5 Tips to Prepare for a Fly-Fishing Trip Out West

Written by: Dave Brown, Dave Brown Outfitters

When it’s time to cast to that fish of a lifetime, make sure you’re prepared.
Photos by Dave Brown

I love talking with clients during booking season.They are stoked about planning a trip, and so am I.The conversation often starts off about time frames, rivers, and lodging, of course, and we begin to nail down a plan. The client is checking his calendar, looking at flights, and if it’s a group trip, talking to his or her fly-fishing friends. Of course, all parties want the trip to be a success, as there has been a lot of time, energy, and capital put into the process.

Outside of the things that cannot be controlled—which are usually Mother Nature or sometimes airline related—you have the opportunity to ensure that you are better prepared to go on your trip or your money is protected against unforeseen circumstances. Here are five things that you can do to ensure that your Western fly-fishing adventure is everything you want it to be.

Whether you’re wading or casting from a drift boat, the better you can cast, the more shots you”l get.

1. Practice your casting.
Work on picking up 30 feet of line, making few false casts, and putting in down accurately in front of you. Work on generating line speed, so you can cast effectively into the wind. Learn or practice the reach cast, as this will help you get better drifts while fishing from a drift boat and will generally help with your presentation.

2. Start walking.
This will help if you are going to fishing at high elevation. Of course if you will be going on walk-and-wade trips, the farther you can walk the more fish you will have contact with. You also won’t be as fatigued while drifting and casting.

Your guide or a local fly shop know better what flies will work, so seek their advice.

3. Check your gear and see what needs to be replaced.
Ensure that you have the appropriate gear buy visiting your outfitter’s equipment list. An old saying in the Rockies is “If you don’t like, the weather wait five minutes “ Layered clothing and a good rain jacket are a must for a trip West.

4. Fill your fly boxes.
If you are a fly tier, contact your guide or outfitter to determine what patterns you can whip up before you head west. Otherwise, connect with a fly shop in the area you will be fishing and see what flies they use at that time. Let them know you will be in to buy some flies, a license, leaders, and other goodies.

The goal fo everybody involved in the planning process is for you to find success on the water.

5. Purchase Travel Insurance.
A lot of situations can arise between when you have booked your trip and when you depart. Family, health, and business emergencies can force you to cancel.Travel Insurance ensures you are not out of pocket for cancellation fees that you will incur from outfitters, lodges, and airlines.

Dave Brown operates Dave Brown Outfitters, offering guided fly-fishing trips in Alberta and British Columbia, as well as guided bird hunts in Saskatchewan and Arizona

14 thoughts on “5 Tips to Prepare for a Fly-Fishing Trip Out West”

  1. All great tips especially the walking for the back country, I will add tip #6, if in a drift boat with a guide prepare yourself to hear the words “set, set”! every minute or two, if you find this disagreeable work on your hook set or tell him or her to stop it the first time.

  2. A lot of preparation goes into a trip like this to Fernie BC. Making contacts, sorting out best times, finalising bookings, finding the best people. I recently contacted DBO Heard from DBO once then not again. Just recently reported by DBO on the orvis fishing report had the elk river closed until June 2018 eg closed this year. So I contacted others in Fernie and yes the elk river is open then proceeded to finalise the when’s and how’s many thanks to those kind people. Planing is crucial set yourself up with a great communicator someone who knows their home waters well find a business culture that focuses on delivering excellence. Make sure your Capitol (ha ha) expenditure is well researched not a political centre. While guide written/ focused articles are great its also important to remember the clients expectations surrounding the business side of the transaction. So important that any guide is giving 100% from the start as that will reflect on results on the water, results are not always determined through average casting alone. On the day it’s going to be a team effort between guide and client – have fun.

  3. Hi Andrew
    That surprises me.We are both thorough and quick on the response time .Usually a booking goes down like this.
    1.Client Contacts us
    2.In 8 hours or less We respond re.dates ,rivers etc.
    3.Client Responds to our email regarding point #2
    4. We put it the trip together and await confirmation.
    Judging from your above comment Step 1 (you contacted us ) and 2 (we responded) where completed. In your comment it appears step 3 never happened ? I hope you had a great trip to The Elk River !

  4. Thanks for the tip that using the wind can help me be better at casting when fly fishing. I’m planning to take my grandpa fishing on his birthday because he used to take me to fishing trips when I was a kid. Perhaps I could learn a thing or two from him since I specifically remember him getting two big catches in a row back then.


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