Fly-fishing is all about finding perfect solitude. It is, first and foremost, a sport that allows you to turn off your brain and meditate on nothing more than a clean cast as you listen to the sound of water, trees and wildlife. The following fly-fishing destinations all have one thing in common: they foster this sense of perfect solitude. The accommodations put you as close to nature as possible, the service is impeccable, and the fishing guides are the best in the world.
Firehole Ranch — West Yellowstone National Park, Montana
Eighteen miles west of Yellowstone, tucked away on the shores of Hebgen Lake, hides Firehole Ranch. The property is remote and massive: 640 acres provide access to six pristine, trout-rich rivers, but the lodge itself is small, simple and unpretentious. Ten cabins and one main lodge make up the whole ranch, and everything has been maintained to look just as it did when it was built in the 1940s. The “staff,” which includes two gourmet chefs, treats guests like their own family — which makes sense, given the exclusivity of the ranch: it allows no more than 22 guests at a time, and is open for only 15 weeks every year.
Libby Camps — Northern Maine
Secluded in the North Maine Woods, Libby Camps is everything you’d expect from a rustic cabin getaway: eight individual cabins, each with their own personality, and one main lodge with a large fleet of canoes and motorboats. But where Libby really shines is its 10 outpost camps, scattered within a 20-mile radius of the main lodge, accessible by one of Libby’s two on-site float planes. More than 30 lakes and brooks are home to state-record trout and land-locked salmon. And if you tire of fishing, Libby is also renowned for its grouse hunting.
Tikchik Narrows Lodge — Bristol Bay, Alaska
Bristol Bay, often referred to as the “Salmon Factory of the World,” is home to five species of salmon: king, sockeye, chum, pink and silver. Tikchik attracts mostly salmon fishermen, but there’s plenty of other fish to catch, too, such as lake and rainbow trout, arctic char and northern pike. The lodge sits on a narrow peninsula jutting out between Tikchik Lake and Nuyukuk Lake, and offers sweeping vistas of the surrounding Kilbuck mountains. Four on-site float planes will take you wherever you or your professional guide believe the fish will be biting. (And this is Alaska, so the guides are among the best in the world.)
Ruby Springs Lodge — Alder, Montana
Ruby Spring’s property spans 10 miles of the trout-swarmed Ruby River — one section north of the main lodge boasts a ridiculous 2,200 fish per mile — but there are also four other prime trout lakes within striking distance, as well as a few stream-fed ponds right in the cabins’ backyards. The lot contains seven cabins, five of which are small and humble, while the other two are more like full-on backcountry mini-mansions. A hot, homemade breakfast is delivered to your cabin door every morning; fresh-caught lunch is prepared by your guide; and for dinner, guests usually congregate in the cocktail lounge for a gourmet meal overlooking the river.
Deep Water Cay — Bahamas
When legendary fishing guide Gil Drake Jr. and Field & Stream editor A.J. McClane stumbled upon this patch of Bahamian bonefishing paradise in the late ’50s, they knew they had found something special — and so began the legacy of Deep Water Cay. It has since evolved into more of a family-friendly island getaway, compete with private beachside villas and tons of non-sportsman activities, like scuba diving, kayaking and sailing. But the legendary fishing hasn’t changed a bit. Surrounding the resort is 250 square miles of flats fishing (ideal for fishing predictable waters that go uninfluenced by the tide), while offshore fishing excursions on the lodge’s 33-foot catamaran offer a chance to land literal boatloads of dinner-worthy mahimahi and beastly tuna.
Tipiliuke — Patagonia, Argentina
Tipiliuke resides in the heart of a 50,000-acre cattle ranch in the fabled Patagonia wilderness. A small man-made creek and two crystal-clear trout rivers, the Quilquihue and the Chimehuín, run through the property. The fishing and scenery is incredible, as you’d expect from such a pristine wilderness as Patagonia — but Tipiliuke is equally revered for its spectacular accommodations. This is far from roughin’ it, folks: there’s a wood-burning sauna, massage room, fine dining (mostly locally grown Argentinian cuisine) and nine luxurious rooms adjoined to the main lodge, which overlooks a serene valley. Daytime can and should be spent getting dirty and wet and covered in fish slime; evenings are for lounging by the stone fireplace in a cashmere sweater, swirling an expensive Malbec.
Owen River Lodge — South Island, New Zealand
The Owen River Lodge has established a reputation as one of the best “sighted” brown trout fisheries in the world, which means that the water is so clear you can see the fish before you even cast your fly. In addition to the Owen River, over 30 waters are accessible by road, plus many others by a short helicopter ride. As for accommodation, the main lodge and six individual cabins are unapologetically luxurious (their aim is to “spoil you rotten,” according to the website), complete with everything you’d expect from a five-star hotel. The only difference is, you have the magnificent views basically all to yourself.
Bear Claw Lodge — Kispiox Valley, British Columbia
Unlike the usual main-lodge-and-individual-cabins setup, all of Bear Claw’s eight rooms are located in one massive log-cabin mansion on the Kispiox River, which is well known for its large steelhead population. There are also plenty of other prime fishing spots a short distance away. For the non-fishermen, there’s other activities, like horseback riding, whitewater rafting and nearby heli-skiing. The in-house kitchen staff prepares only the finest meals, and the entire resort operates under a strict environmentally conscious ethos.
Nimmo Bay Resort — Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia
Deep in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia is Nimmo Bay, a little, family owned and operated cluster of cabins plopped directly over a remote lake. The cabins are gorgeous, yet simple, and the resort has won numerous awards — including a nod from National Geographic, which named them one of the most unique lodges in the world. As for fishing, a small fleet of helicopters covers 50,000 square miles of wilderness containing over 50 isolated bodies of water, home to rich salmon and halibut populations.
Estancia Arroyo Verde — Northern Patagonia, Argentina
Estancia Arroya Verde, one of the first private ranches in Argentina ever open to the public, sits on a huge expanse of cattle land surrounded by the Andes. The Traful River and its many tributaries snake through the valley, ushering in a healthy population of salmon, brown trout and rainbow trout. Six bedrooms adjoin the main lodge, built with locally sourced wood and stone, while a second lodge, higher up and more remote, is only walking distance away.