top notch flies owner, bryce is a fly fishing guide in southern alberta.

Small Stream Experience Added for the 2024 Fishing Season

By Scott Smith, lead guide

I am often asked about guiding and fishing other waters besides the Bow River.  Do we guide in the mountain streams or the upper Bow River near Banff? The answer, until now, has been no.  We’re lucky in 2024 to have Bryce Coad of Top Notch Flies join us. Bryce is offering the Small Stream Experience and we’ve partnered with him to offer a really cool small stream fishing adventure.

Bryce from Top Notch Flys on left with lead guide, Scott Smith from Bow River Fly Fishing on right.

Bryce from Top Notch Flys on left with lead guide, Scott Smith from Bow River Fly Fishing on right.

Beyond the Bow River

Spending so much time on the lower Bow River is a choice.  I’m comfortable  knowing my waters really well. That is, knowing where the fish are and what’s going to hook them for our guests at all times. Of course, that’s the idea, but hey it’s fishing. During the 2023 season the only water I personally had time to fish was the Henry’s Fork in Idaho and Big Horn River in Montana, both highly recommended from this humble guide. The plan for 2024 is to be more versatile, work less and explore new water more often. After all, exploration is fuel for the soul isn’t it? The 2024 plan was also the 2023 plan, so I’m confident this will go well.

As Bow River Fly Fishing Company grows, I am resolved I can’t be everything to everyone, nor do I wish to be. There is a team of guides that take care of our guests and believe me, I’m grateful to work with every one of them. I love to fish smaller rivers and streams, but I have no desire to guide someone out there. I like the boat as a base. I like my stuff handy and the guests can’t wander off.

I am stoked Bryce approached me about guiding smaller streams in our area.

top notch flys owner, bryce is a fly fishing guide in southern alberta.

Bryce Coad, Top Notch Flys

Meet Bryce and Top Notch Flies

I met Bryce Coad of Top Notch Flies a few years ago. Having bought some unique flies Bryce posted on his IG page, we met, decided to get out on the Bow River together, tell some lies and hook into a few fish.  Bryce is a thoughtful, creative tier.   I like his willingness to experiment with different materials and patterns, truly making them his own creations; yet mindful his target species will eat the end result.

Recently, Bryce tied up and we experimented with a beautiful white Dahl Sheep Hair Stimulator. We were right on the cusp of the Golden Stone hatch as I recall. This isn’t a fly I use often, but I do carry stimulators in the box.  This is the beauty of fishing with an accomplished fly tier. “Just try it” Bryce says. It may have been the second cast when the first trout took big swipes at this thing!  Well would you look at me trying new stuff!  We managed to hook a few on aggressive eats and had a great day of “testing”.  Yes, I now have several of these babies at the ready. This fly is bright white, floats well and doubles nicely as an indicator. This is just one example of Bryce taking a different material and applying his idea into an effective trout fly. When you’re out with Bryce, be sure to pick his brain about fishy flies and how he comes up with some of his ideas.

Bryce has calm, laid back vibes, always observing, taking in the moment. At least that’s how
I see him. He may just be thinking of when we’re stopping for a sandwich. He’s got a smooth quiet cast and loves a dry fly presentation.

Sheep and Highwood Rivers

Bryce loves fishing the Sheep and Highwood rivers and says apart from the landscape, these rivers are easily accessible to the wading angler. The flows are slow and easy, which is great for beginners, but anyone will love this experience.  Anglers have the opportunity to hook multiple species on these rivers where you‘ll learn different presentations for success.

top notch flies small stream fishing alberta

We’ve taken our half day lessons and included more time to fish with your coach by your side.  The walk and wade adventure features gentler flows and great opportunities to hook some wild trout. During the experience you’ll learn about the gear, casting, rigging, flies and bugs, knots, presentations, reading the water and etiquette. We do have an agenda while we’re out there but this is your day. Bryce is happy to customize and break down the day anyway you want it. Maybe you want to focus on small dry fly presentations, or maybe you’re having trouble prospecting fishy water.  Maybe you want to target a PB Bull Trout or you’re just looking for that elusive first fish on a fly rod.

Bryce loves this game. He enjoys teaching and gets excited for your success. He’s laid back and patient which makes him easy to get along with.  We’re excited to have him on board and he’ll probably let you tie on some of his secret patterns I’m not allowed to see!

Some Thoughts from Bryce

As a professional fly tier and new guide, I am excited to offer the Small Stream Experience for the 2024 season.  I’m looking forward to sharing my bug creations, stalking trout and making memories with my guests!

Since moving to the area several years ago, I have explored and become comfortable with the Sheep and Highwood rivers as fishy waters. I really enjoy the Sheep for calm flows, easy accessibility, and willing trout. I think this is a great place to learn new skills and begin your fly fishing journey.  While we’re out there we’ll have some opportunities for Rainbow Trout, Bull Trout and Rocky Mountain Whitefish.

Additionally, we can fish close enough to the big city so travel to and from the river isn’t a major consideration.  We’re typically fishing very close to Okotoks, which is only about 20 minutes east of the Calgary City Limits.

I do my best to match the hatch and, when that doesn’t work, I enjoy experimenting with different tying materials to create unique flies. One of my newest materials is Dall Sheep hair. I tied some stimulators, Chubby Chernobyls and Grasshopper patterns with this rather than deer or elk hair. The results were fantastic! For anyone who ties, you know the thrill of having your creations catch fish!

fly fishing flies with top notch flies in southern alberta

I am also interested in how water clarity and light affects what and how fish see. Using this knowledge with patterns and materials makes a difference when we’re chasing those trout up and down the rivers.  Check out this video:

I will never tire of this game! I’ve had a passion for this since being a teen and each season brings new challenges. I am never disappointed with a day on the river. I’m looking forward to having you drift along with me.

Check us out while you’re swiping by.  If we’re a good fit for your next adventure, we’d love to see you! In the meantime stop scrolling and get your butt outside!

Book your adventure today!


bow river osprey with fish

Fly Fishing Tale, October 20th – Mr. Big, the Eagle and the Osprey

I’m at the back of the truck, tailgate down, packing gear while Hopper impatiently wanders but always has me in sight.  Hopper, a black shepherd, a year, and a half old and my shadow when I fish alone. If you know German Shepherds, she is my shadow ALL THE TIME!  Yes, she is a fly fisherman’s dog, and I named her Hopper, but her nickname is Spaz. Right now, she’s working hard to free a downed fence post from the barbed wire still attached. Spaz.  The streamer rod comes out, then the dry rod. Still rigged up from yesterday’s float.  The dry rod is a 5 weight with a #18 BWO parachute thingy attached. I haven’t seen the river yet today, but what the hell, it worked yesterday.  It’s October 20th, overcast, a slight north wind. I can’t see the river from where I’m parked but I can almost feel the hatch.  I’m really hoping for a fall hatch. Experience tells me I should be in luck, but experience also reminds me the Bow River laughs at experience for fun. I’m betting on BWO’s, but we’ll see.

Hopper sigh’s “Finally!” as I sling the backpack and head towards the game trail leading to the bank. I’m headed to a run I’ve fished for at least 25 years. This past season, I’ve only walked it a few times, but guided guests on it daily from the boat. I’ve seen its structure change every year. Sometimes dramatically to where it’s unrecognizable. The one constant is big trout. Always big trout.

fly fishing guides dog hopper with stick and fish inspection.

A week ago, the valley was full of yellow, still holding on to it’s fall kaleidoscope.  I love this river valley with its stunning beauty during Summer and Fall. I struggle to look up an appreciate what’s in front of me. Do all fly fishers have this problem? Today the landscape is brown and grey. The pretty season is over. This is serious fishing terrain. Nothing to focus on but reading the water and finding happy trout.

Hopper leads the way, approaching the water. She finds a log instantly deciding all seven feet of lumber needs relocation to the rivers edge. The grass is tall, thick, and dusty, but she’s determined as both of us crash through the maze announcing ourselves to the gravel bar with absolutely zero grace or finesse. Hopper wrestles with her log as I shed the pack and get ready to scope out the situation. The situation I want to see is dimples, splashes, disturbances, heads, backs, and tails. Within a reasonable casting distance would be nice. I’ve fished a long time. No need for hero casts around here. Anyways, there’s no one around to see my quirky casting technique.

Before I can settle into the recon part of the afternoon, I see a familiar drift boat up stream. Jason doesn’t recognize me on the far bank. I’m just a random bank fisherman and he’s focused on drifting the boat on its fishy line. So focused.  I give him a yell; he looks over and pulls the boat in.  Jason is a great guide and guy.  I’ve had the pleasure of being guided by him and working with him these past few years. Today he’s fishing with his brother. Guides typically only get to fish in spring and fall around here. It’s the only job I know, where we love heading to work on our days off!  We’re catching up on the week, discussing the coming cold weather, while both scanning the river for you know what. A few minutes go by then Jason says,


I say, “Yep.”

Another minute goes by. “There’s one”, he says.

“Yep”, I say.

“There it is again. Nice fish.”

“Yep, big tail”

After a few more rises, Jason says, “Grab your dry fly rod, I’ll net it for you.” I love his confidence in me.

Our specimen is about fifteen feet off the bank, feeding in about eighteen inches of water. I position myself downstream so I can get a 45-degree cast above it and the fly will be right on the feeding lane. I’m ready. I did math, I moved into position, I stripped line and did a test cast for distance. I’m so ready. I wait. I wait some more.  Jason says,

“I don’t see it.”

“Nope”, I say.

I think I have the right line on where we saw Mr. Big, so I toss the bug. Nothing. One more time. Nothing.

Damn. Fishing. It really is 90% anticipation.

fish jumping out of water

It seems like forever, but it’s probably only a minute or so. We see another rise. This isn’t the same fish. It comes up several more times in the same line. I reposition my feet, adjust my distance with a couple of false casts and lay it in there. I absolutely cannot see my fly. It’s a small BWO with a nice parachute, but it’s the same colour as the foam. The sun, although behind cloud cover is just in the right place to cause trouble. If only I was fishing from the other bank! Glare is fun.  I move down stream slightly, so my cast will now be closer to straight upstream. More math and measuring. Fishing is hard. Thankfully this trout is still feeding, so I have a shot. I lay the cast in the lane; I can see the fly! It’s perfect. Smack!! A 13-inch brown splashes and makes a fuss. I say 13 inches because 13 is bigger than 12. No one gets too excited. It’s a fish, this trio has all caught them before. Still, it was a damn nice cast to a rising fish. I’m happy. Still, this isn’t the big old boy we saw a few minutes ago. We’ve made some noise now and Hopper crashes the water to check out our little brown friend.

Jason and I fist bump and he heads down river.

I just know Mr. Big is going to show up again. I’m looking up stream, scanning. I get down on one knee so maybe I can see better. Nothing. I head up stream, well back of the rivers edge. There he is!  Right where I was looking, but so subtle, I couldn’t see around the glare while down stream of the rise. There’s a lesson here. Fishing isn’t so hard. More dimples. I’m only seeing the back and the tail on this guy. It’s hard to say for sure with the glare, but I go with my gut and tie a little emerger off the back of my BWO thingy. I don’t know the name of the flies I’m using, but the size and colour seem right. Yes, I am a full-time guide. Really. I want to get down stream of him, but I know I’ll never see my presentation. I opt for a downstream presentation. I make sure I have more line than I need so I won’t have to mend. I remind myself to be patient and let the fish eat before I set the hook. As it is, if he takes the emerger it’s a going to be a perimeter set. I know I’m overthinking this, but man I’m having a great time!

Okay here we go! Wait! I feel a dull thud on the back of my knees. WTF! It’s Hopper and a new stick she apparently needs me to see. She’s snuck up behind me and her driftwood slab catches the back of the legs. Perfect. She decides to splash around in front of me, steps on my slack line catching the leader and making a helluva mess.  Fishing is hard with Spaz. I swear a blue streak at my companion, she seems to understand and retreats, log firmly in her jaw. I’m getting the eyes from the tall grass, yes dog, I agree, I’m the problem!

I’ve retied. New tippet and both flies. As I retie, I’ve noticed my friend happily sipping, oblivious to the carnage bankside. I look both ways for the Black Menace. She’s wandered off somewhere. Here we go!

The cast lands the BWO about four feet above the last dimple, the glare is horrible, but I can just make out the white parachute. The fly drags on a cross current. I let it float by before I pull it off the water. I work my feet out and upstream a little more. This should be a better line. I don’t like a downstream presentation, but this is the best option and not a completely blind cast. The trout makes another appearance now closer to me. It’s moved up and closer to the bank. I cast, stopping the line short, allowing it to land about six feet above the fish. It’s right online. Come on baby!!! The top fly floats only two feet into its drift and disappears. I feel nothing, I see nothing. Set! It’s there! All hell breaks loose in 18 inches of water! Yeah baby!! The line is tight, the rod is bent! Shit, it’s coming right at me!! My arm goes up way over my head, I’m stripping like a mad man! Why am I so bloody short!!  I quickly turn away from the fish, sending my rod tip upstream, stripping line tight!! It turns, headed for deep water. Give it line! Give it line! I must have twenty feet of line in the water at my feet now. It peels off in a split second! Hot Fish! I turn and chase as it heads downstream, hands above my head, hoping I don’t faceplant! We’re in for a ride with this one!


The line goes slack. Just like that. It’s gone. Hopper is downstream where the fish was. She often gives chase to where she sees trout splashing on the line. A beautiful, dark, fall Rainbow got the best of me today. I couldn’t be happier! I watched that fish for at least forty-five minutes before I made a cast to it. Once it ate the fly the whole thing was over in less than fifteen seconds. I hear a Bald Eagle chirp. Looking up I see it chasing an Osprey that has a fish in it’s talons.

bow river osprey with fish and a bald eagle chasing it.

An old high school classmate once wrote; “In life, we remember specific moments. Not days or weeks or years, specific moments.”

Hopper and I stuck around and caught several more fish today. We switched to streamers and played around with a hopper dropper after the fish stopped rising. I won’t remember any of those fish in a week, but I’ll remember stalking that one trout. Even if it hadn’t taken the emerger at all, I still would have remembered the chase and the anticipation. I’ll remember my dog harassing me. I’ll remember running into a friend on the river. I’ll remember the eagle and the Osprey.

Here’s to more adventures and moments for all of us!




alberta rainbow trout in net on the bow river

Spring Fly Fishing on the Bow River: A Guided Perspective

best fly fishing lessons in Calgary, on the Bow River

Well, the spring fly fishing season is finally here! I must admit I’m not a winter fly fisher but as soon as the sun starts to warm my face, I am just itching to get on the river! The boat gets a work over and a shine, all the gear gets checked, new lines are added where necessary and by now the fly boxes are re stocked. Looking at the calendar we have some early season floats booked with our buddies and fellow guides before we get into the heart of the season and won’t have time to fish.

Learning New Skills and Shaking Off The Rust

Spring gives me the opportunity to jump into lessons. I love getting new and aspiring fly fishers on the water. Watching folks progress with their casting stroke, understanding where to find fish and become proficient with knot tying and fly selection is a great reward as a teacher. I always love seeing pictures and hearing tales of your adventures after you leave us. Our hope is always that the lessons are a great beginning for you.

We’re happy to start at the beginning or work with you on specific challenges to help up your game.

We throw a lot of information at students during our time together, so I put together a 50-page book to accompany our beginner’s fly fishing course. It covers everything in what I hope is an easy-to-follow format…and there’s pictures!

We’re different, in that our class size is a maximum of two students. We offer a half day “boot camp style” experience, and you’re hands on from start to finish. Our classroom is on the riverbank and yes, there are trout holding at your feet. You might just hook up!

Check out our fishing packages and see if this is for you. We’d love to see you!

Spring Fly Fishing – What to Expect

Water flows are still on the low side. Some slow run off will start and we may see some off-colour water from the late season snowstorms. This is typically short-lived. April in Alberta can be great weather, but we could also be in a blizzard. In April, we’ll find fish in their wintering holes. So, a deep nymph rig with a leech as one of your offerings is never a bad choice. A worm and a pheasant tail will also produce when fished at the right depth.

If you’re going to fish a streamer, which I always enjoy, slow that bad boy right down as you move it through the zone. I like a white or tan #2 or #4 classic Woolly Bugger.  As the water warms and the bugs start to get more active, you’ll see some BWO’s and some fish up on them. Remember, the midges are always around, so don’t be afraid to tie on a Griffiths Gnat. Around mid-April, we start to see the fish move around as the water and air temperatures become consistently warmer. Remember though, this is Mother Nature. Her clock doesn’t match our fishing expectations.

May often offers some fantastic fly fishing and we can see a wonderful Caddis hatch for about a week. If you hit it right, it’s epic. Do the kids still say epic?

alberta rainbow trout caught inthe bow river

Keep in mind the Rainbows are moving out of the system to spawn, so you’ll see more 16” to 18” Rainbows as their larger cousins are in the tributaries doing their thing. This can be a great time to target some larger Browns.  The big rainbows usually return around the last week of May.

alberta rainbow trout in net on the bow river

Some Things to Remember while Spring Fly Fishing

  • The water is cold. Fish are cold blooded.
  • Fish are not going to move too far or fast to take your fly.
  • Get your flies low in the water column and keep that drift below the speed limit.
  • Fish in a grid pattern. I always start closer to me, then move my casts out. X is where the Fly lands and Y is the current line you want to fish. A crude diagram below with the message to change up where you land that fly or indicator on the water.
    Spring Fly Fishing Bow River Currents and flow chart.
  • Only cast as far as you can maintain good control. If you can’t mend effectively, shorten it up and move your feet to a better casting position.
  • Depth is key. Before you change your fly selection, try moving that indicator or adding/subtracting some weight.

Rigs to Experiment with in the Springtime

A Simple Deep Water Nymph Rig. Play around with your distances between flies and where you place the weight. I use a swivel as weight and add split shot as needed. Usually, the weight depends on if I’m using tungsten or brass beads or unweighted flies.

Fly Fishing Bow River in the Spring Deep Nymph Rig 

Dry Dropper

I’ll often nymph in shallow water in the early spring if the water speed is right. (Walking Speed)  In these cases, it doesn’t make sense to me having the indicator, weight and all that gear in the water.  I like to tie on a big foam fly as an indicator and then one or two flies below. I like this set up especially if I’m fishing water depth of 4 feet or less. I’ll often tie two nymphs below the foam fly.  Play around with this set up to your preference. It’s effective and much nicer to cast. For new or beginner fly casters, you might not like this in the windy conditions that accompany Spring fishing.

Best Flies for Fly Fishing Bow River in the Spring.

Some thoughts on Spring Presentations

During the early spring, I tend to slow down my presentations and work the water a little more diligently. Try to remember, fish are cold blooded, and the water is still cold in early April. Trout may not be willing to move very far for a fake meal. Be patient and methodical in your presentation. Fishy magic depends on what you do AFTER your fly lands on the water. I will always adjust my depth before I change my fly. I actually employ a dry dropper set up all year while fishing water less than 5 feet in depth. If I need to go deeper, faster, then I’ll throw on a bobber (Strike Indicator) 😊

Get out there and enjoy your water! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different presentations and work the water. It’s the best therapy I know.

If you’re looking to get into it, give us a look. We’ll introduce you to an amazing opportunity for endless adventure and lifelong learning.

fly fishing training

Fly Fishing Therapy

By Scott Smith, Lead Guide

I am a fly fisherman. I have been a student of fly fishing for over 25 years and teach it as well. Fly fishing is more than just throwing a line into the water and waiting for something to bite. It is about balance, mindfulness, and casting away your cares for a moment of rest and relaxation—a respite from life’s worries; a chance to become one with nature; an opportunity to feel at peace with yourself. Fly fishing offers therapy for the mind, body and soul.

Essential Elements of Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is a sport that requires patience and focus. You can’t expect to catch fish by just throwing your line in the water, so it’s important to know what you’re doing and how to fish properly. Learning the skills necessary to consistently have fish at least look at your fly is the journey. Learn to enjoy the process.

Fly fishing is not just about catching fish—it’s also about the experience of being in nature. It’s about getting out there and appreciating all that the outdoors has to offer.

Fly fishing is a social sport; you can go with friends or by yourself! While fly fishing alone may seem intimidating at first, it can actually be very enjoyable if done right. I’ve learned to put the fly rod down and enjoy what’s around me while I’m basking in solitude.

The Balance Between Process and Product

Balancing process, product, and experience is essential to the pursuit of fly fishing.

The process is the journey from beginning to end; it’s the act of getting your line in the water and casting out. It’s about learning where the fish are, what they’re eating, why they’re eating, when they’re eating. It’s the experience of figuring it all out, only to go back to discover everything you were successful with yesterday, isn’t going to work today. The product is what you experience at each stage along that journey—whether that’s catching a fish or not catching one at all (and whether or not it matters). And then there are the people you meet along the way: guides, shop owners, fellow anglers…all these people help create an experience that goes beyond just going out into nature by yourself or with friends and family to cast around for trout.

The Science of Mindfulness with Fly Fishing

The power of mindfulness can be harnessed to help you relax, improve your focus, and even increase your ability to handle stress. It’s all about fully engaging with the present moment, which is one of the hardest things for us humans to do (especially if we’re stressed or anxious). Just think of how many times someone has told you “Don’t worry about it—it’ll be fine.” That’s an example of how hard it is for us not to worry about things!

We can use fly fishing as a way of practicing mindfulness because it requires us to be present in order for our minds and bodies to work together efficiently. When we are fly fishing, we must pay attention both physically and mentally. We need our bodies’ muscles coordinated in order for our arms and legs (and sometimes torso) movements to properly propel the rod forward through space so that when we cast out there will be enough energy behind the line at its maximum distance from where we stand on dry land (the reel end). But this only occurs when all these body parts are working together harmoniously because they’ve been trained over time through repetition—by casting thousands upon thousands of times before finally getting good enough at it so that casting becomes second nature…

Fly Fishing Therapy is all about mindfulness, balance, and casting away your cares.

Fly fishing is a sport that can be enjoyed by everyone. It’s a great way to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, while also getting exercise and enjoying nature. The sport requires you to be mindful of what you’re doing, so you’ll have time to clear your head and focus on something other than all your daily responsibilities.

Fly fishing can help bring balance into your life because it requires physical strength and endurance but also demands patience and calmness in order to catch fish-something that doesn’t come naturally for most people unless they practice it regularly (or meditate).

Final Thoughts on Fly Fishing Therapy

Fly fishing is a way to be present in the moment, to let go of your worries, and connect with nature. It’s also a great way to spend time with friends or family members. For me, fly fishing has always been about mindfulness—but it doesn’t have to be that way for everyone. The important thing is that you find something that brings peace and balance into your life so that you can stay focused on the task at hand. Whether that means taking up fly fishing or some other pastime depends on what works best for each person! We are professional guides and get to live on the amazing Bow River near Calgary Alberta. If you’re looking for a great experience, we’d love to see you on your own fly fishing excursion!

bow river fly fishing for kids and family

Fly Fishing Lessons and Adventures for Kids

By Scott Smith, Lead Fly Fishing Guide

I’ve spent most of my adult life as a river guide, and I’ve seen all kinds of people come through the doors. Every now and then, though, there’s someone who catches me off guard with their enthusiasm for fly fishing. Usually, they’re kids. Six-year-olds with skinned knees who want to know how to tie on a dry fly because their uncle told them that he did it when he went fishing with his dad. This is great! Kids are the future of our sport, but if we want them to stick around for long enough to develop into lifelong anglers (or even just enjoy themselves for one weekend), we need to make sure that they have fun out on the water—and not just catch fish

Find a Mentor

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “knowledge is power.” With that in mind, it’s no wonder that so many people are interested in learning about fly fishing for kids. What your mentor has to say could be the difference between a good experience and an amazing one.

So how do you find someone who can teach you how to fly fish? You may be lucky enough to have a friend or relative who can help out. If not, consider joining a club or getting involved with an organization that promotes fly fishing for kids. There are many groups out there (like Trout Unlimited) that welcome new members every year and will encourage them to get involved as quickly as possible. If none of these options work for you, try asking around at local fly shops—they’ll know where all of their customers hang out, so they’ll likely have some leads!


Know the area you’re fishing in. Everyone should wear a life jacket when on board a boat, and this goes double for kids. It’s also a good idea to put the kids in a life jacket if you’re fishing in swift moving water.

Be sure to take care of yourself as well: don’t forget sunscreen!

Be sure to stay hydrated and bring plenty of water with you. Make sure that everyone in your group has a life jacket on, and make sure that the boats are properly equipped with first aid kits, flares, and other safety gear.

Fishing License

Fishing licenses are usually sold at sporting goods stores, fly shops, and the like. You can also get a fishing license online. The cost varies depending on whether or not you’re a resident of that province. Be sure to check your local regulations.

Licenses generally last for one year from the date of purchase. Kids and Seniors don’t generally need a license, but if you’re the adult fishing with them, you’re going to need one.


There are a few points to remember when selecting equipment for your child. The most important is that they’re going to be able to use it themselves, so make sure anything you buy is age appropriate and fits into the size of their hands. You don’t want them struggling with too many tangled knots or having too much trouble handling their gear for fear of dropping it in the water and getting frustrated while trying to get the cast right.

There are some great beginner kits available online and at your local fishing shop. For smaller hands we use the Echo Gecko kit. I don’t have any affiliation with Echo, but we love these outfits for kids. The grip is narrow, the rod is shorter than adult rods, and it’s easy to get the line moving. Your local fly shop can point you in the right direction. However, kids can certainly use adult gear easy enough. Especially when you’re testing the waters. If you’re not sure what kind of gear would be best for your kid yet, just ask an employee who knows their stuff at the store; they can help find something suitable without breaking the bank.

Knots And Tangles

Whether it’s a loop knot or a clinch knot, you’ll need some knowledge of knots to keep your line in place.

If you’ve never tied a fishing knot before and want to learn how, don’t worry! Knot tying is one of the easiest skills to learn how to do on the fly; it only takes a little practice and patience. Once you get the hang of it, there are all kinds of different knots that can help make your fishing trip more enjoyable and successful. With some basic instruction and practice, even kids can learn how to tie on their own flies when out on the water with parents or friends for an afternoon adventure!

There are going to be tangles, lots of tangles. Your job is to be patient and remind the kids, this is all part of the process. Make sure you have lots of leaders, tippet and a pair of good snippers!

What to Bring

  • Rod
  • Leaders and Tippet
  • Flies
  • Waders (if you need them)
  • Boots or wading shoes. They’re going to get wet.
  • Bug Collector. Collect the bugs you’re imitating and make it educational.
  • Rain gear
  • Snacks and drinks

Fly fishing is a great family activity. It’s good for bonding, learning something new, and getting outside.

Fly fishing is a great family activity. It’s good for bonding, learning something new, and getting outside. In fact, there are many ways to enjoy fly fishing as a family:

  • You can teach your kids how to hold the rod correctly and give them some basic pointers about casting and then let them experiment. There are no bad casts.
  • Go where you know fish are holding. It’s great if they can see the fish. This creates a great opportunity to learn about fish behavior.
  • Focus on the process and learning something new. The fish will come.


Fly fishing is a great family activity. It’s good for bonding, learning something new, and getting outside. I hope this article gave you some ideas on where to start! We have lesson programs and family floats that will help accelerate the learning curve. We’d love to introduce you and your crew to our sport!

Book your flyfishing adventure today!

tourists from usa choose bow river fly fishing in alberta

Why Are Tourists Choosing the Bow River as their Fly Fishing Travel Destination?

tourists from usa choose bow river fly fishing in alberta

If you’re looking for a great fly fishing destination, the Bow River should be at the top of your list. This scenic river offers wild Rainbow and Brown Trout, Rocky Mountain Whitefish, as well as some beautiful scenery.

The Bow is also a great place to spend a weekend camping out or staying in Calgary with all of the luxuries and conveniences that the city offers.

Keep reading to discover how to choose the best fly fishing company package when coming from overseas, and tips to make the most of your trip in Alberta.

fishing guide alberta with trout

Which Fly Fishing Company Offers the Best Packages to International Visitors?

When it comes to finding the best fly fishing company that offers packages to international visitors, there are a few factors that you need to take into consideration.

The first thing you need to think about is what kind of fishing experience you are looking to have. Some companies specialize in freshwater trout fishing, while others offer a saltwater experience found in sea and ocean charters. The Bow River offers some of the best freshwater fishing around.

Once you have narrowed down your search, take a look at the different fishing packages that each company offers.

Many companies have different packages for international visitors, which can include everything from flights and accommodations to fishing guides and equipment rental.

It’s also important to consider the cost of the different packages. Some companies are more expensive than others, but often you get what you pay for when it comes to fly fishing.

Ultimately, the best company for you will depend on your individual needs and budget.

If you are a first-time fly fisher coming from overseas and want a first-class, educational, yet fun and memorable day trip on the water, Bow River Fly Fishing Company is the right choice for you.

We provide all the necessary gear, instructions, and experienced guides to make your adventure a day trip you will remember for a lifetime!

As lifelong students of fly fishing we love to see you pick up on the excitement we feel every time we cast a line. We are happy to work together with you to customize your fly fishing excursions!

We are one of the most popular fly-fishing companies in the Calgary area welcoming visitors from all around the world, including fly fishing enthusiasts from south of the border in the USA, to Europe, and even Australia.

And we are continuing to customize and expand our fishing trip packages to make sure everything is accounted for; especially for visitors coming from overseas.

How to Choose the Best Alberta Fly Fishing Package when Coming from Overseas?

When traveling from overseas, picking the best Alberta fly fishing package can be difficult. You want to make sure you get the most out of your trip, while also ensuring that everything is taken care of for you.

Here are a few tips to help you choose the perfect package:

Package Cost

Some packages are more expensive than others, but it’s important to make sure that you’re getting what you expect for your money.

Location Package

Some packages are located in remote areas, while others are closer to civilization. If you’re looking for a remote experience, be sure to choose a package that’s located in a good fishing area. We’re happy to answer any questions about our Alberta rivers and streams and what they offer for fly fishers.

Travel Plans

Some areas of Alberta are only accessible by plane or boat, so make sure you choose a package that’s close to where you want to fish. We specialize in fishing the Blue Ribbon stretch of the Bow River, below the city of Calgary.

Fishing Type

Alberta offers some great trout fly fishing opportunities, but there are also plenty of other types of fish available in different parts of the province.

Do some research on the different areas and choose one that offers the type of fishing you’re interested in.

family of tourists come from usa, europe, australia on bow river

Package Features

Some packages include all of your meals, while others require you to bring your food. Likewise, some packages include lodging, while others do not.

At Bow River Fly Fishing Company, we offer multiple packages to suit everybody’s needs.

From family fly fishing trips that are kid-friendly and can accommodate 2 parents and 2 kids, to a full-day fly fishing trip where you can spend up to 12 hours with one of our experienced, fun-loving guides.

We’re also offering unique accommodation at Spirit River Ranch near Calgary, situated right on the banks of the Bow River.

Plus, we are open to customizing your fly fishing trip and provide additional resources including but not limited to: Layered clothing appropriate for the season, sunscreen, sunglasses, and more.

Feel free to explore all our offerings and fly fishing packages here.

5 Tips When Booking Your Fly Fishing Trip in Alberta

Planning a fly fishing trip can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging if you don’t know what to do.

We will start with some general tips to make the process easier and ensure that your trip is a success.

Then, we move on to fly fishing tips in Alberta, especially for people coming from overseas.

fly fishing bow river drift boat

Start By Determining What Type of Trip You Want

Do you want to fish for trout in a remote mountain location, experience fishing from a drift boat, or hunt pike in a large lake? Is this a family vacation or a fishing excursion with friends? Are you a first-time fly fisher who wants to spend extensive time with an experienced guide?

Once you know what type of trip you want, start researching destinations that fit your criteria.

Shop Around

There are many great fly fishing destinations out there, so be sure to compare prices and find the one that’s best for you.

Alternatively, you can talk to friends who have been on fly fishing trips and get their recommendations on where to go and what to do when you’re there.

Plan Your Trip Carefully

Make sure you know what each destination has to offer and what type of fishing you’re interested in doing. Also, make sure to research the regulations governing fishing in your destination country or state.

After selecting a destination, book your flights and lodging as soon as possible. Many popular fishing destinations are booked months in advance, so don’t wait until the last minute to make reservations.

fishing guide outfitters netting trout

If you are coming from overseas for a fly fishing trip to Alberta, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Tip 1: Plan Ahead

One of the most important things is deciding when to go. The fishing season in Alberta generally peaks between April and October. If you’re planning to fish the famous Bow River, keep in mind we experience a mountain run off period, where the river becomes unfishable for most of June. Make sure you ask your outfitter about river conditions.

So, when booking your fly fishing trip in Alberta, be sure to ask your guide about the best time of year to go. Some areas are only available for fly fishing during certain times of the year.

Tip 2: Get the Licensing Part Ready

Make sure you are familiar with the regulations and licensing requirements for fly fishing in Alberta. Some specific rules and regulations govern fly fishing in this province, so be sure to know what they are before you go.

Tip 3: Choose your Destination Wisely 

Not all areas of Alberta are created equal when it comes to fly fishing. Therefore, make sure to do some research beforehand to find out which area best suits your interests.

Another thing to consider is what type of fish you want to catch. Alberta is home to many different types of fish, including rainbow and brown trout.

You will want to choose a location that corresponds with the type of fish you are targeting.

Tip 4: Get the Gear Ready

Make sure you have the right gear and equipment for the type of fishing you plan on doing – this can make all the difference in terms of the fly fishing trip experience.

Get fitted for a good-quality fly fishing rod and reel before your trip, and it’s important to have the right gear when heading out on the water. We provide equipment as part of all our packages, please inquire to learn more.

Also, dress appropriately for fly fishing in Alberta. The weather can be unpredictable, so it’s best to come prepared for anything.

fishing guide alberta with trout drift boat

Tip 5: Make Sure You Book with a Reputable Company

There are many fly fishing companies in Alberta, so do your research and choose one that fits your needs. Here are some reasons why choosing a reputable company is a big deal for people coming from overseas:

Experienced Guides

A good fly fishing company will have experienced guides who know the area well and can help you catch fish. They will also be able to teach you the proper techniques for fly fishing at all levels. Our guides are full time, spend a lot of time on the water and love being out there.

Knowledgeable Staff

The staff at a good fly fishing company will be knowledgeable about all aspects of the sport, from casting to tying flies. They can answer any questions you may have and help you get the most out of your trip. At Bow River Fly Fishing Company, you’re booking directly with Scott Smith, owner and head guide.

Quality Equipment

A good fly fishing company will provide high-quality equipment for its guests. At Bow River Fly Fishing Company we provide all that and more! We specialize in working with first-time fly fishers and love to introduce everyone to this pass-time turned obsession.

We offer a wide variety of fishing trip packages and can customize a fishing adventure for your family, a corporate event, or a large group.

Book your fly fishing trips and excursions today!

Bow River Fly Fishing – Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why tourists are choosing the Bow River as their fly fishing travel destination.

The river is known for its world-class trout fishing, and there are many different sections of the river that offer something for anglers of all abilities. The scenery is also spectacular and it’s easy to find a quiet spot to fish on the Bow River.

What’s more, the city of Calgary is located close by, so visitors can enjoy all the amenities of a city while still enjoying the peace and tranquillity of nature.

corporate fly fishing trips bow river alberta

Corporate Fly Fishing Trips on the Bow River in 2022

corporate fly fishing trips bow river alberta

By Scott Smith, Lead Fishing Guide


Grab your team, clients, family and friends and get out of the Office!

Corporate fly fishing trips hosted by Bow River Fly Fishing Company is a great way to appreciate your team, colleagues and customers. The change of scene and a shared, fun activity provides a unique opportunity for your employees, members and colleagues to build better communication, stronger relationships and most importantly, have fun during an adventure of a lifetime!

Bow River Fly Fishing Company is a Bow River Outfitter offering corporate day trips suitable for 12 or less people. Whatever the occasion, perhaps a team member’s birthday, corporate anniversary or celebration for a recent success, our group fishing trips are a perfect fit.

Lessons, Laughs, Lunch and the Odd Fish

Suitable for first time Fly Fishers and Experienced Anglers alike. We’ll have most people casting well enough to catch fish within 15 minutes of picking up the fly rod.

Our guided fishing experiences take the pressure of all the details and lets you and your team focus on the adventure at hand, learning new skills and taking in the breath-taking views along the Bow River valley. We may also encounter a variety of wildlife, from hawks and eagles to deer and elk.

Experience tells us when you focus on a new task, your mind relaxes. The daily challenges and bothers often take a break while you learn or improve on a repetitive skill.

For us, the best part of the day is watching someone get more confident as the day goes on. We’ve seen so many catch their first fish on a Fly Rod, or even their first fish ever. It’s also exciting to see your co workers or friends hook up as you cheer them on!

Bragging rights and Side Bets are welcome for biggest, smallest, and most trout to the net, or whatever you can dream up!

We’ll stop a few times so you can shore fish in some choice spots, catch up with your crew and lie about how big your trout was. (The guide may or may not back up your story.)

corporate fly fishing trip bbq bow river alberta

The Best Fishing Spots Along the Bow River

Lunch will be set up and provided as a group. A great time to wander around, take it in and get those news letter pics.

The Bow River offers a variety of trout fishing from April to November each year. Our fishing guides will take you to some of the best fishing spots on the Bow, either from the shoreline or from our drift boats.

We can plan a fully catered lunch for your group, that may include a BBQ and snacks for your full day on the river.

We provide quality fishing gear and safety equipment for all participants. Read the details on our Booking page.

Here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Yes, there is a good chance you will hook some trout.
  • Yes, we provide all the gear, Rods, Leaders, Flies, etc.
  • Yes, you need a Valid AB Sport Fishing License.
  • No, you don’t need any experience.
  • Yes, we can heckle the other boats in your group.
  • Yes, we provide lunch. Typically, a damn fine BBQ spread.
  • No, you can’t keep the fish. Catch and Release Only.
  • Yes, timing, pick up, etc. is always customized to your group needs.

large group fly fishing trips bow river alberta

Corporate Fly Fishing Trips = Great Day Out of the Office

Great for Team Building, Retirement Gifts, Client Appreciation, and a great way to re-charge.

Our little team love what they do. Great teachers, with endless patience and each think they’re funny and entertaining.

Look at our video, stalk around the website and let us know if we can put a package together for you and your crew.


Learning to Fly Fish may have the following side effects:

  • Increased Time Off a.k.a “Fishin’ Fridays”.
  • Lies to significant others about how much your fishing gear cost.
  • A surplus of solitude.
  • Annoying habit of pointing out the names of bugs.
  • On walks along any river with your spouse, you will point out every spot a fish should be holding. (They love this.)

Book your large group or corporate fly fishing trip this season!

learn how to fly fish with guide bow river

Discover Fly Fishing Lessons for Beginners in Alberta

By Scott Smith, Lead Fishing Guide 

Welcome to Fly Fishing!

Snake Oil and Magic Beans.

You’ll learn to wave the magic stick over the water and produce fish on every command. You will be flawless in your technique; always make the right fly choice and land every fish you encounter. Your skills will bring fish to your net every time you venture out to your favourite waters.

The truth lies somewhere in the pursuit of perfection, the peace it brings, the need to know what’s around the next corner.  At least that’s why I do it. Your reasons can be entirely something else. Somehow, that makes Fly Fishing a worthy pastime (read obsession) in my opinion.

There are some links included below, so you can explore some of the technical stuff. I can tell you, there is nothing like the real experience of a guided fly fishing excursion!

What Will I Learn on a Guided Trip?

Above all else, Have some fun! This is YOUR Day! Don’t take yourself, or us too seriously. Take lots of pictures.

learn how to tie flies for fly fishing on the Bow River in Alberta.

Fly Fishing Knots and Line

It seems obvious, but often overlooked by new fly fishers. Knots are critical.

Read this great blog post from about how to tie fly fishing knots.

You’ll need to have a few basic knots in your tool belt. We’ll show you a few basics to tie line together and attach your flies to your line. Yes, you will practice these on your trip.

You can learn about specific knots like the improved clinch knot, blood knot, overhand knot, surgeon’s knot and the albright knot.

Many a fine trout has been lost due to a poorly tied knot. It’s never happened to me, but I’ve heard stories.

There are several knots that have no name, but often have colourful adjectives associated with them. You will become an expert at these with a simple flick of your wrist! The line will be tangled so badly and quickly, you’ll be baffled that what’s before you is actually even real!

I find a sense of humour and a decent set of snippers are critical in these situations.

Learn Fly Casting

You must be able to place a fly well enough to fool your quarry. Yes, we can help you do this!

Your first few casts may appear you are trying to swat the fish away intentionally. However, with some practice and some easy-to-follow instruction, you will begin to present the fly with hypnotic precision! Well, maybe not hypnotic or even precise, but well enough to catch fish. That’s all we need on day one!

Where Are the Fish?

Yes, you are moving the line. It’s obeying and landing mostly where you want it to.  Well done! This is fantastic news and a boost to our confidence! Question, how come you’re not catching anything?

Other than seeing the fish you are casting to; you really need to know how to read the water. That is, you need to know where fish are likely to hold.

Fly casting into the water is an excellent start, but the fish are not actually everywhere in a river.

We will go through this process with you the entire trip and teach you the basics. You will be whispering in big trout in no time!

Bugs, So Many Bugs

Yes, Fly selection is important. Size, Colour, Profile, depth, season etc.

I have heard it or read somewhere that trout have an IQ of about 3.

I am not at all concerned that they fool me consistently. I like to believe I’m matching wits with Mother Nature and not just the small minded, single purposed trout. Yeah, Mother Nature is wise and I’m in sync with her.  Makes me feel better on those slow days.

You’re gonna need plenty of flies! I mean, the rainbow trout will eat one of them, right?

Learn more about which bugs Bow River Trout love and prefer throughout the season on our fly fishing resources page.

We will cover bug identification, selection and how to fish them in very basic terms. This will be enough to get you started on your journey.

fly fishing lessons for beginners

 Join Us this Fly Fishing Season near Calgary, Alberta!

Our goal is to introduce you to a pastime that has become a lifelong pursuit for us. We want you to learn to fish and then leave us and see for yourself what’s around the next corner. Oh, and take your fly rod with you.

Book your spot for one of our guided fly fishing trips including our Beginners Float! Get one-on-one fishing lessons from one of our experienced guides and enjoy access to some of the best fishing spots in Alberta.

learn how to fly fish with guide bow river

Fly Fishing Lessons and More!

We offer a variety of fly fishing packages from half day and evening adventures to full day excursions, private shoreline fishing lessons.

We can even put the flies aside and take you on a Bow River sight seeing adventure, where you can experience the beauty of the Bow Valley and Southern Alberta, for its majestic landscapes in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and all of its wildlife.

Learning to Fly Fish on the Bow River could be your next adventure. If so, we’d love to see you. And as always, if you have any questions about our guide services, feel free to contact us here or on social media.

scott. kevin, luke fly fishing guide calgary blog june 2021

Fly Fishing on the Bow River – It’s All About Perspective

Perspective by fly fishing guides Scott, Kevin and Luke in calgary, Alberta


by Luke Russell, Fly Fishing Guide

I truly enjoy taking clients out on the Bow River. For clients, often times their main goal is to catch a fish and have a good time. That’s a great objective but I see an opportunity for so much more. I like to think of the Bow River as a space to catch my breath and gain a new perspective.

It’s astonishing to look up and see an eagle soaring in the clear blue sky or watch a deer quench its thirst on the riverbank. Close your eyes and hear the crashing of the waves on the rocks. Catch a glimpse of a mink that’s come out from the rocks. Run your fingers through the water. Mistakenly think a moose resting is a tree stump. Smell the sweet aroma distinctive to the Bow River.  Feel a drop of water from a potential rainstorm and you have to pull over to hang out in the trees while you wait for it to pass. People often forget that we’re in the Bow valley surrounded by other animals as well.

When I go fishing, I like to take a few moments to just breathe and take in my surroundings. These moments make me forget about everything going on in the world, all my problems or worries seem to disappear. I feel a sense of being at home, a sense of belonging…a level of carefree that can’t be found anywhere else. That’s why I go fly fishing a lot…because it takes my stress away. If a client happens to lose a fish and feels disappointed, I like to remind them that it’s not only about the fishing…it’s about so much more.

So just remember when you’re on your fly fishing trip with Scott, Kevin or myself, to take a look around you and take it all in because you’re in a pretty special place and don’t forget to breathe.

July 2018

From The Guide Seat


I am happy when local fly fishers want to fish the Bow. Most want to know more about the river, how to fish it and mostly which flies to use.

The first thing I like to ask clients when we head out is “Are you confident with your casting and presentation skills?” If not, we are always happy to provide lessons along the way.

I clearly remember the first fish I ever caught on the Bow, after several failed attempts. I was using a #4 Black Wooly Bugger. After I caught that fish, I continued to use that pattern every time I went out, stubbornly not changing the fly for the conditions I was fishing. After all, I caught a fish on it once! I did this for a whole summer, only occasionally changing my fly. And when I did change my fly, I didn’t really know why, other than I wasn’t catching fish on my tried and true magical streamer.

Eventually, through the grace of other Fly Fishers on the river, some books and some advice from local fly shops, I started to learn about the bugs, when they hatch, how to read the water and where fish likely hold during different times of the year.

The very first thing I noticed as I tried new methods and different set ups, was I could cast! I could lay a fly anywhere I wanted. I could perform a roll cast while in tight situations, I could shoot line across the seam, or I could lay a dry fly nice and easy above a rising fish. All those days of casting, getting hooked on the bottom, losing precious Wooly Buggers in trees and grass, and catching myself in the back, actually did me a world of good.

If you are one of the many new to the sport, getting tangled and messed up, keep at it. Soon enough you will find that confidence and the fish will follow.