From playing professional hockey overseas to traveling the west in search of trout and big game, the next ambassador in our introduction series is one of the coolest people we know. Based in Montana, McKenna Hulslander (@mckennahulslander11), used fly fishing as a break from the stresses of being a student athlete early in high school and from there has created a bond with being in the outdoors that has driven the majority of the time she spends off of an ice rink. 

McKenna is also a passionate conservationist, and we’ll be featuring a series of her essays on the blog covering her experience as an angler straddling two generations of angling in the American West. She’s also got some exciting trout trips planned this season, so be sure to follow along!

Get To Know TroutRoutes Ambassador, McKenna Hulslander (@mhulslander11)!

Q: Describe your fly fishing journey up to the present. How did you start fly fishing? Where is your favorite place to fish?

A: I started taking fly fishing seriously when I was in early high school, I was caught between hanging out with my friends, and catching up with my grandpa’s old fly fishing buddies. To me, fly fishing was an escape from the stress and pressure of being a high school athlete. It helped me connect with who I was and gave me a connection to my past and the stories from my dad and grandfather. Fly fishing has given me a separate world of curiosity and adventure, and my own stories to pass down. When I’m not obligated to my other passions I am running to the river with a fly rod in hand.

Q: What is your favorite fly pattern (either to fish or to tie yourself)?

A: My favorite fly pattern is so generic and honestly a little embarrassing but   nothing can beat a purple haze in the morning, mid day, or evening. I love that it is a fly that floats and maintains its shape super well. Purple haze is like a cold beer at the end of a long day, it always works!

Q: What TroutRoutes feature do you find yourself using the most?

A: I love a lot of what TroutRoutes has to offer but I especially love the information in regards to fly shops. It’s always important to connect with local people and local knowledge and fly shops are some of my favorites places to visit when exploring a new place.

Q:What’s the most important thing you take away from the water at the end of a fishing trip?

A: It is so cliche but the memories. In today’s world everything is on a screen and illustrated for us but I think memories and the stories we tell from those experiences is what connects us and is the foundation of the fly fishing community. Everyone loves a good story and there is no better storyteller (or embellisher) than people who fly fish.