Beginner fishing a small creek in Yellowstone Park, with a typical brook trout.
Parks' Fly Shop is blessed to be located in one of the best places in the country for beginners to learn how to fly fish. Inside Yellowstone Park within about 30 minutes of our shop are numerous small headwaters streams that are chock full of small, aggressive brook trout that make ideal quarry to help beginners learn how to handle the tackle, fight fish, and gain confidence in the sport.
Parks' Fly Shop has been teaching beginners how to fly fish since 1954, and roughly a quarter of our clients are beginners. Every member of our guide staff has at least several years experience teaching beginners how to fly fish, and we've developed a bunch of spots that are productive, beautiful, and perfect for beginners. Best of all, many of these spots are not known to other shops and outfitters, so they're almost never crowded.
Believe it or not, on an average half-day beginner fishing trips each of our clients catches between five and twenty trout. If you're considering one of our competitors, ask them if they can say the same thing without getting sued for false advertising.
We'd love to introduce you to the sport of fly fishing in one of our special spots, and if you want to get a taste for the sport, our specialized all-inclusive half-day beginner trip may be just right. Read on past the rates if you're interested in learning more about these trips.
Sometimes on beginner trips our spots are already occupied... This ma grizzly and cub were hanging out right above where we wanted to fish on a beginner trip in early September, 2013.
Young anglers and brook trout.
We focus on teaching on our beginner trips, rather than just catching fish. It's important to us to give our clients a great foundation for their future fly fishing trips, whether they're going again tomorrow or not for another ten years.
While different anglers pick up the sport at different rates (just like any other activity), we are usually able to cover These Basics: assembling a fly rod, rigging a fly rod, holding and carrying a fly rod correctly, the basics of normal fly fishing knots, the back cast (the basic fly fishing cast), managing the fly line, hooking and playing fish, releasing fish, and the basics of reading water to understand where trout live.
When our clients are picking things up quickly, we're also able to cover These Additional Topics: line mending and other tactics for manipulating the fly line, basics of fly selection and the things trout eat, roll casting (an advanced cast), and tips for retrieving snagged flies.
Now on to what you'll catch! We run our beginner specialty trips exclusively on waters where the trout are small, numerous, and aggressive. We believe this helps build confidence and gives our clients a lot of practice in recognizing when fish bite, hooking them, playing them, landing them, and releasing them, all of which gives a great foundation for going after larger and spookier fish next time. Most of the time, beginners catch between five and twenty fish, or even a few more when the fishing is hot. Most of these will be brook trout in the 5-9 inch range. We sometimes run into somewhat larger rainbow or brown trout or grayling, particularly when we are guiding fit clients who are picking things up quickly and we are able to move on to more-challenging techniques and rougher stretches of water early in the trip.
Most of our beginner trips take place on small mountain meadow streams. Many guide services in the area run their beginner trips on ponds. We seldom do. We find that our beginning clients learn far more about the sport and catch many more fish on streams. Whenever the fitness of our clients allows, our beginner trips involve gentle to moderate hikes that afford stunning vistas, occasional wildlife sightings, and solitude. Depending on the body of water we visit, we hike between a third of a mile and a mile and a half before we start fishing.
In June and September, we usually fish streams located in the Gibbon River drainage. In high summer, we usually fish streams located in the Gardner River drainage. All of these streams run 10-20 feet wide and have gentle currents and stable banks, so they're safe for anglers of average mobility and fitness. They're also chock full of pretty (yet small) trout, so the beginners we take fishing usually catch a lot of fish while learning about the sport.
For fit beginners seeking an adventure, we sometimes fish more-rugged stretches of the Gibbon or Gardner Rivers where rapids, waterfalls, and possibly larger fish await. We'll decide where to go based on the time of year and the age and fitness of everyone in your party.
Beginner specialty trips are available from early June through Labor Dayand run as half-day (4-6hr) trips. We're more than happy to take beginners at other times of year, but the waters where we run our beginner specialty trips are only available during the summer. Check our standard walk & wade trips page for details on where we fish earlier and later in the year. During June and September, trips meeting in early afternoon are best. In high summer, both morning and afternoon trips work well. We'll arrange a meeting time when you book.
Besides your fishing licenses, Yellowstone Park entrance fees, rain gear, hat, and sunglasses, we include everything: wading shoes or waders (depending on how cold it is), a rod and reel, leaders, flies, and drinks.
Fly fishing is a great sport for older children with good attention spans and sufficient size and dexterity to handle the tackle. You have probably noticed the ages of the kids pictured on this page, and that gives a good idea of when it makes sense to introduce your child to the sport. Generally speaking, a kid may be ready to fly fish when he or she is between 8 and 12 years of age. We are reluctant to take kids younger than this; they may enjoy a boat trip throwing lures more than frustration learning how to fly fish, or they may rather stay home or do something else. There's one other factor: your kid must want to go fishing! There's nothing more likely to turn a kid off from the sport forever than insisting he or she goes.
Trips are limited to three anglers per guide for one simple reason: adding more anglers without adding more guides means that the guide spends all of his or her time running around fixing tangles and tying on new flies, so the clients learn little and few fish are caught. We realize that a couple of our competitors offer beginner trips with a much higher client to guide ratio (and subsequent lower cost), but to be blunt we feel like we would merely be taking our clients' money if we did this, rather than actually teaching them how to fly fish. If cost is a limiting factor in deciding whether you can afford to learn to fly fish with us, we suggest looking at our beginner fishing lessons.
Design and (most) content by Walter Wiese
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