The Anglers Academy

by | Jan 28, 2022

At Big Sky Anglers we believe strongly in the value of education and how it pertains to the world of flyfishing. We have seen and continue to see on a daily basis our customers’ and our own levels of enjoyment increase as we learn more about this great sport and its many facets. It is a stated goal of ours to share flyfishing with our customers and to help them learn how to get the most out of it, whether they are on a guide trip with us or just happen to stumble over our threshold in search of a little fishing information. Education can take many forms, from casting and knots to entomology and tying flies. It can also be just learning to enjoy flyfishing in another way than you have previously experienced.

Flyfishing schools have been in existence for some time, the most well-known and long-standing is likely the Wulff School of Flycasting located in the Catskill Mountains of New York State. A rich part of West Yellowstone’s flyfishing history is due, in part, to the many great instructors, anglers, and customers of the Fenwick Flycasting School located just out of town near Targhee Pass in the 70s and 80s.

These days flyfishing schools are becoming available in a less-institutional format, and range from hours-long classes at a local fly shop to outfitters and guides hosting groups for a few days at a time during windows of time that are off-peak season. There is one particular school of note on the horizon that aims to become one of the high-quality institutions of learning in this fine sport. It is generally designed to cater to anglers who have some experience and are looking for more, thoughtfully put together to teach customers to be self-sufficient anglers. This institution was founded by a very close friend of ours and a well-respected fishing guide of many years and is called the Anglers Academy.

Long time angling and guiding veteran of the Yellowstone area, John Hudgens, has carefully put together a program that combines classroom learning, casting demonstrations, and hands-on sessions with on-the-water presentations. The Anglers Academy’s Signature 5 Day Program comprehensively covers a wide breadth of flyfishing’s many skillsets and includes not only basic elements of the following topics, but also advanced sessions that promote higher learning:

-Leaders and tippets
-fishing knots
-fisheries biology
-fly lines
-rise forms
-how to approach different kinds of water
-fish handling and photography
-wading in rivers
-boat fishing
-reading the water
-various techniques for dry fly, nymphing, and streamer fishing
-there is a large focus on casting mechanics and increasing participants’ skillset here to increase their angling experience.

When John invited me to come and be part of his terrific staff of instructors, I was happy to accept and join the ranks of some true professionals. I truly enjoy sharing flyfishing with anglers interested in learning more, and to able to do so alongside a staff of such great people has been a wonderful experience. The sessions are small enough (limited to 12 students) to have a high instructor-to-student ratio, this allows for a highly interactive program that encourages discussion and further exploration into topics being discussed during presentations. The base of knowledge of the instructors involved is vast and the level of professional teaching experience is immediately apparent. The roster of instructors and presenters includes a number of heavy hitters who I am flattered and excited to be working alongside John Juracek, Simon Chu, Bob Jacklin, Mike Lawson, Bob Lamm, John Hudgens, Bryan Gregson, to name a few.

For 2022, the Anglers Academy is offering three courses:

Women’s Course at The Madison Double R Lodge – Ennis, Montana – “Luxury accommodations and fine food, with a hands-on curriculum that will take your fly fishing to a fun and improved new level”
Dates:  May 1 – 5, 2022 
Package Rate:  4 nights / 3 days (based on double occupancy) is $4,995.00 per person 

Advanced Course at Harriman State Park – Last Chance, Idaho – “The opportunity to earn your Ph.D. in Angling at one of fly fishing’s most renowned locations”
Dates:  July 24 – 29, 2022 
Package Rate:  5 nights / 4 days (based on double occupancy) is $5,995.00 per person

Signature Course at Elk Creek Ranch – Last Chance, Idaho  – “The perfect program for dedicated fly anglers looking to step up their game and achieve complete autonomy on the water”
Dates:  August 6 – 11, 2022 
Package Rate: 5 nights / 4 days (based on double occupancy) is $4,995.00 per person

The courses are all-inclusive, in that they include the cost of meals, beverages (including beer and wine), lodging, and all professional instruction/presentation.

I will personally be teaching and presenting at the Advanced and Signature courses, and am already looking forward to it. Some of the topics I’ll be covering are basic and advanced streamer fishing techniques, as well as some discussions and presentations on different water types and how to best approach them. Fly casting will be a daily session for everyone with all instructors contributing. For any of you who would like to further your angling education, enjoy a week of comradery, make some new friends and connections, and emerge as a better flyfishing angler, I encourage you to have a look at the Anglers Academy’s website. You can email us directly for more details or questions as well.


Hope to see you there!

-Jonathan Heames
Co-owner, Big Sky Anglers