Bow River Fly-Fishing Guides, Calgary, AB


Bow River Fly-Fishing Guides
Bow River Brown Trout

Read Our Blog Post about The Bow River 

Bow River Brown Trout
Bow River Brown Trout

Southern Alberta’s Bow River is world-renowned for its hard-fighting brown and rainbow trout. The Bow is truly a trophy fishery, with both browns and rainbows averaging 19 inches. Our Guided Bow River Fly-Fishing trips take place in- and downstream of the city of Calgary – making the Bow River  very accessible from most major U.S. cities and airports.

Outfitter and Guide Dave Brown with a happy Client and a 24 inch Bow River Brown Trout
Outfitter and Guide Dave Brown with a happy Client and a 24 inch Bow River Brown Trout -Bow River Fly-Fishing Guides

The Bow River
is a fly-fisher’s paradise.Within the city limits and downstream of Calgary the river boasts a self-sustaining combined population of 3000 rainbow and brown trout per mile.Combine that with an average size of 19 inches and it’s easy to see why the Bow River Fly-Fishing experience is well noted for its BIG FISH making The Bow River on of the Top Produces and choices for Anglers on The North American Trophy Trout circuit.

Double Hook -Up onThe Bow River
Double Hook -Up onThe Bow River

The 50-mile trophy stretch is best suited to floating – even by Western standards it is considered a big river with a flow that averages about 3500 c.f.s. The average width of the river is 80 yards. Except for very low winter flows the river is impossible to cross by wading anglers. Downstream of Calgary the river has carved a spectacular valley. The banks are lined with cottonwood and aspen stands that rise to grass-covered breaks and sandstone cliffs. Watchful anglers can see where buffalo were herded over “jumps” by native hunters. Most of the river runs through private land, and cattle now graze where buffalo once roamed. Like all prairie river bottoms, wildlife is abundant; we commonly spot mule deer, eagles, pelicans, Great Blue Herons, Kingfishers,and waterfowl and shorebirds by the hundreds.

Floating The Bow River
Floating The Bow River -Bow River Fly-Fishing Guides

The fishing on the Bow River  picks up for the season in late April, with corresponding hatches of Baetis and midges. There are a few Skwala stoneflies around then as well. Towards mid-May the trout really start to look up as March Browns and caddis make their appearance.

Streamer eating Bow River Rainbow
Streamer eating Bow River Rainbow

Although many rainbows begin moving up tributaries to spawn about that time, the fishing remains excellent as there are still plenty of ’bows in the river to keep things interesting. The browns – which don’t spawn until the fall – get very aggressive, providing great action on streamers, nymphs and dries.

Bow Brown Trout
Bow Brown Trout

Early June typically marks runoff on the Bow River , which usually lasts two weeks. However, once the flow is stable or – better yet – if the river has crested and is on its way down, the fishing is awesome as anglers “pound the banks” with streamers. By the end of June and through most of July, anglers can expect to see Golden Stoneflies,Pale Morning Duns and caddis.

During August the river drops and the fish are much more selective than they were earlier in the season. Trico spinner falls in the morning usually entice Bow River trout to look up. During the day, hopper fishing can be fantastic and evening skies are usually filled with newly hatched caddisflies.

Fly-Fishing Alberta's Bow River
Fly-Fishing Alberta’s Bow River

Hopper fishing remains strong as summer blends into fall. The color changes that line the valley with reds, yellows and oranges also bring on strong hatches of Blue-winged Olives, midges, Water Boatman, caddis and October Caddis. The aquatic and terrestrial diet is unmatched as the trout gorge to put on weight before winter. Click here for the S.W. Alberta Hatch Chart


Sight Fishing to a large rainbow
Sight Fishing to a large rainbow -Wading Side Channels can Be Very Productive on Alberta’s Bow River

A Day Fly-Fishing The Bow River

During the course of a day you could find yourself fishing streamers, nymphs and large attractor dry flies from a moving drift boat. At times your Bow River Fly-fishing Guide will want to pull over, anchor the boat and stalklarge, surface feeding

Bow River Rainbows are Hot and Fat
Bow River Rainbows are Hot and Fat

brown or rainbow trout eating small caddis or mayflies along the banks. Make no mistake, you’re now in an angling situation that demands light tippets, small dry flies, a delicate presentation  and, potentially, a battle with a very hot, above-average trout.

Bow River Fly-Fishing Guides
Hook -Up Bow River Fly-Fishing Guides

You may also find yourself wading up a myriad of side channels, back channels, riffles and high banks casting “Hopper-Dropper” or light-nymph rigs to big trout that your guide has spottedfeeding. These fish – whether they are just beneath the surface or eating dries on top – provide a great blend of New Zealand sight-fishing and Rocky Mountain Trout fishing in one river!

streamer eating rainbow

Guiding Services
In 1988 Dave Brown began his    Bow River Fly-fishng  Career . Each season, Dave and his Bow River Fly-fishing Guides spend countless days guiding and fishing on this incredible river, ensuring that the clients of Dave Brown Outfitters experience the best the Bow has to offer. With our professional approach to guiding- coupled with our knowledge of the river and ability to instruct at all levels – your day on the Bow will be a memorable one.

Bow River Brown Trout

The Season
Although the Bow River  is open year-round, we don’t start guiding until late April. Our season runs through until the end of October. Our favorite months to Fly-Fish the Bow River  are May, July, August, September and October.We suggest booking your Bow River Fly-Fishing Trip during this timeframe.


Recommended trip Duration
For some anglers, the Bow River is their destination of choice; it’s very easy to spend 3-4 days fishing this river with more than 50 miles of trophy trout water beckoning. The Bow also makes a great way to wrap-up a trip to  Fernie in Southeast British Columbia Fly-Fishing The Elk River  or Southwest Alberta  Fly-Fishing The Crowsnest River. This is an easy add-on for Fly-fishers  booking multi-day, multi-river trips and traveling out of Calgary.


Bow River Rainbow -Bow River Fly-Fishing Guides
Bow River Rainbow -Bow River Fly-Fishing Guides

Other Options
Dave Brown Outfitters can readily conduct day trips from Calgary to the Red Deer River, Upper Bow, Crowsnest River and Oldman River tailwater. We also have some very good small streams located northwest and southwest of Calgary. These waters range from spring creek brown trout fisheries to freestone Rocky Mountain streams – home to native west slope cutthroat trout and monster bull trout.

With Dave Brown Outfitters , that’s the only “bull” you’ll get. We acknowledge that despite a healthy trout population and a reputation as the best big-fish river in North America, at times the Bow can be extremely finicky and technical. That’s the nature of superb Western trout fishing. What we can assure you is that our Bow River Fly-Fishing Guides have the experience and know-how to react to tough conditions in a number of ways to ensure that your trip is a success. As a client of Dave Brown Outfitters you are booking with the largest multi-river guiding service in Western Canada – period. We have the flexibility and logistics to move you to where the fishing conditions are best. With us, you’re in the besthands in the business.

DBO Guide Gavin Stookes and a happy client

Getting to Calgary
Most U.S. carriers fly into Calgary and there are direct flights from Dallas, Denver, Houston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Calgary is also accessible from Detroit via West Jet Airlines out of Windsor, Ontario.

The Glenmore  Inn -Conveintly located in S.E. Calgary ,it’s close to the Airport and the Bow River.A nice property and excellent rates .
The Fairmount Palliser  -Located in Downtown Calgary ,The Fairmount Palliser is the #1 Luxury Hotel in Calgary .

Hotel Pick Up –Rather than have you meet your guide at a fly-shop which is both  annoying  & time consuming ,we pick you up at the Hotel that you are staying at.


Bow River Fly-Fishing Guides
Hook -Up Bow River Fly-Fishing

         Bow River Fly-Fishing Equipment List 

  • Streamer Rods -9ft -7wt or 6wt
  • Nymph Rods -9ft 6wt 0r 5wt
  • Dry Fly Rods  9ft 5
  • Reels -minium 100 yards of backing on all
  • Lines Weight Forward Floating lines for all,& a 10ft Sink tip line for your Streamer Rod
  • Breathable Waders
  • Rain Jacket
  • Polarized Sunglasses
  • Wet Wading Gear (June,July,August)
  • Fleece Jacket
  • Personel Items
  • Alberta Fishing License

*Note  Our trips include All Flies ,Leaders and Boat Rods.If needed Waders can be rented.*

Bow River Brown Trout
Bow River Brown Trout

Rates -$550 per day,per boat . plus 5% G.S.T.
Spare Fly-Rods
Deli Style Lunch
Hotel P/U and D/O
Alberta fishing Licenses

 Book your Bow River Fly-fishing Adventure Now

Visit our Trip Planner for more Fly-fishing Ideas.

Bow River Brown Trout Fly-Fishing Video  

A very large Brown Trout caught on The Bow River while Fly-Fishing with Dave Brown Outfitters.


March Brown       
Salmon Flies       
Golden Stone       
Yellow&Lime Sally       
Green Drake       
Pale Morning Dun       
Little Western Green Drake (Flav vilinea)       
Grass Hoppers       
Red Quill       
October Caddis       
Various Caddis       

* Hatches may very depending on elevation and watershed *


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