Voice of the River

Takeaways from Montana Women’s Fly Fishing School

By Stephanie Lynn, Education and Communications Coordinator

When I tell people that I run a youth fly fishing camp they assume that I’m a trout slayer, and I let them. But the truth is, before moving to Montana three years ago, I had only fished once with spin tackle. I was six and I got a bloody nose. I assumed that was the end of my fishing career.

The author, Stephanie Lynn, having fun but still learning how to hold fish.

Two years ago our staff dreamed up the idea of a youth fly fishing camp in Big Sky, and I knew it was my job as coordinator of educational programming to make it a reality. Oh boy! First, I had to learn how to fly fish. To accomplish the somewhat daunting task, I chased friends around; lost flies and fish; and tied elaborate knots in my rig. And with help and advice from friendly local fly guides, I somehow developed a successful youth fly fishing camp.

This year, I decided to invest in my angling to take the youth camp fly fishing camp to the next level. I did a little research and my supervisor, Kristin Gardner, and I signed up for Montana Women’s Fly Fishing School with Gallatin River Guides in early October. Kristin and I were both self-taught anglers, familiar with the basics, but we hoped to fill in gaps in our knowledge to make us more confident, successful, and efficient anglers.

When I arrived at Gallatin River Guides early Thursday morning, I was excited to learn in a supportive environment with other women. Our fearless leader, Kara Tripp, focused on healthy fishing fundamentals and provided helpful tips for every level of angler. Her enthusiasm was inspiring.

The three-day course naturally progressed from knots to bug identification to casting with lots of time to explore local waters with seasoned guides. Here a few of the many takeaways from women’s fly fishing boot camp:

  1. There is a proper way to attach your leader to your fly line.
  2. The most important part of fly casting is PAUSE.
  3. An expert angler may be able to identify what a trout is eating from the take.
  4. Women are more fun to fish with.
  5. Fish will hold in front of rocks as well as behind them.
  6. Tight lining is a real fishing technique with a name.
  7. You can fish hard and look good too.

The boss lady grippin’ and grinnin’ on the Upper Madison.

On the third day of the clinic, we got the chance to put our new skills to test at Reynold’s Bridge. Thanks to the insight of expert guides, Mike Donaldson, Kara Tripp, and Alexia Paige, we saw nonstop action while learning the ins and outs of the Upper Madison River.

With our skills refined and refreshed, Kristin and I are ready to make the Hooked on the Gallatin: Youth Fly Fishing Camp bigger and better than ever. Thank you to Pat, Kara, Jimmy, and the Gallatin River Guides crew for making it a priority to expose women to fly fishing!

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