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Steamboat Magazine

Sincere Services – Steamboat Flyfisher

12/05/2019 02:28PM ● By Alesha Damerville

By Alesha Damerville

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – “I realized something on the ride. I realized if I wait until I'm not scared to try new things, then I'll never get to try them at all.” ― Marie Sexton

Trying a new sport can be intimidating. A little help makes any new experience a more pleasurable one. 

Johnny Spillane, a three-time Nordic combined Olympic silver medalist and Steamboat local, started flyfishing at the age of six. "I've been fishing my whole life. It's always been my other passion aside from skiing," Spillane says. 

His love for the sport inspired him to purchase Steamboat Flyfisher in 2013. The shop opened in the 1980s and is a popular outfitter among visitors and locals alike. The shop is clean, modern and full-service. Whatever gear or guidance you're seeking, you're covered – regardless of the time of year.  

Spillane’s love for the sport runs deep. He even finds happiness in others’ enjoyment. "It's fun to be around people who are going fishing – the people that come into the shop are excited to be here," he says. 

Spillane recommends winter flyfishing. "Most of the time you have the river to yourself; there aren't as many people out doing it,” he says. “You're using smaller flies, but the fish stay in pretty predictable spots, so we have really good days all winter long." 

Flyfishing is a great sport for all ages. "It's a relaxing sport and it gets you outside,” Spillane says. “It can take you to really cool places all around the world." 

Spillane has fished around the world and thinks others could greatly benefit from doing the same. After visiting Argentina, he decided it should be the first location of his newly created hosted trips offer. "It's a really unique trip, we're headed way up north where they have the dorado, which is a very challenging fish to catch." 

Depending on the runoff, Steamboat Flyfisher begins offering float trips during the late spring, and every trip is west of town. "You lose yourself out there," Spillane says. "We float from the KOA to nearly Craig. There is quite a bit of river we can cover there."  

Steamboat Flyfisher's guides are pros. "We've got a great group of guides. In the summer when we're running full-steam we have around 25 guides. They're all very personable and fun to go fishing with. To guide with us, we go fishing with you to see what you know and that you'd make a good companion, they then shadow with a head guide who in turn provides feedback to help them become a better teacher. It's one thing to be a good fisherman, it's another to be good at teaching someone how to fish."

Steamboat Flyfisher offers a number of clinics. In the spring, they host an open clinic and a women's only clinic. The clinics are very detailed, and attendees will learn about aquatic life do's and don'ts, the varying bug species that entice the local fish population, how to cast, how to tie knots and the low-down on gear. 

"It's been great to get a lot of new people into flyfishing – it's fun to watch them learn," Spillane says. 

Success starts with attitude, and Spillane’s positive attitude is contagious for new flyfishing students.  

To learn more about Steamboat Flyfisher visit