River Finishing School | Wise River

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Big Hole Lodge

36894 Pioneer Mountains Scenic

Wise River, MT 59762

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Event description
Fly fishing course in the heart of Montana for experienced anglers to advance their skills in an authentic, supportive environment.

About this event

Join the 1st Annual SheJumps River Finishing School: An all-women's, next-level fly fishing and river skills course presented by Orvis and led by professional guide Hilary Hutcheson. Ages 21 & older.

This course is an opportunity for intermediate to advanced fly anglers to build on their fly fishing and river navigation skills in an authentic, encouraging environment. The River Finishing School is a program of the nonprofit SheJumps, a US public charity (68-0662227) dedicated to increasing the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities.

The River Finishing School is offered for only one session in 2021: October 7 - 9, 2021

A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your space.

Topics covered include river trip preparation, decision making, conservation, ethics, being comfortable in the outdoors, as well as some advanced fly fishing and river navigation techniques. Please note: this course will not cover basic casting, knots, entomology or river etiquette. This skillset is a prerequisite to participating in RFS.

In step with the progression of your technical skills, this course nurtures a keen understanding of our pristine natural resources and the steps you can take to protect them. Knowing your role in conservation initiatives is key to building a responsible, sustainable fly fishing community.

Participants will stay at the Big Hole Lodge in Wise River, MT which features a spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains and plenty of space to unwind and connect with fellow course participants. The Big Hole Lodge offers world-renowned wild trout fishing, remarkable cuisine, and comfortable accommodations in a secluded mountain setting – truly one of the classic fly fishing lodge experiences in the American West. Guests stay in rustic, spacious cabins with modern conveniences, only a few steps away from the Wise River. Surrounded by Blue Ribbon trout streams, the Big Hole Lodge is the perfect location to nurture your love of fly fishing and outdoor pursuit.

A typical day starts with an early breakfast, team briefing and gear preparation for a full day of hands-on skill building on the river. River Finishing School combines female led instruction with professionally guided fly fishing, for a well rounded approach to improving and refining your skills to truly find your freedom in fly fishing.

PRICE: $2,475

The River Finishing School is offered for only one session in 2021: October 7 - 9, 2021

A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your space.

Upon submitting your $500 deposit, you will be asked a series of questions pertaining to your fly angling abilities and river experience. You will also be required to provide a couple of references; these should be people with whom you have spent river/fishing time. We strive to ensure our course maintains a similar skill level for participants. First-time fly anglers should not apply for this course. You should have at least two prior seasons of fly fishing in order to get the most out of this course. But please don't let that scare you - feel free to read the FAQ or contact us if you have questions on skill level.

The TOTAL cost of the course is $2,475. You will receive instructions on final payment and payment plans upon acceptance of your application. This Eventbrite registration/application is in conjunction with your deposit (paid here through Eventbrite). This price includes transportation to and from the lodge, all meals, guiding, course instruction, and lodging.

Gratuity for the guides and house/caretakers is not included, please be sure to include the cost of gratuity in your budgeting. We will forward additional info on best practices and industry standards for guide gratuity.

We highly recommend also purchasing trip insurance for this event.

About the Guides:

Hilary Hutcheson, Guide/Owner: Lary’s Fly and Supply

Hilary started her fly-fishing career as a teenage guide in West Glacier, Montana. She guided through college, then took her journalism degree to Portland, Oregon where she worked as a television news anchor and reporter. She eventually returned to Montana to co-own and operate Outside Media and Trout TV for nearly a decade. Today, she's still guiding on the Flathead River and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and owns and runs a fly shop called Lary's Fly & Supply in her hometown of Columbia Falls, Montana. Hilary is a contributing editor at Fly Fisherman Magazine, specializing in conservation reporting. She has produced and/or been featured in a number of fly fishing films, television shows, podcasts, news articles and industry events. Hilary serves on Backcountry Hunters and Anglers North American board, the Northern Rockies River Council of American Rivers, the steering committee for FOAM’s Guiding for the Future School and is an instructor at the School of Trout. She is a climate activist with Protect Our Winters. Hilary is an ambassador for Orvis, Patagonia, YETI, Scientific Anglers, Costa and Loon.

Wade Fellin, Guide/Owner: Big Hole Lodge

Wade is a fifth-generation Montanan deeply rooted in the Big Hole Valley. Wade has guided the rivers of Southwest Montana since 2006 and his deep conservation ethic stems from the same sources of clean, readily available water that attracted his ancestors to the Big Hole Valley, and later led him to study environmental and water law at the University of Montana. In addition to guiding and managing the Big Hole Lodge with his father, Wade is the program director of Upper Missouri Waterkeeper and chairman of the Big Hole River Foundation.


Thursday, October 7

  • 9am – 4pm Check in
  • Optional casting clinics, gear trunk show, rod demos, etc. at Big Hold Lodge
  • 5pm Meet ‘n Greet, Gear Check
  • 6pm Orientation Presentation – Hilary
  • 7pm Dinner
  • 7pm Dinner Program: Future of Fly Fishing (or other conservation topic), Wade Fellin

Friday, October 8

  • 7am Breakfast
  • 8am Meet guides at the lodge
  • 8am On the river for a full day of fishing
  • 4pm Après Party at the lodge
  • 6pm Dinner
  • 7pm Dinner Program: It’s All Home Water, Hilary Hutcheson, presented by Patagonia

Saturday, October 9

  • 7am Breakfast
  • 8am Meet guides at the lodge
  • 8am On the river for a full day of fishing
  • 4pm Après Party at the lodge | End of event

There is an option for participants to book one additional night and fish with Big Hole Lodge guides on Sunday, October 10. If you would like to extend your trip, please contact Big Hole Lodge directly.


Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Please email cpelland@shejumps.org. Please expect 3-5 days before response.

Is my registration/ticket transferrable?

If there is no waitlist, yes, but the person must have the necessary skill and fitness level to participate in the course. If there is a waitlist, we will go in the order of the waitlist. Thanks!

If I have to cancel for some reason, do I get my deposit back?

No. Your deposit is non-refundable. The closer we get to the course, the harder it will be for us to fill your spot. We recommend looking into options for trip interruption/cancellation insurance.

If SheJumps or the lodge cancels the course, do I get my deposit back?

Yes, if the trip gets cancelled from our end, you would be refunded in full.

What does the tuition include?

The tuition covers your transfer from the airport to the lodge, food, accommodation and guiding/instruction. It does not cover your transportation to and from Montana, or food and accommodation for your travel to/from Montana. Tuition does not include guide gratuity.

How skilled an angler do I need to be to take this course?

You need to be able to fly fish in a variety of river conditions. For example, that doesn’t mean you need to be double hauling 80 feet into a teacup, but you would need to be able to rig a rod, tie basic knots and have experience wading and/or floating diverse rivers and casting dry flies, nymphs and streamers.

How fit do I need to be?

You need to be able to hike on variable river terrain, wade class 1 rivers, stand to cast from a drift boat or raft, and be active with the group for a full day of fly fishing. If this amount of fishing pushes you to your limit, it will be difficult for you to focus on the learning objectives. If you are fit enough to be out all day but have a disability that lends to a necessary adjustment, we are happy to work it out.

How much fly fishing experience do I need to have?

Depending on how often you get out, you should have a minimum of 1-2 years. Try to be an honest judge of your skills and experience level when it comes to basic fly fishing objectives. If you are feeling maxed out most of the time, then you may benefit from another season of fly fishing before you come on the RFS.

How rad are we going to get?

Not quite un-barbed hook-in-the-eye rad, but we’ll get plenty rad. This course is intended for intermediate to advanced anglers who are ready for next-level experiences and independent fishing exploration. As always, conditions will dictate where we can go, and to an extent, what we can do, but over the course of the program, you will experience challenging fly fishing scenarios like whitewater fly fishing, downstream safety, various mending and casting techniques and landing big fish on little flies.

What kind of gear do I need?

We will be fishing for trout on 5 and 6 weight rods, mostly with floating line. We will be nymphing, dry fly fishing and streamer fishing. We will provide all terminal tackle and flies. We recommend bringing your own 5 or 6 weight rod and reel – the more you know/use your own gear, the better! However, we can provide a rod and reel if needed. We will send you a full gear/equipment and packing list once your application has been accepted.

How much fishing can we expect to do in a day?

We will fish everyday, however some days will be more focussed on critical skill building and advanced technique. We have a lot of course material to cover, some of which is in the classroom. We will schedule our classroom sessions to allow for maximum river time.

Do you have an itinerary for the week?

Although we do have a set course schedule for the week, we are also at the mercy of the weather/snow conditions, given fall in Montana. We might have glorious, sunny, fall days or we might have snow squalls. Regardless, you will have an authentic Montana angling experience. We might make changes to the schedule in order to maximize our optimum fishing conditions.

Is the week catered or are we expected to cook?

The week is fully catered by the Big Hole Lodge. Perennial chefs Lanette and Sasawndra engineer a culinary experience second to none. Meal hours are scheduled according to fishing conditions and the daily schedule. Lunch is served streamside. It is important to let us know of any dietary restrictions, so the chefs can be prepared to accommodate you.

Do I need to bring a sleeping bag and thermarest?

No. We have comfortable beds and all bed linens are provided.

Can I get a private room?

No. Lodging is provided in shared cabins. Bring earplugs if you are a light sleeper.

Is there wifi at the lodge?

Yes, we use wifi at the lodge to check the weather and fishing reports. People are welcome to use the wifi but there are limits on bandwidth. Please be aware of not being "that person" who's glued to their phone while spending time on a blue ribbon trout stream in the middle of Montana.

When do I need to arrive?

We recommend flying into Butte, MT. Bozeman, MT is also an option but requires a longer shuttle. Ground transportation from Butte and Bozeman are provided. Lodging in Butte or Bozeman before or after the program is not included in the price, but the group of attendees typically work together to find somewhere to stay together. Please plan flights for the following day or late in the evening on the day you fly out to allow ample drive time to the airport, as well as unknown weather conditions.

More questions?

Contact Christy Pelland: cpelland@shejumps.org


SheJumps increases the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities to foster confidence, leadership, and connection to nature and community through free and low-cost outdoor education.

We believe in increasing diversity in the outdoors and providing ALL women and girls with the spark that will lead to a lifetime of outdoor learning and empowerment. We welcome all women and girls (transgender and cisgender) as well as non-binary people who identify with the women’s community.

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Big Hole Lodge

36894 Pioneer Mountains Scenic

Wise River, MT 59762

View Map

Refund policy

Contact the organizer to request a refund.

Eventbrite's fee is nonrefundable.

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