Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Outfitter in Preston, Minnesota

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The Driftless Fly Fishing Company

Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Outfitter

Phone icon507-327-4276 Phone icon435-454-3737 Email icondriftless@minnesotaflyfishing.com Link iconminnesotaflyfishing.com
208 St. Paul Street
Preston, MN 55965
PO Box 573
Preston, MN 55965

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The Story

Enlist the Orvis-endorsed Outfitter Driftless Fly Fishing Co. for your next fly-fishing adventure in Minnesota. The Driftless Fly Fishing Co. is located in Preston, Minnesota, known around the state as "Minnesota's Trout Capitol." The South Branch of the Root River has been designated as one of Trout Unlimited's 100 Best Trout Streams in the USA and flows right through town just a block from the fly shop. Mel Hayner, owner of Driftless Fly Fishing, has been fly fishing for over 40 years and stalking trout in the Driftless area for 25 of these years. His passion for the spring creeks and the streams of Minnesota started the first and only Orvis- Endorsed guide service and fly shop in the area in 2013. Since then, the shop has grown into a gathering place for like-minded people and recruited a top-notch crew of guides who grew up in this area and know the water better than anyone. This year, his sister Monta will be the first female guide out of the shop. She has mentored many other women anglers in Fly-Fishing Women of Minnesota, becoming an Outdoor Woman with Minnesota DNR, and Trout Unlimited.

Located in a restored 1905 building in downtown Preston, the Driftless Fly Fishing Co. supports local chapters of TU and the National Trout Center in youth education and habitat improvements. Special regulations and a growing catch-and-release ethic continue to improve the fishing in these streams, often called "undiscovered gems." We are now offering drift boat float trips for smallmouth bass and trout! Join us for the experience of a lifetime in Minnesota's Driftless Area.


Minnesota has year-round catch-and-release, artificial-only trout fishing in all three state parks (Whitewater, Beaver Creek and Forestville/Mystery Cave), and in waters within the city limits of Preston, Chatfield, Spring Valley, and Lanesboro. Winter catch-and-release season on all streams starts January 1 and goes until the traditional, second Saturday in April when the regular season begins until September 15.
Smallmouth bass varies in dates from May through September and catch-and-release into February.


Wild brown trout and native brook trout grow large on the cold, clear streams dense with caddis, mayflies, stoneflies.

Rainbow trout are stocked regualry in areas with more pressure and give opportunities for youth and beginners to catch trout.

Smallmouth bass are great fun on a fly rod in nearby warm-water streams like the Upper Iowa and North Branch of the Root River.


Hundreds of springs seep from he limestone bluffs of SE Minnesota and provide consistently cold, clear water for the ultimate trout habitat. Hardwood forests and towering bluffs create the unique beauty of the Driftless region. Through efforts of Minnesota DNR and organizations of anglers, public easements on private land provide access to the hundreds of miles of awesome trout water in SE Minnesota. This type of bio-dense, highly-oxygenated water is rare in the world. Bicycle trails follow many of the waterways on old railroad routes for the non-angler or bicyclist who wants to bring the rod along.

Typical Weather:

Spring: March-May. Can be cold, might snow, very few anglers and hungry fish.

Summer: Warm days, cool nights, very few mosquitos due o mostly moving water. Can be hot and humid but streams remain cool due to springs.

Fall: September-November. The colors are breath-taking and hopper time can be the best chance for trophy fish on a dry fly. Cool weather but great fishing.

Winter: December-February. Year-round winter fishing can be challenging but the beauty and solitude of spring creeks in winter can be worth it. Above-freezing days make it bearable and sometimes produce midge hatches and rising trout.


Rates start from: $350 daily. You can find all pricing information at: https://www.minnesotaflyfishing.com/guided-trips.html

What is Provided:

The Driftless Fly Fishing Co. provides all Orvis loaner gear, flies, tackle, transportation, and streamside picnic or grilled lunch at no extra charge on each trip.

Gear Recommendations:

If you bring you own fly rod, a 8'6" 5-wt. is a good all-around rod. A 7'-7'6" 4-wt. is sometimes a better choice in small streams and tight situations where a short, stealthy, accurate cast is needed. We provide top Orvis rods if you don't bring yours. Waist-high waders are usually high enough but convertible waders make you more flexible. Wet wading can be done but the water is cold and some noxious weeds like nettles and wild parsnip can harm your legs.

What to Bring (Additional):

You might want to bring your canoe or kayak. The Driftless Fly Fishing Co. also rents Jackson kayaks and shuttles your boats at a reasonable price. It is good fishing the entire float.


We can tailor a trip to suit your abilities and interest. Family and group outings are one of our strengths. We can accommodate large groups for fly-fishing school, reunion, or outing. April through September, you can keep a few trout to eat which helps maintain a healthy fisher. Our guides will clean and pack them in ice for you, if you like.

Additional Activities:

The Root River State Bike trail draws hundreds of visitors along the river in the summer. Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park is just eight miles from the shop and offers cave tours, hiking, bird watching, and naturalist programs for families. It also has camping and some rustic cabins.

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great day! Finally had the opportunity to fish the MN driftless area for the first time! What a blessing to have Brennan as a guide. I learned a lot and built up my confidence in being able to present & catch trout. Thank you Brennan!
Date published: 2020-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic family experience We are a family of six and booked a fly fishing day with Mel. He gave us his undivided attention for the entire day. He was extremely patient with all of us and made each of us feel competent and special. He arranged delicious sandwiches for lunch and found the best spots for us to fish. It was simply one of the best experiences our family has ever enjoyed. Mel gets our highest possible rating.
Date published: 2020-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An example of what ALL guided trips should be! I booked a last minute trip with Driftless where Tim was my guide. I consider myself a novice and was looking to gain confidence and learn more to become a better angler with a fly rod. Tim was more than willing to answer every question I threw at him while offering tips and advice for how to improve technique. I was really impressed and walked away at the end of the confident in my ability to locate and catch fish on my own. The most incredible part of the trip was that "Full-Day Guide" really means a FULL DAY. Unlike other guided trips I have been on where you are left with a feeling that you didn't get your time on the water that you expected, I had to ask Tim to end the trip as the sun was starting to get low in the sky. He was more than willing to stay out on the water until dark. This might not appeal to some people, but for me it was a really nice treat. We fished 2 locations and pulled fish in all day using different techniques. I couldn't have asked for more except maybe a trophy fish. Thanks Mel and Tim!
Date published: 2020-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Trout in the Driftless My friend and I have been doing an annual trip each year out in California where we fish a new stretch of water each year. This year, due to Covid. we did a full day guided trip with Mel out of Driftless Fly Fishing Company out of Preston, MN. Mel is a top notch guide, who not only knows where the fish are (we started to lose count of how many we caught and missed), but is just as excited to share the waters he loves with you. He spent the perfect amount of time between both of us, was quick getting in with the net, provided great instruction drastically improving casting, and kept us out as long as we could go. Needless to say, we will be back again next summer and hope to try a whole new set of waters in the Driftless.
Date published: 2020-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Experience! Where do I begin? I guess I’ll with the fact that I’m still riding the high from our day long guided trip, which was two weeks ago. We spent the day with Brennan Churchill. Brennen is a master of his craft. I find joy in learning from guides so I frequent guided trips to enhance my fly fishing skills. Without a doubt, Brennan has given me the best experience over any other trip I’ve been on. He really emphasized the whole spectrum of fly fishing for trout. We scheduled our trip with the intentions that only two of us will be fishing with Brennan. Upon arrival to the shop on the day of the trip, we surprised him with a group of four instead of two. He was extremely resilient and showed excitement to take on the challenge for the day. Three of us in our group have a few years of experience fly fishing for trout, which left us with one newcomer to the sport. His time management with each individual was outstanding. Every one of us felt as if we got ample amount of shared time with Brennan to learn what we needed to learn to maximize our experience for the day. Brennan started off getting us food from a local sandwich shop which had amazing food! The first stop was a local spring fed creek where Brennan explained the origin and history of the driftless region. I was amazed by his plethora of knowledge, which is extremely beneficial for anyone that plans to continue fly fishing. We fished for a total of 13 hours, and we had to tell him that we were pulling the plug on the day. He was more than willing to stay with us until we felt fulfilled with our experience. Other than losing a fish from it spitting out the hook every once in a while, I didn’t have a bad moment the whole day. He even ensured that we were “set up right” for the following day that ended our trip to Southeast Minnesota. Brennan kept us laughing with his wittiness and humor. I wish that one day I can emulate his passion, charisma, and eagerness to teach others the joys of this hidden secret of a sport. I will absolutely be a returning customer. Thank you Brennan for an experience that I will never forget! I would give more stars if I could! Thank you! Tony
Date published: 2020-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Epic day Went out with Brennen from the driftless fly fishing company. He put me on some great water and we found quite a bit of fish. Still in search for our elusive Brook but that will come next time. His knowledge of the area makes for great day of fishing and exploring the driftless region. His knowledge and expertise of the area are invaluable.
Date published: 2020-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Driftless Trout Fishing I highly recommend Brennen Churchill. He's patient (more than me), great at explaining things, and focused on a great client experience. Being new to fly fishing, it is great to have someone like Brennen that is dedicated to keeping me casting - no matter what trouble I great myself into.
Date published: 2020-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Time in the Driftless with Brennen! This weekend our group was treated to a fly fishing guide service that has seriously outmatched any previous experience I've ever had. We headed out with Brennen Churchill on Saturday morning. With surprise guests, a late arrival, and a list of requests for our day; He handled us with ease, grace, and in good spirits. From the first hour of our trip he had made the experience for us all the worthwhile. Not only did we fish, but we learned more about the region. It was a very deep and rich experience. Brennen's knowledge of Geology, Hydrology, Entymology, and the art of fly fishing gave us the opportunity to learn so much about the driftless region; The rocks, the bugs, the fish, the landscape... and not to mention land some gems of the river(s).. We all landed fish. We all landed multiple fish. Different species too. He even gave us a homemade fly ("Stud Scud") that a member of our squad caught a 15" brown trout on the following day. Brennen's personality, energy/enthusiasm, and passion for the driftless region was contagious. We have been quoting his sayings and sharing many laughs over the events of the weekend. It was probably one of the best experiences of my life. The time spent will not soon be forgotten, and most likely if they are would always be reminded of that fun time any time we get on a stream in the future. Highly recommend Brennen! Also, note to Orvis- The "STUD" works! You've got a fantastic guide here. Tight Lines, -Nate P.S. The sandwiches were fantastic!
Date published: 2020-06-15
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