The School of Trout

Want to learn from the best?
brown trout with reflection
Photo: Chad Shmukler

It’s simple. The best way to become an exceptional angler is to buy the gear you need and head for the river. Not for an hour, mind you, or a day, or a week. Not for a month, even. But for years, and then decades.

Most of us — at least those of us who are passionate about our fishing — want to improve our skills by spending more time on the water. A lot more time on the water. We hope to throw ourselves into fly fishing with the passion of Albert Einstein searching for E=MC2 or Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel … after which we will emerge, having traveled a path filled with tangles and pitfalls, as the angler we have the potential to be. And we'll have done it on our own, which is a marvelous thing indeed.

Honestly, there’s no better way to learn than through observation, through trial and error, and by coaxing an important lesson from every single mistake we make on the water. It’s how I've tried to do it. It’s how most of the great anglers I’ve run across over the years have done it. All it takes is an unlimited supply of time and patience.

Sadly, though, despite all the advantages of modern life — and they are many — it’s rare to have unlimited free time. For those of us unable to spend a hundred or more days on the water each year (read: almost all of us), it’s learn where you can, when you can, and hope for the best.

Which is why great teachers make such a huge difference, and that’s true whether those teachers are guides, casting instructors, angling friends, or well-meaning strangers. A fly fisher can grow as much during a day spent with a great teacher as he or she can during a year spent plying the water; experimenting, failing and succeeding.

If only there were a school of trout where people who love the outdoors could visit for a week; where they could talk to, hang out with, and learn from, the finest fly fishing instructors in the world.

Well, here’s a little good news. As of 2018 there is indeed a School of Trout where, for roughly the price of a stay at a typical Alaskan lodge, you can spend a week on one of the finest rivers in America with some of the world's most renowned fly anglers and instructors.

The School of Trout is the brainchild of fly fishing writer and former guide Todd Tanner, whose essays, conservation stories, and how-to articles frequently grace the virtual pages of Hatch Magazine. Tanner will bring together fly fishing icons like Tom Rosenbauer, Bob White, Kirk Deeter, Tim Romano, Hilary Hutcheson, John Juracek and Craig Mathews this October at Trouthunter on the Henry’s Fork. Together, they’ll host a dozen students who want to learn as much as they possibly can from some of America’s finest fly fishers. (Who, as luck would have it, also happen to be an incredibly fine group of people to spend a week with).

The School of Trout is by invitation only. Prospective students are invited to look over the school’s website and then send in an application. If you know someone who would like to spend a week learning lessons from, and honing their skills with, some of the most respected, knowledgable anglers in the world, then be sure to have them visit

It's also very much worth mentioning that Hatch Magazine has helped sponsor a partial School of Trout scholarship for one lucky angler. Details are on the website.

Hatch Magazine is proud to endorse the new School of Trout.


Great idea to keep more people out of the fly fishing activity. Super expensive, and by invite only. As if we are not viewed as elitist enough...

Chet, a couple quick points. A school, by its very definition, teaches people how to do things. In this case, we're teaching people not only how to fish, but how to really enjoy their time on the water. That's the exact opposite of keeping “more people out of the fly fishing activity.” As for “by invite only” … we’re not sending out invitations. We simply have an admissions process designed to help ensure that our students are a good fit with our instructors and our philosophy. With regard to the expense ... the week long School of Trout costs the same, or less than, a week at a high-end fly fishing lodge. And rather than simply heading out with a guide and trying to catch as many fish as possible, our students will learn skills they’ll utilize for the rest of their lives. Our focus is on teaching rather than catching - and from where I sit that seems like a good thing.

Hey Todd - Good points, though what percentage of the population has the means to afford a high end fly-fishing lodge for a week? My local Cabela's used to give free fly fishing classes on Saturdays. Some of the guys in the shop there would even offer to go out with beginners to help learn, free of charge. Not the same as what you are offering, but free compared to $$$$$. Perhaps it is just the clientele/demographic you want to market to... I would love to attend the school of trout, but it is out of my budget. Perhaps the program should be called "High- End Fly Fishing School". I hope it succeeds. We need more outdoor enthusiasts to help protect what we have and not lose any more access to what we love to do. Especially those with the means to help make a difference. As long as they don't buy up more streamside property (LOL) and close it down to public access. Thanks.

Great idea. If you can’t or don’t want to apply, it’s your choice. Why should the world dance to your drum. Get over it.