Why Choose the Bow River for Drift Boat Fly Fishing?

Home Fly Fishing Blog Alberta Why Choose the Bow River for Drift Boat Fly Fishing?

Discover the allure of drift boat fly fishing on the Bow River this season! Learn about the pristine waters, abundant trout, and unforgettable experiences awaiting anglers.

If you’re searching for the perfect fly fishing destination this summer, look no further than the Bow River. Renowned for its stunning scenery, abundance of fish, and drift boat fly fishing opportunities, the Bow River is a must-visit for any angler seeking an unforgettable adventure. In this article, we will explore the many reasons why the Bow River is the ideal location for your next drift boat fly fishing trip.

Drift boat fly fishing on bow river in Alberta.

About the Bow River

The Bow River is a majestic waterway located in Alberta, Canada. Stretching over 587 kilometers, it flows through the beautiful Canadian Rockies, providing a picturesque backdrop for anglers. Nestled in the Bow Valley, by Calgary, Alberta, the river is known for its crystal clear waters, which are home to an impressive variety of fish species, including rainbow trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, and bull trout.

What is Drift Boat Fly Fishing?

Drift boat fly fishing is a unique angling technique that allows anglers to cover large stretches of water while casting their flies. The technique involves using a shallow-draft boat, known as a drift boat, to navigate the river and position yourself in prime fishing spots. This method allows anglers to access areas that would otherwise be inaccessible from the shore, increasing their chances of catching fish.

Planning Your Drift Boat Fly Fishing Adventure on the Bow River

Before embarking on your drift boat fly fishing adventure on the Bow River, it’s essential to plan your trip properly. Here are a few key factors to consider:

  1. Choose the right time: The summer months are ideal for drift boat fly fishing on the Bow River, as the river levels are typically lower, making it easier to navigate. Additionally, the warm weather brings about a hatch of various insects, enticing the trout to the surface.
  2. Research regulations: Familiarize yourself with the fishing regulations in Alberta and obtain the necessary permits before hitting the water. This ensures that you’re fishing in accordance with local laws and helps protect the fish population.
  3. Gear up: Make sure you have all the necessary equipment for your drift boat fly fishing adventure, including a sturdy drift boat, fly rods, reels, lines, flies, waders, and other essentials. It’s also a good idea to pack some snacks, water, and sunscreen to keep you comfortable throughout the day.
  4. Hire a guide: Consider hiring a professional guide who is familiar with the Bow River. A knowledgeable guide can enhance your fishing experience by providing insights, tips, and techniques to help you catch more fish.


Happy with a full day of fly fishing on the Bow River in Alberta.

The Advantages of a Guided Fishing Adventure

While you can certainly venture out on the Bow River on your own, opting for a guided fishing adventure offers numerous advantages. A skilled guide will not only navigate the river, but they will also share their extensive knowledge of the Bow River, increasing your chances of success.

Guides know precisely where the fish are most likely to be found, the best flies to use, and the most effective fishing techniques. Moreover, they have access to exclusive stretches of the river, ensuring that you enjoy a memorable fishing experience.

What to Look for in a Fly Fishing Guide

When selecting a fly fishing guide for your drift boat adventure on the Bow River, there are a few essential factors to consider:

  • Experience: Look for guides with extensive experience fishing on the Bow River. They should possess a deep understanding of the river and its fish population.
  • Knowledge: Seek out guides who are passionate about fly fishing and possess a wealth of knowledge about different fishing techniques, fly patterns, and fish behavior.
  • Reviews: Read reviews and testimonials from previous clients to get a sense of the guide’s professionalism, friendliness, and overall satisfaction level.
  • Communication: Choose a guide who communicates well and can effectively convey instructions and tips to help you improve your fishing skills.


We had a great day on the river.
Fishing was excellent and our guide was awesome at helping with all the techniques.
I will definitely be contacting you again in the future when I am back in Calgary for another trip.

~ Patrick

fly fishing bow river drift boat

Drift Boat Fly Fishing vs. Shoreline or Walk & Wade

While shoreline and walk & wade fishing can be enjoyable, drift boat fly fishing on the Bow River offers several advantages:

Firstly, drift boats allow you to cover significantly more water compared to fishing from the shore. This increases your chances of encountering feeding fish and enables you to explore different sections of the river without the need for lengthy hikes.

Secondly, drift boat fishing provides a comfortable and stable platform for casting. The spaciousness of the boat allows anglers to cast freely without the limitations of trees or bushes obstructing their movements. This results in more accurate and effortless presentations to the fish.

Lastly, drift boat fishing allows you to access remote stretches of the river that are otherwise difficult to reach. These less-fished areas often harbor abundant fish populations, providing a unique angling experience.

Exploring the Best Fishing Spots along the Bow River

The Bow River offers a vast array of prime fishing spots for anglers to explore. From the famous fly fishing section in the City of Calgary to the serene stretches of the Upper Bow River near Banff, there is something to suit every angler’s preferences.

One highly recommended spot is the Bow River’s Trout Unlimited Conservation Area, near Calgary. This catch-and-release zone boasts healthy fish populations and breathtaking scenery. The area is managed by Trout Unlimited Canada and offers a great opportunity to experience productive fly fishing while contributing to conservation efforts.

Sandy Windsor Fly Fishing Guide in Alberta

Variety of Trout and Other Fish

When fly fishing on the Bow River, you’ll encounter a remarkable variety of trout, including rainbow trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, and bull trout. These sportfish are known for their strength and acrobatic leaps, providing an exhilarating fight for anglers.

In addition to trout, the Bow River is home to other fish species, such as mountain whitefish and northern pike. These diverse fish populations ensure that anglers of all skill levels can experience the thrill of hooking into a feisty fish.

Local Wildlife and Scenery to Enjoy While Fishing on the Bow River

Fly fishing on the Bow River not only offers exceptional angling opportunities but also provides a chance to immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty and wildlife of the Canadian Rockies. As you drift along the river, you’ll witness awe-inspiring mountain vistas, dense forests, and vibrant wildflowers.

Keep an eye out for the abundant wildlife that calls the Bow River home. Bald eagles soaring overhead, beavers building dams, and deer grazing on the riverbanks are just a few of the creatures you may encounter during your drift boat adventure.

The Best Times of Day to Fly Fish on the Bow River

While the Bow River offers excellent fishing throughout the day, there are certain times when the fish are especially active. Early morning and late evening are often touted as prime fishing times, as fish tend to be more actively feeding during these periods.

During the morning hours, watch for hatches of insects, as this can trigger a feeding frenzy among the trout. Similarly, in the evening, as the sun starts to set, fish become more aggressive and are likely to strike at surface flies more readily.

Great day fishing. Thoroughly enjoyed our day with our guide. Highly recommended.


fly fishing bow river home page

How to Book Your Half or Full Day of Fly Fishing on the Bow

Booking your drift boat fly fishing adventure on the Bow River is simple and convenient. Many reputable guiding services offer half-day and full-day trips, tailored to suit your schedule, group size and preferences. Bow River Hookers Fly Fishing Adventures has been offering such trips since 2000.

Start by researching guide services that specialize in Bow River drift boat fly fishing trips. Check their availability and rates, and contact them to discuss your needs and preferences. The guide will provide you with all the necessary information and guide you through the booking process, ensuring a seamless experience. You can book directly online at https://bowriverhookers.com/book-your-trip/

Summary: Drift Boat Fly Fishing on the Bow River

The Bow River is a mecca for drift boat fly fishing enthusiasts, offering breathtaking scenery, an abundance of fish species, and the thrill of navigating its pristine waters. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting your fly fishing journey, the Bow River provides an unforgettable experience.

Remember to plan your trip carefully, consider hiring a guide, and take advantage of the various fishing spots along the river. With its diverse fish populations, spectacular wildlife, and picturesque landscapes, the Bow River is undoubtedly the ultimate destination for drift boat fly fishing this summer.

Ready to book your trip? Contact us today to discuss your next fly fishing adventure!