Future of Fly Fishing A Montana conservationist with deep ties to the rivers of his home state writes a letter to future generations.

The Proper Function

An Open Letter

To the future of fly fishing,

The reality is this: we’re inheriting a very different sport from our parents. And if we hope to live this fly fishing lifestyle and pass it, on we’re going to have to do more than #keepemwet and pinch our barbs. We need to fight for our rivers. Now. Though each generation before us has had a responsibility to protect fisheries for succeeding generations, and many before us have done great work, we are now heeding a much more urgent call.1

My Mom and Dad strapped my bassinet to their 14-foot Avon raft and took me on guide trips when they founded the Big Hole Lodge, and since then I have been immensely grateful for the opportunity to grow up on the rivers of southwest Montana. But I realize that with it comes a significant set of challenges.1


“Those of us lucky enough to fall in love with rivers also have the duty to raise awareness about threats to them and take action to protect them.”

We are the voice for the voiceless and we have to work together now because our fisheries are on a slippery slope. Our climate is warming, our population is growing, and our rivers are suffering. The landscapes of the West are changing, and changing quickly; and though trout are often resilient to change, their ecosystems are not. Moving forward, we must be proactive in protecting the quality of water that sustains bug and plant life so crucial to our fisheries.

“The reality is that many of our country’s best trout streams are at risk.”  

Over 40 years ago, our nation’s leaders recognized that the waters of the United States were in trouble, and they set forth a strong system of rules based on science to reverse the degradation and pollution of our waterways. That system has largely been viewed as red tape and, in many cases, ignored all together. The reality is that many of our country’s best trout streams are at risk.

I truly believe we can protect our rivers and our fisheries before it’s too late. How? Join and support your local watershed groups working on the rivers you love. Local advocacy provides the catalyst for change that I believe every western river deserves. There’s a distinct need in the West for all of us who care about our rivers and fisheries to take the steps necessary to protect our most vital resources.1


Many generations before us have been forced to answer a call to action in protecting our country. We aren’t being sent to war in this; we have a choice to fight this battle. Let’s protect these fisheries, if not for our own quality of life and the future of the sport, then as a thank you to those who handed it down to us. We can do this.

Keep ‘em wet, keep ‘em cold, keep ‘em clean,


Article originally published by Huckberry. Video & Photos by Max Lowe. Permission by Wade Fellin.

Wade Fellin

Wade Fellin is a fifth generation Montanan, has been a fly fishing guide since 2006, and studied environmental and water law at the University of Montana. In addition to guiding and managing the Big Hole Lodge with his father and guiding the Big Hole, Beaverhead, Bitterroot, and Missouri, Wade is program director of Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, a water quality advocacy NGO based in Bozeman, MT.