Answers to Montana Fly Fishing Questions

As we head into the summer season when things really get cranking and most of you venture to Montana, we thought it might be helpful to answer some of fly fishing’s most important questions.

What gear should I improve immediately?

A good rod is essential, and a good line on a functional reel is important as well, but the answer may be surprising: get a better pair of waders. If you get an excellent, top-of-the-line pair of breathable waders, you’ll be more comfortable wherever and whenever you fish, no matter the conditions.

How do I get the best drift with a dry fly?

A good pair of waders also allows the angler to wade confidently, and to better position himself or herself for a good cast and drift. Much of what helps us attain a good drift with a dry fly, or a nymph for that matter, isn’t the distance or even the accuracy of the cast, but rather, its angle in relation to the river’s currents.

How do I beat this wind?

Another reason the line might be landing in a pile at your feet is because the wind is blowing in your face. Wind is a relative term. The same expert who easily throws a 100-foot cast into a 40-mile Bahamian headwind at a tailing bonefish will have trouble punching a 15-foot leader tapered to 7x on a spring creek. To a beginning caster, a 5 mile-per-hour breeze might thwart the cast; whereas an experienced caster can put a fly on a pie plate at 75 feet despite a 30-mile-per-hour easterly blowing straight up Paradise Valley. The difference: line speed and size of casting loop. The more line speed one can generate (think: condense the casting motion, use more energy in a smaller space), the tighter one can keep the casting loop, and the tighter the loop, the more readily the line cuts through wind.

What is a reach cast?

The reach cast is the most important arrow in the trout angler’s quiver. It is a standard cast coupled with an upstream mend and will fool trout fairly consistently. The reach cast (often called a reach mend) is needed if the angler wishes to regularly fool large selective trout, especially on spring creeks and great hatch rivers such as the Missouri, where long downstream drifts with light tippets are paramount.


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