Gear up and get ready for a Montana fly fishing vacation! Have you been itching to fly fish in Montana this summer, but just don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
Planning a Montana fly fishing trip is exciting yet intimidating. That’s why the expert guides at our Montana fly shop have prepared a list of the top Montana fly fishing vacation tips for you and your group!
1. Research the weather
This may seem like the most cliché tip ever, but we mean it when we say the weather can change on a dime in Montana. Our winters are cold and our summers are hot, yet no two days are the same when it comes to weather. It’s not uncommon to see the symptoms of all four seasons in one day, especially in our shoulder seasons (spring and fall.) This means coming prepared with the gear to match these extremes. In the summer months, rain jackets and light midlayers, in addition to UPF protected and quick-dry clothing are necessary. Our views are beautiful and our fishing is fantastic. Don’t be the person to cut your day short because you came unprepared for the weather.
In addition to the weather, Montana’s dynamic climate influences our river conditions which can affect how we fish. To counter this, come prepared with the gear necessary to fish multiple tactics such as dry flies, nymphs and streamers. Try to make additional time to fish in Montana in case weather conditions don’t cooperate. Setting up multiple days with your guide, or setting aside several days dedicated to fishing allows you to be more flexible to weather changes.
2. Go to local fly shops for advice, not the web
Those who know the most about a particular fishery are those who live and play in it day to day. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of helpful information online to guide you in the right direction when it comes to your Montana fly fishing vacation. However, going into a Montana fly shop with questions is significantly more useful than the alternative. Fly shop employees offer nuanced advice on the latest in fly fishing in their area and provide tips that are specific to their region. Every fishery is not the same and every year is certainly not the same in terms of conditions, hatches, etc.
3. Prepare with appropriate gear
If done right, you can travel to Montana to fly fish out of your carry on. Knowing what to bring and what to leave at home is the difference maker. The tool of choice for many anglers is a 5 or 6wt fly rod. This size can cover a wide range of tactics and handle trout of all sizes. Paired with an all-purpose floating line, like a Scientific Anglers Infinity Taper, these rods are basically all you need to catch trout year round in our rivers.
In addition to rods, waders are only necessary during certain times of the year. Montana summers are filled with excellent hatches, yet sometimes scorching temperatures. If you’re coming anytime during the summer, plan on leaving your waders at home and look forward to cool rushing water and warm sunshine. In our shoulder seasons, however, waders are crucial to keep you warm and dry from the colder elements.
Finally, get bear spray! While bear encounters are relatively rare, having bear spray is a necessity when exploring Montana wilderness. Many outdoor stores, Grizzly Hackle included, sell bear spray. Better to be caught with it than caught without it!
4. Manage your expectations
Missoula is home to some of the most spectacular fly fishing and unreal days can be experienced when everything aligns on our rivers. However, spectacular fishing is by no means a given. There are many variables that can affect your fishing and the end result of your trip. Our guides and shop employees are there to help you adapt to these variables to get the most out of your Missoula fly fishing trip. However, expecting to catch 20” trout all day will only lead to disappointment. Approaching each trip with a positive attitude and treating each challenge as a unique opportunity will contribute to a better experience.
5. Skip the “guessing game.” Book a guided trip!
A sometimes overlooked aspect of fly fishing in Montana is where to fish, and how to fish that water. Without knowledge of how to do so, the vast majority of one’s Montana fly fishing vacation becomes a learning experience. A great way to learn these skills, and learn them quickly, is fishing with an experienced guide. Our guides at Grizzly Hackle have decades of experience in our region. These guides provide not only quality equipment, but excellent instruction and teaching about the techniques and tips for Missoula fly fishing.