The World’s Best 100 Dude Ranches and Ranch Vacations

October 4th, 2013

Dude Ranches site with

By now you probably know how passionate we are about vacationing and enjoying activities in ranches all over the United States, Canada and even South American countries like Argentina!

To help you quickly plan your next ranch vacation at a dude ranch in states like California, Arizona, Utah or Colorado, we came up with two brand new websites gathering the world’s best 100 dude ranches and ranch vacations: is a site dedicated to Gene Kilgore’s best 100 dude ranches with quick links to various areas of Ranchweb. You can directly search by state, country, type and even by activity. Fly fishing is obviously not left out and quick access to Ranchweb’s fly fishing section is included on the side so you can easily check out the properties that offer your favorite fly fishing activities. is a very similar site but is entirely focused on ranch vacations. It boasts the same layout but concentrates on different types of activities. Here, horseback riding, cattle ranching, rafting and many more are the real interests of the site. Feel free to visit both sites and get started on organizing your next winter vacation! Christmas time is a great time of year to escape the cities and spend some family time surrounded by beautiful landscapes. Happy trails!

Fly Fishing in Winter? You Bet! Here’s How.

January 18th, 2012

For those of us who have unquenchable desires to fish, this quote by the late Stephen “Salty” Saltzman, fishing guide extraordinaire in Argentina, says it all:

“Don’t pay attention to anyone who tells you when is the best time to fish, my friend.  The best time to fish is when you’re fishing.”

Perhaps the ones that agree with this sentiment the most are those who own fly fishing lodges that offer year round opportunities for fellow fishing aficionados. Few things beat the experience of coming back after a brisk afternoon of fishing to a warm, inviting lodge, enjoying delicious hot food, and swapping stories in front of a fire.

To find some of the best lodges open in the winter for fly fishing, visit Gene Kilgore’s Fly Fishing Ranches and Lodges.  Many of the lodges listed here either offer both excellent lodging and fishing, or are located nearby rivers that can be fished year-round.   Three of the finest offering winter fishing are:  Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming, The Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana, and Falcon’s Ledge in Utah.  Staying at one of these lodges is the ultimate experience in winter fly fishing.

Seasons and Mother Nature herself have to be extreme to keep devout fly fishers from finding a way to tie their flies and throw their lines.  There are ways to work around cold weather and plenty of places where the fish are biting.

It may take a little more clothing, time and technique, but nothing beats being out on a clear, crisp winter day in total solitude in the midst of some of the most beautiful and serene natural surroundings that exist.

Staying Warm

The most important element for winter fishing is staying dry and warm, especially feet, head and hands.  Experienced year-round anglers will have winter waders that are a size or two larger than normal, and will layer extensively underneath with loose fitting warm socks, toe warmers between the layers, fleece pants and jacket, and hand warmers and gloves.

Although scientists debate to what extent we lose heat through our head, ski caps and beanies make a marked difference in staying warm and are highly recommended.  In addition, it’s essential to make sure the outer layers are water-tight, as wet conditions in winter can turn lethal quickly in extreme cold.  Along those lines, packing an extra change of clothes, blankets and light provisions can also be useful if traveling by car.  Attire aside, a thermos full of a hot beverage or soup never tastes quite so good as when it’s 32 below outside.

Timing & Technique

Unlike in the warmer seasons, the best time to fish in winter is late morning to early afternoon, when the winds are down, water flows are up and the temperature is warmer.  Fish do feed in winter, but are likely to be found in different locations than in other seasons.  Likewise, they will be moving much slower and biting less aggressively.

The best technique for fly fishing in the winter is to fish deep, use fishing nymphs or bait that imitates food sources in the region, use two flies smaller in size (one as a dropper, usually wet versus dry flies,) and be extremely patient.  For best bait and pattern recommendations, ask around locally as the list varies according to location and month.

Fish aren’t as active so don’t expect the same kind of hits- not only will they be less in number but the bites can be so gentle it’s hard to know whether you have a fish or the bait is merely bumping lightly onto rocks along the bottom.

In addition to fishing deeper and slower, another helpful winter technique is to cast your line much shorter and more measured in an area where you see or suspect fish.  In the winter, fish will tend to group together along the best and warmest areas of a stream, often in pockets along the sides and banks.  The shorter line may help reduce the lines and guides from freezing up as well, or use Ice Off Paste.  When all else fails, simply dip the rod in water to get it moving again.

Those faint of heart may ask if it’s worth weathering winter conditions just to fish.  Long periods of concentration and extreme attention on the line while standing in the freezing cold in hopes of catching even one fish.   For true fly fishermen, Salty’s words quoted above say it all:  The best time to fish is when you are fishing – and for die-hards who love to fish, the waters call and going without due to cold is simply not an option.

The 10 Best Gifts for A Fly Fisherman

December 16th, 2011

The Holidays are upon us and you’re frantically searching for the best gift to give that special someone who is a fly fishing enthusiast.   As fellow freshwater fly fishing aficionados (sometimes referred to as fly fishing fanatics!) we offer our top 10 suggestions for either the novice or expert fisherman in your life.

For those who really want to impress, giving the gift of an unforgettable experience tops our list.   Every year for the past ten years for Christmas, my best friend sets up a fishing trip for the two of us in a spot we’ve never fished before.   This gift of sharing my passion for fresh water fishing in amazingly beautiful locations with my best friend is by far the highlight of my entire year.  If this idea appeals to you, check out our website,, to find the very best places to fly fish in the world.

Second on the list- again the inspiration of my best friend/life-time fishing buddy- is to invest in the purchase of an electric bicycle.  What does an electric bike have to do with fishing???  Check out the picture of me, on a day outing to a remote location with the U-Boat and complete fishing gear on my back.  I could never have experienced this day trip without a little electrical help to not only speed me on my way but carry my load.  The U-Boat weighs in at a mere 7 pounds (when empty) and comes with back pack straps, an exceptional float for fly fishing in a lake or gentle waters.  Both the bike and the U-boat help reach places otherwise inaccessible.   A little unusual, and yet an unforgettable gift that lasts a lifetime!

Sticking with the unusual, another unique gift idea is to purchase a “Lure of the Month” from Fishing Enthusiast.   Much like a Wine-of-the-Month club, only instead of wine, each month a premium lure arrives at your doorstep in a beautiful gift box with the history of the lures included.  A gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.

Next up, would be have to be a tried-and-true classic:  a Rod or Reel.  Regardless of how many rods and reels may be in the collection, there can never be too many.  For the experienced, try reels such as the Tibor Everglades, Hardy Perfect, or Wheatley Fly Box.  For the more novice fly fisherman, Redington’s Voyant fly-rod outfits are perfect for those just learning.  The smooth-casting outfit comes ready for fishing right out of the box and is available in various weights for both fresh and saltwater use.

For the technology-savvy fisherman, apps for computers, iPhones, and smartphones can make great gifts.  Favorite fly-fishing apps are FlyBench, FishHead, Orvis Fly-Fishing, and Hatch.   Some of the Apps are free, so your gift would be merely showing how to best fully utilize the apps for fishing.  Other technological gadgets to consider would be a fishfinder, a sonar unit that allows one to explore below the surface, or a handheld GPS unit that shows geographic and topographic data to help anglers navigate to and from fishing spots.

New tackle can always come in handy, yet recommending specific tackle for fresh water fly fishing is almost impossible as there are thousands of types depending on the fish species running in the specific regions during different times of the year.  Having a fly kit with an assortment of flies can be used in a variety of situations.  To see an expansive selection, check out Rene Harrop’s fly collection with over 1300 patterns and sizes to choose from.

For those that enjoy a drink or two along the river or in the afterglow of a good catch, there are several gift ideas.  Dry Fly Distilling, created by and for fly fishers, produces the finest vodka, gin and whiskey, presented in thematically designed bottles at affordable prices.  In addition, one of the nicest selections of fly fish themed flasks, glasses, tumblers and other containers are available at The Rogue Angler.

The last three of the ten top gift ideas for the avid angler are:

  • Tools– such as fishing pliers, multi-tools, fishing nets, scissors, tackle boxes, etc.  I ordered five of the Micro-Tool – a great hand-sized tool that covers almost every need.
  • Clothing and Accessories– wading boots, waders, rain gear, sunglasses, backpacks and the like.  My two favorite for this season are the new Guide Wading Boots that have an interchangeable sole system and the Orvis Angler’s Day Pack, customized specifically for fly fishers.
  • Books and Videos– instructional as well as guide and recreational books and videos make great gifts.  Subscriptions to fishing magazines included in this category as well.


These are just a few of the many gifts sure to be enjoyed by anyone who loves to fly fish.  We wish you a happy and safe holiday season and many happy days throughout the year on the water!

Take a Deluxe Fishing Trip to the Big Sky State at the Ranch at Rock Creek

August 4th, 2010

If you’re an angler looking for a luxurious escape to the wilderness, the recently opened Ranch at Rock Creek is the place for you. The ranch has access to a creek with one of Montana’s highest fish counts along with spectacular accommodations that rival with those of the Resort at Paws Up.

Owned by James Manley, a banker from Connecticut, this gorgeous property, with views of Montana’s stunning landscape, is located 75 minutes from the Missoula airport. Manley searched for over 20 years to find the perfect place where he could share his passion for the West and, in the Spring of 2010, he finally opened the doors of a ranch that lived up to his boyhood dreams.

The ranch has a wide variety of recreational options for its guests. One of the highlights is fly fishing the property’s four mile stretch of the Blue Ribbon ranked Rock Creek. In this creek, famous for its salmon-fly hatch, anglers have ability to catch seven different species including: west-slope cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, cut-bow trout, brown trout, brook trout, bull trout, and the Rocky Mountain whitefish.

Fly fishing is also available in the five ponds stocked with trophies, each with its own unique ecosystem and trout species.

And as if all this was not enough to satisfy, some of the best known trout rivers in the country are just a short drive away, giving anglers the chance to fish in the Bitterfoot, the Clark Fork, the Blackfoot and/or Big Hole.

For the non-anglers of your party, adventure can be found through horseback riding trips, hiking, biking through the mountains, paint ball, archery, and sporting clays. And for those who need a little rejuvenation, Rock Creek has a full-service spa with massage therapy, facials, and hair and nail styling available. With so many choices and a concierge staff eager to help guests plan a trip full of fun, the opportunities for enjoyment are limitless.

After a successful day of fly fishing, guests return to breathtaking lodging which includes nine suites, a log cabin, and eight canvas-walled tents. A working ranch for 120 years, the architecture looks authentic and rustic from the outside. But Manley has made sure lavish amenities await inside.

The Granite Lodge is home to the dining room, which serves organic and local food, a saloon, pool tables, a 14 foot HD television, and even a four-lane bowling alley. The nine rooms available in this building are themed to have an iconic Western feel.

In addition to the other rooms and cabins available, Rock Creek’s most notable accommodations are the tents found yards from the creek that give guests a rustic camp atmosphere while still providing all the desired comforts.

With doubles starting at $1,600 (all inclusive), the Ranch at Rock Creek is not to be missed for those searching for an outdoorsy, yet plush getaway.

Craig Fellin Outfitters & Big Hole Lodge Offers a Personalized Fishing Experience for Anglers

July 1st, 2010


Located in southwestern Montana, Craig Fellin Outfitters & Big Hole Lodge offers quality fly fishing, western, and lodging experiences for anglers in the spring, summer, and fall seasons.

Trips are available on various outstanding fishing rivers including the Big Hole River, Bitterfoot River, and Ruby River. Fishing is also available on Rock Creek and private creeks located throughout the property.

With experienced and enthusiastic guides eager to help you improve your skills during your fly-fishing adventure, Big Hole is the ideal place for visitors to advance quickly in the sport. As one of the guides, owner and operator of the lodge, Craig Fellin, ensures his guests are getting the most out of their visit.

Craig Fellin delivers personalized service and warm hospitality to all his guests by limiting the capacity of the lodge to 12. The ranch offers spacious private cabins with modern amenities and beautiful views of the Wise River Valley and Pioneer Mountains. Guests are also treated to delicious western meals prepared by Chef Lannette Evener, who has been working at Big Hole for 14 seasons.

For anglers, or their spouses, looking to enjoy activities other than fly-fishing, Big Hole offers float and camp trips down the Big Hole River, guided tours of local attractions, such as museums and a historic battlefield, horseback riding, bicycling, hot springs, local rodeos, and hiking. Welcomes The Resort at Paws Up

June 2nd, 2010 is pleased to welcome The Resort at Paws Up to our site.

Equipped with decadent vacation homes and luxury tents for those wishing to go “glamping,” the resort is the ideal place to experience the breathtaking wilderness of Montana with all the comforts and amenities of a five-star hotel.

Owned by David and Nadine Lipson, Paws Up is located within the golden triangle of western trout fishing. Known for being one of the best spots in the United States for fly-fishing, the golden triangle is where several legendry rivers, including the Missouri, Clark Fork, and the Bitterfoot join together at Glacier National Park.

With access to some of the most acclaimed rivers and finest trout in the country, Paws Up offers various invigorating fishing trips:

  • Blackfoot Fly-Fishing: The resort is an angler’s paradise with 10 private miles of the Blackfoot on the property. With half-day or full-day trips available on this river, guests can enjoy fishing for Cutthroat and Rainbow trout.
  • Clark Fork Fly-Fishing: Half-day or full-day trips are also offered on the Clark Fork. However, due to the size of this river and its long riffles and runs, most of the fishing for Brown and Rainbow trout is done from the boat.
  • Missouri Fly-Fishing: Guests can part-take in day float trips down the Missouri, located just 90 minutes from the resort. This legendry, gentle-sloped river is the perfect place for Rainbow trout fishing.
  • Paws Up Outfitters: Another way for anglers to enjoy the backcountry of Montana is through Paws Up Outfitters. Luxurious 5 or 7 day float trips are available for visitors who want the non-stop adventure of fishing in these legendry rivers.

To protect the rivers and their inhabitants, Paws Up requires that all visitors partake in catch-and-release fishing. This practice is part of a larger sustainability effort developed by the resort known as iPreserve at Paws Up.

For more information about The Resort at Paws Up and reservation requests, visit its profile page located on


April 27th, 2010

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