The oldest fly shop in Missoula, Montana, sits along one of the busiest streets, Higgins Avenue, known to locals as the Hip Strip. The Missoulian Angler opened its doors in 1987 and has been serving fly-fishing enthusiasts in Missoula ever since. Taylor Scott, a 29-year-old fifth-generation Missoulian and fourth-generation fly-fisherman, recently purchased the shop from Russell Parks in 2016.
“I enjoy it and it’s been fun so far,” Scott said. “I basically do the same stuff and I get to see the same people, the back end of the business is a little different though.” Scott has been working in fly shops since he was 18 and has been guiding at The Missoulian Angler since he was 19. The original owner, Paul Kohler, passed away years ago and the shop was bought by Russell Parks. “Paul was known for his fly-tying,” Scott said. “It was kind of the tying shop in town and we’ve tried to continue that tradition. We like all of our employees to be real knowledgeable in fly-tying to follow the foot steps that Paul left.”
Scott said that Kohler was a great fly-tyer but was a little angry at times, he aims to have a higher standard of customer service nowadays. “We still have a few of the original people that worked for Paul, like Ron Beck,” Scott said. “He used to be a guide now he just works in the shop and he’s a teacher over at Sentinel. Pretty cool, he’s been here since the 1980’s.”
Fly-fishing has been around longer than 40 years, Scott said a lot of guys used to tie flies around town and just sell them out of their garage through word of mouth. “Franz Pott, who lived up in the Rattlesnake had some pretty cool patterns, he was a super popular tier back then. He had the Lady Mite and the Sandy Mite. There’s guys that still love them to this day, they’re about a 20 minute to a half-hour fly,” Scott said.
The Missoulian Angler has about 15 fly patterns that are unique to the shop. “The top dog of them all would be the PK,” Scott said. The PK stands for the Paul Kohler stone fly and Scott said it’s their best seller and most popular fly regardless of where you fish it. The staff ties some fly variations that you will only see in The Missoulian Angler.
The Missoulian Angler is a full service outfitter with six employees and over 50 independent guides working with them. The shop is one of three outfitters that floats Rock Creek and also guides on the Bitterroot, Clark Fork, Clearwater, Missouri and Blackfoot. “If a client wants to go somewhere else we’ll take them wherever,” Scott said. “We have guides that have clients for five to 10 days and they go to a new river every day. That’s sort of their thing to take you on the Montana tour.”
About 80 percent of The Missoulian Angler‘s clientele is from out of state and about 5 percent is from out of the country. Scott said they get repeat customers every year, one in particular he has taken on the river six years straight. “It was his first time fishing and we were on the Blackfoot and he caught about a 12 inch cutthroat and a bully came up and grabbed it. He ended up reeling it all the way in, I netted the bull trout and he spit out the first cutthroat and another 12 inch cutthroat. I had three fish flopping around in my net and the guy had no idea what he had just done. Nobody catches three fish with one cast.” All three fish were still alive and released Scott said.
If you are interested in booking a guided float please visit The Missoulian Angler on the web. Stay tuned to their website and IFlyFishMontana for information about their 30-year anniversary party and sale.