The Perfect Pair: Montana Craft Beers & Fly Fishing


Last summer we, the Fish-It crew, brought you an article about the epic hatch of black rubber tubes that pops in western Montana about this time every year. You may remember the feat of human resourcefulness and compromised decision making known as “Two Bros, One Tube.”

Well folks, the hatch popped a little bit early this year.

Scientists believe the increased angle of the sun coupled with spiking water temperatures has caused the hatch to arrive a few weeks ahead of schedule. Economists point towards the economies slight upward slope as well as the decrease in price per barrel of crude oil.

But seriously, it’s hot as hell out there, but the hopper fishing is still outstanding. Yeah, the tube hatch might be happening on the same tasty, undercut grass bank that you and your buddy wanted to fish, but in reality, take that moment to breathe deeply, notice that the mountains are gosh darn stunning, and crack open a cold beer. Remember, you are out there to RELAX.

Matt Devlin shows off a sweet rainbow trout.

Here are some suggestions of beer and river pairings to help you do just that:


The Big Blackfoot

Summer Honey Ale

Paul and Norman would want you to enjoy a nicely refreshing Summer Honey Ale from Big Sky Brewery. This brew is perfect for those hot, hot days on the Blackfoot when you get caught by the brigade of tubers at about one o’clock. It is a light, drinkable beer, and, most importantly, is readily available in cans which makes it legal to consume on the Blackfoot (glass is outlawed). Grab a few six packs, some ice, and a handful of big chubby chrynobels and have at it. You’re not the only one with the day off!


Rock Creek

Salmon Fly Honey Rye 

Oh Rock Creek, our love/hate relationship with you. Mostly, we have some problems with you this time of year because you are so loved by so many. But seriously, you provide some amazing summer dry fly fishing with beetles, ants, and hoppers. So next time you are partaking in this beautiful little blue ribbon valley, grab a sixer of Salmon Fly Honey Rye from Madison River Brewing Co. on your way to “The Creek.” We like the idea of thinking about Salomnflies just about everytime we fish over there.


Brought to you by Western Montana's finest craft beers.

The ‘Root

Cutthroat IPA

As the weather continues to show no signs of cooling off, the fish are starting to lay pretty low after 1 pm. When you can’t find any fish to catch, and the sun is relentlessly burning you, nothing tastes better than an ice cold refreshing IPA. This is why during these trying times, we turn to the Cutthroat IPA from the Blacksmith Brewery in Stevensville.

Another reason this beer is a perfect choice for a day of trouting on the ‘Root is because the fish that are eating flies right now seem to pretty much all be Cutthroats. The name is just a little too fitting, and the beer is just a little too awesome to not throw a growler in your cooler before you launch your boat in the Bitterroot.


The Clark

Double Haul IPA

The Clark is notorious for an afternoon breeze pretty much every day, so in order to get your favorite hopper close to the banks you might need a little extra help. This situation can sometimes force you to throw a good solid double haul in order to get that bug just a little bit closer, so why not drink a Double Haul while your’e doing it!? This beer is to fly fishing what spinach was to Popeye. Right now the big fish that are eating hoppers are really tight to the banks, so you need to be able to hit spots. This beer should be just the thing to make sure you get that extra five feet out of your cast, and it also tastes great while celebrating a big 18-inch Clark Fork rainbow.


Fishing for more tales from the river? Check out Matt and Bryce’s other posts: Missouri River Fly Fishing, the Best in AmericaZen and the Art of Not Fishing At All, and An Ode to Brown Trout, or visit the Fish It archive.

Be sure to visit the Make it Missoula fishing page.


Photos of Missoula Fly Fishing Experts Matt Devlin and Bryce McLean

Matt Devlin (left) is originally from Annapolis, Maryland and learned to fool trout on the technical waters of the Gunpowder River. He has fished in Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Maine, Michigan, Indiana, North and South Carolina, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. He thinks about flies and fishing a whole lot.

Bryce McLean (right) was born and raised in Montana, and has been fly fishing here for almost 20 years. He first learned to fish on the Missouri River, but when he was ten, his family moved to the Bitterroot Valley. He’s been fishing the Bitterroot River ever since. This has been his second season guiding the Missoula area rivers, which he consider to be some of the best trout fisheries on planet Earth.

Their most recent fish-related project is