what to bring
First, feel free to contact us with any questions you might have about equipment, clothing, etc.
Montana weather can vary alot, so be prepared with layers and some type of rain gear. We don't get much rain, but you will want to be able to go out when it does. We do carry rain gear, fleece vests, gloves, and much more in our shop. A hat, sunglasses (polarized!), and for warm weather, wet wading shoes of some kind are necessities. Our dining room is casual dress - you will see people in fishing and riding clothes, as well as folks that have changed for dinner. June and September can be quite chilly at times, even some snow! But most of our season is warm in the day - 70s to low 90s in a heat spell, and nice and cool in the morning. Temps drop quick once the sun goes down, which isn't until 9:30 in June!
A nine foot five weight rod is the best all around rod for our waters. Standard floating line will cover 95% of your fishing - a sinking line can be nice on our lake sometimes, or for streamers on the Yellowstone River. Leaders are generally around 3 or 4 X, with tippet down to 6x occasionally. Fly selection is typical Western patterns, and we can recommend specific patterns for when you are coming and where you would like to fish. Just contact us and we can help you out. We carry a good selection of flies in our shop and our guides always have the appropriate patterns.
The following are some recommendations and examples:
Helios rods - Expensive. But the best rod I have ever cast. Super light weight, responsive, accurate. I cannot say anything bad about it. The five weight mid flex is the best all around choice for our area, although many prefer the faster action of the tip flex. I like a double taper line, but most people fish a weight forward. The Hydros Large Arbor III reel is a good balance for this rod, and it has the best drag system for the buck of all the reels on the market. This rod is so light a 9' 4 weight mid flex is an awesome choice as well. It has performed flawlessly on the spring creeks and is a great rod for wade fishing in Yellowstone National Park.
The Orvis Access line of rods are a great value. Nearly as light and powerful as the Helios line but for much less money.
Hydros Large Arbor Reels are the new standard for Large Arbor reels. They have an amazing drag system (I have caught permit and bonefish on them!) and they look great. And are reasonably priced.
Access Mid Arbor Reels are a great choice for a rod that needs a little weight in the reel to balance it properly. If you have anything over 9' long I recommend a hard look at these reels. The drag is bulletproof - I have caught saltwater species on this reel, also.
BBS - Battenkill Bar Stock reels - these reels are an amazing combination of performance and value. And they are very lightweight. Yes, the new CFOs are amazing, and the Hydros Large Arbors have some great features. But in flyfishing, a reel is still mainly a place to store line. And these reels look great and have a great drag for those rare (and wonderful) occasions when you need it. I find their weight balances most rods correctly. Balancing a rod differently would be the main reason I considered a different reel.
Orvis Hydros and Access fly line - I use double taper lines on almost all of my trout rods. It is the easiest line to mend and fishes well at shorter distances. It is more work to cast for distance. Weight forward lines are easier to cast for distance, but don't mend as nicely. The Easy-Mend line is a blend of the two - a great compromise. Sink tips are great for streamer fishing, and full sinks can make all the difference on lakes and ponds.
Waders - I have always liked stocking foot waders. I like the added comfort of separate boots, and the fact that if the boots and waders wear out at different times I don't have to replace them both. But if you are fishing very cold waters, bootfoot waders will be warmer. The new style bootfoots are much more comfortable and have more support for the foot than older bootfoot waders. The Endura waders are the value line, but I recommend stepping up to the Silver Labels if you can. The integrated gravel guards are almost worth it by themselves. They are also more durable waders with better reinforcement in key areas and better material. If you live in your waders, the ProGuides are the waders for you. And their new Sonic Seam line is a great option for traveling/packing in.
Wading Boots - All of the boots on the Orvis page are good boots. They all have the new rubber soles that help stop the spread of invasive species. And you can get studs that do help with traction in the streams, but can cause real problems in drift boats. Personally I like the lightweight boots, but the whole line is good.
Fishing Vests and Packs - I have been using waist packs for the past several years, but vests are still popular. As a guide I look mainly for lots of storage. But most fisherman will want other features. Of the all the solutions Orvis has I would give my highest recommendation to the sling pack.
Floatant - I use Shake and Float for small flies, emergers and CDC, and HyFlote gel for larger, more traditional flies.
Strike Indicators - There might be more elegant solutions, but the most effective indicator I have found is a Thingamabobber.
Tools and Gadgets -Forceps - Rising Work Tool is a new item that I have not used, but it has everything I would look for in a forcep tool. I especially like this style of handle, and I would never own forceps without scissors or other cutters of some kind. If you like a traditional shape, try the forceps with scissors.These are great and last a long time. Got to have a tippet spool holder. Despite the description, this one will hold more than 4 spools. Everyone needs a good Stream Thermometer, and this is the best I have found.
Ghost Nets - I like the shape of the 24" net the best, but everyone will have their preferences. This whole line has been great - delivering exactly what they say.