In this episode, McKenna Hulslander takes us on a journey through her most recent backcountry fly fishing trip, offering insider tips and thrilling stories from the wild.

Show Notes with McKenna Hulslander on Backcountry Fly Fishing. Hit play below! 👇🏻

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Episode Chapters with McKenna Hulslander on Backcountry Fly Fishing

1:22 – With a childhood rooted in the outdoor traditions of her family, McKenna was naturally drawn to the rivers and streams of northwest Montana. Her story is not just about fly fishing; it intertwines with her pursuits in athletics, notably college hockey.

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8:06 – McKenna shares the inspiring journey behind her wilderness fly fishing trip in Montana, highlighting the unique blend of adventure, conservation, and education that fueled the expedition. With a desire to share this rich heritage and address the gap in backcountry knowledge among newcomers, she, alongside her videographer friend Riley Connell, embarked on a mission to capture the essence of remote fly fishing through a documentary.

The film, aimed for submission to the Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T), represents a heartfelt effort to bridge generations, celebrate the sport’s traditions, and encourage responsible engagement with the natural world.

14:04 – She shares her enriching experience of meeting John Fraley, a respected writer and fisheries biologist known for his significant contributions to understanding bull trout and cutthroat trout in Montana.

15:05 – She describes the process of getting dropped off in the wilderness in Montana with just a car, her pack, and a packraft from Kokopelli, setting the stage for a multi-day journey of exploration and fishing.

McKenna on her Kokopelli packraft (Photo via:

22:35 – She offers valuable advice for planning remote hiking and fly fishing trips, emphasizing the importance of using tools like TroutRoutes for effective trip planning. She highlights how the mobile app not only provides detailed maps but also offers crucial information like water temperature and flow rates (CFS), which are vital for ensuring safety and successful fishing experiences.

Additionally, McKenna mentions the importance of monitoring water conditions before the trip to make informed decisions about fishing times and conservation efforts, especially during warmer months.

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25:38 – She discusses the focus on fishing for Westslope cutthroat trout and the occasional “cutbow” (a hybrid between a cutthroat and rainbow trout) during their wilderness trip in Montana. She highlights the importance of conservation, especially concerning the endangered bull trout, explaining their decision to avoid targeting this species to align with ethical fishing practices passed down through generations.

28:16 – McKenna dives into the essential and luxury gear that made her wilderness fishing adventure memorable. She emphasizes the importance of dry bags, highlighting how co-sponsors like Kokopelli and Filson provided high-quality dry bags crucial for keeping equipment dry and safe during the float trip. Essential gear also included a Garmin GPS for navigation and a knife from Montana Knife Co., emphasizing the importance of safety and preparedness in remote settings.

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As for luxury items, McKenna shares her fondness for bringing along Backpackers Pantry’s crème brûlée and indulging in beer supplied by Sacred Waters Brewing Co., naming the Catch ‘Em Lager as her favorite for its thematic fit with fishing.

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31:43 – During their multi-day wilderness trip, McKenna and her crew experienced a mix of weather conditions, including a notable thunderstorm on the first day which, despite its intensity, was something McKenna enjoyed while on the river. The storm added some water to the river, slightly raising its level, which turned out to be beneficial for their journey.


McKenna also shares a learning moment from Mr. Fraley regarding the correct terminology for insect activity on the water, distinguishing between a “hatch” and an “emergence,” with the latter referring to the phase when insects transition from water to air with wings.

34:36 – Fishing proved fruitful during their trip, with McKenna emphasizing the excitement of trying different flies, especially those that were guaranteed to be successful based on her experience. She hinted at the effectiveness of flies with rubbery legs and the color purple in attracting West Slope cutthroat trout, which are the primary species targeted.

36:56 – We dig into Outcast Adventures which focuses on organizing women’s trips into the wilderness, aimed at groups of 12 to 14 participants. These trips are designed not only to introduce women to fly fishing, camping, and floating in the backcountry but also to foster deep connections among people from diverse backgrounds. McKenna emphasizes that no prior experience in fly fishing is necessary to join, opening the door for participants with varied levels of experience.

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41:34 – Key takeaways for anyone considering a similar trip include the significance of understanding the destination, planning for unforeseen events, and maintaining a detailed timeline for the journey. This timeline is crucial not only for managing supplies like food but also for ensuring the safety of everyone involved by keeping those at home informed of the expedition’s progress.

For emergency situations, such as potential injuries, McKenna highlights the value of carrying a Garmin device. This piece of equipment offers peace of mind by enabling communication with people outside the immediate area, even in locations without cell service.

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42:56 – McKenna shares a remarkable story of surviving a plane crash while on a wilderness trip with her family, including her brother, dad, and one of her brother’s friends from the Air Force Academy. Despite the severity of the crash, McKenna recalls the experience with a sense of adventure, comparing the anticipation of the crash to the excitement of sliding down stairs on a sleeping bag as a child.

51:49 – From a young age, McKenna was deeply involved in hockey, despite growing up in Montana where the sport was uncommon. Her passion for hockey led her to play on a Canadian boys’ team and later for a team affiliated with the St. Louis Blues organization. Pursuing her dream, she traveled extensively during high school to play in college, highlighting the growth of hockey in Montana and its contrast to the hockey culture in Minnesota.

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You can find McKenna on Instagram @outcast_adventures_ and @mckennahulslander

Visit her website at

backcountry fly fishing

Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below

backcountry fly fishing

Conclusion with McKenna Hulslander on Backcountry Fly Fishing

In this episode, McKenna Hulslander takes us on a journey through her most recent backcountry fly fishing trip, offering insider tips and thrilling stories from the wild.