Montana Fly Fishing Guide School - Fins & Feathers of Bozeman – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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Montana Fly Fishing Guide School

22 Years In The Making

The Fins and Feathers Fly-Fishing Guide School offers a unique opportunity to learn “the ropes” of being a western fly-fishing guides from a longtime guide and outfitter. Toby Swank has been guiding anglers throughout Southwest Montana since 2000 and is uniquely qualified in that he has been instrumental in taking a fledgling guide service and fly shop startup from zero clients what has become a staple of Bozeman fly fishing. Our guide school aims to help prospective guides and enthusiastic anglers take their fly-fishing skills to a new level while also emphasizing effective communication strategies, business basics, and the development of a deeper ethos centered around the fundamentals of the life spent on the water.

School Overview

  • 4 1/2 Day Class
  • 2 1/2 blended classroom days, 2 full on the water days
  • Toby Swank is the lead instructor and aided by Fins & Feathers staff and guides
  • Sample itinerary is available here
  • Dinner the first and last night is included, along with lunches and drinks
  • Lodging, transportation, and fishing licenses are not included (we have special rates available at area hotels)
  • Cost is $1750 per student, limit of 6 students per class.
  • Email Us To Register Today - payment in full is due 90 days prior to the class; this payment is non-refundable unless we are able to fill your spot in the class if you need to cancel for any reason.

Schedule 2022

Additional Information

Launched in 2000, Fins & Feathers of Bozeman has been in a specialty fly shop and fly-fishing guide service here in the Gallatin Valley for over 20 years. Started as a new business focused on the angler and fly-tyer, we have been fortunate to have overwhelming support from both the local and national community of fly anglers throughout myriad challenging times. Our philosophy is quite simple – be authentically passionate anglers, listen to our customers, and work really hard!

Our fly-fishing outfitting business began as new startup with help from some local guides and outfitters as we navigated the early stages of running a guide service. This was exponentially more difficult than we could have ever imagined - we were dealing with the after-effects of 9/11, severe drought, and a stagnant local economy in the early years. However, we worked hard to give our customers the best experience around while listening to their feedback regarding ways to improve our service such as including terminal tackle and rental gear in the pricing structure.

Here we are today with a couple decades of experience gained from a very unique path towards success in the modern fly-fishing outfitting industry. The single most important attribute of a successful outfitting business today is the quality of the guide that spends the days on the water with our guests. We have had a lot of guides come through our doors over the years, but the good ones are hard to find these days. You don’t have to look too hard in Bozeman to find someone that knows how to fish – maybe can even teach a few things well too – and has a drift boat and nice rig. However, finding that skill set with someone that genuinely wants to put the client experience at the top of the list is increasingly becoming the challenge that outfitters face as our businesses are experiencing unprecedented growth opportunities.

The Fins & Feathers Fly Fishing Guide School has been born out of necessity rather than opportunity – as most of the similar schools today. We have worked very hard to build a growing enterprise that is pillared by an exceptional base of returning clients each year. We use our guide school as a tool to educate prospective guides so that they may find success sooner rather than later in their careers, whether that starts at Fins & Feathers or somewhere else. Although there are no guarantees that a guide position will be available or offered to any student that participates in our guide school, we will set each of our students up for success wherever they end up in their guiding careers.

If you are interested in starting down the path of a professional fly-fishing guide career, we believe that we have a unique and compelling path to entry into the industry. The 4 ½ day class focuses on education through classroom and “on the water” settings geared towards the experienced angler looking to make the leap into the world of being a professional fly-fishing guide. This is not a class for the novice or experienced angler looking to improve their skills as we do emphasize the business side of the guiding industry as much as the fly-fishing strategies.

The Fins & Feathers Guide School has been designed and is taught by our longtime outfitter Toby Swank with the help of our current group of core guides in Bozeman, Montana. Guest speakers help with some of the sessions to lead break-out sessions relating to specialty techniques, casting instruction, business management and industry trends. Please contact us via e-mail for more information or to make a reservation.