For the past few weeks a crew from RIO was shacked up on Montana’s Missouri river. The purpose was to meet with dealers, provide product education, and of course catch some fish. Our base of operations was the riverside community of Craig, MT. This otherwise sleepy hamlet is bristling with activity during fishing season, with drift boats outnumbering people and according to the US Census containing the highest fly shop per capita density in the US (I made that up but it’s probably true).
With support from both Headhunters, RIO Advisory Team member Mark Raisler, and The Trout Shop, we set up shop, ran airport shuttles, and rigged billions of dollars’ worth of new Sage and Redington rods/reels. One purpose of this annual trip is to get feedback on prototype lines, of which we had many to test. A new ******** style line was particularly popular with all of the guests.
The reason we go to the MO is because it offers a variety of fishing opportunities, quality fish, and is tame enough that the RIO employees won’t sink a drift boat (knock on wood!) The usual game involves streamer fishing all morning, and once bugs start popping in the afternoon hunting heads and pitching small dry flies to big fish. Nymphing can also be ultra-productive, with the guides exaggerating stories of 150 fish days (Translation: 50) while strictly nymphing.
Unfortunately for us Montana was downright tropical for late October, with several days reaching close to 70 degrees. In years past we’ve had feet of snow, this year I ended up with a sunburn. Seriously. Thus the streamer bite remained pretty slow with such bright conditions, though we did run into a few toads. The dry fly fishing did produce as we had very little wind which meant consistent baetis hatches and lots of heads. The weather and fishing tend to have an inverse correlation, the worse the weather, the better the fishing. For this CA transplant, fishing in a t-shirt was secretly enjoyable.
Dry fly fishing the MO is fairly technical, with it being most effective down and across. Reach casts, mending, and stacking skills are a must. Part of the fun of the MO trip is hosting accomplished anglers, many of them fly shop owners, and watching them get totally humbled by blowing their first few shots! Everyone got with the program fairly quickly and was able to get in the reach cast groove and catch fish on this trip.
A major impetus for this annual foray is to get dealers better acquainted with RIO product. On this trip the new RIO Perception line was at the forefront. Lack of stretch in the Perception line meant anglers could hook fish at greater distances. The SureFire 3 color scheme also came in handy for anglers who were blowing shots by overcasting. Once they realized the first color change was at 20 feet, and the second at the end of the head, casting got more accurate, more fish were hooked, and guides rejoiced!
For the streamer game the RIO StreamerTip and OutBound Short worked extremely well in the especially shallow and weedy water we experienced. Intermediate tips are a must for the MO as big fish tend to sit in skinny water.
All in all it was another fantastic trip on the MO. A big thanks goes out to all of the shops, guides, and food staff that makes us feel like family. I’m sure they’re happy to get rid of us! Until next year at least.