5 Reasons Why You SHOULDN’T Go on a Montana Fly Fishing Trip

angler holds a large cutthroat trout above the river

To many, a Montana fly fishing trip is the pinnacle of outdoor adventure. However, fly fishing trips in Montana are far from what you’d expect. It’s true, you’ll experience unforgettable scenery, wildlife, and fishing. Instead, most are left with many unwanted, and unfortunate, side effects. 

Sure, your father’s, cousin’s, sister-in-law might have gone on a Montana fly fishing trip and raved about it. But did they mention the awe, jealousy, or unquantifiable fun that would haunt them for years following their fly fishing trip in Montana? No. Of course not. 

It’s time someone cut the crap and told it like it really is. Among the innumerable, here are 5 important reasons why you shouldn’t go on a Montana fly fishing trip. 

two fly fishermen net a trout while fly fishing in Montana

1. Montana fly fishing trips will make you hate your home waters

There’s nothing more infuriating than returning home after fly fishing in Montana to try to apply the skills you learned and expecting a similar result. Quickly, you realize not all trout fly fishing is created equally. Montana is home to arguably the best wild trout fly fishing in the US. The numerous rivers and creeks that riddle the landscape boast several wild trout species. In those streams are thousands of fish per river mile, and extremely welcoming amounts of public access. Simply put, fly fishing in Montana sets the bar pretty high. 

Quickly, your lust to fly fish again in the “Treasure State” festers into dread and disgust for your local, private waters with stocked trout. You’ll become bitter and lose touch with reality, neglecting your home rivers in constant anticipation of your next trip to Montana. We’ve all seen it before, and it can happen to you.

a blue raft floats down a small river in montana

2. Your family and friends will be jealous

Holiday dinners with your loved ones are already a pain, why make it harder than it has to be? Whether it’s politics, sports or the seemingly never ending familial drama, everyone is at each other’s throats. Why add fuel to the fire with tales from your Montana fly fishing trip? Your significant other is already upset that you left them at home. Your father is still upset that you caught more fish than him. And your father-in-law still doesn’t believe that his invite was lost in the mail. So keep those photos of big trout in your camera roll and fish stories in your daydreams. Save yourself from jealous family members and avoid Missoula fly fishing this year.

angler releases a large brown trout underwater

3. Who wants to catch wild trout anyways? 

If one thing is for sure, it’s that big wild trout are anything but a good time. While they sure look good in Instagram pictures, big wild trout are simply too strong and too smart to have a nice, relaxing day of fly fishing. For one, they pull hard and put a deep bend in your fly rod, which strains and agonizes your forearm. The little ones, which eagerly take your fly without question, can be stripped in with ease, resulting in little to no physical constraint. The big ones, on the other hand, rarely cooperate with the angler when hooked which results in heartbreak and frustration. There’s only so much of this one angler can take, and in Montana, big fish are unfortunately everywhere!

a fishing access sign on the yellowstone river in montana with green mountains in the background

4. There is too much public access 

Many would assume the popular “Get Lost in MT” campaign encourages people to explore Montana’s wild places, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Those that have experienced it first hand know that it should be taken as a stark warning. The amount of public access in Montana is unlimited and overwhelming. Anglers looking to go on a Montana fly fishing trip by themselves should seriously consider the likelihood that they will be mesmerized and lost in the state’s vast public lands. If the state of Montana knew what it was doing, it would outline only a select few places to fish in order to direct and not confuse anglers. The sheer amount of public access here is too difficult to explore confidently and is leading many to become addicted to fly fishing on Montana’s numerous public waterways.

two golden stoneflies perched on a plant with a green background

5. There are too many bugs… and fish eating them!

While many brag about the excellent Montana fly fishing trips, they always (and I mean ALWAYS) forget to mention the bugs. Who knew that in order to have good fly fishing you needed to be in the middle of a bunch of creepy-crawlies? Starting in the spring, hoards of stoneflies, mayflies and caddis hatch, crawl and flutter all over you on the river. Come August, maddening numbers of grasshoppers, ants, moths and beetles litter the bank and tumble into the river– literally where you’re standing. Yet, nothing is worse than getting caught in a spinner fall in late summer, where mayflies dance and fall to rising fish on all rivers in Montana. If there were more bug-free rivers in Montana then we would recommend taking a Montana fly fishing trip. Sadly, there is a disgusting number of insect hatches lasting from March to November, so there really is no time or place to fly fish in peace.

In conclusion, booking a Montana fly fishing trip would be easy if the season was short. If there was a single window to experience everything Montana has to offer, then the logistics of booking your Montana fly fishing trip would be simple. Unfortunately, there are too many hatches, conditions and rivers to consider. What some anglers might see as a long season with endless opportunities is actually a dumpster fire of confusion and difficult choices. 

Want more reasons why you shouldn’t go on a Montana fly fishing trip or want to form your own opinion about fly fishing in Montana? Give our Missoula fly shop a call to book your Montana fly fishing trip with one of our expert Missoula fly fishing guides.

Written by Aidan Morton

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