Montana Fly Fishing and Why It’s Just Perfect

Ask any fly tobogganist visiting our US and they will likely say they would love to fly fishing in Montana. This has been the case for a long time, and probably gained momentum in 1945 when legendary angler Joe Brooks traded life in Baltimore for Treasure State. The writer, TV presenter, and fishing editor for Outdoor Life lured anglers to Montana (pun intended). He loved fly fishing in Montana so much that his grave overlooks Yellowstone.

Brooks arrived in Bozeman a few years after Montana fly fishing guru Dan Bailey opened the store in 1938. His is one of the most famous fly shops in the country. If you can’t find fly fishing gear at Dan Bailey’s, it probably doesn’t exist. And if you are new to the sport, learn how to fly fish too.

Montana fly fishing

Top Montana Fly Fishing Rivers are the stuff dreams are made of. The Madison, the Bitterroot, the Big Hole, the Big Horn, among many others. Some fly anglers love the movie while others hate it. Still, there’s a good reason why Norman Maclean’s novella A River Runs Through It was written and directed in Montana. The book is based on the Blackfoot River. Filming was carried out there and also on the Yellowstone, Gallatin and Boulder rivers. Include each of these rivers on a Montana fly fishing trip. You will not disappoint.

Probably one reason why so many anglers plan to fly fish in Montana is that there is one type of fishing for everyone. Here you’ll find large rivers perfect for a drift boat ride, medium sized rivers for wading fishing, pocket water, spring streams, and small, secluded creeks for wild trout. There are light trout that can be caught on large dry flies, large fish that are difficult to catch and require small flies and light tips. Beginners succeed, experts are challenged, and everyone is having a great time.

If you’re looking for a trout trip this year, keep the west in mind. And fly fishing in Montana should be a serious contender.

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer living on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a contributing writer for Covey Rise magazine, a contributing editor for Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Take Me Fishing program of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. Keer is a regular contributor to over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics including fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor activities. When not fishing, Keer and his family hunt highland birds over their three English setters. His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast, was published in January 2011. Visit him at or

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