Hoot Owl Restrictions affecting our local fisheries

Hoot Owl Restrictions Montana

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) has determined that when water flows are lower than average and water temperatures begin to rise over 73 degrees fahrenheit for three consecutive days, fishing pressure can put undue stress on the trout in our local rivers and streams.  Because of that, they enact what is called a Hoot Owl Restriction on certain waters and stretches of rivers during the summer months once they reach this threshold.  Hoot Owl Restrictions restrict fishing from 2:00 PM until midnight each day meaning you can fish during the morning hours until 2:00 PM and then you must stop fishing.  You can still float the rivers after 2:00 PM, just not fishing after that time.  These restrictions are put in place by Montana FWP to protect the trout and the fisheries and will typically last until water temperatures and water flows improve.  For more information about Hoot Owl Restrictions or a current up to date list of all rivers affected, you can visit the Montana FWP Site.  Below is a list of rivers in our immediate area affected by Hoot Owl Restrictions.  If you have any questions or need more clarification, please give us a call at 406-586-5373 or 406-284-2401.  There are still lots of great fishing options.  Thanks!


9/9/2016 Update ***  Current Bozeman Area River Restrictions

Lower Madison River - No Restrictions as of 9/6/2016!

Gallatin River - No Restrictions as of 9/6/2016!

Yellowstone River - All stretches reopened as of 9/23/2016!  ***Please remember to wash, drain and dry all of your equipment before and after heading to the Yellowstone River.  Let's do our part to prevent the further spread of these parasites!


Hoot Owl Restrictions FAQ

Can we still fish on rivers with the Hoot Owl Restrictions?  Yes!  You can still fish from Midnight until 2:00 PM on the stretches of the rivers with Hoot Owl Restrictions.  If you are fishing on those stretches, consider going a little earlier to fish when it is cooler.  Keep in mind that on many of our rivers, just certain stretches of the river have the restrictions so you can fish all day on the rest of the river without the restriction.

Is it bad to fish the stretches of rivers with Hoot Owl Restrictions?  FWP has determined that fishing during the morning hours when the water is cooler is less stressful on the fish in these sections of rivers.  While this may be the case, every river is different.  Some of our rivers are just hovering at the cutoff point in the afternoons but cool off significantly overnight, or may even drop below the temperature thresholds for several days at a time.  We have no problem recommending these rivers or stretches of rivers to fish in the mornings.  Other rivers stay much warmer and really don't cool off overnight.  We would most likely steer you away from those locations despite the fact that you can still legally fish them in the mornings.  Still looking for direction, call us or stop by the shop, we are glad to help.

Is the fishing good on the stretches rivers with Hoot Owl Restrictions?  Depends.  As long as the water is cooling off significantly overnight, the fish will remain active and fishing can still be very good.  On those rivers where the water stays pretty warm throughout the night, fishing will most likely not be as good and we would not recommend you fish those stretches.

Is there anywhere to fish without restrictions?  Yes!  There are still lots of great options for fishing in our area.  The Hoot Owl Restrictions in place are only on certain stretches of our local rivers where they reach a point that they either get too low or too warm or both.  On most of those rivers, there are still significant stretches that have no restrictions limiting fishing hours.  We'd be happy to help steer you to some great fishing locations.

How long will the Hoot Owl Restrictions be in place?  This is up to Mother Nature and Montana FWP.  We usually need some significant change in weather or time of year to see the restrictions lifted.  This usually occurs in early to mid September, but could happen sooner depending on the weather.

How to Choose a Fly Rod

Fly Rod Selection - How do I choose?

The fly fishing market can be intimidating as in today's world, there so many different fly rods to choose from.  Sifting through piles of online blogs, manufacturer web sites or piles of brochures picked up at your local fly shop can drive someone crazy as they all tell you they are the best and that they are exactly what you need. With the overload of information avaible today, how is a person to choose?  The fact of the matter is that there are actually many great fly fishing rods on the market. The truth is that all of them will get you out of the water and allow you to catch a fish or two. Most will cast a line decently, present a fly and if all things go well, fool a trout and put a smile on your face. So what's all the fuss about different brands and why is there such a huge price difference between this model or brand and this one? The bottom line (no punn intended) is that just like most things in life, there is quite a difference in how they are built, where they are built and the quality of materials used during the process. While we can argue this point with most consumer products in many different sports, we'll stick to fly fishing rods at the moment.     

Just about all Fly fishing equipment was originally invented on well thought out craftsmanship.  Almost everything our grandfathers fished with, including lines and leaders, were made by hand for decades (who hasn’t heard an elder explain how back in their day they use to make leaders out of cat guts?). True craftmanship gives way to products made with pride and excellence and the end result is typically something the end user can really enjoy. The downside to true craftmanship in today's world is it usually also comes with a price. The most expensive cars in the world are hand build one at a time, and you can tell.  Fine shotguns can be very expensive and are made by hand and when you pull one to your shoulder, you can tell. True craftman built products are typically flawless and there is a real difference.  Craftman built fly rods are no different. Put one in your hand and you can tell.

As the sport of fly fishing has grown and demand for equipment has grown stronger, so has the demand for lesser quality and less expensive options to get anglers started.  This has given rise to products made overseas in larger factories where at the end of the day its not "How well was it built", but "How many did you build?"  Sadly for many of these overseas factories, the craftsmanship has been lost. 

A common statement we often hear is “you can’t buy a bad fly rod these days”.  With trickle down R&D, inexpensive rod manufacturers that mass produce fly rods overseas have the ability to make decent rods that are infinitely better than rods designed even ten years ago. These fly rods must still be crafted by hand with the use of machining, but the time invested in each rod build and skill set varies greatly throughout the industry.  While it's true that these rods are getting more anglers on the water who can enjoy our great sport, it's important to note that there is a real difference between fly rods mass produced overseas and those made here in the USA. The prase "They're just as good as the expensive ones" is simply not true. They are not the same and you can tell.

There’s a big difference between those fly rods that are mass produced and those constructed by trained craftsmen here in the USA.  Workers in factories overseas often make a few dollars per day and their work is judged more by output rather than quality. Its important to recognize that fly rods made by companies such as Sage, Winston or Scott are built right here by people that are also your neighbors, friends and fellow anglers that support you and are dedicated to the angling community. These rods are more expensive because just like you and me, they want to be paid a decent wage to suppor their families, make there house or rent payments and put groceries on the table.  Having visited a few of these manufactureres, you can really tell that these people truly care about the end product they produce and before it leaves the door, they want to be assured its perfect. US made fly rod manufactures have as many as 30, yes THIRTY, sets of hands that touch each rod to make sure that it’s crafted perfectly to the specifications of the model.  These professionals make the decisions behind the grade of chosen materials, manage quality control, and labor costs all the while seeing the process through to the final performance testing of the finished product. If on step 29 the rod is not perfect, it either goes back to be fixed or heads to the recycle bin, but restassured, it does not go out the door.

When equipment is mass produced, who is overseeing the quality control?  Where is the attention to detail and pride of craftsmanship that goes into creating each individual rod?  Why should that matter to you?  Fact of the matter is maybe it doesn't!  Maybe none of these things matter to you and that's ok but when you go to selecting that new fly rod and you see one made here, one made there, one at this price and one at that price, keep these things in mind.  There really is a difference.  Find the rod that's right for you and your budget and get out and enjoy.


Things to consider when selecting your fly rod.

Casting Style

Everyone has their own casting style, even if you are new to the sport.  To find the right fly rod that acts more like an extension of your body, matches your casting style, it would benefit you immensely to cast a variety of fly fishing rods with someone that has product knowledge.  Is this your first fly rod?  Are you adding a fly rod to the quiver?  What fish will you be targeting with this tool?  What rivers will you be fishing or what part of the country?  Answering these questions before you start looking will most certainly help you determine which fly rod is right for you.  At the end of the day, choose the rod that feels the best in your hand and fits in your budget.


Rod Categories to Consider

The Workhorse, Freshwater multi-purpose - 4wt - 6wt

There’s that one rod that takes you home every time you use it.  Maybe it’s the first quality rod you acquired after learning on that old Pflueger you purchased at a garage sale or a keepsake hand me down that is timeless and rich in history.  A 4, 5 or 6 weight fly rod is the true standard workhorse trout fishing fly rod.  This rod can throw dry flies, drift heavy nymph rigs and cast wooly buggers like a dream.  If you only had to use one rod, this is the workhorse in the quiver. Typically, mid-fast to fast action fly rods will be the most versatile and our here in the west, we prefer 9' rods to shorter or longer on most occastions.  

Dry Fly or Die - 3wt - 5wt

When presenting your dry fly, you are seeking the most delicate presentation.  Most often the water area you are working is 20’-40’ so casting the entire fly line is usually not necessary for a true dry fly fishing rod.  A fly rod that has some touch and feel to it is appropriate here and we prefer rods with a little softer tip to protect our light tippets that we often use when dry fly fishing.  Also, a perfect line match with your rod is essential. Gone are the days where double taper fly lines (DT) are the most popular choice for dry fly anglers.  DTs worked well with full flex or “softer” rods such as Bamboo and Fiberglass, but are not a great match for mid-flex or tip-flex flyrods of today’s technology.  

Streamers - 6wt - 8wt. Sweet spot: 7wt

Big flies, big fish, we hope!  This isn’t for your lackadaisical, relaxing day on the river as Mozart is playing in your head.  Streamer fishing is Heavy Metal!  It’s non-stop action while really using the most out of your gear.  You will find a lot of opinions about what is the best streamer rod.  The key is to select the best tool depending on your method.  Are you going to be using sinking lines or floating lines?  For either you’ll appreciate selecting a rod with a strong butt section to better control larger fish and a soft, fast tip for casting accuracy and line control.  A mid to fast action rod will cast properly at a variety of distances (better load for shorter shots) where as a fast action will be more appropriate for casting longer distances, especially in wind (however, harder to load with short casts). True streamer rods are meant to do just that, streamer fish.  Again, the appropriate fly line is a bid deal here so keep that in mind when heading this direction.

Matching lines with your rod  

Matching a fly rod with the appropriate fly line is crucial to maximizing the performance of the rod.  A bad line will make the rod feel like a dud.  Just imagine putting motorcycle tires on your truck or Monster Truck tires on your Mazda Miata (complete with a rod vault on the roof).  Fly lines have come a long way since the invention of level line.  Weight Forward lines remain the most used due to their versatile performance however there is a vast selection of specialty fly lines that will maximize rod performance.  Keep in mind also that there are many fly lines on the market and that not all 5wt lines are the same.  Some are true line weight lines and others are a half to full line size heavy.  A flyshop professional will be able to help you make the right choice based on your needs (and they love to geek out on these kind of things).  Be sure they ask what kind of rod you are using and what type of fishing you are doing so they can guide you in the best direction.






Salmonfly Fishing in Montana


Salmonfly orange bellyAs we move into the middle part of June here in Southwest Montana, one thing on the mind of trout fisherman in our area is the famed Salmonfly hatch.  Why all the fuss?  Well just the thought of a nice trout rising to the surface to eat an insect that reaches up over 3” long is enough to get the juices flowing in any fly fisherman’s psyche.  One thing is for sure, once you experience a Salmonfly hatch and catch your first fish on one of those bugs, you’ll be hooked for life. 

Salmonflies are a variety of a stonefly, Pteronarcys, that live most of their lives under the water.  Salmonfly nymphs typically spend 3 years under water and once they reach maturity (typically during the month of June when water and air temperatures are just right), will actually crawl out of the water along the banks and break out of their nymph shucks appearing as the adult insect that we actually see.  They have two antennas, two tails, a set of long wings and a set of shorter

Salmonflies in bushes mating

 wings that drape over the backs and bright orange bellies making them fairly easy to identify.  Once they reach their adult stage on land, they will typically crawl off the rocks into the bushes where they mate, much like other aquatic insects.  When the females are full of eggs, they will launch from the bushes, fly over the water and smack their abdomens on the surface to drop their eggs and keep the cycle going.  This is the phase of their lives that will drive trout crazy.

As far as the fisherman goes, the Salmonfly hatch can be both exciting and frustrating all at the same time.  There are a couple of things to mention before we dive into how to successfully catch a fish on a Salmonfly.  First, unfortunately, there is no way to predict a Salmonfly hatch, or if the river will even be fishable during the hatch.  As was mentioned before, Salmonflies typically hatch during the middle to end of June in our area, depending on the river.  High water and the annual spring runoff also typically happen from the middle to end of June.  Conditions must be just right with decent water clarity for fishing during the Salmonfly hatch to be good.  Salmonflies don’t care if the water is dirty so they’ll still hatch when the conditions are right for them.  Sometimes, this does happen during dirty and high water and we never get to fish with them.  That’s just life.  Secondly, just because you see a few skeletons along the rocks and a few bugs in the bushes does not mean that the dry fly fishing with Salmonflies is going to be “epic.”  We hear this all the time from anglers who head out and come back disappointed.  The fish don’t care that there are Salmoflies in the bushes.  If they have not seen them on the surface of the water, they might not be in tuned to looking up.  Its not until you start to see bugs flying and bugs laying eggs on the water that the fish really get worked up for them.  On an aside note, this is also true for other insect hatches as well.  Think about it, until fish start to see a few bugs on the water or even eat a few of them, they typically are not going to be interested.  They usually aren’t going to rise to something they have not seen in pretty good numbers, so until this happens, they might not eat a dry.  Thirdly, not all rivers in our area, or even all stretches of a certain river, get a Salmonfly hatch.  Stoneflies by nature like faster rocky rivers and streams.  While you will occasionally see a few bugs on some of our slower rivers, typically it’s the faster freestone rivers where you will see the most numbers of bugs.  Rivers like the Big Hole, the Gallatin, the Upper Madison and the Yellowstone are our local rivers with the most prolific hatches.  Our more silty waters like the Jefferson, the Missouri and the Lower Madison below Bear Trap Canyon typically don’t have much of a hatch if any.  Also, its important to keep in mind that different stretches of the rivers themselves will often have more or less insects in them.  For instance, they don’t get much of a Salmonfly hatch on the lower Yellowstone River, but once you get upstream of Livingston, you’ll see a few and once upstream of Emmigrant, you see a lot.  This is not uncommon on most rivers so it’s important to know where the bugs are before you go.  Lastly, keep in mind that fish do get full!  If you head out to fish and the bugs have been around for a bit and the fishing is slow, sometimes the fish are “gorged” where they have eaten so many bugs that they are stuffed.  When things are really happening, we’ve actually caught fish before that have live insects still protruding out of their mouths.  Fish go crazy for these big insects, but once their stuffed, they won’t sometimes eat until they digest what’s already in their stomachs.  Just like for you and me, this really does happen.

 On to techniques and equipment…


If there is one hatch or type of fishing that will really test your casting skills, it’s fishing during the Salmonfly hatch.  Remember the part about high water?  With this hatch happening typically when rivers are full, many of the fish will be pushed up to the banks looking for a place to feed and rest.  In addition, Salmonflies are also hanging out close to the banks of the water clinging to the bushes and low branches of trees.  Add those two things together and you’ll find that often your best chance of fooling a fish during the Salmonfly hatch is to put the fly as close to the bank or bushes as possible.  The most successful days of fishing I’ve ever seen during a Salmonfly hatch is when the anglers I’m with can put the fly within inches of the bank, and I mean inches, and keep it there.  An accurate reach cast is extremely important for successful float fishing during this hatch.  Also, remember that part about how adult females will come back to the water to lay their eggs, sometimes splatting your fly down on the water will cause a fish to react instantly.  Delicate presentations are not needed during the Salmonfly hatch! 


Look through the bins of any fly shop and you will see Salmonflies in multiples sizes, shapes and colors, most commonly orange or black.  Flies can be very specific to certain rivers, but depending on when or where you hit the hatch seems to be the most important factor.  During the early stages of the hatch, sometimes the bigger, brighter and gaudier patterns are the ones that work best.  It seems like if the fish have not seen a lot of adults, they are attracted to the bright orange underbellies of the bigger size 2 and size 4 bugs.  In addition, it seems like the higher floating foam patters seem to work best early on during the hatch.  As the hatch goes on and the fish start to become more wary, it seems like going smaller and a little darker can be more productive.  Moving to a size 6 dark orange or black pattern that rides lower but offers a good silhouette can be deadly after the fish have been seeing bugs for a few day.  Also, if you’re fishing a pattern that seems to get more “looks” or “bumps” than actual full on eats, moving smaller and darker can get more fish to actually commit to the fly.  Unfortunately, it seems that the harder it is to see on the water, the better the fish like it.  One last thing to consider is that often times, the other insects on the water get overlooked by most anglers so throwing on something like a golden stone pattern or a caddis dry can be very productive.


Our favorite customers who gear up for a Salmonfly hatch are the ones who stop in and buy a few bugs and a 9’ 5x leaders to head out for the day.  If you’re this angler, you probably will want to buy a few more dozen bugs because you’ll probably need them.  If you recall, I earlier mentioned that during this hatch, the water is sometimes very high or up in the willows even and that you’ll really need to get close to the bank to catch fish.  If you’re anything like me, that first cast end up a little long and landing in the willows.  With 5x tippet and a big fly, my $3.00 fly just went bye bye.  When fishing during this hatch with big flies on sometimes windy days here in Montana, we typically fish a minimum of 2x or 3x tippet and usually no longer than a 7.5’ leader.  Again, these flies are hard to cast and when you have to fish close to the bank, it’s nice to be able to yank your fly back out of the grass and not lose it all the time.  Also, typically with the water being higher, it’s also usually off color a bit so fishing a heavier leader will not spook a fish.  While I would love to sell you a light leader with a bunch of flies, I’d rather you had a good experience.  In addition, fishing a two fly rig which can be very effective at certain times can also hinder your ability to get the fly in close.  For this reason, I prefer to fish a single Salmonfly with no dropper.  These big flies are hard enough to cast as it is, plus they sometimes like to twist while in the air and with a dropper below them, you’re just asking for a tangled mess.  With this said, if I’m not 100% committed to just fishing the Salmonfly, adding a dropper and moving out from the bank a bit can be a good way to turn a slow day into a productive one. 

Brown Trout caught on Salmonfly

So is it all worth it?  Sometimes crowded waters, hard casting, the ever impending risk of losing lots of flies and really not knowing if the fish are looking up.

 Absolutely!  While for many anglers the Salmonfly hatch is more myth than legend, all it takes is one great day or even one good eat and I guarantee you’ll be hooked.  The sight of a nice trout with its mouth wide open waiting for your fly to float in is one you won’t soon forget. 

For more information on the Salmonfly hatch, where or when to fish it or what flies to use, please give us a call or stop in at either of our locations.  We are always here to help.

Mother's Day Caddis Hatch in Montana

Mother's Day Caddis Hatch

The famed “Mothers Day Caddis” is just around the corner. This is an event that many fly fishermen wait for all year. For many, it rivals the salmon fly hatch and can most certainly be just as unpredictable. When it does go off though, it can make for some of the best dry fly fishing of the entire year with caddis so thick that it can look like it is snowing and bugs, at times, blanketing the river. 

There are a few different ways to fish this hatch. The most obvious and fun way is with a single dry fly. Elk hair Caddis, Goddard Caddis and X-Caddis are some of our favorite dries to fish when fish are actively rising and eating on the surface.  If there are lots of bugs on the water, we like to use one that is sometimes a little larger or a little different color than that naturals so our fly stands out in the sea of live insects.  In this situation, competition on the water can be your biggest problem for not catching fish.  Also, look for a single fish and try and cast your fly so it floats directly into that fish’s feeding lane.  With lots of available food on the surface, most fish won’t move far out of their way to eat a bug.

Sometimes, you may see fish that look like they are rising, but you only notice their noses or backs coming out of the water.  These fish are often eating just below the surface of the water and won’t always commit to an adult insect above it. This is a great time to tie on a caddis pupa or emerger, and fish it behind your dry fly. We like to use 12-16’ of tippet from the dry fly to the second fly which gives them plenty of separation to work independently.  We call this the “dry/dropper rig.” The dry dropper rig can be one of the most effective ways to fish the hatch because it allows you to have both surface and subsurface bug activity covered. If the fish eats the dry, you see and it set, but if the fish eats the emerger, you’ll see the dry fly sink like a strike indicator and you’ll know to set the hook.

The Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch, like many hatches, can be frustrating at times.  Sometimes you feel like your doing everything right and the fish still won’t eat any of your flies. There are several things that could be happening here.  While it might sound strange, there are times during the hatch that the fish just aren’t eating.  When these bugs first show up, many fish eat them in big numbers and for lack of a better term, they get full.  Fish digest food rather slowly and if they have just eaten lots of bugs, it may take them a day or two to be hungry again.  This can certainly be the case if the bugs have been out for a few days. 

Secondly, while you are fishing and sometimes struggling to keep those pesky fluttering insects out of your nose, if the bugs are in the air and not on the surface of the water, how are the fish supposed to know there is a hatch?  We actually hear this quite often that there were plenty of bugs but no fish eating them.  Timing is actually very important during this hatch as your best fishing is going to be both while the bugs are actually hatching out of the water or when they return to the water to lay their eggs and die.  In fact, its not commonly known, but the bugs you actually see on the surface of the water have either struggled to hatch completely and are dying on the surface, or they have laid their eggs and fallen back to the river to die.  Patience and timing are your friends during this hatch.

Another thing not to forget is that fish are still looking for other food as well. Fishing a crayfish or worm with a caddis pupa can be the ticket if the conditions aren’t great for dry fly fishing. This is a great way to still be productive in between finding rising fish.

An unfortunate circumstance of the Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch is that while this brings on some of our first great fishing of the year, it also brings on warmer weather which can in turn lead to changing water conditions. As the weather warms up it can cause the rivers to get some color in them, and if it stays warm, they can completely blow out. This is usually due to snow melt and smaller creeks rising and getting muddy. On freestone rivers like the Yellowstone and the Gallatin this can make the water dirty and unfishable. Tail Water Rivers like the Madison can often see some color as well but because they are dam controlled, they can offer cleaner water longer. If the water the water becomes dirty or off color, fishing close to the bank will typically be your best bet. Fish will be hugging the banks in shallow water looking for food which can be ideal for the wading angler.

If you hit it on the right day, the Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch can be phenomenal. Even if the fishing isn’t stellar, it’s certainly worth seeing the sheer amount of insect life on or near the water all at once. It’s one of our first and most prolific hatches of the year and a great thing to experience as a fly fisherman in southwest Montana…  And the best thing to keep in mind, Caddis don’t bite! 

Stop by the shop or give us a call to stay updated on this incredible event!


Mike Pogoda

Winter Fly Fishing Gear

Winter Fly Fishing Gear


When people think of fishing in Montana they usually picture a drift boat floating down one of our majestic rivers like the Yellowstone or Madison during a bluebird summer day.  While there is nothing wrong with that scene, and believe me when I say that we enjoy floating a hopper down a grassy Yellowstone bank in August as much as you, there are other fishing opportunities in Montana for the adventurous angler.  Some of the best fishing of the year in Montana can happen during the winter months and early spring. One can find everything from amazing hatches on world famous spring creeks to great streamer fishing on our bigger rivers.  If you were to ask the locals in Bozeman you would likely find them to tell you that this is their favorite time of the year to be on the water.  Winter fishing does require specialized gear and clothing to allow you to be comfortable in temperatures ranging from forty to twenty degrees or colder.  In the past few years there have been numerous advancements in winter fishing clothing and now we are starting to look at these clothes more like “gear” than ever before.  We have a favorite few pieces of winter “gear” that allow us to hit the river this time of the year and stay warm and comfortable for a long period of time.  Below is a list of some of these items from Simms Fishing Products that we have really enjoyed the past couple of years and we hope you will get the opportunity to try them as well.  We all know how important waders, boots and an outer shell like the Simms Guide Jacket or G4 Pro Jacket is and we have not included those core pieces in this post.


  • Simms Wool Scotch CapThe Simms Wool Scotch Cap($39.95) is both a functional and stylish hat for the winter angler and there are a couple of key features that we really like in this cap.  First there is a full bill to protect your eyes from the elements like snow and sleet, much better than a traditional stocking type cap, and there is a convertible wool ear flap for when the weather really turns cold! 

  • Simms Kinetic JacketThe Simms Kinetic Jacket($249.95) is a great layering jacket under your outer shell and can also be worn alone on warmer winter days.  The Kinetic Jacket gets it warmth from Primaloft Gold insulation which retains 96% of its warmth even when wet.  Increased mobility without sacrificing warmth was what the Kinetic Jacket was designed for and it achieves this with a couple of unique features. First,  the Polartec WindPro Stretch Fleece in the underarm and body panels allows for both greater breathability and range of motion for casting or rowing drift boats.  A low profile insulated hood will keep your head warm and is designed to layer under the Storm Hoods on jackets like the G4 Pro Jacket or Classic Guide Jacket.  Overall the Simms Kinetic Jacket is designed to keep you warm on the river without sacrificing your ability to fish and it also looks good enough to wear around town the next day!

  •  Simms Guide Mid TopOne of my favorite cold weather items from Simms is the Simms Guide Mid Top($89.95) which has kept me warm on many a day fishing the spring creeks or sitting in a cold duck blind.  This is an amazing layering piece that really keeps you warm without feeling bulky.  The Guide Mid Top offers more technical functionality when compared to many other fleece tops on the market today.  Abrasion resistant 4 way stretch fleece offers better breathability, mobility and wicking performance in the Mid Top.  Also, the articulated elbows allow for greater casting and rowing movement. 

  • Simms Coldweather PantThe Simms Coldweather Pant($99.95) has been around for a couple of years but its popularity continues to grow as more people find out about this product.  The Coldweather Pants give you the option to wear a more conventional pant under your waders rather than the traditional form fitting layering pants we have been using for years.  This is really nice if you want to stop and grab a burger on the way home from a long day of fishing and they look like a regular pair of pants rather than your long underwear! A micro fleece lined interior keeps you warm and comfortable in these pants and a double layer articulated knee adds both durability and comfort.

  • Simms ExStream Foldover MittWarm hands are one of the most important parts of winter fishing and the Simms Exstream Foldover Mitt($59.95) is one of the best fishing gloves that we have ever used.  The Foldover Mitt design combines the functionality of a fingerless glove and the warmth capability of a mitt all wrapped into one.  Polartec Powershield Pro Fleece is highly water and wind resistant and maintains a high warmth to weight ratio.  One of the nicest features to the Exstream Foldover Mitt is there is a pocket on the inner wrist for a hand warmer packet which warms the blood as it flows into the glove, and this really keeps your fingers warm on a cold day!

  •  Simms ExStream Wading SockLast but not certainly least in your cold weather gear are the Simms Exstream Wading Socks($29.95).  Everyone knows that cold feet can end a day of fishing faster than anything else and these socks are the answer for anyone who has had to quit fishing despite an epic midge hatch on your favorite winter water.  The Exstream Wading Socks are composed of a premium Merino wool blend which keep your feet both dry and warm and they have a fit that is specifically designed for wading with a fully cushioned foot bed.


While there are a lot of other great cold weather options from Simms Fishing Products, we feel like these items offer the best way to stay warm and fish out here in Montana in the winter.  One really nice feature about all these items is that they have crossover appeal.  You could walk down Main Street here in Bozeman or head into your favorite restaurant for a quick bite and not look at all different from everyone else in how you are dressed.  I would recommend that you head to one of our local rivers first and try out all these great pieces of “gear” on the water!  Stay warm and dry out there everyone and enjoy one of our favorite times of the year to experience some of Montana’s best fishing!


Wading Boot Comparison Chart - 2016

Wading Boot Comparison Chart - 2016 

Which wading boot do you need?  This is often a hard question to answer as there are so many different options on our website and others.  While there is typcally no one boot that is best for everyone, we decided to put together a chart with some of the most commonly asked information on it so you can compare the different shoes and try and make a decision.  As always, the best way to get your questions answered is to simply ask or stop by in the store and try on a pair.  If there are ever questions we can answer, please feel free to shoot us an email, call or stop by and we're glad to help.


Simms Wading BootSole OptionsWidthWeight (11)SizesBest Use
Simms Intruder BootVibram Megagrip or FeltE44.8oz7-14 Half/WholeWet Wading
Simms G4 BootVibram RivertreadEEE57.6oz7-14 WholeWaders
Simms G3 BootVibram Rivertread or FeltEEE59.2oz7-14 WholeWaders
Simms Rivertek 2 BOAVibram Streamtread or FeltEEE59.2oz7-14 WholeWaders
Simms Headwaters BootVibram Idrogrip or FeltEEE54.4oz7-14 WholeWaders
Simms Vapor BootVibram Vaportread or FeltEEE51.2oz7-14 WholeWaders/Wet Wading
Simms Freestone BootVibram Streamtread or FeltEEE65.6oz5-16 WholeWaders
Simms Rock Creek BootFelt OnlyEEE43.2oz4-14 WholeWaders
Simms Vapor Salt BootVibram OnlyEEE52.8oz7-14 WholeSalt Water/Waders
Simms Flats SneakerBoat SoleEE46.4oz7-14 WholeSalt Water
Simms Zipit Bootie IIRubber OutsoleEE36.8oz8-14Salt Water

The River's Edge Fly Shop


Spring Guide Trip Special for 2016

Spring Guide Trip Special

From January 28th through April 15th, enjoy a full day guided fishing trip for the special price of $350.00 (regular price $495.00).  These guided trips are limited to our local rivers and streams such as the Gallatin River, the Lower Madison River or the Yellowstone River and must be used by April 15th, 2016.  All trips include transportation to the river, shore lunch, selection of soft drinks or water, flies and terminal tackle needed for the day and rental equipment if needed.  Trips do not include a valid Montana Fishing License, personal effects or gratuities.  Spring can be a great time to get out and enjoy the great fishing we have here in Montana.  Please email or call us for more details or to book a guided trip.

Winter Fly Fishing Tips

Winter is officially here and for many anglers in Montana as the cold sets in, so does a bit of cabin fever. But it doesn't have to be that way! There are many great winter fishing opportunities in and around the Bozeman area. Between tail waters and spring creeks, there are many options to get out on the water this winter.

Winter fishing is a lot different than summer fishing. You have to change up your game a little. Knowing when to go is going to be the first step. If the weather has been below freezing for more than a few days, you’re probably better off waiting until it warms up a bit. Tying flies and watching fly fishing videos are great ways to pass some time. During long cold spells fish become more lethargic, move a lot slower and tend to conserve their body energy. Not to say they won't eat, but they will be less likely to move to a fly. Another factor is that with longer durations of sustained cold, even tail waters have a tendency to freeze. The good news is these cold snaps end, and when they do, it's game time!

The approach to winter fishing is quite a bit different when compared to the rest of the year. First, you’ll want to figure out how to read the water when it’s low and cold. Keep in mind that during the winter months, your favorite “summer” spot may not be that productive.  With lower winter flows and colder water temperatures, fish will often move to different places in the river.  Look for long stretches of slower moving water, especially places where the water is deep. Fish will be looking for places where it is easy for them to hang out yet still be able to feed actively.   Also look for big, deep bends in the river. These areas sometimes contain structure like downed trees, big rocks or deep ledges and are great places to fish because they typically provide a lot of protection when the water is lower. In addition, these big bends often times have foam filled eddies which are great places for winter hatches of midges to collect.  Approach these areas with caution as it’s not uncommon to see a nose or two sticking up out of the water sipping clusters of midges off of the surface.

In addition to reading the water, your tackle needs to change a bit.  Fishing lighter leaders and tippet is going to give you an advantage for a more stealth presentation in low clear water. This is going to be a major factor if you end up doing any dry fly fishing. Cloud cover and warmer days can be ideal for getting into rising fish, but you won’t be fishing hoppers on 2x so you’ll want to have your 5x and 6x tippet readily available. Your flies are also going to be a bit smaller than your summer selection. Pink scuds, Zebra Midges, and even egg patterns are just a few go-to flies for nymphs. Hi-Viz Midges and Griffiths Gnats are great dry flies this time of year. Typical winter patterns will be in the #16-#20 size range, and sometimes smaller.

One of the biggest pieces of advice for being a successful angler in the winter is to not be afraid to keep moving.   Moving around is going to help you locate more fish and stay warm at the same time. If you hit a run and its not productive, move to the next spot.  Sometimes you have to move 3 or 4 times before you find a pool of active fish. As you move, one thing to be wary of is shelf ice along the banks of the river.  Shelf ice during the winter months can be very dangerous. Sometimes it may seem stable but it often times doesn’t take much to for it to break loose.  If you’re standing on it when it breaks, it can send you unexpectedly into the icy cold water so approach it with caution.

The bottom line is that winter can be a great time to slow down, enjoy the winter landscape and, my personal favorite, be out on the water almost always without other anglers around. Don’t forget to stop by or give us a call at either shop if you have any questions or need some ideas on where to go. Have fun and be safe out there.  


Mike Pogoda
The River's Edge


It's that time of year. We all know fly fisherman are some of the hardest people to shop for. There are so many things! So many possibilities! We wanted to make things easier on you, so we put together our 2015 Holiday Gift Guide with different price ranges for all of fisherman/women on your shopping list!

So without further adue, we present to you, the TOP HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE from The River's Edge Fly Shop!


The Simms Quick Stash Lanyard was released in part of their Spring 2016 Product Launch. With multiple different configuration options, the angler has the ability to organize his/her river essentials in the way that works best for them. A new magnetic design allows for quick swapping of tippet holder and nippers, and a unique floatant holder provides quick access to Gink or Dry Shake.


The Simms Wading Koozie. It attches to your wading belt, and has a velcro patch to attach a Simms Fly Patch. Need we say more? An essential item for any beer drinking fly fisherman. 


The Cheeky Fish Print Belt has been a hot ticket item for us this summer. Who doesn't want one, right? With a D-Loop construction, this belt will be sure to keep it's owners britches where they need to be.


The Simms Road Warrior Tee represents may or may not represent the dreams and aspirations of all Fly Fisherman. Truck. Camper. Fly Rods. Endless river miles. Wild Trout. All jokes aside, the Road Warrior Tee is a comfortable cotton shirt that will quickly become your gift recipient's new favorite.

#5. SIMMS NIPPER [$29.95]

The Simms Nipper has been in the lineup for a while now, but it's still a very worthy gift item. This is perfect for the fisherman in your life who can't quite let go of the old fingernail clippers he's been using for the past six years. We're sorry, but it's time for an upgrade. Complete with replaceable cutting blades, hook-eye cleaner, and a Made-In-USA construction, the Simms Nipper will be his/her new favorite fly fishing tool.


Another brand new product from Simms Fishing Products is the Westshore Shoe. Available in two colors, and a Slip-On model, the Westshore series is sure to be a hit amongst the fly fishing community. It's got several things going for it including a stylish design, full siped sole for extra grip on wet surfaces, and a new Simms exlusive Right Angle Footbed for improved foot arch support and better posture. The Westshore is available in full and half sizes 07-14, and comes in a D width.

#2. HATCH NIPPER [$100.00]

The Hatch Nipper is at the top end in price for this category, but it is also one of the finest products we carry in our shops. Fully machined from 6061T6 Aluminum and protected with a super durable type II Anodize, the Hatch Nipper is not your ordinary line-cutter. Replaceable cutting blades are made from top quality Tungsten Carbide, making them durable enough to cut through nearly any test of mono and fluorocarbon materials. Available in Black, Blue, and Silver.


The Simms Black's Ford Flannel Shirt has been another very popular product for us this fall. With availability in both plaid and solid colors, this is surely a shirt that just about anyone would appreciate receiving as a gift. 


Some buy it as a shirt. Some buy it as a jacket. The Simms Coldweather Shirt is a very multipurpose piece. It's 100% polyester Flannel shell keeps the wind out, while the waffle-fleece liner keeps it's owner nice and warm even during cold Montana days on the water. Complete with two fly box compatible chest pockets and off-shoulder seaming for comfort when casting, the Coldweather Shirt is sure to be a great gift option. Available in three color options.


The Simms Currents Boat Shoe is another new product from Simms for 2016. For those on your list headed for a warmer destination this winter, a pair of these are a must have item. The Currents Boat Shoe is meant to be worn on the boat, or around the dock. With superior breathablility and all-day comfort from the Right Angle Footbed Technology, you'll be happy you have them during a full-day of flats boat fishing.


The Simms Waypoints Backpack is a completely new design from Simms. They've integrated an aluminum frame for extra stability, added a removable waistband and a vented back panel for comfortable load carry and aided breathability. This is a great gift item for the angler in your life who likes to go the extra mile getting to "the spot". The ability to pack a lunch, raingear, and an extra rod makes this an incredibly versatile product. Available in two sizes of bag, small and large.

#2. Simms Bounty Hunter Duffel [$149.95]

The Simms Bounty Hunter Duffel is a must have item for the travelling angler or for the angler that just needs a little more gear organization and storage. 50L of storage provides the user with plenty of storage, yet still complies with carry-on sizing requirements. Removable backpack straps are included for versatile carrying options.


The Simms Kinetic Jacket is high tech insulation piece built for layering in a system or as a outer piece when the elements are not as harsh. Primaloft in the sleeves and core of the jacket provide lightweight, yet high performance warmth, while polarfleece in the sides and sleeves gives extra warmth and a comfortable fit. Available in two colors, Black and Army Green.

#4. SIMMS INTRUDER BOOT [$179.95] 

Hardcore wade fisherman are the most analytical when it comes to the boots they trust to keep them upright in the water. Simms has taken this to heart in the design of the Intruder Boot. Lightweight, durable, supportive, and great grip. All of these combine to perfectly describe this boot. The hybrid felt/Vibram sole provide the wearer with incredible grip and stability, no matter the wading conditions. Available in whole and half sizes 07 thru 14, and E width. Currently only available in Felt/Vibram hybrid.


The Simms Montana Techwool Zip Top is a great idea for the person who appreciates a layering system, or wants a high performance sweater to keep them warm in cooler conditions. The Techwool Zip Top is built completely in the great USA, and is constructed using Montana sources wool fibers. Available in two different colors, Navy, and Dark Gunmetal.

#1. WINSTON BORON III PLUS [$875.00 + $100 in Free Gifts!]

The newest fast action offering from Winston Fly Rods is a hot ticket item. It's lighter, more powerful, and more durable than any of it's predescessors. Whether your shopee needs a fast action rod for throwing big dries around here, or a 12wt for hooking into big Tarpon, this will be a great match. Additionally, Winston is offering a free gift for any purchase of a rod through the holiday season, a $100.00 value.

#2. SAGE MOD [$850.00]

Who doesn't want a new trout rod for Christmas?? The Sage MOD is a new offering from Sage Fly Rods, and brings a new feel that we haven't felt from Sage in a while. It's a true moderate action, and is the perfect stick for 95% of trout fishing situations you might face here in the Rockies.

#3. SIMMS G4 PRO JACKET [$549.95]

The Simms G4 Pro Jacket. It comes with a steep price tag, but when Mother Nature is showing off her nasty side, it will be money well spent. The G4 Pro Jacket one of the highest tech products in it's class. GORETEX technology comes standard, as well as a guarantee to keep you dry, no matter what happens. Available in two colors, Black and Wetstone.


With this purchase, you're not only buying a great pair of waders, you are also supporting a great cause and giving back to our Troops. $50.00 from each sale of these waders goes to the Warriors and Quiet Waters foundation, which is a local organization dedicated to helping traumatically injured U.S. servicemen and women through the healing power of fly fishing.

#5. HATCH FINATIC REEL [$400.00-800.00]

The Hatch Finatic reel has been out on the market for a few years now, but still draws just as much buzz as when it first came out. Fully machined and made in the USA, an incredibly tough drag, and a super durable construction are all standard with the Hatch line-up of reels. Whether you're looking for one of the finest trout reels money can buy, or something a little beefier for slowing down big game fish, there is a size that will get the job done.


The Women's Solarflex Hoody is a super light, comfortable piece that is perfect for summer fishing adventures, or just worn as casual wear for an active lifestyle. Available in three colors.


As far as high performance fishing clothing goes, you're looking at the top of the line. A tri-comp construction creates a super lightweight, comfortable, and cool product. Perfect for summer adventures. 


The Simm's Clearwater Sandal is a stylish summer sandal that can be worn both on the river and around the town. A fully siped sole provides extra grip on wet surfaces, while cushioned neoprene straps create an all-day comfort fit. Available in three colors, and whole sizes 05 thru 12.


The Simms Women's Bugstopper Hoody is a lightweight summertime piece that can be worn in a variety of situations. UPF50 protects you from the sun, while front pockets provide a little extra storage. Combo'd with a Bugstopper treatment to keep the skeeters away, and you have a great product that your lady fisherman will be sure to love. Available in three colors, Blossom, Lagoon, and Moonstone.


The Women's Guide Jacket is a super durable rainshell designed to keep it's user fishing in even the most nasty conditions. GORETEX technology keeps you dry no matter what. Available in two colors, Nightfall and Storm Cloud.



Winter Fishing

Sometimes you just need to get out for a little trout chasing even in the winter.