I’m Hilary Hutcheson, your guide today. Let me see that leader
Interview by Orvis’ 5050 onthewater
Hilary Hutcheson is he owner of Lary’s Fly & Supply in Columbia Falls, Montana; Fly-Fishing Guide; Brand Ambassador to YETI®, Costa® & Patagonia®; member of Protect Our Winters (POW) Riders’ Alliance, and board member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers—to say Hilary is a busy woman could be our understatement of the year. Luckily, she found some time for this interview on how she broke into the sport of fly fishing, and how she became such a force in shaping the future of conservation in the industry.
ORVIS: How long have you been fly fishing?
HH: Since Junior High, around 13 years old.
ORVIS: What barriers did you break through to become a female fly-fishing guide?
HH: Honestly, I was lucky enough to have a boss who believed in hard work and character and ability over gender. I was the first female fishing guide hired at Glacier Anglers as a teenager. My sister followed shortly after. We were the first two, and it wasn’t a statement. My old boss never even pointed that out to us until maybe a few years ago. I don’t feel that I had to overcome any barriers because there were men who believed in hard work and character and talent above gender. I think that’s key. Your support is not just women as a wild feminist—it’s having men out there that believe in women, too.
ORVIS: What ignited the spark in you to start your own fly shop?
HH: When you’re looking at careers—the obvious thing is to follow your joy and talents. I’ve always loved guiding, ever since I was a teenager. I love working in the fly-fishing industry. I’ve just found that there were things I could do differently if I was the boss. And the biggest thing for me to do differently is in conservation. I felt like I couldn’t wait around for some conservation-action to happen. I felt like if I were to have my own shop I could make some of those changes. I think that needing to be more active in climate, public lands, and river access issues was a big spark that motivated me to have my own shop.
ORVIS: Give me a life lesson you have learned from fly fishing?
HH: The life lesson I learn from fly fishing every single day is . . .