MRFC Fly Fishing School Curriculum
The curriculum for the fly fishing school covers a wide variety of techniques, casts, setups that one would use in Western Montana and beyond. We try to place our students on small and large water situations so that they can gain an understanding of approach to both types of water. Montana abounds with rivers and streams of various sizes and types and we try and help everyone gain some comfort on the waters they might find themselves fishing. The techniques we give students will also transfer to home rivers and streams across the country.
Casting is the foundation to most all aspects of fly fishing. This is represented in the fly fishing school through our emphasis on fundamentals and proper technique. We believe that if someone can cast then that same person can catch fish. Madison River Fishing Co instructors focus on fundamentals for those that need the basics and we also add advanced techniques for anglers that have a good understanding of the basics. With this we focus on casting theory and basics the first evening and then begin to transfer that to an on the water practical approach to fly fishing and fly casting. Fly casts that we cover in the Madison River Fishing Co. fly fishing school include but are not limited to; the basic forward and back cast, reach cast, roll cast, Belgian casts and various slack line casts. These come to the front because they tend to be casts that are used regularly during the normal course of an anglers fishing day. Double and single hauls are also taught on an individual basis as there are normally students with a firm grasp of the basics that want some advanced techniques. Double and single hauls are not a cast in and of itself but a great technique to learn that can be added to most casts to aid in distance and line speed.
OVERVIEW OF ESSENTIAL FLY FISHING GEAR
There are a few things that are absolutely required in order to fly fish. First and foremost, you will need something to cast! We cover what types of rods, reels, lines and terminal tackle are needed for certain fish species and how each relates to a specific method of fishing. We will also cover what tools and other accessories are needed to make your fishing experience more comfortable, efficient and productive. Fly fishermen are a unique bunch and each angler has their own way of approaching the sport. In fly fishing there is an endless supply knick-knacks and gadgets out there for the modern angler to choose from. Whether you are a gear junkie, old school, or a minimalist, the MRFC School instructors will help you understand what setup works best for you.
We are lucky to have access to classic fly fishing rivers, streams and creeks here in SW Montana, offering us an opportunity to fish in just about any trout fishing scenario possible. Our school focuses on two distinct fisheries that serve our students as prime examples of what anglers can expect when fly fishing for trout around the world. The Ruby River has many twists and turns, and an angler's chances improve greatly when they know where trout like to feed. The same goes for the Upper Madison River. If you stand on the bank of the river, you can rest assured that there are hundreds of trout somewhere in front of you. The ability to identify the holes, buckets, seams, pools, riffles and runs will help you put your fly in front of fish. The rest is up to what fly you choose and how you present it.
ENTOMOLOGY, TROUT BIOLOGY, TROUT BEHAVIOR and FLY SELECTION
A trout’s diet primarily consists of aquatic insects that spend a portion of their life cycle living in water. In addition, trout also dine on terrestrial insects, other fish, crustaceans and even mice! Understanding the food sources of trout can take a lifetime to fully comprehend and is a topic that can easily frustrate or confuse a beginning angler. Often times in a day’s fishing, trout will key in on one particular species of insect. It gets even more complicated when the trout prefer a certain life stage over the other, ie nymphs vs. flying adults. One of the most challenging things in fly fishing is choosing which flies to fish and when. Fortunately, trout around the world have a similar diet and there are many proven patterns that can fool trout. Our staff of instructors will help you understand the basics of entomology (the study of insects) as it pertains to freshwater environments and trout behavior. This information is tied into learning about selecting flies that imitate the life cycle stages of insects that are commonly consumed by trout.
FLY FISHING ETHICS AND ETIQUETTE:
Fly fishing is a sport rooted in tradition. It is a passion best enjoyed by those who understand it is not all about just catching fish. The bigger picture of fly fishing entails a passion for the outdoors, a quest for solitude, a desire to learn and dedication to passing the tradition onto generations to come. There is so much to gain through fly fishing when an angler approaches a day of fishing with these intentions. Catching a lot of fish is fun, don’t get us wrong. Catching big fish is also a thrill. But expecting this everyday is unrealistic and often times disappointing. What’s even more disappointing is a bad day of fishing due to a compromised fishery or an unpleasant interaction with a fellow angler. As fly fishermen, we should value catch-and-release and the protection of our natural environments. We should also acknowledge the fact that there other anglers that want to enjoy the same experience. The ethic and etiquette of fly fishermen is something that is often overlooked when anglers first get started. The MRFC School is dedicated to promoting sustainable fly fishing practices and proper behavior when encountering others on the river. We strive to pass this onto our students so that they can maximize their enjoyment of fly fishing and hopefully pass their newly found passion onto others.
KNOT TYING AND TERMINAL TACKLE
A proper fly fishing knot can make or break your fishing experience. There are a few specific knots that are required to properly fly fish. Our knot tying instruction guides our students through the steps to tie certain knots, but learning knots is best achieved through repetition. With a little practice, knots become second nature and can be mastered in a short time. In addition to knots, anglers have the option of using various types of terminal tackle, such as strike indicators or split-shot. By the end of the school, our students will understand how to rig their lines to effectively present their fly to a trout.
FISHING FROM A DRIFT BOAT VS. WADING
Our students will have the opportunity to fish on foot and from a boat. Both are enjoyable, but they differ greatly from each other. When wading the river or a small creek, stealth is often key to sneaking up on feeding fish. We’ll teach you where to cross the river to avoid spooking fish and how to approach a spot that is holding fish. Fishing from a drift boat is a bit more chaotic, but often times exciting because you can cover a lot of water and watch your fishing partner hook up next to you. When fishing from a boat, listening to your guide is essential as they can see everything up ahead of the boat. Drift boat fishing is every bit a team effort if you want to maximize your day on the water. Our instructors are also full-time fly fishing guides that are well versed in many types of fly fishing scenarios. The MRFC School covers both types of fishing by wading on the Ruby River and floating the Upper Madison River.
LANDING, IDENTIFYING, HANDLING AND RELEASING TROUT
All the preparation in the world won’t get you ready for a thrashing brown trout or hard running rainbow trout of the Madison River. Fly fishing truly becomes a sport when one of these fish are properly hooked in the mouth. The biggest challenge now becomes landing the fish. We’ll teach you the basics of “playing a fish”, with an attention to line breaking strength and maintaining fish health. This means that on one hand we don’t want to break the line by putting too much pressure on the fish, but we also do not want to wear out the fish beyond the point of exhaustion. Once in the net, we teach our students how to handle a fish properly and how to take good pictures that don’t compromise a fish’s chances of survival. Lastly, we teach proper revival techniques and how to know when it is time for the fish to be released.
Safety on the water is our top priority at Madison River Fishing Company. Our students will be thoroughly informed on the dangers and hazards for fly fishing on foot and from a drift boat, and will be reminded throughout the course of any potential safety issues that our students may be presented with when fly fishing. We want each of our students be aware of their surroundings so that they can fish safely by themselves or to inform other beginners they bring along.