Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fly Fishing Report 5/4

Fly Fishing Report Brought To You By Our Missoula Fly Fishing Guides And Fly Shop Staff.

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

Looks like the bonus fishing has ended on the Bitterroot. In the last 24 hours, the Bitterroot has almost doubled in size, and that’s bringing a lot of color into the water. If you’re thinking of heading to the ‘Root, you’re going to be driving to the East or West Forks, and even then it’s not a given. Keep in mind the tribs don’t open until the 3rd Saturday in May, so they’re off limit till then.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips for each hatch

Blackfoot River

Monture Creek is pumping mud into the Blackfoot River, so the fishing below Scotty Brown Bridge is going to be very difficult. As of today, the upper Blackfoot is rising and off color, but still fishable. But with the higher temps in the forecast, we don’t expect that to last to the weekend. If you’re going to give it a try, go as high as you can, and be ready for sub-surface only. If there’s enough visibility, streamers will be good, but it’s all dependent on the visibility. It’s a crap shoot
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Clark Fork River

With Monture Creek pushing mud, the Clark Fork below the confluence will be off color and tricky to fish. The lower Clark Fork is rising slowly but consistently, and it looks like the fishing is going to really slow down below the Blackfoot.
The upper Clark Fork has remained consistent in its’ flows, and may be a good option for the angler. Make sure you get above Drummond to find the better fishing. But before you go, better check the USGS web site to make sure the river hasn’t bumped with the warm weather. Bring your Skwalas and Western March Browns if the water levels stay steady, but if it’s rising, it’s a sub-surface game.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Rock Creek

Rock Creek may be the best option at the moment. It’s come up 25% in the last 2 days, but is still clear enough to fish. The upper sections are still somewhat stable, and may kick out some dry fly fishing, but it looks like the bulk of the fishing will be subsurface. Make sure to have some streamers to take the bigger fish looking for the smaller fish dislodged by the rising water. If you head to the upper sections, bring your Skwalas and Western March Browns, but make sure to check the USGS Montana Stream Flow web site to check for unanticipated spikes in water flows.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

May Hatches

Click any photo below to find out more information on each individual hatch. Includes life cycle, best fly patterns, helpful tips and where to find these hatches in your Western Montana fly fishing adventure.

Montana Fly Fishing 2022 Forecast

Western Montana Fly Fishing 2022 Forecast

We’re having a typical Montana Spring. We had snow in late April, and the weather hasn’t gone above 70 since October! We’re getting a bit of rain each day, which is keeping the ground moist and the grass green. While some don’t enjoy this weather now, we’re all going to love it in about 6 weeks and throughout the summer. So far the Montana fly fishing 2022 prediction is looking pretty dang good.

Our snow pack is between 99 and 110% throughout the area, and if this rain continues, we’re going to have an epic summer. Hate to pull a jinx, but it’s looking a whole lot better than last summer, when we had some serious drought throughout western Montana. But right now, we’re poised to have water throughout the summer. The weather looks mild for the next few weeks which always helps extending the runoff further into the summer and should produce some great early May fly fishing as well. As long as we don’t see those early record breaking temperature like we saw last June, we should have some much happier fish for the summer of 2022.

We can’t wait. The droughts that occasionally show in Western Montana can be a real issue for fishing. Low flows and high water temps are a serious stresser on the trout. When water levels stay up through the summer, keeping water temps lower, the fish stay healthy. This snowpack, and some typical June rain will keep water levels where they should be through the summer.

The Missoulian Angler is prepping for a big summer of fishing. Our cold spring fishing has shown us some very healthy, fat fish with no noticeable population decline. We came through last years’ low water relatively unscathed. All the cards are in place, it looks like the stars are aligned. With a little help from June rain, this summer is looking to be a lot deeper than last summer. Lazy waders might be a bit sad, as will those who like their fish stacked like cordwood. But for those who want a healthy river, stress free trout and cold water around their feet, it looks like the summer of 2022 Montana fly fishing is going to be a whole lot better than last year.

Current Western Montana snow water equivalent percent map – 5/1/2022
A great start to Western Montana fly fishing 2022 season!!!
Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fly Fishing Report 4/30

Fly Fishing Report Brought To You By Our Missoula Fly Fishing Guides And Fly Shop Staff.

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

We’re fishing in May for the first time in a while. The cold, wet spring is keeping river levels fairly steady, and the fish are up and feeding on skwalas, March Browns and big Gray Drakes. Go a bit smaller on the skwalas- 10’s and 12’s- they’ve been ashore for a while and are losing body mass. A Rogue Skwala or a Gray/Olive Plan B will still take fish looking to the surface. The skwala nymph is still OK, but most have hatched, so a smaller mayfly nymph might be a better choice.
The Gray Drakes are well imitated by a size 12 Hare’s Ear Parachute, our a Brindle Chute. Subsurface, don’t sleep on the SJ Worm, as well as a Duracell Jig or the Pink Hot Spot Jig. As the water levels are fluctuating, make sure to get your dropper or nymph rig deep enough.
The pike are starting to pod up to spawn, so they’re easy to find, but a bit spooky. Run a smaller articulated fly like a Gray Dungeon or a Kill Whitey to imitate the whitefish. Gaudy flies are drawing attention, but not as many eats at the moment. Make sure to have a few bright ones if that changes.
When the water is fluctuating, streamers are a very good choice. Throw what you’re comfortable with, something with a bit of a head to push water. Get as deep as you can, and keep the streamer moving. Have light, bright and dark to cover all the bases.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips for each hatch

Blackfoot River

The colder Spring has put the Blackfoot into play, and it’s fishing well. With the weather forecast in the next 5 days, we think it’s going to stay good through early May. The Gray Drakes are being seen in the lower sections, and streamers are working along the length of the river. A deep nymph is also working very well- bigger has been better. Take some Rubberlegs and TJ Hookers, run your dropper as deep as you can, and let them hunt. The fish have been looking for them.
The Gray Drakes are sporadic, but when the fish find them, they’re on them. Have your big profile flies like a Brindle Chute or Parachute Hare’s Ear. The fish aren’t fussy, but finding them can be.
Streamers are working up here, and we’re getting reports of big and little, light and dark. So pick your poison and get them out in the river. Blackfoot fish love streamers, and they’re hitting them now. Take advantage of Spring Blackfoot river fishing!
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork is a spotty river right now. The upper is definitely clearer than the middle section, and we’re hearing down low is still fishing well. Check the USGS web site to see if the water is rising, dropping or steady. With the weather that’s forecast, the Clark Fork should stabilize and fish well for the next week or so. It’s been a while since we’ve had good May fishing in the area. That will make a big difference in how and where you fish. If the river is rising, be ready to fish streamers. Rising water moves the little fish out of their homes and into the bigger fish.
If the water is steady or dropping, the skwalas, March Browns and Gray Drakes are still moving fish on the surface. Use a Size 8-10 Rogue Skwala or an Olive Chubby if you’re running the dry/dropper. A darker Rubberlegs underneath is always working on the Clark Fork, just keep it deep.
The Gray Drakes are really going on the Clark Fork, with pods of fish rising in the afternoon to these big bugs. Try a size 12 Hare’s Ear Parachute or a Brindle Chute to give the big profile needed, or run the Adams if you want a thinner bug. Subsurface, have the Tungsten Jig Assassin or a Duracell to mimic the nymph.
When the water is coming up, use a bigger streamer to move the bigger fish. Darker flies have been taking fish when the water is a bit off color, so have your dark streamers ready. If the water is clearer, start dark but be ready to switch to a lighter color. Sink tips are good on the Lower section- get deep and stay there.



Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Rock Creek

The Gray Drakes are really getting hot right now along the length of the Rock Creek, and with the weather forecast, will stay this way for a few days in early May. The skwalas are still active as well, and the fish are looking for them after about noon. An Olive Chubby and the Gray/Olive Plan B are taking fish on the surface, and the 20 Incher is working as a skwala nymph.
Make sure to have your size 12 Adams or Parachute Hare’s Ear for the Gray Drakes. They’re coming off in the afternoon, and are pretty easy to find. If you want to ply the depths, bring some Duracell CopperTops or a Brillons Lucent Hare’s Ear Jig to imitate the nymphs. The San Juan Worm is also working really well up here.
Streamers have been working as well, but not anything special. It’s still standard streamer fishing on Rock Creek, but hey, it’s fishing in May! Take advantage while you can.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Spring Special – Montana Guided Fly Fishing Trip

Skwala Stoneflies and March Browns are sure to bring out some of the BIGGEST fish of the season. We’re offering discounted rates for spring trips!

May Hatches

Click any photo below to find out more information on each individual hatch. Includes life cycle, best fly patterns, helpful tips and where to find these hatches in your Western Montana fly fishing adventure.

Best Fly Fishing Packages For Beginners

At the Missoulian Angler, we are big fans of the fly fishing packages for beginners. So many questions are answered, so many problems are solved with an outfit. The line, backing and reel come pre-loaded on the reel, so you don’t spend hours learning and tying knots you don’t really need very often. The rod comes in its own protective case for rod and reel. The rod and reel are balanced for comfortable fishing, and with the technology being used in manufacture, these relatively inexpensive outfits are very good fishing tools.

Echo Lift Kit

The Echo Lift Kit, upgraded from the Base outfit, has been our most popular fly fishing kit for the novice angler. This is probably based on price, as the Lift Outfit is our least expensive of the fly fishing combo packages. It comes in a 9’ 5 or 6 weight, and as an 8’ 4 weight. All rods in the Base series are 4-piece rods, which makes storage and carrying a whole lot easier. The Lift Rod is a mid-action rod, comfortable to cast, well made and durable. The reel is a cast composite with a mechanical drag, and is set up with a left hand wind but can be switched to right hand wind. The backing is pre-spooled, and rigged with an average fly line. The leader is 9’4X. Simply remove the protective plastic from the reel spool and rod handle, tie on a fly and you’re ready to fish. We used these beginner fly fishing outfits for our teaching and rental rods for years- they are an exceptional value in a starting fly fishing outfit and comes with a lifetime warranty for the rod and reel.

Echo Lift Fly Fishing Package

Echo Lift Fly Fishing Package

$179.99

5wt Recommended For Beginners

Echo Traverse Kit

The Echo Traverse is Echo’s upgrade in our novice angler choices of fly fishing packages. The Traverse outfits are available in a 9’ 4, 5 and weight rod outfits. The rod is a bit faster than the Lift, but not so much that it becomes difficult to cast. The biggest upgrades in the Traverse kit are in the reel and line. The reel is the Echo Ion. It’s a cast metal for better durability as well as closer tolerances. Cast metal reels are a superior option to a cast composite reel because of the closer tolerances.

It’s the line that has received the biggest upgrade in this fly fishing package. The Traverse line is a couple of steps up in quality from the Lift fly fishing kit. It’s a more durable, higher floating line than in their other kits. Because the line is so critical in fly fishing performance, we feel the higher price represented by the Traverse is often worth the additional expense for an outfit that performs at a higher level directly out of the box. As with the Lift Kit, the rod is correctly balanced, and the reel comes spooled with backing, line and leader, again in a left hand wind. This fly fishing package also has a lifetime warranty for the rod and reel.

Echo Traverse Kit

Echo Traverse Kit

$269.99

5wt Recommended For Beginners

Mangler Fly Fishing Package

At the Missoulian Angler, we are fans of the Douglas fly rods as well. New for 2022 is the ERA rod, available in a 5 and 8 weight. We are pairing the ERA rod with the Echo Ion Reel, a Scientific Angler Mastery fly Line, backing and a Rio 9’ 4X leader and offering this as an exclusive Mangler fly fishing kit. The ERA rod is an excellent casting rod, utilizing all we’ve come to expect from Douglas in every rod they make. The Frequency line is high floating and durable, and we’ve chosen it as the best value in a fly line. Please note the MAngler ERA fly fishing package does not come in a Rod/Reel case- the rod tube holds only the rod., and the reel will need to be stored separately. The same applies to the next fly fishing package listed as well. The Mangler fly fishing combo package reel and rod both come with a lifetime warranty.

Mangler Fly Fishing Package

Mangler Fly Fishing Package

$249.95

5wt Recommended For Beginners

Mangler Fly Fishing Package 2.0

For the angler looking for a step up from the basics, we are offering a fly fishing kit based on the Douglas LRS fly rods. Available in many line weights and lengths, we are pairing these rods with a Lamson Liquid fly reel, spooled with a Scientific Angler Mastery fly line. This kit is more expensive than an introductory fly fishing outfit, and the quality will show. The LRS rod has proven to be a shop favorite, while the Liquid is our number one selling reel, based on price and performance. The Mastery line is SA’s top of the line from 20 years ago- it worked well then and it works well now. Again, the reel will be spooled with the appropriate backing, and will come with a leader attached so you’re ready to go fishing. Like all of our fly fishing packages, the rod and reel comes with a lifetime warranty.

Mangler Fly Fishing Package 2.0

Mangler Fly Fishing Package 2.0

$399.95

5wt Recommended For Beginners

Echo Gecko Fly Fishing Package For Kids

Another outfit that bears mentioning is the Echo Gecko kids fly fishing outfit. The Gecko is designed for the junior angler, and is perfect for anglers in the age range of 3-10 years old. 7’9″ and a 4 weight, the Gecko rod has a narrow handle for smaller hands, and a small fighting butt/handle that a younger angler can use to add strength to their cast. Hey, two hands for beginners! If you have a young angler coming up, the Gecko kids fly fishing kit is the way to go. The Echo warranty is very good, so if an accident does befall the rod, all is not lost.

Echo Lift Fly Fishing Package

Echo Gecko Kids Fly Fishing Package

$179.99

5wt Recommended For Beginners

Selecting a Fly Rod

We talk about these fly fishing packages from the standpoint of a beginner, but can say with all confidence these are excellent fly fishing tools. There are many other species to chase with a fly rod other than trout like bass and pike to name a few, but not everyone wants to drop $700 on a rod and reel for a species they might not target more than 2-3 times a year. We would have no hesitation in recommending an 8 weight outfit for those couple of times a year a pike or bass rod might be required. For those with less need for a heavier weight rod, the 4 weight outfits offer a great introduction into a lighter rod without breaking the bank. For most trout fishing, the 4 or 5 weight options are usually the best all around option. 4 weight for smaller streams and 5 weights for larger streams.

Since The River Ran Through It, fly tackle technology has advanced geometrically from what had previously been available. Rods, reels and lines have undergone incredible advances, and what was once considered cheap and less effective has morphed into fishing tools that work exceptionally well. The only place this doesn’t apply is if you are venturing into the salt for the first time. The rod and the line are fine- it’s the reel that might be problematic. The reels that come with the outfits aren’t designed to withstand the corrosive effects of salt water. They will work in an emergency, but you had better REALLY clean them after fishing, or you’re going to have a problem on your hands.

Today’s outfits are wonderful pieces of equipment- well thought out, with performance far exceeding their relatively modest price. 30 years ago we couldn’t say this, but we can now. Like every industry, fly fishing benefits from trickle down technology and the beginning angler will be very well served by the fly fishing combo kits available today.

Mangler Fly Fishing Starter Kit

Fly Fishing starter kits are a fast track to getting started correctly, and we’ve developed other bundles to streamline the beginning fly fisher’s journey. For someone looking to get started in fly fishing correctly, we built the Mangler Fly Fishing Starter Kit. It begins with a 3-pack of 3X leaders, gel floatant, tippet in 3, 4 and 5X, a box of 2 dozen flies that work in all areas of the country, 2 indicators, nippers and forceps. With this fly fishing starter kit, an angler can step into the water knowing they have what’s needed for a successful day on the water. We’ve designed this fly fishing kit to take the guess work out of starting fly fishing. It can be a tricky and intimidating process, entering fly fishing, and this fly fishing Kit can remove a lot of question marks, as well as saving a few bucks when purchased as a unit.

Mangler Fly Fishing Starter Kit

Mangler Fly Fishing Starter Kit

$115.00

Great for beginners who are getting started in fly fishing

Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fly Fishing Report 4/1

Fly Fishing Report Brought To You By Our Missoula Fly Fishing Guides And Fly Shop Staff.

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot River has been really good, with consistent Skwalas in the afternoon with sun or clouds. The Gray/Olive Plan B and the Half Down Skwala are getting solid results on the surface, while a 20 Incher or Double Bead Peacock Stone is working sub-surface. The Nemoura Stones are also taking trout- drop a dry Nemoura off your Skwala so you can see the thing. Subsurface, a Black SR Frenchie is working as the nymph.


The Western March Browns are also establishing, and the fish are starting to look for them in the afternoon. Right now, a Purple Haze or parachute Adams are working, but as the fish get more accustomed to taking them, a Lexi’s Tactical Dun Gray or Parachute Hare’s Ear is going to be a better choice. You can pretty much choose your nymph in gray or brown, something like a Duracell Jig or a Hares Ear is working sub-surface.


We’re not hearing much about steamers, with most anglers on the Bitterroot focusing on the hatches, but a slim profile fly like a Skiddish Smolt or Sculpzilla will turn some heads. Keep it low and slow for best results.


The Bitterroot is slowly dropping along the length, and we expect the fishing to get better as the next few days progress. The rise in water, slowed things down, but that’s changing and the fishing is good on the ‘Root.


Play nicely with others- The Bitterroot is seeing some pressure, so do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips for each hatch

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot River hasn’t really started to get good yet, and the recent increase in flow hasn’t helped. The Blackfoot is level, but not dropping yet, and it’s barely above 40 degrees. The fishing up here is slow, but there aren’t many people either. If you’re willing to put in the work, bring your Pat’s Rubberlegs, TJ Hookers and 20 Inchers, some additional weight and a patient attitude. Get the fly where the fish are and they’ll eat, but the colder water temps means the fish are a bit slow.


Same applies to streamers, get em deep, move them slowly, and it will pay off, but it won’t be hot and heavy. Of Missoula’s 4 rivers, the Blackfoot may be 4th choice, but you can get it done if you’re willing to go deep.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork river is a tale of two rivers at the moment. Above town, the fishing is good. Some Skwalas, the WMB’s are getting a foothold, and the streamer fishing is decent. In and below town, the Clark Fork has limited visibility, and might not be the first choice for angling.


If you do decide to hit the upper Clark Fork, make sure to have a few Rasta Skwalas. If you need some foam to float a dropper, Clook’s Floater will take fish on top while holding up a Hare’s Ear or Orange Spot Jig as a WMB nymph. When the WMB’s start hatching, have some Lexi’s Gray Tactical Duns and Parachute Hare’s Ear’s for the afternoon.


Bigger streamers have been working above town, with a Gonga or Baby Dungeon in white standing out. Make sure they get deep enough, the water is still cold.


Our feeling is the lower Clark Fork River might be fishing by the end of the weekend, but it may take a bit longer to get the color out of the water.

Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Rock Creek

Rock Creek has been fishing very well in the last couple of days as it drops in flows. The dry skywalks are consistent from early early afternoon on, with the Plan B Gray/Olive and a Rogue Skwala taking fish. The 20 Inches has been the skywalk nymph of choice, followed by the TJ Hooker. Nemouras are also working, so have a few when you head up to fish.


The Western March Browns are established, and offering consistent fishing on the upper and lower sections of Rock Creek. If you’re heading to the top of Rock Creek, take the P-Burg route. The middle section of Rock Creek Road is still a bit gnarly. Have your Parachute hare’s Ears and Parachute Adams when the WMB’s start to hatch, and a DuraCell Jig or a Pink Hot Spot for working the bottom. It’s also worm season, and the San Juan Worm is taking ore than it’s fair share of fish.


The streamer game is low and slow, with the Sculpin Sparkle Minnow working extremely well. A Baby Gonga or White Sculpzilla is also moving fish, but again, get it deep for better production.


Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Spring Special – Montana Guided Fly Fishing Trip

Skwala Stoneflies and March Browns are sure to bring out some of the BIGGEST fish of the season. We’re offering discounted rates for spring trips!

March Hatches

Click any photo below to find out more information on each individual hatch. Includes life cycle, best fly patterns, helpful tips and where to find these hatches in your Western Montana fly fishing adventure.

Montana Brown Trout

To net, or not to net, that is the question

Oh, to own a boat! Then using a net is not a question, because fly fishing nets with a rubber/silicon bag are a fish saving, time saving device on the water. A well-designed net allows you to land fish so much faster than hand landing, saving the trout’s energy for the best release. You’re back in the game much faster, because you’re not fighting a fish for 5 extra minutes better spent catching another fish you need a net for. The shallower rubber bag is the perfect platform for hook removal, and the unused hopper or dropper won’t stick in the bag as you remove the fly that worked from the trout’s mouth. In short, nets save time, reduce fish mortality and simplify hopper/dropper release. Fishing Nets makes a great holding pen before taking a picture- keep the net/fish in the water until ready to shoot, sweep the trout up and snap your shot. A healthier fish goes back to the river.

Despite all the positives a net has, the net can create as many annoyances as it does solutions for the wading angler. I remember struggling to carry a net in my youth. Attached to my vest under my left arm or on my back, the net bag found every branch and shrub along the river. When I carried it in easy reach, it was in the way as I fished. When I carried it where it wasn’t in the way, then I couldn’t reach it when needed. Net carrying was a dilemma. Then I learned about The Brookie, made by the Brodin Company, famous for their oil rubbed wooden nets. The Brookie was approximately 13” in length, and was advertised to hold a 20” fish due to the size of the net bag. Perfect! Tiny to carry, and it holds huge fish!

Well do I remember the first time I went to use that net on a big fish. I got the fish close, whipped out the net, and then just stared at it. The opening of the net was about 6” across- the fish was about 17” long. Not a good fit. In order to get the fish properly led into the net, I was going to have to fight it to exhaustion. I stared at this silly piece of tackle for a second more, then dropped it (couldn’t throw it as it was attached with a magnet/bungee- more on that later) and landed the fish the old fashioned way. Never used that net again.

It was a lesson learned. You don’t often truly need a net when fishing. Most of the fish we catch can be brought to hand quickly and released easily. But when you need a net, you need a NET. Not some tiny piece of tackle designed for easy carry, but a net that can easily swoop up a thrashing 18” fish. The bigger the opening, the more effective a net is. And therein lies the rub. The bigger the fly fishing net, the trickier it is to carry. That’s been made trickier by the new sling packs and fanny packs.

When I started fishing, anglers used a vest. The conventional spot for a net was on the back of the vest, handle down or handle up. Each had their proponents, and many clips/magnets were designed to hold the net while not in use, with a piece of bungee cord holding the net to the clip. You quickly learned to stop bushwacking when you felt a tug on the back of your vest. Take two more steps, and the net freed itself from whatever separated it from clip, and came ripping into the back of your head propelled by the bunjee cord. These different clips are still in use today, and other than the bushwacking thing, work very well.

But with sling packs and fanny packs, carrying a fishing net has become trickier. Net manufacturers build wading nets with longer handles that balance better when stuck into a belt. I’ve not mastered the sling pack yet, but they have net attachment points and I know anglers who use them with their slings. They make it work because having a net is important to them.

You can get a rubber bagged wading net starting about $35, and they go up from there. The less expensive nets for fly fishing are made of wood and then varnished. The varnish protects the wood from water, right up until you chip the varnish and then the net falls apart due to water damage. An oil finished wooden net lasts much longer, but needs some off season maintenance. Now the better nets are being made from graphite and tubular aluminum, and are completely impervious to water. Those will last until you lose them.

So let’s talk about losing tackle on the water. We all do it, and many of us find things on the water as well. Fly boxes, sometimes a vest or rod/reel but mostly gink and forceps. 99% of the tackle lost on a river doesn’t have a name or phone number on it! I know if most anglers found a fly box or vest with a name and number on it, they would get it back to the owner. But without that info, who’s going to go to every shop in town and put up a notice- tackle found.

PUT YOUR NAME AND PHONE NUMBER ON YOUR TACKLE

A box with 40 flies in it is worth $150. Fishing Nets can be $250 for a boat model and we all know how much rods and reels are. Take a piece of masking tape and a sharpie and put your number on the expensive stuff. It will come back to you. But without that info, it’s gone for good. Something to think about, especially with nets. They get put down while releasing fish, or put down because you’re working a run and don’t need to carry it and next thing, it’s forgotten. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

I carried a net with me for the first 20 years of my fly fishing career. I carried it until the negatives outweighed the positives. How did I define that? As I started fly fishing, my fish were few and far between. When I hooked one, I wanted to land it- I wanted to touch it and hold it up to look at it. I wanted it caught, and a net gave me such an advantage in that area. Especially the rare larger fish that I didn’t have much experience with. The net made sure I didn’t lose it at my feet, when the fight got real- I could net it when it was merely frantic, not ballistic from me grabbing it. It was so worth having a net with me.

As I gained more experience, and found myself actually learning to play fish to a point of release, I found myself going less and less to the net. I was able to handle larger fish safely and quick without a net, and over time, the net became less and less useful, until I finally stopped carrying one. Which is not to say that about twice a season, when faced with a fish much larger than I usually see, I don’t wish I had a net with me. But I’ve made that decision, and I might not land that fish. It’s on me. It’s a balance of comfort on the water versus the few times I really want it, and I’ve made my choice. I still have multiple nets I could pull out and use- I just don’t.

That’s the mathematics of carrying a net for fly fishing. They make landing fish a snap, especially big ones. If you want the photo op, a net is a critical piece of equipment. It’s a bit inconvenient, but then, really, what in fly fishing isn’t! Experiment with different ways of carrying it- Missoulian Angler has a few different net attachment implements. PUT YOUR NAME ON IT. It’s going to get forgotten at least once- give yourself a chance to get it back. The fish will thank you for carrying a net, it makes their lives easier.

Final thought. If you fish with a buddy who doesn’t carry a net, and you do, make sure you fish far enough away so you can’t hear them yell, ”Hey, I need this fish netted!”