Montana Fly Fishing Trip

Aug. 19, 2013

Just got back from visiting the National Center for Appropriate Technology headquarters in Butte, MT, where members of our NCAT Gulf States Region office met with the board of directors to give an update on what we’re doing.

Had a GREAT time, visiting with other like-minded sustainable ag folk. But a big highlight of the trip was going fly fishing.

I started fly fishing about 30 years ago (am I giving away my age here?!). But since I was living in the Mississippi Delta, there wasn’t a whole lot of diversity in fishing – either bream or small bass or occasional crappie. I fly fished during the 1980s and early 1990s, but sort of fell out of it.

But when I was in Butte in June and looked around, I saw that this place is the fly fishing capital of the world. People come from all over to fish the Montana mountain streams. While I was “self taught” in fly fishing, and certainly no model when it comes to casting, fishing for trout on a mountain stream was one of those “bucket list” items. When I found out that they wanted me to come back in August, I was ecstatic!

One of the things I bought in preparation for this trip was a Tenkara rod — because Carl Little, who heads the ATTRA program (National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service) at NCAT suggested it.

Years ago, during the 1990s, I used to carry a portable fishing rod with me wherever I traveled. It telescoped to about 8 feet, but would collapse to about 18 inches. With a lightweight spinning reel, I fished all over with it: from the Northeast and Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Chesapeake Bay to San Francisco — I carried it everywhere. But, again, that sort of fell by the wayside.

The Tenkara collapses to about 18 inches, but the one I bought (the Amago) extends to about 13 feet. The Tenkara system is somewhat Zen – which I really like! It’s simplicity itself: just a rod and a line, no reel. And there are only three types of flies, small, medium and large. It’s based on the Japanese system of professional mountain fishermen, who used only this simple method to catch fish.

While I also have a 5-weight Orvis Clearwater rod for traditional Western style fly fishing, I only took the Tenkara rod on this trip. Here’s a video:

As you can see, I didn’t catch any fish. I got a couple of bumps and broke the line on one big one that got away, but that’s not the point. Nor is this video meant to be taken as a way to fish; I found that I couldn’t video and fish at the same time, so I just held the rod with one hand (to show what I was doing) and video taped with the other, with my iPhone, to show the scenery.

The real value as the morning. The sky. The water. The breeze. The Spirit of the Place. Just being there. It was a priceless morning spent slowly fishing along about half a mile of a mountain  stream. The video is just a snapshot, for the memory.

I’m hoping for a return trip. Next time, if I’m called in for business, I intend to take a couple of vacation days and perhaps have my son come along for a father-son trip. (He’s 26 and has a new, 8-month-old son, so maybe there are future trips for Dad, Grandad and Grandbaby, too!)

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook, follow him @edibleprayers or visit

One response to “Montana Fly Fishing Trip

  1. There is something perfect about fly fishing; it should be on a bucket list.

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