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Dearborn River Fly Fishing

Wilderness Fly Fishing through the Heart of Montana

Dearborn River Fly Fishing Trips

The Dearborn River offers anglers a true wilderness fly fishing float trip through one of Montana’s most scenic and rugged canyons. This small tributary of the Missouri River offers limited access and a short float season, which keeps this river well off the beaten path. The primary Dearborn River fly fishing trip is a 20-mile float through remote country. This is not a fly fishing trip for the faint of heart, and erratic flows as well variable conditions can make timing a float trip difficult, but anglers up for an adventure will be rewarded with an unforgettable fly fishing experience.

The float trip season on the Dearborn River runs from the 3rd Saturday in May through mid-late June. This narrow window offers the right combination of safe flows, clear water, and good fly fishing. We cannot guarantee conditions in-advanced and would encourage anglers wanting to float and fish the Dearborn River to book multiple days during the prime window. Fly fishing the Missouri River or Blackfoot River will be the back-up plan if conditions are not safe to float the Dearborn River. Most anglers enjoy fly fishing the Dearborn River as a part of a multi-day trip on the Missouri River based out of Craig, MT or Helena, MT.

Fly Fishing the Dearborn River

The fly fishing on the Dearborn River is the icing on the cake for one of Montana’s most scenic float trips. Rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout make up most of the catch on this smaller freestone river, and anglers can expect consistently good fly fishing with large attractor dry flies and dropper nymphs. Stoneflies are abundant on the Dearborn River and solid hatches of Salmonflies and Goldenstones keep these fish looking up throughout the float season.

The fly fishing on the Dearborn is a great contrast to the technical fly fishing found on the nearby Missouri River. Chernobyl-style dry flies are generally always on the menu, which makes for fun fly fishing for anglers of every skill level. Anglers willing to commit to streamer fishing are often rewarded with larger-trophy sized brown trout that lurk deep within the canyon, but committing to 20-miles of hardcore streamer fishing is always easier said than done.

Our Montana fly fishing guides use specialized rafts with fishing frames on all of our Dearborn River fly fishing trips, which allow us to navigate the many rapids and boulder fields that await. The water type varies significantly, with opportunities to fish lots of different structure ranging from winding riffles, to calm canyon runs, to large back eddy foam holes, and even a few caves cut out by the swift current. The length of the float demands that the boat moves one direction: downstream. There are few second chances and little time for wade fishing. Opportunities for shorter floats and wade fishing do exist on the upper reaches of the river, and are possible when conditions are right.

Book Your Next Montana Fly Fishing Trip

Plan Your Trip

Prime Season:

3rd Saturday in May- June 15th

Notable Hatches:

Salmonflies and Golden Stones

Nearby Towns:

Craig, MT and Helena, MT

Nearby Rivers:

Missouri River, Blackfoot River, and Land of the Giants

Trip Offerings

    What Our Clients Say


    My wife and I had a wonderful experience fishing with Montana Angling Company. Max was able to teach my wife to fly fish from scratch and she caught 5-10 really nice 18-20” fish her first time! He was very patient and knowledgeable. Thank you for such an amazing day! I would highly recommend from beginners to advanced fly fishermen and women.


    - Cooper M.

    What Our Clients Say


    Max is the perfect guide and teacher. My wife and I are newly retired and wanted to try fly fishing for the first time. We learned tons and caught lots of trout float and wade fishing. Can't wait to come back for our sophomore course. Thanks Max and Peter.

    - Cliff B.

    What Our Clients Say


    I've been guided by Max and his guides on the Yellowstone, Madison, and Missouri rivers and have had a blast every time. Their guides are knowledgeable, respectful, and patient--even when I tangle my line. The Montana Angling Co is a great choice whether it's your first time fly fishing or you're a seasoned pro--these guys know where the fish are and what they're hungry for.

    - Maggie O.

    What Our Clients Say


    Max’s professional demeanor, unmatched knowledge of fly fishing, and top rate gear combine to make any guided trip with him a special experience. Regardless of your ability or experience, you will not only catch fish, but you will have an excellent time as well.

    - Josh W.

    What Our Clients Say


    I have fished with guides across the United States and South America, and can say with confidence that Max's patience, passion, and knowledge of fishing are second to none. Whether you are an expert angler or fishing for the first time, Max is the guy you want to have in your boat.

    - Wesley R.

    What Our Clients Say


    We had an awesome experience with Montana Angling Co. Max worked with us to make sure we had the perfect day to go fishing. Our guide was Guy Flynn, and he was great. He was very patient with us and we enjoyed the conversation. He was putting us on fish all day long. Overall, we had a great experience, and I will definitely use Max's company again on our next trip to Montana.

    - Bryan L.

    Don't Wait, Book Your Fly Fishing Trip Today!