The Best Fly Fishing Trips in Montana for Beginners
There is nothing our Montana fly fishing guides enjoy more than introducing the art of fly fishing to new anglers. The joy on an angler’s face that follows teaching someone to cast a fly rod, present a fly, and ultimately catch their first trout is what keeps us at it day after day. It is never too early or too late to bring fly fishing into your life. It is a sport perfect for both younger kids and senior citizens alike. While there can be an intimidating element to jumping into a new pursuit head first, our top 5 Montana fly fishing trips for beginner anglers make it easy to get out on the water and learn to fly fish with our Montana fly fishing guides.
1. Full Day Fly Fishing Float Trips in Bozeman, MT
A full day float trip with our Bozeman fly fishing guides is the best way for beginner anglers to both learn to fly fish and catch a few wild Montana trout along the way. These trips are primarily on the Yellowstone River and Madison River. Both are perfect rivers for new anglers to develop their cast and technique in a forgiving environment. April, July, August, September, and October are the best months for these trips. Bozeman, MT is also a perfect base for new anglers that are interested in a day or two of fly fishing but also wanting to experience everything else Montana has to offer with excellent outdoor activities, dining, and nightlife.
2. Full Day Fly Fishing Float Trips on the Missouri River near Craig, MT
There is no better single learning environment for beginner anglers than the Missouri River. The Missouri River near Craig, MT is “the river of second chances” with ample opportunities for learning the intricacies of fly fishing with cooperative trout. With 6000 trout per mile, 40 miles of productive trout water, and our professional fly fishing guides, the Missouri River offers the best possibility for landing a trophy trout your first day. Many beginner anglers have been spoiled for life after a day of fly fishing on the Missouri River. April, May, June, September, and October are the best months for this trip. Our guides typically book well in advance for the prime season, so we do recommend reservations made 6-8 months ahead of time on all Missouri River fly fishing trips.
3. Custom Fly Fishing Trips in Montana
For beginner anglers wanting an immersive fly fishing trip, with multiple days of guided fly fishing on multiple rivers, our Custom Montana Fly Fishing Trips are the best option. Our Montana fly fishing outfitter will work directly with you to build your dream trip. We can put together both float and wade trip options that will allow new anglers to experience the best variety of fly fishing tactics and techniques best conducive to learning. 2-5 days is the perfect trip length to come away with the skills to be able take your fly fishing to the next level. We have great custom trip offerings from April thru October.
4. Full Day Walk-Wade Fly Fishing Trips in Yellowstone National Park
We feel strongly that float trips are the best introduction to fly fishing for new anglers in Montana. There are many benefits for beginners fly fishing from a drift boat including: more opportunities, ability to focus solely on the technique, and better assistance from your guide. We also understand that wade fishing is the classic trip many new anglers associate with fly fishing, and there is no better place for a first wade fishing trip than in Yellowstone National Park. For these trips we typically have folks meet their guides in Gardiner, MT. June, July, August, and September are the best months. These trips are ideal for smaller groups of 1-2 anglers wanting a slower pace and the experience not only of fly fishing but also enjoying the wilds of Yellowstone National Park.
5. Half Day Float or Walk-Wade Fly Fishing Trips in Bozeman, MT
If you are visiting Bozeman, MT and only have a short window of time in town but want to learn the basics of fly fishing our half day trips are the best option. We offer both morning and afternoon start times with a trip length of ~4 hours. We generally stay close to town on these trips and emphasize learning the basics over just catching fish. The goal is to introduce new anglers to the sport of fly fishing and hopefully catch a fish along the way.
All of our trips for new and beginner anglers have an emphasis on learning, safety, and having fun. New anglers will get a brief casting lesson on dry land, followed by professional instruction throughout the day with our Montana fly fishing guides. Full day trips are the best option if the goal is to develop proficiency and catch a few fish. Typically, it takes the first half of the day to learn the ropes and by the second half of the day most anglers are able to hook and land trout.
Contact us today to learn more and book your first Montana fly fishing trip with Montana Angling Co.
Bozeman Fly Fishing Overview
Spring has arrived to Bozeman, MT and our fly fishing guides have been making the most out of it with excellent fly fishing conditions on the Missouri River, Paradise Valley Spring Creeks, and Madison River. Strong hatches of BWOs, March Browns, and lingering caddisflies have made for diverse fishing opportunities with nymphs, dry flies, and streamers all in play.
May is a great month for fly fishing in Bozeman, MT with the opportunity for a perfect 3-day trip on the local waters or an extended stay on the Missouri River. Generally the Missouri River in May is as good as it gets with excellent conditions throughout the month. Our Bozeman fly fishing guides often note this is some of the best fly fishing of the year with lighter crowds and higher catch rates than is often typical of the summer months.
Our freestone rivers are currently in the full swing of runoff but warm weather has made for consistently high flows suggesting a normal pacing for the 2023 season. Looking ahead we are looking forward to a greta summer ahead with good flows on all of our area rivers.
Contact our Montana fly fishing outfitter today to learn more and book your next Montana fly fishing trip with our professional guides.
Missouri River Fly Fishing Report
The Missouri River has been the best option for productive fly fishing as of late with excellent catch rates, strong hatches, and consistent flows on the Holter Dam tailwater section near Craig, MT. Our Missouri River fly fishing guides have had good fly fishing all along the river corridor with the most productive nymphing on the upper river and better dry fly fishing downstream of Craig. Sowbugs #14-16 have been king on the upper river, 5-7′ to some split shot in the deep water. Mid-day hatches of BWOs and March Browns have made for quality dry fly opportunities with caddis increasing daily in the canyon section and downstream. Our Missouri River fly fishing guide availability is extremely limited for the remainder of May and into June, but never too late to plan your next trip to Montana’s best tailwater fishery.
Madison River Fly Fishing Report
The Madison River is the best option for anglers looking to stay close to town but get in some good fly fishing. Our Bozeman fly fishing guides have been on the Upper and Lower stretches daily with good conditions on both. The Lower Madison River is the best option with good hatches of both caddisflies and mayflies still in play. Streamer fishing has also picked up with some larger brown trout getting caught along the banks. The Upper section has had good clarity upstream of windy point, which is typical for May, and we expect to hold throughout spring runoff. Nymphing with large attractor nymphs (worms, stoneflies, princes, etc.) is still the best bet for the upper section.
Paradise Valley Spring Creeks Fly Fishing Report
Anglers have been treated to the best fly fishing conditions in several years on DePuys and Armstrong Spring Creek this May. Strong hatches coupled with higher than normal fish numbers have made for reliably great fly fishing. These creeks are currently the best option for wade fishing trips with our Bozeman fly fishing guides. 9AM-3PM has been the best bite with good nymphing in the morning with midges and mayflies followed by a good window of dry fly fishing each afternoon. Midges have been on the surface daily with mayflies continuing to hatch on cooler overcast days. Expect this trend to hold through mid-June.
Yellowstone River Fly Fishing Report
The Yellowstone River and other area freestone rivers including the Gallatin, Jefferson, Boulder, and Stillwater River are in the full swing of spring runoff. See above for better fishing options at the moment.
5 Best Fly Fishing Rivers in Bozeman, Montana
Fly fishing in Bozeman, MT is a world-class experience that brings anglers from all over the country and beyond to fly fish the many blue ribbon rivers surrounding town. With the headwaters of the Missouri River to the west, the mighty Yellowstone River to the east, and the legendary Madison River to the south, Bozeman truly is the epicenter of fly fishing in Montana and the best destination for your next Montana fly fishing trip. With hundreds of miles of blue ribbon water within and hour of Bozeman, it can be overwhelming to plan exactly where to fly fish. Our Bozeman fly fishing guides and outfitter spend roughly a thousand days on the rivers each year and with that have put together our list of the top 5 rivers to fly fish in Bozeman, MT on your next trip. Contact us to learn more and book your next Montana fly fishing trip today.
1) The Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone River is the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48, boasts over 150 miles of floatable and fishable trout water, and offers anglers the purest experience of fly fishing for wild trout in a wild and scenic setting in Montana. Dry fly fishing is king on the Yellowstone River with excellent early season mayfly hatches in April, the world-famous Salmonfly hatch in late-June and early-July, followed by excellent terrestrial and mayfly action through the heart of the summer and into the fall. Anglers planning a Bozeman fly fishing trip should count on spending a few days on the Yellowstone River due to the sheer size and variety offered. The upper reaches are highlighted by healthy populations of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout that are always eager to rise. The middle reaches of Paradise Valley through the town of Livingston, MT offer fly fishing in Montana’s most picturesque and scenic mountain setting. Downstream of Livingston, MT anglers are greeted by the vast Montana prairie and the large trophy sized brown trout lurking around every bend. Our Bozeman fly fishing guides are experts on the Yellowstone River and offer float trips on
2) The Madison River
The Madison River is the iconic Montana river in the storied legacy of fly fishing for many anglers. These hallowed waters flow from the high reaches of Yellowstone through the sweeping Madison River Valley to the southwest of Bozeman, MT on its course to the Missouri River headwaters. From its inception in the high country, through it terminus in the prairie, the Madison River boasts some of the highest fish per mile counts in the west and strong hatches that fuel the wild Madison River rainbow and brown trout. The “50-mile riffle” section on the Upper Madison River near Ennis, MT is the big show for most anglers with productive fly fishing available year-round. April-October is prime time with highlights including the Salmonfly hatch in June and July, streamer fishing early and late season, and epic caddis hatches in July and into August. Every year the biggest trout we see come to net are on the Madison River. This is can’t miss fly fishing on any Bozeman fly fishing trip.
3) Northeast Corner of Yellowstone National Park
What’s better than a single river to fly fish? How about arguably the highest density of productive wild cutthroat trout water in the world. The northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park is home to the headwater of the Yellowstone River and all of its storied tributaries: Soda Butte Creek, the Lamar River, Slough Creek, and the dozens of lesser known creeks in this region. This part of Yellowstone National Park is dry fly country. Anglers can reasonably expect to fish dry flies and have eager cutthroat rising from 7/1-10/15 each year. There is no better wade fishing opportunities in our area, with ample access and limitless wide open spaces. Our Bozeman fly fishing guides feel Yellowstone is the best option for anglers with a sense of adventure, wanting to put in the time on foot, and willing to take the road less travelled for the pursuit of wild trout. Anglers looking for the classic ‘small-stream’ experience will want to plan 1-3 days in this area to really take it all in. The Lamar River in the Lamar Valley is the best starting point. From there, the options are limited only by your sense of adventure.
4) DePuys and Armstrong Spring Creeks
If you know, you already know. If you don’t know, but casting delicate dry flies at spooky and selective rising trout is your idea of a fun time, then the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks are can’t miss fishing or your next Bozeman fly fishing trip. The Depuy’s and Armstrong Spring Creeks are quintessential trout water with high fish per mile counts, predictable hatches of mayflies throughout the summer, and a sense of history and lore on every run. Just don’t expect easy. The Paradise Valley Spring Creeks will test the best of anglers on their best of days. These technical fisheries reward patient anglers willing to put in the time and thought to better their own angling ability and humble themselves to these wild trout. Bring your A-game and a learning mindset and you will be rewarded with one of the most unique fly fishing experiences in all of Montana. Guide availability is very limited on the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks and trips are limited to small groups of 1-4 anglers.
5) The Gallatin River
The Gallatin River is the “river that runs through it” with many of the iconic moments filmed on its winding course between Big Sky and Bozeman, MT. While guiding is limited, access to the Gallatin on this stretch is plentiful with Highway 191 paralleling the banks as is passes through US forest service land, making for excellent roadside fly fishing. This is a perfect river for first-timers venturing to Bozeman as the classic riffle-run-pool structure of the Gallatin River makes for a perfect beginner learning experience. The Gallatin River is also one of the best winter fisheries in Bozeman, MT with excellent nymphing available throughout the snow season. Our Bozeman, MT fly fishing guides primarily focus on the float section of the Lower Gallatin River downstream of the Gallatin Canyon, and the headwaters section upstream of Big Sky, MT in Yellowstone National Park. The lower river is excellent fishery and a great option for a chance at a truly trophy trout. The upper reaches fish akin to a spring creek with challenging but rewarding dry fly fishing throughout the summer months.
There are countless other rivers favored by local and visiting anglers to Bozeman, MT that could be on this list. This is the tip of the fly fishing iceberg. With that, a sense of exploration will yield a lifetime of fly fishing adventure in Bozeman. Fish on!
Ready to book your next Bozeman fly fishing trip with our fly fishing guides? Book online with our Montana fly fishing outfitter today.
2023 Montana Fly Fishing Guides and Trips
It is officially fly fishing season again in Montana and our guides are ready for what is shaping up to be another great season. We have had a busy winter with our Winter & Spring Special Trips going out on the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks near Bozeman, MT and the Missouri River near Craig, MT. These trips are a great way to get out for some early season action, with anglers treated to wide open rivers, good fishing, and a great discounted rate.
Looking ahead at what’s to come, we have had an excellent winter with cold temps and a great snowpack sitting just above average. Pending extreme weather this spring we are looking forward to normal flows and cold water all summer long. The Yellowstone River fished excellent following the early season flooding of 2022, with great catch rates and healthy trout by late July, with strong hatches through the fall. We are looking forward to what should be a great Salmonfly and stonefly hatches this year by early July.
Our calendar is booking up quickly for prime dates in 2023. Our Montana Fly Fishing Lodges in particular have limited availability for May-July. If you are planning a trip for 2023 and want an “all-inclusive” experience, the time to book is today.
2023 Bozeman, MT Fly Fishing Trips
Close to home in Bozeman, MT we are expecting really great fly fishing by early April on the Madison River, the Yellowstone River, and the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks. All three have great early season hatches with the Yellowstone River offering consistently great dry fly fishing my the middle of the month. Streamer fishing can be another great option early season and gives anglers a chance at truly trophy sized trout.
With a strong snowpack we are expecting a full run-off season from May-late June. During this time frame anglers will do themselves well by planning on fly fishing the Missouri River near Craig, MT. By late June we expect flows on the Madison River to drop, salmon flies to pop, and the fly fishing to be solid. We expect the Yellowstone River to fish well soon after. The prime float trip season of 7/1-8/15 is booking fast. Contact us today for more information and to book your 2023 Bozeman fly fishing trip.
For 2023 we are expanding public water wade trip offerings. These trips are perfect for 1-2 anglers with a sense of adventure looking to explore some of Montana’s hidden gems. These trips are all on smaller water and require hiking 1-3 miles during the course of a day. Late July-mid September is the best time for these trips.
2023 Missouri River Fly Fishing Trips
Our fly fishing guides on the Missouri River have already been hard at work in 2023 getting anglers into some great fly fishing this winter and we are looking forward to a great spring ahead. The Missouri River basin has had an excellent winter and we are expecting good flows throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Generally this translates to great early season fly fishing in April, excellent catch rates in May-early June, and strong hatches of caddisflies and mayflies from mid-June through October.
Prime dates for May and June are just about fully booked, but we do have availability for 2-3 days trips for smaller groups of 1-4 anglers. The nymphing in May will be as good as it gets and the dry fly fishing in June should be great. We have had excellent hopper fishing the past 3 summers in August and we expect 2023 to bring more of the same, followed by great hatches and fly fishing in September and October.
New for 2023 we are offering lodging packages with 3 different lodges on the Missouri River. Expanded offerings have increased our availability. Ready to book? Contact us today for more information and to plan your 2023 Missouri River fly fishing trip with our Montana fly fishing guides.
2023 Yellowstone National Park Trips
Want to learn about our guided trips in Yellowstone National Park? Find us on the Destination Angler Podcast, where our outfitter talks all things Yellowstone. Great way to learn more about fly fishing in Yellowstone National Park with our guides.
We look forward to fly fishing with you in 2023! Contact us today to plan your next Montana fly fishing trip.
Montana Fly Fishing in May 2021
May is right around the corner and with it our anglers and guides will kick-off the prime Montana fly fishing season. As water temps climb out of winter lows, some of the first great hatches of the year will arrive on our Montana rivers. Great hatches mean great dry fly fishing.
The mother’s day caddis hatch on the Madison River, Yellowstone River, and Missouri River is usually the star of the show early-mid May. This hatch gives a whole new meaning to the term “blanket hatch” with mats of caddis piling up in every river eddy and trout rising to take them. Mixed in on overcast days anglers will also find hatches of Blue Winged Olive (BWO) mayflies continue on through the middle of the month. Anglers with a keen eye will also find March Brown mayflies, skwala stoneflies, and even a few early season terrestrials mixed in as water flows come up.
Spring run-off on our area freestone rivers has held off for now but with day time highs in the 70s it is a matter of days before the Yellowstone River, Gallatin River, Jefferson River, and other area freestone rivers run high and muddy. With that anglers in Bozeman, MT will find the best fly fishing on the Lower Madison River, Upper-most Madison River, Paradise Valley Spring Creeks, and private water lakes through late-June. Yellowstone National Park opens for fly fishing the Saturday of Memorial day weekend and is a great option for wade fishing later in the month of the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers.
Anglers fly fishing on the Missouri River near Craig, MT will be treated to some of the best fly fishing of the year through the month of May. The Missouri River tailwater is not affected by spring-run off due to snowmelt and projected flows below average for 2021 should make for excellent dry fly fishing. The nymphing on the Missouri River is always some of the most productive of the year with high catch rates and the largest average sized trout of any river in Montana. We are also hopeful that lower flows could make for some of the best streamer fishing in recent history.
Montana Fly Fishing Trips in May 2021
Our Montana fly fishing guides are looking forward to a great May 2021 with anglers able to safely travel and enjoy Montana fly fishing trips after our operations were closed for April and limited in May of 2020. We do still have good guide and lodging availability for anglers planning a last-minute Montana fly fishing trip. We offer all-inclusive guided fly fishing and lodging packages with the Missouri River Ranch that make for a truly incredible trip.
Looking ahead past May guide and lodging availability is extremely limited from June 1- August 15. Anglers interested in booking a Montana fly fishing trip in Bozeman and on the Missouri River during this time frame can contact our outfitter to start the planning process.
We are looking forward to another great season of fly fishing in Montana, see you on the water soon!