Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Swan River Montana
The Swan River starts from the outflow of Gray Wolf
Lake. From there the river flows for about thirty-five
miles to Swan Lake. Although Fly fishing the Swan River
is tough in most places, it still is capable of producing
good catches of cutthroat, rainbow and bull trout. The
river also has plenty of Mountain Whitefish.'

The single biggest problem is access to the river - not
the normal lack of access, but trail or road access. Jut
navigating up and down the river can be a problem. It
winds its way through heavily wooded, remote country
between the Swan Mountain Range and the Mission
Mountain Range. Assuming the water levels are
acceptable, the river can be waded or fished from a
small boat but there are problems with both methods.
Lack of a trail along the banks and some deep water
areas can make wading tough in most areas. Lots of log
jams, swift water and other problems make floating the
river tricky in most areas.

The Swan River slows down considerably as it flows
through the Swan River National Wildlife Refuge and on
into Swan Lake. Below the Lake, it flows through Bigfork
Dam into Flathead Lake. For all practical purposes,
except for still water fly fishing for trout, the fishing
opportunities end well above the refuge.

Fly fishing the Swan River is best for those that explore
the upper sections of the river. The only fishing
pressure it receives is near the few bridges that cross
the river. There are plenty of decent size trout most
anywhere else you go to the trouble to fish.

Unlike most of the rivers in this region of Montana, the
Swan River has a very good population of aquatic
insects and plenty of other trout foods. Some of the
most important are Blue-winged Olive and Pale Morning
Dun mayflies, Spotted sedges and Green sedge
caddisflies and Little Yellow stoneflies. There are many

Rainbows can reach up to eighteen inches along with an
occasional larger size Westslope cutthroat. Fly fishing
the Swan River can be very rewarding.

Fly fishing the Swan River can be good any day of the
season depending on the weather and water levels.
Late Springtime is a good time for fly fishing the Swan
River due to its plentiful hatches.
Summertime is usually the best time to fish the Swan.
Early Autumn fly fishing opportunities can be very good.

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and Trout Flies
Type of Stream

Rainbow Trout
Cutthroat Trout
Bull Trout

Small to Medium

North Western Montana

Nearest Towns

3rd Sat. May - Nov 30th

Poor, bush wacking required in the
uppermost sections, only a few
bridges and campgrounds

Non-Resident License
State of Montana

National Weather Service Link

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and
Trout Flies

USGS Stream Flow Data:
Near Bigfork
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with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

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