Your name or any nicknames you have?

Nathan Painter, never really had any nicknames growing up but I do go by Nate on occasion.  

Where are you at in the world? Where will you be fishing this year?

I was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana and am currently attending Montana Tech in Butte. I’m hoping to get a trip to fish some salt in before the end of the year.

What river(s) and lake(s) do you guide/fish?

I’m not a guide but I spend most of my time on the Missouri, Big Hole, Clark Fork, and Upper Blackfoot Rivers, Clark Canyon Reservoir, and various small creeks throughout the state. 

How long have you been guiding/fly fishing? 

I tried fly fishing here and there growing up, but the passion really started when I was around 14, I’m currently 20. 

What got you into fly fishing? When did you start? 

It started from when I was born really, my dad works from home so he was always able to take me out fishing, hunting and anything else outdoors. Like most, I started with just a spinning rod until I was old enough to have the patience to try fly fishing. Fishing an ice off spawn on Holter Lake with my dad when I was 14 is what really got me to put down the spin rod and get into fly fishing. There were huge fish everywhere, and we caught a lot of them, but the people using spin rods just didn’t have the success. I got home and started reading more about fly fishing and watching videos and have been hooked ever since. 

Why do you fly fish?  What does it “do” for you?

I couldn’t list all the reasons I fly fish and what it does for me but growing up I always loved spending as much time outdoors as I could and never turned down a fishing trip. When I was younger, like most, it was always about catching fish and not a whole lot else. As I got older I started to realize it wasn’t about just catching fish. When I put down my spinning rod and started fly fishing I sort of obsessed over it… I fly fish because of all of the amazing and beautiful places it has taken me over the years and all of the awesome people I’ve met along the way. I remember for a while I was going up to the North 40 Fly Shop almost daily after school whether it was for more tying materials or to just drool over the reels and rods I couldn’t afford. I actually ended up getting a job there in the middle of my senior year of high school and have worked there the past two summers. The more time I spend in the fly shop the more people I meet that are into fly fishing as much if not more than me. The community around the fly fishing industry and all the friends I’ve made and people I’ve met by being part of it is a big part of why I fish.  

I guess what fly fishing does for me is provide an escape from all the stress of school and every day life. When I’m out on the water it’s like nothing else matters in the whole world and I can relax. 

If you own and use a Rod Vault, what do you like about you Rod Vault?

I do own a rod vault, and have for the last 4 or so years, and I truly can’t say enough good things about it. Not having to break down my rods every time I leave the river or switch spots is huge. It’s always been super nice to just be able to pull off the road and go if you run into a new spot that just looks too fishy not to try. If you don’t have one, get one!

What is a piece of advice you want to give to other anglers or a tip/trick that has helped you grow as an angler?

Get involved in the community, fish as much as you can, and enjoy every minute of it. The more people you know and talk to the more questions you can ask and stories you can listen to or tell. Most if not all of my fly fishing knowledge has come from watching videos, asking people for help, and just getting out and fishing and learning through trial and error and talking to other fisherman with much more experience than me. Learning your local river and understanding where fish will and won’t be and being able to “read the water” is also a huge part. 

Who has influenced you most as an angler?

There are a handful of people that have influenced me as an angler but, my dad has influenced me the most. If he hadn’t taken me fishing growing up and taught me to love the outdoors I probably wouldn’t even be writing this blog. He taught all the basics of fishing from tying knots to tying flies and patience and bought me my first fly rod setup. Sam Wike, Fred Telleen, and Paul Considine have also helped me out immensley and taught me tons about fly fishing and the industry in the last 3 years.

What’s your favorite new piece of gear?

The only new gear I’ve gotten in the last few months is a Montucky 56 fly reel from The Fly project.  Check them out if you haven’t already!

What is your favorite fly? (To tie, or catch fish on?)

I don’t have a specific favorite pattern to tie but I enjoy tying streamers the most. My favorite fly to catch fish on is probably the balanced leach. It just doesn’t fail whether you strip it, dead drift it, or drop it under an indicator. 

Best catch of all time?

I haven’t been fishing for very long in comparison to a lot of people out there but its still hard for me to chose my best catch of all time. My first pike on the fly really stands out to me though. I put in so much time fishing for them in the lower Missouri one summer and just never could get one, the one time I did hook one I was lazy and didn’t put on a steel leader, rookie mistake I know, and after a few minutes of an intense fight the line went dead and he was gone. I did however finally luck out at the end of the summer at Pishkun Reservoir and I landed my first pike. He was only 20 inches or so long so here’s a picture of a bigger one from that day.  

What's your "Dream Trip"? 

My dream trip would be the Seychelles for GT hands down. 

What are some of the best places you’ve been fishing?

Various alpine lakes throughout Montana that you have to hike to have been my favorite places to fish. There’s usually very few people at them and they’re full of fairly uneducated fish that can make for an awesome day. The scenery is almost always amazing as well. 

How do people follow you on social media or reach you? 

Instagram: @montana_flyfisherman 


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