It wasn't too many years ago when a guide might spend every day of the season in his or her drift boat with rarely a day spent wading. Recently there has been an increase in the percentage of anglers who prefer to wade fish at least some of the days they spend in Montana. One might wonder why the shift. The simple answer is that there are a lot of quality waters out there where boats can't go. By adding variety to your fishing trip to Montana, you are only enhancing the specialness of each day spent on the stream. In addition, wade fishing can be done at a more relaxed pace. Sometimes, that is just what is needed.
Of course not everyone wishes or is able to wade fish, but then that's the whole point. Not everyone wishes to spend every day in a boat. Guides are like that too. Consider how embarrassing it is for our guides to wear out the seat of their Orvis waders before the felt goes.
Maturity has gradually changed my own perspective when I take to the stream (actually, it has changed much more than my perspective). Some days I prefer to float, but more and more I choose to wade. In either case I'm increasingly using my guidebooks on birds, flowers, geology, or tracks. I'm spending more time looking at the scenery or watching a bald eagle watch me. I've long known most of our native trees, but now I'm interested in shrubs, sedges, and grasses. Numbers and size of fish are less important to me now. Yes, I still want to catch trout, and I do. But I am discovering what I want from my fishing trip is a memorable and pleasurable experience. I want to fish with people I enjoy - especially when I go alone. I want to have some moments of solitude, beauty, and wonder. I want to value all of the treasures of nature.
The next time you fish with a guide who plans on floating, ask about a wading trip. You'll often get away from it all, visit someplace a little more special, and enjoy the slower pace of the day. Slack lines!
Paul Roos has been fly fishing Montana rivers for many years. He is the owner and operator of Paul Roos Outfitters.
Note: In another article Paul will discuss the benefits of a slack line.
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