S4:E16 How to Plan a Memorable Fly Fishing Trip

fly fishing

Planning a memorable fly fishing trip is pretty easy if you do a few things right. There are factors that you can control, of course, and then there is the weather – and whether the fish are in the mood. In this episode, we lift the veil on our do-it-yourself fishing trips. Which is probably not saying much. However, we have a lot of trips under our proverbial wading belt. All trips are memorable, we suppose, but some trips stick in our minds because we figured out how to catch fish while enjoying every day on the trip and keeping costs to a minimum.

LISTEN NOW TO HOW TO PLAN A MEMORABLE FLY FISHING TRIP

GREAT STUFF FROM OUR LISTENERS. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

What are your best practices for designing a successful fly fishing trip? We want to know! What works? What doesn’t? Please post your comments below.

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The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists – A “Cliffsnotes for Fly Fishers”

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $13.99!

Tips for Fly Fishing Trips to the Greater Yellowstone Area

fly fishing trips to the greater yellowstone area

Fly fishing trips to the Greater Yellowstone area in Montana or Wyoming are not cheap. I’ve made not a few fly fishing trips to the Greater Yellowstone area. And I’ve assembled a few tips that come from a decade of making annual trips from the Midwest to the West, as well as from the two decades I lived and fly fished near Bozeman, Montana.

I suspect these tips will apply — at least to some extent – to other regions in United States. But they relate specifically to fly fishing in and around Yellowstone National Park.

1. Go in the Fall or Spring

If summer is your best or only option for a trip, you can have a great time. But there are a couple reasons for planning a fall or spring trip.

First, you will avoid the crush of tourists and crowded rivers which come with summer. Second, you can fish “runners”—the fish headed up-river either to spawn or to wait below spawning beds for eggs which drift down the current. If you’re new to fishing, rainbows spawn in the spring, while brown trout spawn in the fall.

You can even catch the tail end of grasshopper season if you go early in September.

I should also point out that fall flights, vehicle rentals, and hotel rooms or cabins are cheaper during the off-season.

2. Choose a Fly Shop

Fly fishing success depends on knowing where to fish and what fly patterns to use. The best information you will get comes from the staff at a fly shop. I recommend visiting a handful of local fly shops on your first trip. Then pick one and build a relationship with the fly shop owners. The advice is free, yet you may get even more helpful intel if you are a paying customer year after year. So buy your leaders or next pair of waders at the same shop once you find one you like.

3. Book a Guided Trip

I can’t over-emphasize how much you will learn and how much intel you will gather when you hire a guide for the day—or for a half-day. You might be able to go back again and fish the same stretch of river on your own. Some fly fishing guides have even encouraged me to do this. But it’s a courtesy to ask a guide if he or she will take clients on this stretch another day. If so, ask about some other places you might try.

Splitting the coast with a friend always makes sense. Drift boats are set up for two fly fishers anyway. Also, the custom is to tip 15-20%. If you can split the cost with a friend, a day in a drift boat or wading with a guide will be worth every penny.

4. Create a Sustainable Schedule

When Dave, my podcast partner, and I fly to Montana for a 4-day or 5-day trip, we fish every day. However, we’ve learned to pace ourselves. We act like we are in our mid-30s, at least for day one. Then, reality hits. We are both in our mid-50s. So if our Fitbits tell us we have hiked 8 miles during a day of fly fishing, then we might get a later start the next day. Or, we might follow a more strenuous wade trip with a float trip

Also, build in a bit of down-time. If you hit the river at the crack of dawn, take time for a nice mid-day lunch. Or stop early to get dinner at a popular steakhouse before it gets crowded.

Enjoy the drive along the river or through Yellowstone National Park.

5. Keep the Last Day or Two Free

It took us a few years to figure out this tip. We sometimes wished we had an extra day to return to the hotspot we stumbled into on day one. Now we build a “flex day” or two into our schedule to make this possible. Where we go on day four or day five depends on where we had the best success. This means you are better off scheduling your guided trips earlier in the week.

Fly fishing trips cost time and money. So do your best to make the most of them. These simple tips will help.

S3:E28 Living in Fly Fishing Exile

fly fishing

Fly fishing exile is when you wished you lived closer to the big rivers. Steve moved from Bozeman, Montana, to the Chicago area more than ten years ago. And Dave moved from Colorado to the Chicago area more than 25 years ago. We’ve grieved the loss of close proximity to blue-ribbon waters. Now, we’re not griping. We’re not complaining. Well, maybe a little. In this episode, we reflect a bit on our decision to move to the Midwest and discuss what we love most about our lives today, now that we live with ten million of our closest friends in the Chicago area.

Listen now to “Living in Fly Fishing Exile”

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

How close to you live to great fly fishing waters? How far do you drive to sate your fly fishing thirst? Post your stories below!

REFER THE PODCAST!

By the way, we’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

That is the most simple way to help us grow!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.”

Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

We like to say it is a book of bite-sized snacks.

Maybe even like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon!

S3:E19 Buying Fly Fishing Gear for That Next Trip

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Buying fly fishing gear is not merely about catching more fish. For some, it’s more like a shopping or hoarding addiction. For others it’s about status. For each of us, purchasing new fly fishing gear means something slightly different. This week, we discuss some of our recent purchases, what we plan to buy next, and what it all means in the small (not grand) scheme of things! Click now to listen to this week’s podcast.

Listen now to Buying Fly Fishing Gear for That Next Trip

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

What gear have you purchased this past year? When do you find the best deals on rods, waders, and other gear? What recent purchase was something you’d recommend?

By the way, we’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

Other Similar Articles and Episodes

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    Three Half Truths about Fly Rods

    Your Next Pair of Fly Fishing Waders

    Three People to Trust When Buying Fly Fishing Products

    Before You Buy Your First Fly Rod

    Soothing Words for the Fly Rod Owner’s Soul

    Go-To Gear for All Kinds of Weather

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.”

Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Fly Fishing Podcast” on the top navigation.

The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

For this episode, we are the Sponsor!

We’ve published a book called, The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

We like to say it is a book of bite-sized snacks. Maybe even like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Visit Amazon to get your copy today!

S2:E50 Our Top 7 Lessons from Hiring Fly Fishing Guides

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Hiring fly fishing guides is core to how we improve our craft. It’s not cheap, and we do it sparingly (about once a year), but we have found great value in learning from the experts. Click now to listen to “Our Top 7 Lessons from Hiring Fly Fishing Guides.”

Listen now to “Our Top 7 Lessons from Hiring Fly Fishing Guides”

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last portion of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experience.

What are some of the best lessons you’ve learned from hiring fly fishing guides? Please post your comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.”

Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River2 Guys and A River

To see every episode that we’ve published, click on “Every Episode” on the top navigation.

Our Sponsor

For this episode, we are the Sponsor!

We’ve published a book called, The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

We like to say it is a book of bite-sized snacks. Maybe even like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Visit Amazon to get your copy today!

Making the Most of Your Next Fly Fishing Trip

next fly fishing trip

Until a decade ago, I never took a fly fishing trip. It wasn’t necessary. I lived in the northern reaches of Montana’s Gallatin Valley. My favorite spot on the East Gallatin River was a half mile from my house. My favorite spots on the Yellowstone and Madison Rivers were less than an hour away.

Then I moved to the north suburbs of Chicago. Suddenly, the East Gallatin was 1,450 miles from my house. Even the spring creeks in the Driftless – southwest Wisconsin and southeast Minnesota – take three to six hours to reach. So now I do trips—from two to five days.

Over the past decade, I’ve learned what it takes to have a fantastic experience. Here are four best practices for making the most of your next fly fishing trip.

1. Plan for Prime Time

If your schedule allows, plan your trips during “prime time.”

In the Driftless, this is April and May. The creeks are full of water, and the dry fly fishing can be terrific. When I plan for a trip to Montana or Wyoming, I set my sights on April (when the rainbows are spawning), August (when trout feed on hoppers), or on October (when the browns are spawning).

I love July. But so does everybody else.

Also, as much as possible, I like to fish during the week rather than the weekend. This requires me to use some vacation days. But this allows me to avoid the weekends when the rivers get pounded.

2. Hire a Guide for a Day

Go ahead and splurge. Find ways to set aside the cash you need to make this happen.

My podcast partner, Dave, and I split the cost to make it more affordable. The benefits really outweigh the cost. You’ll sharpen your fly fishing skills, but you’ll also gain “intel.” We’ve often returned a couple days later to wade stretches we’ve floated or waded with a guide. Last fall, we hired a guide to take us on a small river in Wyoming we had never fished. Dave and I each caught twenty plus fish in a half a day. Two days later, we went back on our own and each caught thirty plus fish in the same amount of time.

Besides, unless you have access to a drift boat (and have the skills needed to row one), it’s the only way to float some of the notable stretches of the blue ribbon waters in the western states.

3. Build in Margins

I learned this one the hard way. On some of my early trips, I treated every day like the remaining drops of a chocolate milkshake. I needed to suck out and savor every last bit. But the more I tried to squeeze the most out of every day, the more I felt drained by day four or five.

Now, I’ll plan for a lighter day after a long day of driving and/or hiking. Whenever Dave and I make a six-mile round trip to a remote spot of the Yellowstone River, we try to get a later start the following day. Or we will quit earlier.

The point is, take time for a nice meal, or an afternoon nap, or browsing in a fly shop, or a visit to a historic site. Sometimes, fishing a little bit less results in more satisfaction.

4. Create Backup Options

The windows for superb fishing open and close without much advance notice. You can have great fishing one day, and then the barometric pressure drops overnight or the river rises or a heavy spring storm dumps a foot of snow.

You never know when you need another option.

Last fall, we weren’t sure we were going to be able to fish a fine river in Wyoming. The river had been a bit off-color. But it was crystal clear the day we wanted to fly fish. Still, we had a backup plan — a high mountain lake nearby that had been fishing well. We were ready to go with “Plan B” if our original plans were thwarted by weather or crowded conditions.

S2:E30 Fly Fishing Expectations for the New Year

fly fishing guides

Fly fishing expectations for the new year are in the air (or they should be!). We’re ready to make this next year our best ever, as we seek to find ways to get more days on the water. We’re not professional fly fishers or guides, so our days fly fishing will not be legion (we have day jobs), but we hope to claw and scratch for as many fly fishing days as we can. Click now to listen to our episode on fly fishing expectations for the new year.

Listen to our episode “Fly Fishing Expectations for the New Year”

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” We read a few of the comments from this blog or from our Facebook page. We enjoying hearing from our readers and listeners, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experience.

Any plans for the new year? Do you hope to get more days on the water? Any plans for a bigger fly fishing trip? Any books you plan to read or skills you hope to acquire? Please post your comments below!

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View some of our most recent podcast episodes on iTunes or on Stitcher, if you have an Android.

4 Benefits of Fly Fishing with a Buddy

I enjoy solitude when I fly fish. Yet I rarely fly fish alone. I like to fly fish with a buddy, if only because there’s someone to take pics of my big fish (or buffalo bone).

The truth is, it is better to fly fish with a buddy or a brother or a sister or a spouse. In the past year of fly fishing, I have been on the water eighteen days (I know, it doesn’t seem like enough). On every one of those days, I have fished with someone else — either my podcast partner Dave, my brother, my sons, or another close friend.

Why is a fishing partner such a big deal? Here are four benefits of fly fishing with a buddy or someone else.

Safety

This is at top of the list for a reason. Your life might depend on it.

Four years ago, my sons I and hiked into a high mountain lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail took us up the side of a waterfall. On our way back from fly fishing the lake, we came across a hiker who had broken her ankle. She was in a group, and one of them had hiked out to find a park ranger. By the time we made it down the waterfall, we heard and saw the helicopter that came to rescue her.

The buddy system results in a timely rescue.

A couple weeks ago, I slipped at the edge of a small stream I was fishing and fell forward in some shallow water. The only casualty was a cracked fly box. But I reflected later on how I could have hit my head on a nearby boulder and passed out. If I had been alone, that could have been disastrous even in shallow water. I was glad that my podcast partner, Dave, was only thirty yards away. It was a win-win situation.

Since I wasn’t hurt, he got a good laugh. But had I been hurt, he was there to help.

Dave and I regularly fish in grizzly bear country, so having two fly fishers — each armed with bear spray — is critical. Sometimes a bear can attack you so fast that there is no time to unleash the contents of your canister. But a friend can. One of my bow-hunting partners saved the life of his friend a few years when a grizzly attacked faster than his friend could get to his bear spray. Then, he was able to help his friend back to their SUV before the bear returned and before his friend bled to death. The recovery required a couple surgeries. But the attack might have led to death if my friend’s friend had been hunting alone.

Problem-Solving

Another benefit of fly fishing with a buddy is having another brain.

Recently, Dave and I were fishing for fall browns in the Gardner River in Yellowstone National Park. We took turns drifting our nymphs through the same run. We were catching fish, but Dave pointed out to me that I was missing some strikes. He suggested that the almost imperceptible hesitation of my strike indicator was a subtle strike. So I started setting the hook every time my strike indicator made a slight bump. Every time, taking Dave’s suggestion resulted in hooking a fish.

Later in the day, I returned the favor on another run that I had fished a couple days before. After watching Dave’s casts, I suggested that he cast about 10 feet further upstream so the nymphs he was using would be deeper when they reached the hot zone. It worked. Sometimes it takes a friend to spot the obvious or not-so-obvious solution to those times when the fish are not biting.

Sharing the Joy

There’s something satisfying about sharing the moment with someone else. When Dave and I catch fish, we whoop it up together. I can honestly say I enjoy watching Dave catch big trout (okay, as long as I’m catching them too!). Then there are the hilarious moments. I was glad Dave witnessed the 20-inch buffalo bone (the picture above) I landed when we fished the Gardner together!

Like any other joy in life, fly fishing is meant to be shared. This goes beyond catching trout, though. It extends to seeing the sun flood a beautiful meadow, watching a couple of wolves saunter along the bank of the Yellowstone River, or hearing the piercing bugle of a bull elk on a September morning.

Remembering

As much as I try to slow down in the moment and take in the experience, I find that I forget certain aspects of a day on the river. That’s why I force myself to share dinner at the end of the day with my fly fishing buddies. Well, okay, I really don’t have to force myself to do this! Dinner is the capstone of a great day. Often, the dinner conversation I have with Dave or my brother or one of my sons will remind me of moments or experiences I had forgotten.

Sometimes, even years later, I’ll be talking about a certain trip with one of them, and they will remind me of some moment or experience that had vanished from my memory.

As a wise writer once said, “Two is better than one. . . . if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. . . . Though they may be overpowered, two can defend themselves” (Eccl. 4:9-10, 12). While that applies to all of live, it certainly relates directly to your next fly fishing adventure.

S2:E8 Time to Fly Fish Amid the Busyness of Life

fly fishing guides

Time to fly fish is a snap if you’re living in the American West or near some great streams. And if you have no other responsibilities in life. If you are not a fly fishing professional (and we’re not), you probably have a job. You may have a spouse. You may have kids. If so, then it’s not a slam dunk to find time to fly fish at will. In “Time to Fly Fish Amid the Busyness of Life,” we discuss the challenges of getting out on the river in the various stretches of life. And we provide some practical ways to focus your time.

Listen to our episode “Time to Fly Fish Amid the Busyness of Life” now

At the end of each episode, we have a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” We read a few of the comments from this blog or from our Facebook page. We enjoying hearing from our readers and listeners, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experience.

How have you made time to fly fish? If you don’t live nearby blue-ribbon trout streams, how often do you get out? How many days do you fish a year?

Other Articles and Podcasts on the Topic of “Time to Fly Fish”

    “4 Fly Fishing Retirement Myths”

    “Fly Fishing Joy at the End of Days”

    “Haunted by Waters”

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.”

Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River2 Guys and A River

View some of our most recent podcast episodes on iTunes or on Stitcher, if you have an Android.

Rate the 2 Guys Podcast

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That helps fellow fly fishers make a decision whether the podcast is a good fit for them.

Our Sponsor for “Time to Fly Fish”

For this episode, we are the Sponsor!

We’ve published a book called, The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

We like to say it is a book of bite-sized snacks. Maybe even like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Visit Amazon to get your copy today!

6 Tips for Planning a Memorable Fly Fishing Trip

Many of us do not live within an hour of pristine trout waters. Steve and I live in the Chicago suburbs, and while the Driftless in southwestern Wisconsin and the streams of Michigan are in striking distance, we can’t simply hop in the truck for an afternoon of fly fishing and be back an hour after dark. We need to plan our trips and make the most of our time away from our families.

With some simple preparation and forethought, you can create a memorable fly fishing trip. Here are just six tips to make 2016 your best fly fishing year ever:

    1. Try some new waters.

    Steve and I often feel pressure to make the most of every moment on a trip. We often think “We have only a few days. We don’t want to waste an afternoon or evening trying something that is a long shot.”

    Last summer, we took an afternoon off from fishing our standbys (the Yellowstone in the Park, for example) and fished Fan Creek, which is also in Yellowstone National Park. We had heard of it before but had never took the time to fish it. This time we did.

    For the most part, it was a bust, if you measure success purely by the number you catch. I caught a couple smaller West Slope cutthroats (12 to 13 inches), but that was about it.

    Would we do it again? Absolutely. The stream was gorgeous, and we could have fished for days, jumping from run to run and losing ourselves in the back country of Yellowstone Park.

    We now have another place to go at another time. We will be back.

    2. Avoid the Two Worst Seasons.

    If you are fishing in the American West, and fishing the freestone rivers, you’ll want to keep in mind two seasons to avoid: Blown Out Season and the Tourist Season.

    The Blown Out Season runs from late April to July (or earlier or later). This is when the rivers swell and bloat from all the snow melt. You won’t want to risk the trip, unless you like worm fishing.

    Tourist Season runs from late July into the third week of August, some of the best days for hoppers. Steve and I often take a trip in mid August to the Bozeman, MT, area – we love floating the big bugs. But we never fish the Gallatin in July or early August. It is always elbow to elbow with fly fishers, all decked out with their latest gear and $1,000 fly rods purchased for the two or three days in Montana. And often the Lower Madison is too low (as well as packed with folks on float tubes, a whole ‘nuther kind of late summer “hatch”).

    3. Fish the Spawning Season.

    You’ll need to be extra careful catching and releasing the fish, but two great times in the West are spring rainbows before the rivers blow out and the big browns in October. There are no tourists, and hotel rates tend to be a bit less.

    4. Stay Long Enough for a Banner Day.

    Through the years, Steve and I have generally fished for three or four days at a shot. That’s a long time to be away from family, and since my wife and I hover over four kids, the trip puts stress on the family system.

    But we often find that one out of the three or four days ends up being a banner day – a 15 (or more) fish day. The other two or three days tend to be more typical – three or four, if that.

    5. Hire a Guide for One of the Days.

    Just budget it for it – and do it. You’ll improve your skills, perhaps discover new water, and look back at the day as one of the highlights of the trip.

    6. Build Flexibility into Your Plan.

    There’s is nothing like a best laid fly fishing plan that goes sideways with the weather. Especially if you are fishing in early spring or mid to late fall. If the river colors overnight or a foot of snow makes your 2-mile hike impossible or the wind gusts make all kind of casts an Olympic feat – you’ll want options.

    Several years ago, after a dump of overnight snow, Steve and I spent much of the next day hitting the coffee shops and restaurants, waiting for a break in the weather. We should have had another option – maybe a river 50 or more miles away, outside of the snow zone. Maybe have two options for each day on the trip.

There are a thousand other ideas for planning for a memorable fly fishing trip. What are yours?