Best Fly Rod for Montana

Big question… What is the best fly rod for Montana? Is it one fly rod? Or multiple? Big rivers? Or small streams? With so many options out there how would you know what the best fly rod for Montana is?

A long time ago I was planning a fly fishing trip to Montana. I was packing up my stuff, tying flies and thinking about what rods to bring on my trip. After all my packing and tying was done I made a phone call to a fly shop in the Flathead Valley and asked what fly rods I should bring on my trip? For shop guys, this is a very common question that gets asked all the time. So, I get on the phone with this shop guy, found out later it was the owner and asked him my question… What is the best fly rod for Montana?

Best Fly Rod for Montana, Nymphing

If you are a Nymph-O-Maniac then I’m sure you have a dedicated fly rod for nymphing. I’m going to break this down to the wade angler and the boat angler as each probably would have a different rod. Let’s start with the wade angler…

Best Fly Rod for Montana Wade Angler

When wade fishing my favorite nymphing fly rod is a 10’ #4 weight. The 10-foot rod makes casting easier, mending easier and hok sets effective. Almost everything about a 10-foot rods makes things easier in the nymphing world. You get a little extra reach out of a 10-foot rod which makes casting and mending easier than a 9-foot rod. The extra one foot might not sound like much but it makes a world of difference. Douglas Fly Rods makes a sweet 10 foot 4 weight DXF, DXF4104, that is hands down my favorite! Burled wood reel seat, fighting butt, and alignment dots make this rod a great nymphing rod for the wade angler.

Best Fly Rod for Montana Drift Boat Anger

Does the boat angler really need a different rod than a wade angler? Not really, but as we all know you can never have too many fly rods. That 10 foot 4 weight will do you just fine in a drift boat. Although I do like a little shorter and heavier rod when nymphing out of a drift boat. My best fly rod for Montana when nymphing out of a drift boat is a 9’6’’ #6. A bit more backbone to handle the drift boat scenario. Why not a 10 foot 6 weight? Good question? 10-foot rods are heavier than 9’6’’ rods no matter how you shake it out. If you are set on a 10-foot rod out of a drift boat then I would lean towards a 10 foot 5 weight out of a drift boat. The lighter weight of the 5 weight rod would be the perfect fit.

So what if you can’t justify having two fly rods for your nymphing game? You wade fish a bunch and you also like to nymph out of a boat? Then I would recommend that you go with a 10 foot 5 weight fly rod for your nymphing program. Ok, then what rod would I recommend? Douglas DXF 5104 is my top choice. The DXF is hands down my favorite nymphing stick. Coming in at 3.08 oz, it’s super light in hand and easy to fish all day long. The rod also has lots of power to throw a long heavy nymph rig, but no so much it feels like a broomstick. A bonus to this rod is that it makes the perfect float tube lake rod. A 10 footer out of a float tube makes things so much easier… it gets your line further off the water, makes casting longer easier, hook set has more leverage than a 9-foot rod and landing a fish is easier with a 10 foot rod.

Best Fly Rod for Montana Dry Fly Rod

On to the dry fly angler, so what it the best fly rod for Montana in the dry fly world. I’m going to suggest a 9 foot 5 weight for most dry fly applications and who am I to argue with George Anderson and his 5 weight Shoot Out. I agree with the results of the shoot out and recommend the SKY G 590.

This rod is a pleasure to fish a dry fly with. It’s light in hand, casts well at close range, medium-range and long-range. My favorite dry fly rod used to be the Orvis Helios 2 in a 9’ 5 weight tip flex but my new favorite is the SKY G 590. I am also going out on a limb and say that if you had to pick on best fly rod for Montana, I would pick the SKY G. It really does it all, nymphs strong, casts a streamer great and is a dry fly machine! Long and heavy nymphing, short and light nymphing, hopper dropper, long leader shallow water streamer game, sink tip streamer game, head hunting technical dry fly fishing, blind fishing a dry fly this rod does it all!

Best Fly Rod for Montana Small Stream Rod

We all love fishing small streams in the middle of nowhere and these types of water call for a special kind of fly rod. A fly rod that every time we see it or think about it brings back memories of fishing these special places. The best fly rod for Montana, small stream rod, needs to be a bit different than the ones above. I absolutely love a shorter fly rod with a deep slower action that is light in hand a has the look and feel of a glass or bamboo rod.

This is where the Douglas Upstream 3834 comes into the light. This rod is a 8’3’’ 3 weight, weighs 1.59oz and is a complete jow to fish! If you love the feel of bamboo or glass then you’ll fall in love with this rod! It has all the characteristics of those classic rods but with none of the weight. First look at this rod and you’ll wonder if its a glass rod? Nope, graphite and Nano resins all the way. Casting and fishing this rod is an absolute pleasure! One of the things I love about this rod is that you have to really slow things down when fishing and casting it. Remember those fundamentals? Loading a rod, pauses, and stops, unloading a rod, straight wrist, and purposeful movements? This rod makes you think about all those basics of casting and fishing. At first you might find the rod difficult to cast and fish but give it a chance and you’ll become a better caster and angler. Fishing this rod will bring you back to where it all started!

Best Fly Rod for Montana, Conclusion

If I was to pick one fly rod as the best fly rod for Montana then I would go with the Douglas Sky G 590, it does it all very well and is a dream of a fly rod. Just my two cents… About the only time, I can think that a different rod would be helpful is if you are a small stream angler who fishes tiny little blue lines then I would suggest a smaller fly rod like the Upstream 3834. With that said you don’t need to go looking for the best fly rod for Montana if you already have a fly rod. Any fly rod is the best fly rod for Montana. Does it really matter? Not really, just use whatever fly rod you have and fish the hell out of it!

End of Story…
After asking this fly shop owner what fly rod to bring on my Montana trip there was a good long pause and he asked me what fly rods I fish? I told him I had a 10’’ Sage XP 4 weight and a 9’ #5 weight XP and a TFO Professional 9’ #5 weight that I was thinking of bringing… Instantly he said those rods won’t work out here, well the Sage’s won’t work in Montana. Confused I asked him why? Well, those rods aren’t made for Montana and are way too expensive to be effective, going into a rant about rods, rod weights, line weights and some other stuff I immediately tuned out. Quickly, I said thanks for your time and hung up the phone. I packed up the rods I had, made my journey to Montana and had the time of my life!



You may have noticed that all the best fly rod for Montana  I recommended are Douglas Fly Rods. I am proud to be a Douglas Pro Guide. So am I a bit biased? Yes, I am, I absolutely love Douglas Fly Rods and I use them exclusively when guiding. I’ve used so many different fly rods over the years and have found Douglass to be my favorite and that’s why I am on their Pro Staff. Why do I love them so much? There are so many reasons but I’ll stick with the important ones… 

1 – Clients always comment on how well they cast and fight fish.

2 – 2 Guide seasons, over 400 days, of very hard use and neglect on my end… No broken rods(hopefully I didn’t jinx myself).

3 – Fewer break offs… There could be lots of reasons for this but I think it’s because of the action of the rods, stiff where they need to be and flex where it needs to be. I see lots of fish every year and fewer fish have broken off since I went with Douglas.

4 – Clients love them! From the beginner to the seasoned vet, I am absolutely blown away at how many comments I get on the Douglas rods I have in my boat.