Montana Guided Fly Fishing Trip

Teaching Your Spouse How To Fly Fish

At the Missoulian Angler Fly Shop, we see this all the time. A customer walks into the fly shop and says, “My spouse wants to learn how to fly fish. Now what?” After teasing them about buying expensive tackle, a raft and a new truck to haul it, we get down to the things we’ve found important when couples start to fish together.

The biggest difficulty in getting a spouse to fly fish is teaching them how to cast.  We’re going out on a limb, and will make this statement. Most fisherman can make THEIR cast work, but few have studied fly casting, and fewer still know how to teach someone else to cast. The fly shop has seen this teaching technique way too often, which consists of someone saying, “No, that’s wrong. See, watch what I do. No, that’s wrong.” Not the best way to learn how to cast a fly rod. George says he always knew when his Mom and Dad played tennis together. They didn’t speak for two days after!

Ron may have had the best solution. Back when he was teaching his wife how to fly fish, so were many of his friends. So he and Bob Powell, Duncan Oswalt and others would switch up the fishing partners. Ron’s wife went with Bob, and down the line, so Ron was never teaching his wife. He was teaching someone else’s wife, and he said it was less fraught with tension. Might be any easy out! Though Ron was a fly fishing guide in Missoula and Alaska for 20 years, so he’s a pretty good casting instructor.

Unless you’re a well-studied caster, The Missoulian Angler Fly Shop recommends getting your spouse a fly fishing lesson. The Missoulian Angler offers one on one casting instruction, and our instructors have a combined 65 years of casting teaching experience. There are other avenues to find instruction as well.  The important thing may be to find an outside instructor to get the ball rolling with casting lessons. This will save a lot of relationship angst in the long run! But if you choose to teach your spouse, just remember this. You weren’t born with a fly rod in your hand, so don’t expect instantaneous perfection from your spouse. Remember to nurture, not criticize. Stay positive, and don’t practice too long. This is the hardest part of teaching fly fishing to a beginner. Letting the student flail is part of their learning- knowing when they need to be left alone is the most difficult lesson the teacher needs to learn!

Another thing to bear in mind is why your spouse is learning to fly fish. In all probability, their initial reason to learn to fly fish is to spend time with their partner. This means the fishing spouse needs to change their expectations on the water. Your time is no longer your own. No more walking a mile upstream to even start fishing. If you want your spouse to fish with you, you need to stay close until they become comfortable. At the beginning of this process, you’re less fisherman and more ghillie. Tough in the short run, but good in the long run.

Also keep in mind a new fisherman may not be ready to be on the river from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm, in the rain on a 52 degree day. They’re just learning to fly fish, and probably won’t have the stamina or interest to fish all day. Here’s a couple of solutions. You can curtail your fishing times to fit your spouse’s needs. But this is our favorite. Bring along their favorite beverage. Cheese and crackers. Ask them to bring a book or magazine. Spend a little more time in making up a real lunch, not the two Snickers bars you eat during the day.

This is subtle manipulation here, so pay attention!

You are trying to make this FUN for your spouse. They’re already going to be struggling with the fishing- make sure they DON’T struggle with anything else. So good food, good beverage, diversions when the fishing is slow or frustrating, and a willingness to be flexible on your end are critical. If your spouse isn’t having any fun because you’re on a fly fishing trip, and not a picnic with them, they’re not likely to go fishing as willingly the next time. It’s even more basic- if they’re not having fun, you’re not having fun. Continue to ignore their needs, and soon they’re not fishing. So make a fuss. Celebrate the fact that your spouse is fishing with you. Make the extra effort, make it fun, and they will come fishing again, even if it’s just for the food! And no, this isn’t going to last forever. As they learn to fish better, they will fish more, and soon you’ll have a fishing partner, but it’s not going to happen overnight.

Missoula Fly Fishing

It takes patience on both ends to make this work. As the fisherman, it’s your job to make the experience as positive as it can be for a new fisherman. For the newbie, remember that your spouse wants to fish as well as be with you. Sometimes you just have to give the space to let them go around the corner.

If we had to make a list of responsibilities for each partner, it would look like this. The fishing spouse should do everything to make the initial trips fun and special. Show massive amounts of patience. Remember you didn’t learn to fish in a day- your spouse won’t either. Be helpful but not obtrusive- know when to be there and when to be gone. To the spouse who’s learning, it starts with recognizing fly fishing isn’t always perfect. It means practicing things like knots and casting so when you get to the river, you can be a little self-sufficient. And having massive amounts of patience when you’re ready to be done and they’re just getting started.

You work on your relationship off the water. It’s going to take a little work to make the relationship on the water work as well. But it’s totally worth it! Fly fishing can provide another strong bonding experience. It’s fun, frustrating and interesting all the time! It can help form a stronger, closer bond in the long run. Beginnings are always so tricky. Work together, have some patience and you’ll soon find that fishing together is one more activity that you can enjoy together.

Often our guests will book a day fly fishing trip with one of our guides to help their significant other learning the basics of fly fishing. The guide will often put the less experienced angler in the front of the boat so they can focus on casting, drifting and mending. Give us a call or email and we would happy to set up a fly fishing trip for you and your spouse.

Clark Fork River Fishing

Missoula Fly Fishing Lessons – Casting 101 – The Foundation of Fly Fishing

Fly Casting is a hand skill, just like knitting or playing shortstop. The more you do it, the better you get. Like any hand skill, there are definitely good ways to go about it and bad ways to go about. We’ve seen both. Some of our staff have been teaching Missoula fly fishing lessons for 30 years, and we’re all experienced in explaining fly casting in simple, easy to understand terms.

Fly casting follows the same rules of physics and kinesiology as any sport does. You need to obey fundamental laws of dynamics while utilizing the bodies range of motion most efficiently. Sounds simple, and with some explanation, it usually is. Our fly shop staff and guides are happy to help you learn the skill of fly fishing or improving your foundation of skills that you have already acquired.

There are two main schools of fly casting, the Joan Wulff/Mel Krieger school and the Lefty Kreh school of casting. Each have their adherents, and those who believe there is only one way to cast. We don’t feel that way.. We believe fly casting can be taught in many ways, because, as Scotty on Star Trek says’ “Ye kenna change the laws of physics!” So everything we do when teaching is built on that simple notion of making a flexible lever throw a variable flexible weight.

How do we do it in our fly fishing classes? Well, we’re not giving away all our secrets. Let’s just say we de-mystify 10-2 in the age of digital watches in these lessons. We talk about frisbees and skipping stones. Handling a paintbrush and using a hammer. And lots of other metaphors and similes so we’re not talking about second class levers, fulcrum points and the dials on a compass. Which we can do! It’s just not as understandable. We can take someone who’s never had a fishing rod in their hands and show them how to make a fly rod work for a beginner, or we can take an intermediate caster and add 30 feet of distance to their cast by teaching them new techniques like the Double Haul. We can show you how to handle a 12 weight for your saltwater trip, or tone it down so cane and glass are fully functional in your hands.

Have we piqued your interest? Get in touch with the Missoulian Angler 406 728-7766. Whether you live here or just passing through, we can help you start or improve your fly fishing experience. Our Missoula fly fishing lessons are set up on an individual basis, with a cost of $50 per hour. The classes won’t go longer than an hour. Bring your own tackle, or use ours if that’s more convenient. We offer private fly fishing lessons to corporate group classes and everything in between. If you would like to experience a full day floating the river with one of our guides teaching you the ins and outs of fly fishing Montana, then we would be happy to set that up for you too. Click image below for more details.

Casting A Fly Rod With Dr. Beck

Thoughts on Casting . . . . . and Travel

Miles Davis, the great jazz trumpeter, said, “If I don’t practice for two days, I start to notice. If I don’t practice for four days, my fans start to notice.”

This isn’t about contrasting casting styles, or the merits of a fast or slow rod. This is about being ready when you get off the plane or out of the car. Our guides have quoted numerous clients, when getting into the boat for the first day of five days of fly fishing trip to Missoula, “I haven’t picked up a fly rod for 6 months.” And the thought, “REALLY?!?!?!?” immediately floats through the guide’s head. You’re about to spend $2750 and you haven’t even picked up a rod?

I knew a man who was comped a 7 day trip to the South Island of New Zealand. Four 5-Star lodges and the finest fishing the South Island could provide. On day two, after having blown his third shot at his third fish, the guide turned to him and asked’ “Did you not even practice before coming here?” He wasn’t implying he was a bad fisherman, because he wasn’t. He was saying that a bit of planning might have made the trip a bit more successful and a bit less frustrating.  Our guides don’t do that, but they definitely know you’re not getting anywhere near what you could be from your time on the rivers around Missoula, MT.

When pre-trip information is given to someone going on a Billfish trip, it lists tackle and fly needs, clothing and other necessities. It also directs the angler to purchase a 10 pound dumbbell, and starting two MONTHS before the trip, begin to do one minute of forearm curls, with each hand, three times a day. Move to two minutes, and try to increase even more. Why? Because when a billfish sounds and then starts to spiral, you will need to derrick that fish to the surface. If you’re not prepared, if you haven’t trained for that, your Billfish experience is going to be long and painful.

We’re not asking you to spend hours a day casting, or hire a casting instructor till you can hit a trash can lid at 85’. But if you haven’t picked up your rod for a while, string it up. Put in 15 minutes day for a week before you head out. Don’t change your style, just refresh your familiarity with the tools of the trade. You’re going to be stunned at how much better your guided trip goes with a bit of pre-practice. You’ve made a pretty serious investment of time and money. If your fishing time is limited before the trip, an investment of a little casting time will maximize your time on the water.