Montana Fly Fishing Guides

Best Fly Fishing Guides In Missoula Montana

If you’ve gotten to this far in your research, you may have decided to come to Missoula for your fly fishing vacation. With that decision, your next question is where do I find the best fly fishing guides in Missoula Montana? That’s a seriously loaded question, and it may in fact be the wrong question. Here’s why.

The Missoulian Angler fly Shop been outfitting guided fly fishing trips in Missoula for over 30 years. Our shop staff has a combined 110 years of fly shop and industry experience. The owner and outfitter of The Missoulian Angler Fly Shop is a fifth generation Missoulian, with a family history of over 100 years fly fishing in the Missoula Valley. We have literally seen it all. Not only do we hand pick the very best fly fishing guides Missoula has to offer, but we also make it a point to handpick the right guide for our guests. It’s our goal to make you want to come back to Missoula year after year, and that starts with the best guide….. for you.

When you book with us, we ask you a series of questions, ranging from how much do you fish to dietary restrictions.  These questions may not mean much to you, but they are critical to us. It allows us to match you with the best possible fly fishing guide for your needs. We have guides who’ve fished the Missoula rivers their entire life, and guided for 20+ years. We have guides who are just starting out in their careers. Believe us, it’s not always as simple as “I want the best fishing guide”.

As an example, we have many guests just starting their fly-fishing journey, and while they want to catch fish, they also want what we refer to as FlyFishing 101. These guests may not be the best match for that intense guide who is consistently catching the biggest and most trout in Missoula, but has been there and done that with beginners. It takes a lot of patience and teaching ability to put a beginner on trout. The Missoulian Angler has many guides who love teaching beginners, love seeing the look on their face as they catch their first Montana trout.

That intense guide, however, may be just perfect for the seasoned fly fisher. Experienced anglers know what they’re doing. They know how to fish, and how they want to fish, be it streamers, nymphs or dries. They’ve gotten a guide to put them on the best fish at the opportune moment. The fishing experience they’re looking for is completely different from the novice angler, so their guide is chosen completely differently.

We excel at booking multi-boat trips for people with widely divergent skill levels and interest. When a family makes a booking, we know there’s usually one or two serious fishermen and then those who will fish but aren’t going to put 8 hours in, which are usually the kids. We put the less intense fishers with our most fun, most talkative guides! We have guides who school teach in the winter, then guide in the summer. They know kids. They bring squirt guns, extra cookies and all kinds of things that will be of interest to those who might be floating, but not fishing full time. Want to jump off the raft into deep water? Go for it! At the end of the day, the less interested fisherman has had an amazing experience. They want to go “fishing” again. 

At this point, we hope you’ve realized asking for the best fly fishing guides in Missoula Montana may not be the best question.  Instead, what fly fishing guide will fit your specific needs, and make the most of your Montana fly fishing trip. Many of the shop’s staff have guided the Missoula area for years, so we know what goes into making your float or wade fishing trip memorable. That’s what we love to do, and we take tremendous pride in doing it. Our goal is to give you the experience of a lifetime fishing our beloved Missoula Rivers like the Bitterroot River, Blackfoot River, Clark Fork River, Rock Creek and Missouri River.

When you call to book your guided fly fishing trip, let us know exactly what you want out of your day on the river, and give us as many details as possible. The more you chat, the more we understand what you’re looking for. While you chat, we’re taking notes! After all, the day is yours and we’re here to help you, and your guide, get the most out of your day on the water. If you want to maximize your fish count, you need to tell us. If you want to learn new techniques like streamer fishing or nymphing then we’ll match you with the appropriate teaching guide. If you want one big fish, again we need to know. And if you just want to go float some of Montana’s best rivers and enjoy the scenery with a little bit of fishing in the mix then we will make that happen for you.

Missoula Montana is blessed with some amazing fishing guides. We hire from a pool of over 50 Missoula guides, so there is a match for everyone, whether you’re wading or floating. We’re here to make sure the guide you get is the best guide in Missoula……. for you.

Missoula Fly Tying Classes in Missoula

We don’t care what YouTube says, or how many Instagram post are put up, nothing beats a fly tying class to rapidly learn how to tie flies to fit all of your fly fishing needs. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not down on electronic fly tying instruction, because there’s so much to be learned on the internet. Many of the Missoulian Angler Fly Shop staff haunt the internet, finding out about new flies and new materials. How else do you think we have the best fly selection and fly tying material selection? Because we pay attention to the new and the

But when it comes to teaching fly tying classes, George, Ron and Taylor approach teaching a little differently than a youtube video. Videos often highlight new materials and cool fly patterns. At the Missoulian Angler, we highlight techniques and material handling. There’s a big difference. Our classes are designed to improve a tyer’s skill set in handling materials, not in multiplying their number of patterns. Sure, we’re going to teach useful and innovative flies, but the focus is going to be on how to use the materials easily and efficiently, not the pattern.

Our employees have over 110 years of fly tying experience combined, and over 60 years of professional fly tying and fly tying instruction experience. We tie flies for destinations around the world. Again, the patterns aren’t important. But the skill set attained in tying destination flies translates into a mastery of materials that few others have. It allows us to provide exceptional advice, and the ability to solve pretty much every fly tying issue that arises.

That has tangible benefits for our students. Not only do we have the knowledge base to solve most problems, but it extends beyond that. When you go home and practice (notice the phraseology, not if but when!) there will often be a bit of a struggle. Bring your flies into the shop. We can look at your fly and tell you where the issues are occurring. Just a look at your fly will tell us that the reason your hackle is so sparse is you’re placing your dry fly wing at the 60% point, not the 75% point. Your hackle is being asked to cover too much linear space on the hook, and it looks wrong. Some might think the problem lies in the hackle, but it’s not. The problem lies in the wing placement, and we’re experts at identifying the root of the problem. It’s something the computer age has not yet been able to replicate, the instantaneous solving of your fly tying annoyances!

Boxes loaded with Christmas Island flies tied over the winter for our hosted trip.

We’re not going to lie. We’re more than a little obsessed with fly tying. Taylor roams the internet looking for new, different and innovative patterns.. George is ancient and crabby, and makes sure the shop is stocked with old school tying materials. We pay close attention to our customers, and stock what they’re asking for. We like to think we have the best material selection in Missoula, and a lot of our customers back us up on that claim. Our classes are a great mix of old school and new. We’re completely old school in our teaching concepts and material handling. But we’ve definitely stepped into the 90’s with a camera/TV setup. This allows the student to really see, up close, what’s going on while the instructor ties, as well as making the process smoother and easier. If it helps our students, we’re all for technology.

We run classes in late fall, early winter, and spring. We’re always running beginner and intermediate classes. Our specialty classes vary from year to year. Price for a class is $100, with all materials included. You will need to have your own tools, though the shop has loaner tools for the days you just don’t feel like tearing down your tying station! Call 406-728-7766 or email [email protected] to get the latest schedule.

Missoula Montana River Flow and Fly Fishing

Reading Flows 101


You hear it constantly this time of year. “What’s the flow at Bell Crossing on the Bitterroot River?” “Oh crap, it came up 300cfs!” “Hey, it only came up 300 cfs.” What does it all mean? Where are these people getting this information?

It all starts at the USGS website, Streamflows for Montana.  This is the URL .You can also find this information at The Missoulian Angler Fly Shop’s fishing report, if that’s faster. That’s where you find the information on river flow. This will allow you to understand in much greater detail the information that’s available from this website, and how to interpret it.

Missoula Montana River Flow and Fly Fishing

Look at the screen shot for Bell Crossing on the Bitterroot River. You can see the flow, represented by the blue line and measured in cfs (cubic Feet per Second), went up dramatically (spiked) four days ago, and is now dropping quickly. Notice the graph rows are NOT equal in thickness. So in real height, while the spike only went up a ½ inch, it covered almost 2500cfs. The bottom row of the graph, indicating 1000cfs, is actually wider than the 3,000cfs found at the top of the graph. I’m sure there’s a reason for that, but just be aware the row sizes vary, and you need to check the numeric value found on the left hand side to be accurate, when checking flow.

This concept is also critical. All flow information is contextual. Five days ago, the river was about 6500cfs, which is above average flow. The hollow triangle designates the average flow on this date for the history of this gaging station. You can see the Bitterroot is above it’s historical average. A spike in the flows, as seen on May 17 when the river rose 2,000cfs in 12 hours, will bring a lot of debris into the river, coloring the water and making floating and wading a dicey proposition. But as the river drops, the debris begins to beach itself, and the water will start to clear. Maybe not enough before the next spike, but it’s getting clearer!

Let’s talk about the 300cfs reference. Again, it’s all contextual. If the Bitterroot River at Bell Crossing rises 300 cfs in the next 12 hours, it would be less than 5% of the flow, and would probably not affect the fishing very much. But if Flint Creek, which normally runs at 125cfs, jumps 300cfs, that’s a big spike of 200% more flow. So on one river, 300cfs is not a big deal. On another river, 300cfs is a very big deal. Which is why you need to know a bit about the river being discussed! To make it a bit simpler, the bigger the river, the more water it takes to spike. Smaller rivers take less water to dramatically effect flows. It’s also why you always view a week’s worth of data when looking at a specific gaging station on the USGS site, to make sure that context is immediately visible.

Missoulian Anglers new employee Bryce Hasquet doesn’t let highwater in may get him down in Missoula.

With a little practice, and regular checking, you can learn to read the stream flows as they relate to fishing. Of course it’s no substitute for eyes on, but it’s a very useful tool to have. It’s very easy to drive over the Madison Street Bridge right now and think there’s no fishing to be found in the entire region. But the Clark Fork River is the main drainage for the area, which means it’s often the last to color up, and the last to clear. So while downtown Missoula’s flows may be high and poor for fishing, you may find, with a little internet sleuthing, that other rivers in western Montana are dropping, clearing and most importantly, fishing!

Fly Tying Classes with George Kesel

Individual Fly Tying Nights with the Man Himself George Kesel.

With the popularity of George’s Fly Tying series this winter we have decided to open up single classes covering various topics and techniques. These classes will be held once a week on Tuesday evenings from 6-8pm. We limit each night to 8 students and the classes fill up quickly so call now(406-728-7766) to reserve your spot. Each class will be $15 per student and you can sign up for one class or all of them. These classes are for intermediate tiers. Call and ask about our beginner fly tying program if you are new to tying.

Handling Hair: March 13th
Starting with a simple streamer and moving through Stimulators and Wulffs, we will take on the
challenges of working with hair on large flies and in small.

Dubbing, dubbing loops and dubbing brushes: March 20th
Dubbing is one of the most under looked aspects in fly tying. We’re going to explore dubbing to
catch more fish, and all the amazing ways that dubbing can be attached to a hook. We will also
discuss and show how dubbing can be custom created to provide bulk, flash, mottling and so
many other aspects of dubbing and dubbing loops.

Building Hard Body Bass Poppers: March 27th
This will be more of a hands off class, devoted more to showing the steps needed to create a
hard body bass bug. We will be detailing a standard bug, created on a hook shank, and then
move off into a very untapped segment of popper design, building a popper that is not attached
to a hook. This second method allows a hard bug builder to create poppers not constrained to a
hook size, and opens up a vast area of popper design.
Advanced fly tying: April 3rd
Are you wondering what it takes to advance your tying skills when you’ve hit that plateau? It
comes from looking at fly tying from a different angler, and learning new disciplines. We’re going
to take some very simple patterns from a few different disciplines – Steelhead, nymphs and dry
flies, and delve deeply into their construction. We’ll focus on methods to improve accuracy,
minimize bulk, while examining methods to create a balanced fly every time you approach the

Articulation: April 10th
Big streamers catch big fish, but there are some underlying principles that need to be adhered
to when creating an effective fly. We’ll look at basic construction, and study different ways to
create articulations in your streamers.

Mangler Secrets: April 17th
You know we have bugs you can’t get anywhere else! Its because they work! This class will take
you through some of out most successful flies, the flies that have been developed over 25 years
of business. This is the real deal when it comes to finding out why we’re busting out butts tying
in the shop.

Spinning Deer Hair: April 24th

Get into the basics of spinning deer hair, for trout flies, bass and other large species. Deer hair
is one of the most versatile materials in use, and we’ll examine the most effective methods to
create small and large flies, floating and sinking.
Tying tiny
It’s not really a lot more difficult to tie smaller flies, but it does take some different techniques
and thought processes. This class will take you through the different ways to create small,
durable, well proportioned flies. Get comfortable with smaller hooks and improve your odds on
the water

New and Amazing: May 1st
Every year, Mangler gets a whole lot of “new and wonderful” materials to look at. Most aren’t all
that new or wonderful, but some are really, really good. Come learn about and use all the cool
new stuff the Mangler has to make your flies into fish catching machines!

Call Now to Reserve your spot

Mayfly Madness

They are here in numbers. Big numbers.



The Mahogany.

The fish know they are here too. Pods of rising fish in ever direction from Our beloved fishing town. You really cant go wrong. Play the clouds and stay of of the wind. Get it in their feeding lane, drag free, and get ready. They will eat it…

See you posted up on the risers.

-The MAngler


These savage fish haunt the sloughs and backwaters of our rivers and we have what you need to go toe to toe with them.

If rising trout get your heart pounding wait till you see a pike rocket towards your fly from their hiding place in the weeds. They are built for speed and love to show it off to a well presented fly.

Throwing flies that are bigger than a lot of trout is fun. Seeing the big fish eat them is even more fun and a little bit addictive.

With these fish its go big or go home. Don’t bother with your 5 weight, grab a 7 and a big reel, and unless you want to lose a bunch of flies don’t worry about your regular mono. Go Steel.

Come on in and we will get you set up to catch these predators and we can even give you the low down on where to go.

-The MAngler