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20 Best Fly Fishing Movies to Watch (2023)

Warmer weather is fast approaching and the ice is melting, which opens the rivers and lakes up for fly fishermen. One thing fishermen are known for is telling good stories that become some of the best fly fishing movies.

Some even manage to make it to the international fly fishing film festival through a submission process.

Here’s the scoop on the best fly-fishing movies to watch! 

1. A River Runs Through It

Brad Pitt and Robert Redford having a conversation
Photo by John Kelly/Getty Images – © 1991 John P Kelly Photographer LLC

Known by most as the best fly fishing movie, this Robert Redford film starring Brad Pitt and Craig Sheffer tells the story of two brothers, Paul, and Norman Maclean.

One is more reserved while the other is more rebellious, but they share their love of fly fishing. As they grow up and head in different directions, Norman goes east for college leaving Paul behind.

He then returns home to reconnect with his brother and continue their tradition of fishing trips.

2. Predator

Shown first in the 2012 Rise Fly Fishing Film Tour, an annual fly fishing film tour, Predator became known as a great fly fishing movie.

Narrated by angler Greg French and filmed by Nick Reygaert, this film has incredible scenes of brown trout, queenfish, taimen, and more. A tribute to fish that fishermen can catch on a fly in the world’s waters.

3. Low and Clear

This beautiful film follows two fishermen named J.T. Van Zandt and Alex “Xenie” Hall taking one last fishing trip together. They used to take lots of fishing trips together years ago, but as time went on life pulled them down different paths.

They share their favorite memories of their favorite places on their trips. Along the trip, they understand how far they have come in their lives and the threats these changes have to their friendship. 

4. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Starring Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, this romantic comedy is a must-watch film. It follows a fisheries expert and a financial adviser as they look to bring Atlantic salmon fishing to the not-so-fish-friendly desert.

They find that this river can’t provide the environment for salmon to survive. The project progresses as the romance blooms between the two main characters.

As this perfect film comes to an end and the two lovebirds drift apart, the audience sheds a tear as they know the project was a success.

5. Grumpy Old Men

Jack Lemmon in Grumpy Old Men
Grumpy Old Men (1993)

A feature-length film starring Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau is a true comedy. Two old men have been next door neighbors for over 50 years. From losing a beloved fly rod to calculated pranks, there is never a dull moment with these two.

Everything changes when a woman moves in across the street. One of them ends up marrying her and the two friends resolve their feuding, but not without one final prank.

It is not the best movie for fly fishing, but it is a great story about lifelong friends and how they work out their differences for the better. 

6. Gone Fishin’

A Disney film tells the story of two men going on a four-day fishing trip that goes wrong. They venture to the deep south in the Florida Everglades to go angling.

Actors Joe Pesci and Danny Glover find themselves in more and more trouble the longer the trip drags on.

From hurricanes to a robbery to losing their boat, they spend the majority of their trip dealing with the damages. Although this isn’t a typical movie for the fishing world, it is one that will give viewers a good laugh. 

7. The River Why

Zach Gilford plays Gus Orviston, who loves the great outdoors and doesn’t want to do anything but fish. He leaves his family and the world behind and heads to a secluded cabin where he meets Eddy, played by Amber Heard.

This relationship allows him to grow into a man. He is still a long way from being grown, but this journey away from his family allowed him to understand what is most important.

8. The Land of Little Rivers

Filmed in the Catskill Mountains of New York, the birthplace of American fly fishing, this documentary showcases the history of fly fishing with the biggest names in it.

Joan Wulff, also known as the first lady of fly fishing, along with Ben Rinker, Dave Bradnt, and more discuss ways to support conservation efforts through capture adventure media. They explore the development of fly fishing and the sport’s origin from local anglers.

This is one of the most engaging films and the best fly fishing film that brings the stories of popular names in the world of fly fishing to fans around the world.

9. Perfect Storm

Mark Wahlberg and George Clooney bring the true story of a killer storm in the North Atlantic to fly fishing fans everywhere. In 1991, a commercial sword-fishing boat known as the Andrea Gail left the shore for fishing grounds north.

Despite the change in weather, the crew decides to continue into the mighty waters of the Atlantic. The gear the fishermen had with them juxtaposed with what the sea had in store for them.

10. Jaws

Jaws - Richard Dreyfuss
Photo by MCA/Universal Home Video – © Copyright 1995 – Universal City Studios, Inc. – All rights reserved.

The next best thing to a traditional fishing movie is Jaws, a classic, thrilling film. Taking place on Amity Island, the sheriff, played by Roy Scheider, finds remains of an attack by a great white shark close to the shore.

Since shark attacks are not common in this area, local businesses, the mayor, and members of the community weren’t comfortable with this knowledge.

In order to capture the shark, a bounty is put out sending a fisherman, a marine biologist, and a sheriff out for the beast. They quickly realize they will need a bigger boat than what they planned for.

11. Moby Dick

A silver screen classic featuring a big fish and a sailor seeking vengeance. Like most films, this adventure film started as a novel written by Herman Melville.

Gregory Peck plays the lone survivor named Captain Ahab on the hunt for the white sperm whale. This whale took Ahab’s leg years before and sparked his desire to kill the whale.

He is willing to sacrifice everything he has, including his crew members, his ship, and his life.

12. The Old Man and The Sea

old man inside boat
The Old Man and the Sea (1958)

Spencer Tracy portrays an old man who has the purest form of love for fly fishing. He has spent his whole life fishing with nothing to show for it. Local fishermen made fun of him and said he is too old to make an impact.

A young boy becomes his encouragement to keep going and continue doing what he loves. With the new faith, he hooks the largest marlin he had ever seen.

So large, it pulled him out to sea. As this happens, the old man looks back on his life and the high points that occurred.

13. On Golden Pond

Every summer, Norman Thayer, played by Henry Fonda, and his wife go to their cottage on Golden Pond. Their daughter, her fiancé, and stepson join them for his birthday.

Before leaving, their daughter asked her parents to watch her stepson while she and her fiancé were in Europe.

When his daughter leaves, Norman builds a relationship with her stepson that his daughter always wanted with him.

14. The Complete Angler

An ESPN original documentary follows James Prosek on a journey of adventure through England to incorporate Izaak Walton’s philosophies into his life. Walton’s The Compleat Angler was published in 1653, but, as Prosek found, still holds true in today’s world.

While following Walton’s teaching, Prosek realized the Compleat Angler is not about fishing; it is about life. To some fishermen, this sport becomes more than an outdoor activity; it can cleanse the soul from everyday troubles. 

15. Hang Tight

The official selection of the Rise Fly Fishing Film Festival in 2018, this 15-minute top notch selection of short films follows a group of fly anglers around the rivers in Slovenia.

This is a story of pride, blasphemy, and beer–the beverage of choice by most fishermen. The film walks through the seriousness of the sport of fly fishing.

The competitiveness comes out of the anglers as one man pushes the mental boundaries to catch his first marble trout, exclusive to this part of the world.

16. Where the Yellowstone Goes

The Yellowstone River is one of the most famous rivers in the United States. A crew takes a 30-day boat journey down the river. They meet with locals and tell the stories of the towns and local fly shops along the river.

The stories from the locals unveil the history of the area and the controversies surrounding the questions of the future of those places.

Between the conversations and the casting of the fly rods, this film brings a variety of stories connected by Yellowstone and is one of the best fishing movies of all times.

17. Rise

In search of the best fly-fishing action, Rise shows 6 fly fishing locations in the best international waters. The follow-up to the 2008 film Drift, this journey starts off in the United States and travels around the world.

Starting in Florida with tarpon, or the silver king, Patagonia with brown and rainbow trout fishing, and Henry’s Fork on the Snake River for the best dry fish flying.

This film is the ultimate journey for any fly-fishing fan and is the best content to show the different fishing environments around the world.

18. The Rocky Mountain Fly Highway

Narrated by Tom Skerritt, this documentary showcases all the best fly fishing action in the Northern Rockies. It follows the U.S. Highway 20 through the best fly-fishing waters of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon.

The movie also passes over scenic peaks, deserts, and waters that draw scientific anglers and fishermen from all over. The film even draws in fans who don’t love fly fishing, and they leave loving the sport.

19. The Bait Shop 

Local fly shop owner named Bill Dugan, played by Bill Engvall owns a bait shop in Paradise Lake. He is deep in debt and owes $15,000 for the mortgage.

The town is hosting a professional bass contest and Bill decides to compete to win a prize that would pay off his debt and save his shop. The prize was $50,000.

The tournament favorite, played by Billy Ray Cyrus, is a crowd-pleaser who will do anything to win and has premium sponsors including ESPN. This is the only way for Bill to save his bait shop, so he is ready to go up against the best of the best.

20. Live The Stream

joe humphreys holding fishing rod
Live The Stream: The Story of Joe Humphreys (2018)

This new film is a documentary film that tells the story of lifelong fisherman Joe Humphreys. The Pennsylvania fly fishing legend teaches the core of fly-fishing and showcases respect for local waters.

His pursuit of wild spaces allows viewers to connect to him and the trout streams that remind him of his youth. He is a recognizable face around town and along the streams and has inspired more people than he knows.

His story will have viewers hooked from the beginning.

Fly Fishing Movies Guide

That is the end of our list of the best fishing movies of all time. We hope you find these great movies to inspire you to take to the rivers this summer.

The fly fishing film tour is a journey across the globe with live emcee and door prizes. Join one man’s journey and experience the achievement of a permit slam.

You can also learn fly fishing techniques with J.T. Van Zandt on Youtube!

best fly fishing movies to watch

For the scoop on more movies, visit these articles:

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One Comment

  1. These aren’t all fly fishing movies, jesus! Grumpy old men, it was an ice fishing rod!
    The old man and the sea! He used a hand line!
    On golden pond! A bait casting rod!
    Moby Dick! Are you nuts!

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