duns are also on the menu through July. August is terrestrial time on the Salt River where Grasshoppers, Ants, and Beetles bring the river’s best trout to the surface. September continues with terrestrial action, but Mahogany Duns and Blue Winged Olives dominate as October nears.  Nymph and streamer fishing are the ticket towards the end of October and through November as the trophy Brown trout from the Palisades swim upstream on their spawning run.

Techniques

Fly fishing the Salt River in Wyoming is known for big bug fishing, due to its stoneflies and hoppers. Nymphs are often dropped 1-2’ below these larger flies in a “hopper-dropper” system. Mayfly hatches, especially early and late in the season, offer match the hatch conditions.

The best way to fish the Salt River is from a drift boat since it flows through mostly private land and is lined with Willows. The low flows of late Summer can mean that floats are best with one angler in the boat.

Fish Species

Snake River Finespotted Cutthroat, Brown trout, Mountain Whitefish. Cutthroat and Brown trout up to 20”; average size is 10-14”, with a healthy population of trout 16-18”. The Fall Run Brown trout can reach 5-6 lbs.

Best Time

Fly fishing the Salt River in Wyoming is best after runoff from late June – mid November. June and July bring good river flows and Stonefly and PMD hatches. August and September are terrestrial season. Fall sees prolific Baetis hatches prior to full on streamer season through the end of the year.

Dry Flies

Parachute Adams #10-20, Elk Hair Caddis #14-18, Turck Tarantulas #8-12, Parahoppers #10-14, Chernobyl Ants #6-12, Ants and Beetles #14-16, Stimulators #10-16, PMX’s #12-16

Nymphs

Pheasant Tail #10-20, Hare’s Ear #10-18, Copper Johns #12-18, Rubberlegs #6-10, Prince Nymph #10-16, Zebra Midge #18-20

Streamers

Black Leeches #4-10, Tan or Olive Sculpins #4-6, JJ’s Special #4-8, Zonkers #6-8, Wooly Buggers #4-10