Fly fishing Missoula can be a little intimidating if you’ve never been here before. There is no shortage of fly fishing outfitters, guides, fly shops, and lodges. All of the choices can be overwhelming for the first time angler, and with any big trip you don’t want to make a mistake. We have all been there before, only to find out after the fact that our lodging was way overpriced, the best guides worked for the other shop in town, or what we thought was “prime”season was actually the slow season.
When anyone goes to a fly fishing destination they want to experience the very best that place has to offer. But without the recommendation of someone you really trust it is hard to wade through all of the information. So here is your cheat sheet to fly fishing Missoula in style.
Where should I stay?
There are lots of options for accommodations around Missoula. There are a few dedicated fly fishing lodges, rental homes and cabins, B&Bs, and hotels. The fishing lodges are well appointed but the problem is that none of them are centrally located to take advantage of all of Missoula’s fishing options. If you stay at a lodge you will spend a lot more time in the truck. Rental properties face the same challenge so unless you plan to dedicate yourself to one drainage you are best off staying in Missoula. If B&Bs are your thing then there are a couple of great ones in town, but most folks will be looking for a hotel. Most all of the national chains are in Missoula, but the two best places to stay are the Doubletree Edgewater and Holiday Inn Downtown at the Park. Both of these hotels are located on the banks of the Clark Fork River and are within easy walking distance of downtown Missoula with scores of restaurants and pubs. These two places offer the classic Missoula experience for visiting anglers.
What Fly Shop should I use?
There are 4 stand alone fly shops in Missoula. They are all well stocked with knowledgeable staff and their own distinct style. Anyone of them can set you up with all the gear you need for a day on the river, but if you only have time to visit one then I would recommend the Grizzly Hackle. It’s located in historic downtown Missoula. The largest shop in town, the Hackle has lots of clothing, rods, reels, flies, waders, lots of everything. Most importantly though they have a solid core staff that has been with them for years. They know their product and can answer just about any question about the Missoula fishery.
Where should I eat?
Missoula has a bounty of great restaurants. It is such a great place to live that some big time chefs who made their name in large markets decided to make their homes here in Missoula. If you are looking for fine dining then The Pearl, The Red Bird, and Finn and Porter should be at the top of the list. If casual dining is more your style then Ironhorse Bar & Grill or Biga Pizza will take care of you. There are too many local breweries and pubs to list, but just take a stroll downtown and you will find plenty of great ones.
Who should I book a trip with?
Montana Trout Outfitters of course! Back when I started guiding in Missoula every fly shop had their full time staff of guides who did almost all of their guiding for that particular shop. Times have changed! and the fly shops and lodges now have 1 or 2 guides that are full timers while most all the other guides in the area are free agents who work for several different outfitters. If you are lucky enough to book one of those top guides you will have a great day on the water. Unfortunately unless you are a repeat angler or book extremely early the chances of ever getting in one of those full time guides’ boats is slim. I have been guiding in Missoula for nearly two decades and have formed relationships with almost every veteran guide in the area. As a smaller fishing outfitter I
want need every new booking to have the best experience possible so I always go the extra mile to secure the best guides available. It is one reason why 90% of our clients return to fish with us year after year.