Program Description

The 11- week MSUB Certified Guide School will expand your knowledge of casting, tying, and boat handling. We will provide opportunities for, and assist in achieving first-aid training, professional licensing and insurance, and independent contractor status. We will teach casting for certification as an instructor, according to the Federation of Fly Fishers’ standards. Concepts of guide etiquette introduced, and will be discussed throughout the course. The course will conclude with a 2-day session on the water where participants will apply their knowledge to fishing excursions.

The class will consist of many hands on tasks that the student will be required to perform, but will also consist of written tests for entomology (week 2), casting (week 7), and a final exam (week 10). There will be both a Casting and Tying Competition. Extra credit is available for exemplary performance (week 7).

Please Note: MSUB Certified Guide status will be awarded to those who meet program criteria. This certification is not given lightly, and may not be achieved by all.

a fly fisherman with a fish

Program Topics

  1. Introduction to the course, while casting. Casting will be a constant throughout the classes. Concepts of guide etiquette introduced, and will also be discussed throughout.
  2. Entomology. We will discuss life cycle of important trout stream hatches.
  3. Fly tying. Assessment of current levels of proficiency, with a focus on improving skills needed to expand repertoire. From this point on, tying will be a constant for the remainder of the classroom exercises.
  4. Nymphs. Tying, casting, and tactics.
  5. Streamers. Tying, casting, and tactics.
  6. Dry Flies. Tying, casting, and tactics.
  7. Casting Competition/Tying Competition
  8. Pro First Aid, Insurance, and Independent Contractor status.
  9. Rowing (classroom). We will discuss the basics of boat handling and hydraulics in the classroom before heading out to the water. Guide etiquette, professional expectations, and client relations will be discussed, and the F.O.A.M. Guide Test administered.
  10. Final Exam, Guide License signed for those who qualify pending successful demonstration on the water.
  11. Field Day #1, and #2 in the same weekend to introduce potential guides to an actual fishing lodge, and their expected duties. We will stay overnight and simulate a 2 day fishing trip.

Criteria to Become Certified

All students must perform the following tasks to achieve MSUB Guide Certification:

  • 60 foot cast
  • Double haul
  • Curve Cast
  • Tie examples of nymphs, streamers, and dry flies
  • Safe and proficient boat handling, as well as on stream demonstration of guide etiquette
  • Earn an 85% or higher in course written work (including F.O.A.M. guide test)
  • Completion of Pro First Aid
  • Obtain license, insurance, and Independent Contractor Status

Equipment Needed 

The following equipment will be required to successfully complete this course.

  • Functional fly fishing outfit (rod, reel, and floating line)
  • Fly tying vice, and basic tools
  • The Essence of Fly Casting” Mel Kreiger

Course Schedule

September 4 - November 11, 2018

Classes meet Tuesday and Thursday evening 6-9 PM. Weekend outing will take place on November 10, 11, 2018.


$2000 - includes drift boat rental and lodge fees.

Your Instructor

Jeremy Gilbertson is the owner/operator of Big Sky Fly Fishers in Billings, MT and serves as the Region 7 Director of the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana. He has over 18 years’ experience as a guide and works as a featured fly designer for Yellowstone Fly Goods. Jeremy has been a featured fly tier at the Federation of Fly Fishers Conclave and has appeared in fly fishing publications, radio shows and TV.  He takes great pride in making memorable and positive fly fishing experiences for his clients.

fisherman with fish

Contact information

To find out more about this and other training programs, please call:

MSU Billings Extended Campus