HILARY HUTCHESON FLY FISHING GUIDE
The wildlands of Montana are a beast that are not easy to tame. But when you are born and raised in this wilderness, like Hilary Hutcheson, you can turn its untamed majesty in your own playground. Better known around Instagram by her handle @HilaryOutdoor, Hilary is a queen of fly fishing.
She is a charming soul with a genial laugh and fire to her character. We were able to grab a few minutes of her precious free time for a quick interview to pick her brain about what she does, why she does, and the gear she needs to make it happen.
Based near West Glacier, Montana, Hilary spends most of the summers as a fly fishing guide, specializing in handling the dynamic waters of the region's wild rivers. These rivers can be the most dangerous to navigate and fish. Plus, they are under the highest levels of federal protection, making an experienced guide a necessity.
Over the years, Hilary has been honing both her craft and work rig. She’s built the perfect machine for her specific needs.
“I’ve spent years trying so many systems. Bins, suitcases, buckets. Just tons of stuff trying to organize,” Hilary said. “The terrain we traverse is awful. Everything needs to be sturdy and secure. Organization is key. People depend on me and my rig. It needs to be clean, durable, and dialed.”
In the end, this extreme use case led her to Leitner.
When asked why she chose Leitner, Hilary said: “In fly fishing, we have a pretty unique set of gear. Stuff just doesn’t fit in traditional storage spaces. The Leitner system allows us to customize our storage to our pursuit.”
Hilary is currently using a 2018 Ram 1500 Big Horn, fitted with an Active Cargo System Forged bed rack, HydroPOD Shower, GearPOD XL, Gear Pod Dual, First Aid Kit, and GearBAG. There is also a Roofnest Condor 2 perched atop of the ACS Forged.
Depending on the time of year, the setup changes to meet Hilary’s current needs.
“I wanted a Leitner Design system because of how easy it is to use. I want to be able to put my rig together myself. I swap my pods seasonally. Swap things over for ski season, like that,” Hilary said. Being able to tear apart and rebuild things as necessary is a huge consideration, and nobody does that better than Leitner Designs.
When she’s not running fishing excursions with Glacier Anglers, you can find Hilary manning her store Lary’s Fly and Supply in Columbia Falls, or sitting with her laptop working as an editor for “Fly Fisherman Magazine.”
In the future, Hilary wants to spend more time closer to home. She wants to work on lowering her overall footprint on nature and really work on conservation efforts.
“Conservation is very important to me. I want to spend more time out there working with guides, outfitters, and fisheries. I want guides and outfitters to work together and realize we are all connected and start working together. I’d love to travel around and give some other fisheries the time and attention I like to give mine.”
Hilary continued: “We need to highlight endangered rivers and wetland spaces. We all need each other and we need to be there for each other.”
It is this focus on care of the ecosystem that led Hilary to equip her rig with the HydroPOD Shower.
“The shower is great. I use it all the time. I use it to clean all the gear, boots, waders, and anything that could transport aquatic invasives.”
We asked Hilary if there was anything she could change or improve about her current rig, and she didn’t shy away. “Only problem I have with the system is that the GearPODs are too watertight. I put away wet gear and it starts to smell pretty badly. I'm thinking about drilling holes in the bottom to let them drain. Maybe Leitner can sell a set with removable rubber drain plugs?”
Hilary chuckled for a moment and leaned forward in a fit of excitement, “Oh, hooks or hangers! I want steel hooks or hangers I can attach to the rack to hang up waders and other items. Make them easier to hose off with the shower and give them a place to dry while packing up.”
We will be sure to pass along your suggestion, Hilary. If you have ever wanted to give fly fishing a shot, you can find Hilary doing tours all summer long in Glacier National Park. Just head over to Glacier Anglers or visit LarysFlyandSupply.com to look for availability.