Stillwater Anglers Benefits of Fly Fishing

5 Mental Benefits of Fly Fishing That Will Surprise You

Avid fly fishers probably don’t need to be convinced of all of the benefits of fly fishing, but novice anglers might be surprised at just how good it really is for you. Imagine your first great catch. Remember the light breeze on your face as the sun shines down, the peaceful walk to the river, the sound of the water splashing against the rocks and the chirping birds. That first pull on your line that has your heart racing with excitement. And after a quick tug of war game with what you know is a big trout, you finally reel it in. Remember the way you hold him gently in the water, and the way your smile looks in the photo your family or guide took before you release him back into the stream.

Did we just describe the best feeling ever? Let’s discuss more of the benefits of fly fishing that might just surprise you.

Did You Know These 5 Surprising Benefits of Fly Fishing?

We all know how fun and enjoyable fly fishing can be, but there are actually some mental and physical benefits of fly fishing that you might not be aware of. Here we talk about 5 simple benefits that you can use as excuses to get out of chores or work and get out on the water.

Promotes Dexterity and Exercise

The physical act of walking to the river and hunting for new spots, standing and wading all afternoon, and the act of casting and recasting all aids to the benefit of getting a great workout. The continual ritual of casting over and over again promotes balance and coordination. Standing still while on top of slippery rocks works out your core, those smaller muscles in your abdomen and lower back.

Plus, pretty much everything about fishing, from attaching flies to casting, can help to keep your hands, wrists, and forearms nimble and strong. Without even realizing it, you’re getting a great full body workout. And we didn’t even talk about those people who use canoes or boats and have to paddle to the spot they want!

Works Out The Brain

Have you thought about how much fly fishing works out the brain? From perfecting your cast to anticipating where the fish will be, fly fishing is patient work. It takes patience and practice to cast to the place you want, and it uses brain power to be able to perfect new techniques. Imagine how your brain works when fly fishing. The focused attention and rapid reaction time will likely strengthen your mind, and the thrill of catching a fish will give your brain a dopamine boost that elevates your mood. Plus, being outdoors restores attention and gives you a boost of energy you might not find inside.

Even just the act of using your eyes and memory to locate the fish and learn each stretch of water increases your mental capacity in ways you might not find while sitting at the office. Plus the act of making your own flies and matching the flies you have with the insects on the water boosts the creative and intellectual process.

Encourages Family Time or Togetherness

One of the biggest reasons people go fishing is to spend time with their family, friends, or significant others. Even if they aren’t as into fly fishing as you, they can still enjoy the benefits of fly fishing just by being around you and out in nature. When we are out enjoying the world and being in awe of nature, we naturally feel more helpful and cooperative with others.

Celebrating each other’s catches, being inspired by nature, and enjoying time in the great outdoors is a great way to connect with your loved ones, especially without the distraction of phones, tablets or screens.

Helps Decrease Stress

No matter where you go today, people everywhere are always talking about how tired and stressed they are. Everyone is anxious for a break from the busyness of everyday life. We think fly fishing might just be the cure. Peaceful nature, a little quiet from the constant noise of our jobs and homes, and the careful rhythm associated with fly fishing is a form of meditation that experienced anglers experience as often as they can.

Think about it. Have you ever met a high strung angler? We are guessing not. We think a big reason for that is because some of the benefits of fly fishing include stopping to smell the roses, so to speak. Frequent fishers will talk about the fish they caught, but they will also talk about the incredible views they saw, the wildlife they stumbled across, and how great their day was.

Builds Conservation Awareness

Fly fishing is a great way to learn about conservation of both fish and rivers. Without clean water, there are no fish, and of course, if there’s no fish, there is no fishing. Here are Stillwater Anglers, we practice catch-and-release fly fishing, because we understand the reality of an overfished river. If there is an abundance of fishing in one lake or river, they might need to be stocked with fish born in hatcheries.

Stocking fish could pollute water with concentrated fish waste and unnecessary antibiotics. These stocked fish have the potential to drive out native species and deplete the natural food supplies. For more information on trout conservation and how you can play a part, visit Montana Trout Unlimited.

Lucky for us, Montana is one of the only states that does not stock moving waters, which means every fish you catch here is wild.

Now You Know

Now you know all of our favorite mental health benefits of fly fishing. Fly fishing is a great way to relax, break out of the busy and hectic schedule we force ourselves into, and find some much-needed peace. Out there on the water, we lower our blood pressure, de-stress, and gain a little clarity for what is really important in life.

Are you ready to plan your next trip? We sure are! View all of our packages here and let us know what we can do to make your next guided Montana adventure the best one yet.


  • I have written about this for myself. I have PTSD and had dramatic weight gain when I got home from West Africa due to depression. I moved to Montana and went from being nearly 400 pounds to being just under 260 now. Still a big ole hoss but with a lot less big ole…and just a hoss now. Good article. We are heading up possibly to the Stillwater today…hope it’s the same as it was when you wrote the report!

    John Abshire,
    • River is coming up a tad and has a touch of color in the lower river. You should be ok going up above Absarokee.

      Chris Fleck,
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