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of areas to camp, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks issues only a few float permits per day, which one must apply for months in advance and your chance is less then 30% in receiving one.  (It’s done on a lottery drawing system to make it random and fair.)

The Smith has a short float season, usually from May through mid July.  This can vary a few weeks either way depending on snow pack, rain, irrigation and timing of runoff.  A classic western freestone stream, this is a big fly river.  We fish lots of stoneflies and big attractor patterns like PMX’s, Stimulators, Jacklin’s Giant Stones & Hoppers.  There are good caddis and mayfly hatches as well and we will “match the hatch” during those times but a #8 Royal PMX is tough to beat.  Large streamers like Bead-head Woolly Buggers and Flash-Fry Zonkers will pull the bigger Browns and Rainbows from the deeper pools and undercut banks.

The Smith is a trip of a lifetime for many folks and if you hit it just right there may be none better.  But low and high water years and irrigation and ice jams make this river difficult to figure out from year to year.  There is only one thing that is predictable about the Smith and that is its unpredictability.  We’ve had snow in July, 85 degree weather in May, lots of big fish on dry flies, 1-fish days, log jams, low flows, high flows and a few things in between.  But it’s never been boring!

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The Smith River is the ultimate floating/fishing/camping river in Montana and possibly one of the best the country.  Most of this 60 mile wilderness-like float is through a beautiful limestone canyon whose walls sometimes rise straight up from the river to 1000 feet overhead!  Due to the limited number

A great way to experience the Smith and to ensure the best opportunity for fishing, floating and camping success is to book a 5-day Guided Trip through CrossCurrents.  Please plan early (August through January before the summer you want to go) because there are only a limited number of Outfitted launches and they do fill up

quick.  CrossCurrents makes planning a Smith River Guide Trip very easy.  Give us a call or send us an e-mail and we will by happy to arrange your trip of a lifetime on the spectacular Smith!

On a Smith River Guided Trip you will enjoy large, stand-up-in tents for each two guests, comfortable, heavy-duty Roll-A-Cots with Therm-A-Rest sleeping pads, dry bags for clothes & gear, PFD’s, flies, leader & tippet you use on the river, wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages and of course, fantastic Guides & camp/cook crews.  Our professional camp Chefs serve home cooked, healthful sit down meals (breakfast, lunch & dinners).  A Camp Crew (aka –Freighters) move the entire camp and all gear downstream ahead of the guide boats each day ensuring everything is set up with hour’s devours and drinks ready, welcoming you to camp each afternoon.  Every campsite has sturdy, clean, outdoor latrines set up in private locations by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Forest Service.  We provide the paper and hand washing station.  This is as cushy as camping in the wild gets!

For the more self-reliant floater/camper/angler, CrossCurrents rents & sells top-of-the-line AIRE, Outcast & NRS rafts, catarafts and pontoon boats for the Smith (and other rivers as well).  If you need to rent a boat for your Smith River trip please call or e-mail us ASAP after you receive your permit as our fleet of rafts quickly book up during the Smith’s short season.  We also, rent Dry Bags, Roll-A-Tables, Roll-A-Chairs, Roll-A-Cots, PFD's (Life Jackets), Waders, Rods, Reels, etc..  Please see our BOAT & EQUIPMENT RENTALS page for more information and pricing.  For CrossCurrents popular Smith River Check List, please scroll down this page.

Favorite Flies for the Smith:  (Plan on losing 10 to 20 flies every day to the Smith River’s rocky bottom, & brushy shoreline!)

Dries:  (In early to mid May you usually only get a couple of hours of dry fly fishing in the warmer afternoon.  In June & July you can expect to fish dry flies most of the day starting in late morning on cool days and very early on hot days.)

#12-#18 Parachute Adams

#12-#16 Para-Wulffs (Adams, Purple)

#10-#16 Tan, Brown, & Olive Elk Hair Caddis

#2-#6 Salmonfly Patterns (they are normally in mid-May through early June!)

[-Jacklin’s Giant Salmonfly!, Rogue Foam, Stalcup’s, etc.]

#6-#10 Golden Stonefly Patterns (they are normally in mid-June through July!)

[Jacklin’s Giant Golden {doubles as a hopper too!}, Rogue Foam, etc.]

#4-#12 Parachute Madam-X’s [aka. PMX or Bugmeister] (Peacock, Yellow, Royal)!!!

#4-#12 Agee’s Knobblers

#8-#14 Royal Wulff!

#6-#12 Stimulators (Orange, Royal & Yellow)!

#10-#14 Humpies (Yellow, Red)

#6-#10 Hopper patterns (Club Sandwich & Stalcup’s are awesome!)

#12-#18 Ants & Beetles (Great to drop behind a PMX or Stimi!)

Nymphs:  (Nymphs can be very productive on this river.  I like Tungsten Beads on almost all my nymphs so I don’t have to rely on hard-to-cast

                split shot.)

#2-#10 Stonefly Nymphs (Brown &/or Black, Golden) - (There are a lot of stoneflies on this river and the nymphs are very abundant and active in May through July!)

#6-#10 Tungsten Trout Retriever (Black Lab, Chocolate Lab & Golden Retriever)

#4-#10 Bitch Creek Nymphs (Smith fish love the rubber legs!)!!

#10-#14 Bead-Head Prince Nymphs

#12-#16 Fly Formerly Known As Prince (Don’t laugh, this has been awesome fly for the Smith!)

#10-#14 Tunghead Hare’s Ear (regular and flashback)

#14-#18 Mirage Nymphs

#14-#16 Lightning Bugs  (Silver &/or Gold)

#14-#18 Bead-Head Pheasant Tail (regular and flashback)

#12-#14 Copper Johns

#6-#12 San Juan Worms!  (Can be a “trip saver” bug when the river swells from rain or run-off.  Never go on the Smith without them.)

Streamers: (If you want to catch the bigger fish on the Smith or if the water is off color use big streamers!)

#4-#8 Bead-Head Woolly Buggers (Black, Olive Wine-Tail, Brown and Olive)

#4-#8 Bead-Head Girdle Buggers (Black, Olive Wine-Tail, Brown, JJ Specials)!!

#6 Flash-Fry Zonkers!

#4-#6 Trina’s Big Head Todd Zonker

#4 DG’s Bugz Bunny (Black, Tan or Purple)

#4 Sheila’s Sculpin

#4-#6 Strung-Out Strippers (Brown, Natural.)

#4-#6 Sculpzilla

#4-#8 Zonkers (Black, White, Olive, Brown)

#4-#6 Muddler Minnow (Kiwi, marabou and/or traditional)

#4-#6 Conehead Bow River Bugger (White or Black)

#4-#8 Yuk Bugs (again, it’s a rubber leg thing)

We have many of these patterns either as recipes

and instruction or videos on our Fly Tying Pages.

Click on the colored text above.

Streamflow & Water Temp. on the Smith River below Eagle Creek:

(This is the gauge we use to determine river flows for floating.)

The spectacularly scenic Smith River in Montana!

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pdf Map above is from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.  (Click here -FWP Smith Map- to link to FWP’s map)

Be on the Smith with us by watching our short video on our 2008 trip

You might want to wear a sweater when you watch this video!

Established 1994


Downtown Helena Store:

(406) 449-2292


Missouri River Store in Craig:

(406) 235-3433


If you are one of the lucky people to draw a permit, call or stop by CrossCurrents for some great advice on making your trip a success.  If you’re a fly tier and want to get started early filling your fly boxes for your Smith trip, check out the fly list above or feel free to give us a call and we'll make some recommendations or to get you the right materials for the perfect patterns for the Smith.  We posted a few fly tying videos and recipes/instructions on lots of great fly patterns on our Fly Tying Videos page.

We are considered Smith River experts and can help you plan, and outfit your trip to make it safer, more comfortable and unforgettable!  Click below to download a pdf of the CrossCurrents’ Smith River Check List - it's what we use when we plan for our own trips down the river.

Smith River Check List.pdf

*CrossCurrents rents & sells top-of-the-line AIRE, Outcast & NRS rafts, catarafts and pontoon boats for the Smith (and other rivers as well) along with Dry Bags, Roll-A-Tables, Roll-A-Cots, PFD’s (life jackets), Waders, Rods, Reels, etc.  If you need to rent a boat this spring or summer please call us ASAP as our fleet quickly books up during the Smith season.*

We usually eat better on the Smith than we do at home!  If you want a great meal to make at camp, then download the following pdf of one of our favorite recipes.  I’ll have more simple but delicious “camp meals” in the future.  Sausage, Shrimp & 'Shrooms Penne.pdf