Montana Fly Fishing and Why It is Simply Perfect

By Tom Keer

Mar 22, 2017

Montana has been a top fly fishing destination for nearly a century.  This summer, check out some of its famous rivers, streams, and spring creeks.

Ask any fly rodder which of our United States calls for a visit and they're likely to say they'd love to go fly fishing in Montana.   It's been that way for a long time, probably gaining momentum in 1945 when the legendary angler Joe Brooks traded life in Baltimore for the Treasure State.  The writer, fishing television host and Outdoor Life fishing editor lured anglers to Montana (pun intended).  He loved Montana fly fishing  so much that his grave overlooks the Yellowstone.

Brooks arrived a few years after Montana fly fishing guru Dan Bailey's shop opened in 1938 in Bozeman.  His is one of the most well-known fly shops in the country.  If you can't find fly fishing gear in Dan Bailey's it probably doesn't exist.  And if you don't know the sport yet they'll teach you 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.  Nonetheless, there is good reason that Norman Maclean's novella A River Runs Through It was both written and filmed in Montana.  The book was based on the Blackfoot River. Filming occurred there and also on the Yellowstone, Gallatin, and Boulder Rivers.  Include each of those rivers on a Montana fly fishing trip; they won't disappoint.  

Probably one reason so many anglers plan on fly fishing Montana is because there is a type of fishing for all.  You'll find large rivers perfect for a driftboat trip, medium-sized rivers for wade fishing, pocket water, spring creeks, and small, remote streams for wild trout.  There are easy trout to catch on large dry flies, big fish that are tough to hook that require small flies and light tippets.  Beginners meet with success, experts are challenged, and everyone has a great time.  

If you're looking for a trout trip this year give some thought to the West.  And fly fishing in Montana should be a serious contender. 

Tom Keer
Tom Keer
Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at