Smith River Float, Montana

60 miles of untouched wilderness and world class trout fishing

Montana’s Smith River is one of the West’s legendary fly fishing trips. The river winds through nearly 60 miles of wilderness between public access points and is strictly regulated by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks to ensure the pristine beauty of the canyon is not overrun. The river corridor is comprised of towering limestone cliffs and heavily timbered forests broken only by a few small clusters of cabins on private land.


Great dry fly fishing for wild trout

The river is home to a wild population of hungry trout that see relatively low fishing pressure. Fish up to 20 inches are frequently encountered. Despite the high quality of the trout fishery, the fishing often takes a back seat to the amazing beauty of the river and the enjoyment of spending several days camping at truly amazing remote riverside campsites.

This section of the Smith River has both large populations of brown trout and rainbow trout, with the browns generally out numbering the rainbows. It is common for the largest trout to be found in this section too.

Strong stonefly hatches begin in mid to late April and last through the middle of May. Salmonfly hatches then takeover in mid-May and can last through June, depending on weather and river conditions. Beginning in the mid-June and lasting throughout the summer, caddis hatches occur in the early mornings and evenings.

For those looking to target big brown trout, there are numerous deep holes and pockets on the Smith River that can be targeted with big nymphs and streamers. These can often lure a resident brownie from its lie.

The fly fishing guides of the Smith River are specialists at their craft and are just as proficient at Dutch oven cooking as they are at selecting the right fly for the day. You will be amazed at the level of comfort and the quality of the dining that you will experience.

Trips aim to run on the Smith River at periods of higher flows. The typical Smith River season is May, June and July. Often late September and October can provide great fishing too.

Comfortable camping

Camping is at remote sites along the river corridor. While you are fishing on the river, up to three gear rafts will row ahead of the anglers to set camp up. The camping is elaborate and comfortable and the food is both abundant and delicious. Time slows down on the river and you will quickly fall in love with the easy pace and gorgeous surroundings. All food and beverages are provided on the trip.

Central Montana

It is best to fly into Montana the day before your first scheduled river day, arriving in the afternoon. When you arrive you will be greeted by a member of the guide team at the airport and then driven to White Sulphur Springs. There will be a room waiting for you at a hotel. The following morning we will begin your five day expedition.

On the last day of the trip you usually plan to get off the river early in the afternoon. Once off the river at the Eden Bridge take-out, you are 1 hour from Great Falls, 2 hours from Helena, and about 3 hours from Missoula. Most of our guests make reservations to stay overnight in either Helena or Great Falls after their last day on the river and fly home the following day.