Good things happen in Montana in the summer, and the best event in 2019 is the Fly Fishers International (FFI) Fly Fishing Expo July 23-27 on the Montana State University campus in Bozeman. This is a fly fishing event with something of value for every level of fly angler, from those with decades of experience to those wanting to catch their first fly-caught fish, and it’s all available in one location over five short days.
The event is open to all so there is no need to pre-register—just show up when the doors open—tickets are only $10 for adults and free for kids under 11. That said, folks will get so much more out of their attendance by first reviewing the Expo registration guide—16 pages chock full of information about Expo events, workshops, fishing opportunities and other things to experience around Bozeman—then registering for one or more casting, tying, or technique workshops.
The workshops begin Tuesday, July 23 and are offered every day through Saturday. Some are held in a classroom, others are at the casting location, still others are on the water. The first workshop is a two-day Women’s Beginning Fly Tying workshop featuring 16 hours of instruction. Anglers looking to improve their casting skills or becoming a Certified Instructor have multiple workshop options. Euro-nymphing is a hot topic that will be covered in some fishing workshops.
The Fly Fishing Expo Hall activities begin Thursday, July 25 and run through Saturday. Each day will feature a morning and afternoon session of 40 tiers demonstrating all manner of coldwater, warmwater, and saltwater flies. There will be a host of fly fishing seminars on a variety of topics as well as scheduled interactive conversations where respected fly fishers share their knowledge and insights. The FFI Learning Center, focusing on Fly Tying, Fly Casting, Fly-Fishing Skills and Conservation, will have several workshop offerings for the beginning fly fisher. Be sure to take the time to browse the daily raffle and auction tables. The 1000 Stewards Fundraiser on Friday night is not to be missed.
World Casting Champion Maxine McCormick will be on the casting field as part of the PHWFF Second Annual National Casting Competition. Attendees will have a chance to see her casting demonstrations on Thursday and Friday. If you miss her, you’ll have an opportunity to catch casting demonstrations by other skilled casters.
After watching the tiers and casters, and gaining fly-fishing skills and knowledge, take your skills out on the water to one of Bozeman’s premier fly fishing locations. Henry’s Fork, Madison, Big Horn, Missouri, Yellowstone, and Gallatin rivers are all nearby. Stillwater anglers can hit Hyalite, Hebgen, and Quake plus plenty more lakes.
For the first time the FFI Fly Tying Group is sponsoring the Fly Fishers International Fly Tying Challenge. The challenge is open to all skill levels. Group One is an open division where the top prize is three nights and two days with the Land of Enchantment Guides at the Quinlan Ranch in New Mexico. Group Two is limited to tiers 16 years and younger where the winner will receive a Dyna-King Kingfisher Pedestal Vice.