The image above looks inviting doesn’t it? It is what we dream about when we think of our fly fishing trips. The reality is that it doesn’t always work out that way. Being prepared to fly fish Montana can be the difference between awesome days on the water and miserable ones.

I took the photo above on May 9 and it was the start of a 5 day run of spectacular weather on the Missouri river. By the end of it we were wearing shorts and sandals and even complaining that maybe it was a little too warm. It all seems like a distant memory now. Since then it has been cold and wet everyday. We have only seen the sun for a few fleeting moments this past week and 50 degrees seems like a lofty goal at the moment.


The right gear makes all the difference

That kind of weather is tough on anglers and guides alike. Cold fingers make it difficult to manage the fly line and feel what’s going on with the fly rod, hoods make it hard to see and hear, runny noses, and full body chills have all been part of the package lately. But the fishing has been off the charts good.

It’s understandable that anglers don’t get excited to see the 3 day forecast for their trip with highs in the 40’s, rain and a north wind. Guides aren’t chomping at the bit in those conditions either, but there are some keys to making your time on the water more enjoyable when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

  • Take more clothes than you think you need. It’s always colder on the water than it is in town or at the boat ramp.
  • Stay dry. Don’t wait to put the rain gear on. If it starts to sprinkle it’s time to suit up
  • Hand warmers are a day maker. Open them and stick them in pockets before you hit the river.
  • Extra gloves are a must. On cold, wet days I often go through 3 pairs of gloves or more. Keeping hands warm and dry is a key to being able to fish well
  • Surgical gloves are great for anglers. Every fly anglers knows it’s near impossible to fish in full finger gloves. Hands tend to get cold with fingerless gloves as well. Wearing surgical type gloves along with fingerless gloves allows anglers to manage their line and stay warmer
  • Cover your head and neck. You lose a lot of heat up top and sometimes a ball cap isn’t enough. Wear a beenie, use your hood and keep your neck protected with a Buff.
  • If you are just a little cold, add another layer right away. Anglers go from a little cold to too cold faster than you think. Don’t try to tough it out, just add more clothes.


Prepared for a great day on the water

The fishing in Montana is often great during periods of rough weather. Come prepared to endure the elements and it may turn out to be the best fishing of the year. The cold weather continues on the Missouri river and we will be ready for it again tomorrow.

About Tony Reinhardt

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