In the latest Behind the Lines, presented by Airflo Fishing we were lucky enough to catch up with Kelly Galloup. Kelly is the owner and operator of the Slide Inn, a legendary fly shop along the banks of the Madison River in Montana. Mr. Galloup has been a household name in the fly fishing industry for years, pioneering streamer tactics on the western trout rivers. As well as designing some of the most well-known flies including the Sex Dungeon, Barely Legal, Peanut Envy, Zoo Cougar, and many more. Kelly is also a fly line designer for Airflo Fishing and has designed most of Airflo’s freshwater sinking lines and nymphing lines. We were lucky enough to catch up with Kelly to discuss how he got into the industry, fly line design, and some streamer tactics, check out the full interview below!
Flylords: Where did you grow up and how did you end up in Montana?
Kelly: I grew up in Traverse City Michigan. I owned a fly shop and guide business there since 1980. I started reading about MT in the 60s. I came out in the late 70s to see my fishing buddy who was going to school in Bozeman and was working for Bob Jacklin in the summer. I, like many others, fell in love with the area from day one. I had a very successful fly shop and guide business back in MI but just could never get past the draw of the mountains. As my rivers got busier and busier I decided to follow my dream and move to Montana. I bought the Slide Inn in 2000 and moved out spring of 01, and have never looked back once.
Flylords: When and what made you decide that Montana was home?
Kelly: I think the seed was planted reading magazine articles in the early 70’s and then after I came out the first time it was really just a matter of when and not if I was moving here. I love so many parts of MT. that it is really hard to say why I chose here but the Madison Valley was the first place I fished and I think it just got into my head that it was where I belonged. I remember very clearly driving up the valley with all my life in a trailer behind me and I saw the mountain range for the first time above the Slide Inn. I took a big breath and said, this is where I belong.
Flylords: Tell us about your fly shop, how long has it been in business and where is it located.
Kelly: The Slide was in business for decades before I bought it but it was never a fly shop, more of a general convenience store. Considering it is located on the banks of the Madison it seemed like a pretty natural place for a fly shop. When I opened the shop in 2001 it was about 400 sq feet and has now grown to over 5000 sq., and we now have a second location in Ennis that is close to the same size. The Ennis location has become our base for all online sales and shipping. In both shops we cater more to hard goods than anything, of course, we have some clothing but most of our real attention is on flies, rods and reels, lines and of course we have one of the biggest fly tying inventories in the world.
Flylords: You’ve been an Airflo Fly Line designer for a number of years, what’s the process that goes into designing fly lines?
Kelly: It is pretty simple really, you find a need for something better than what we have and make it. When I first started trying to get new lines built I was told to just use this or just use that. WTF does that mean? The guys at Airflo (particularly Gareth) understood that being close enough is not what serious anglers want. We want specific tools for specific jobs, and then we build them.
Flylords: Why do you prefer Airflo fly lines over the competitors?
Kelly: Well, first off I designed many of them. I know exactly what I need in the line whether it be for me or my client. 40-plus years of guiding teaches you a lot about practical fishing techniques. There are thousands of great casters out there that can do wonders with almost any line but that is not what a guide deals with. My lines are designed to make my customers fish better, not for the parking lot hero who wants to show the world how far they can cast. I deal in real-world fishing scenarios. The team and I spend all the time it takes to make the line perform exactly how I want it to, so I am confident it will perform for anyone else. I also really like the Polyurethane-based coatings. I have designed lines for other companies who used PVC-based coatings and it was always an issue getting the lines to stay soft so they didn’t coil in colder temperature waters and then not cracking, which are both side effects of not getting the PVC cocktail right. I have never had an Airflo line crack, and that is also backed up by Airflo’s warranty.
Flylords: What is your favorite Airflo fly line that you have designed?
Kelly: That is a hard question to answer, everyone was designed for a reason which was really fun to work through, but I would have to say the SUPERFLO SHOVELHEAD is my favorite.
Flylords: One tip for anglers who are trying to step up their streamer fishing game?
Kelly: Don’t be intimidated by sinking lines. I seldom fish more than two feet below the surface and often will be hunting flats that are less than a foot deep. One of the biggest misconceptions in fishing for big trout is they are in the big deep water, they are not. I have seldom seen a big fish in more than four feet of water and like I said I often will be fishing a foot of water with a 200 to 280 and have no problem with getting hung up. If you start your retrieve as soon as the fly hits the water you can keep the fly in any depth you want. Learn to move your fly with your rod and not your stripping hand. HUNT YOUR FLY, DON’T HOPE IT!
Flylords: If you could fish one fly pattern for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Kelly: Ouch, I guess if it is just one fly it would be a Sex Dungeon, most likely unweighted.
Flylords: Favorite month of the calendar year to fish your home waters?
Flylords: Any new and exciting fly-tying patterns or fly lines you can let us know about?
Kelly: No new lines coming out this year, but do have a new fly, the Slick Willie. This fly has been racking up some great fish in the last two years. My flies don’t get released until they have been fished by me and my guides for two years. Slick Willie has accounted for more 25” fish than any other fly I developed since the Dungeon.
Flylords: Anything else you want to add, events, or projects the shop is working on?
Kelly: We have a new series coming out this fall/winter on our YouTube channel that is all fishing. I am really excited about it, mostly because I will get to go fishing more and share how we do what we do. They will be 25 to 40-minute shows featuring fishing techniques, reading water, rigging, and of course, fly tying.
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