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The Backstage Pass

Fly-Out, Fixed-Based, and Float Trips: What are the Differences?

May 03, 23

We have a fantastic Alaskan program with tons of different options to pick and choose from, and can really customize a trip that will fit your preferences and what you are looking to get out of the experience. There are a number of great Alaskan fly fishing operations that offer great fishing and solid lodging options (we work with over 20 different operations). Each is unique from the next and caters well to certain groups of anglers. We typically like to break down all of our Alaskan lodges into three different categories.

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Fly-out Lodges

These are the programs that typically come to mind first when you are thinking of an Alaskan fishing lodge. Fly-out lodges are usually located right on the banks of a great fishing river and have very nice accommodations, great food, good service, and incredible teams of pilots and guides. What really sets the fly-out lodges apart in our opinion is their ability to utilize float plane aircraft within their fishing program. Once you get out to the interior of Alaska and the Bristol Bay region, there are really no roads connecting the different fisheries. Because of that, the best way to get around to see a bunch of different fishing scenarios and head to the best conditions during your week is in a float plane. To spend a week at a fly-out lodge in Alaska you can literally have access to over 50 different fishing scenarios during your stay, so your opportunity to see the best conditions and scenarios based on your preferences are extremely high. They do tend to usually be the most expensive option in Alaska, but when you factor in everything it takes to run these programs (fuel costs, freight, experienced pilots and guides, aircraft maintenance) you can see how they can add up quickly. We personally feel that all of our fly-out lodges are worth every penny and more, and are a great option for anglers looking to experience multiple fishing scenarios and see the best conditions during your week in Alaska.

Fixed-base operations

Another full-service option in the Alaskan wilderness at probably one of the best price points for what is being offered during your stay. Fixed-base operations are very similar to fly-out lodges in the fact that everything is taken care of during your week in the wilderness, but the main difference is how you will be accessing the water to fish each day. Most fixed-base camps do require a float plane flight to get into camp, but once you are there you are usually running upstream or downstream in jet boats to fish different sections of the river, tributaries, back channels, and braids. The location of the fixed-base camps is chosen based on the fishing opportunities in the immediate area, and are great if you want to avoid getting into an airplane every day! Because of that, the price point tends to be a little lower than the fly-out lodges, you can still see some incredible fishing scenarios but are primarily fishing one river or the close surrounding water. Many of the fixed-base operations are very fishing-focused, and a great option if you are looking to spend as much time on the water as possible all in a very remote area and setting.

Float Trips

A great option for anglers that really want to be immersed in the Alaskan wilderness and exposed to its elements. Float trips are multi-day excursions into the Alaskan bush and on a singular body of water where you will be moving downstream each day to the next camp, covering anywhere from 10-15 miles each day. Float trips are run on some of the most fabled of Alaskan waters, and provide anglers who want to get “off-the-grid” with an intimate knowledge of an entire watershed. These are considered the most “rustic” option of the three categories in Alaska as you will be on more of a camping trip and experience where you will move downstream each day, but a great way if you really want to see the remote wilderness of Alaska, sit around the campfire each night telling fishing stories and get into some areas that are not typically accessed by other operations.

We recommend paging through the Yellow Dog website, where all of our Alaskan operations have their own page with more information and dozens of photos to give a really good feel for the program. If there is ever anything you need throughout the entire booking process, be sure to let us know and we will be happy to help in any way possible.


+ Listen to this WAYPOINTS Podcast: CAMILLE EGDORF – Alaska Trip Planning and How to Do it Right

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