While the focus of our guide service is on, well, guiding, we also offer basic fly fishing lessons and a variety of casting lessons, subject to staff availability. Our beginner fishing lessons are ideal for those looking for a cost-effective way of learning about fly fishing, while our casting lessons are suitable for beginners who just want to get the hang of fly casting or experienced casters who want a tune-up or to brush up on a specific casting technique.
Lessons are available year-round. Read on past the rates to learn about them.
Please Note: Lesson availability depends on how heavily we are booked for guided trips. For this reason, we do not accept reservations for lessons more than 72 hours ahead of time and availability will be limited in peak season (June 1 through September). Walk-ins are welcome.
Lesson rates are discussed on our rates page.
Our beginner lessons are ideal for those interested in the smallest taste of fly fishing and for those who are planning to go on a full guide trip but want to hit the ground running. They're also good choices for large groups for whom the cost of multiple guides for a full trip is prohibitive, or for anyone who simply packed too much into their vacation for even our half-day beginner trips to fit.
Our beginner fishing lessons usually take place on a small pond near Mammoth Hot Springs or the Gardner River, but may take place at a Yellowstone River access point if students already have Montana fishing licenses. Students will learn how to assemble, rig, hold, and carry a fly rod. They will learn the basic back cast and how to handle fly line. They will usually get a few bites, and with luck, students will catch a fish or two. If time allows, we'll move on to more-advanced topics such as mending (manipulating fly lines with the rod to achieve more fish-enticing results), reading water, and the basics of fly selection and trout food.
Basically beginner fishing lessons involve the same topics as any other beginner guided trip, but in a much shorter timeframe and with less chance of angling success and mastery of skills due to the short duration involved (half the on-water time of our shortest guided trips).
You will be taught by one of our full-time licensed fishing guides, all of whom work exclusively in the fly fishing industry, so there's no need to wonder if your instructor spends more time wrangling horses or paddling a whitewater raft. Unlike general tourist companies who offer beginner fly fishing lessons, we do not stack parties. In other words, your group will be the only one going out with your instructor, so unlike similarly-priced trips from some raft companies and others, you will not wind up fishing with ten or fifteen people and just one overworked instructor.
Beginner lessons include the use of a rod and reel for each student, plus a maximum of four flies per student. Normally transportation from our shop will be included, but larger groups may be asked to follow us. Not included are Yellowstone Park entrance fees (if applicable), fishing licenses (required for thoses aged 12 and up in Montana or 16 and up in the park), or food or drinks.
Please Note (aka disclaimer): Because the duration of a beginner lesson is so short, and because the locations where we fish on these trips are chosen because they are nearby, convenient, and ideal for teaching beginners how to handle fly tackle, rather than because they are particularly productive fishing spots, we do not really consider these lessons to be full "guided trips." In other words, these lessons are ideal if you're looking to learn about fly fishing. They're not ideal if you're looking to learn about fly fishing while catching lots of fish. Most of the time students who take part in beginner lessons wind up getting some bites and catch a fish or two, but the number of bites and fish caught are guaranteed to be far fewer than on our full guided trips. For guided trip options suitable for beginners where catching fish is almost a guarantee, check out our Beginner Brookie trips.
All of our guides have been fly fishing seriously for at least ten years, and most have been fly fishing since they were young children. As such, we all have sufficient experience to help most anglers improve. While we provide instruction on all guided trips, a casting lesson is a great opportunity for complete beginners who don't have time for even an on-water fishing lesson to learn about fly casting or for experienced anglers to focus on improving certain small aspects of their game, whether that's learning to double-haul or roll cast better or fish a certain type of fly in a new way.
Casting lessons consist of dryland instruction, typically at the Gardiner high school field. Regardless of whether or not lessons take place on the water, these are not fishing trips. They're the equivalent of hitting balls in a batting cage or playing catch compared to a real baseball game.
When you book, please let us know exactly what you want help on. If it turns out we don't think we can help you, we won't be shy about letting you know. There's simply some things we don't do much in Yellowstone Country, and we all tend to be homebodies, so if there's an oddball casting technique that doesn't work here, we might not know it.
Richard Parks is Montana Outfitter #327. Under his licensure, Parks' Fly Shop is licensed to operate in Yellowstone National Park, Montana waters under general regulations, and the Custer-Gallatin National Forest. Walter J. Wiese is Montana Outfitter #22001. Under his licensure, the shop is licensed to operate on the Madison and Missouri Rivers.
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Website, text, and graphics by Walter J. Wiese. Photos generally by Walter J. Wiese unless noted.