The best fly rods for trout in Montana are versatile. Rods that can handle big nymph and streamer rigs and small dry flies equally well are ideal for the changing conditions here. Ideally, you can own a few different rods for specialized situations but there are plenty of rods, reels and lines that can do everything.
Rod Actions and Weights
The best all around rod size for Montana is a 6-weight because it has enough spine to launch heavy flies but isn’t overpowered for small dry flies. Many guides use 6-weight fly rods for their clients in Montana for this exact reason. That said, a 5-weight is also nice for dry fly fishing throughout the year. BOW’s in spring and small mayflies throughout summer on rivers like the Beaverhead are nice on a 5-weight rod. If you fish small streams frequently, a 3-weight is also worth having for this specific task. If you can only choose one rod however, a 6-weight should top the list.
Fly Line Selection
The first fly line most anglers use is a weight forward floating line. These lines are perfect for trout fishing in Montana because they load rods nicely and have the ability to punch through wind while carrying large flies. If you need a single line to handle everything, this is your best choice. Double taper floating lines remain popular with some anglers however because they are excellent at delivering dry flies with precision and a soft landing. If you’re a dry fly specialist focused on spring creeks, this is a good line choice.
You can do well on the rivers without a sinking line but it doesn’t hurt to keep a sink tip on a separate spool or reel for highly focused streamer days. Sinking lines get flies down in a hurry, making it easier to target those big fish laying low in the river. You will also find a large selection of lake lines with different sink rates. An intermediate sinking line is useful on stillwaters. Otherwise, stick to the weight forward floating line for 90-percent of your fishing needs.
Choosing a Fly Reel
A quality trout reel should be lightweight with a good drag system. Reels are designed to match rod and line weights so they will naturally balance out the fly rod. The highest quality reels have higher price tags because they are outfitted with advanced drag systems and extensive machining on the reel frame and spool. It’s always nice fishing a high end reel but you can catch just as many trout with a good mid-range model. Find a reel from an established brand to avoid buying cheaply made models. We have plenty of great options in stock at Frontier Anglers.