Classes and Schools

Throughout the year, Gates Lodge offers a variety of classes and schools for every skill level.  We encourage you to take advantage of our knowledgeable instructors who can ultimately help you enjoy time on the water even more.

If you have questions or concerns about any of our classes or schools, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  We will do our best to help you choose the right fit for your skill level and learning goals!

Click to see our Full Events Calendar!

Fly Fishing Classes

Streamer Classes with Alex Lafkas, April 1 and Oct 21

A full day of technique and on-stream time with guides 

If you are looking to get into or improve your streamer game, this is the class for you.  Small and large river techniques will be covered as well as fly and gear selection for both situations.  The morning will be spent in the boardroom with a presentation and conversation about streamer fishing theory and technique.  This will include presentation strategies, reading the water and options in lines and leaders.  A short tying demonstration will occur during lunch and an instructional float trip in the afternoon.  Alex is one of the finest and most well known and innovative streamer anglers in the country.  This is a can’t-miss class.  $225/person.  Limit is 6 people.  Flies and leader/tippet material included.

Nymphing the Au Sable with Jordan Klemish and Dennis Nelson, April 2

On Sunday morning, join Jordan Klemish and Dennis Nelson for a two-hour nymphing demonstration in front of the lodge.  Will cover European and Indicator techniques tailored specifically to the Au Sable…by two guys that do it more than anyone.  Participants should plan on wading and fishing.

Fly Tying Classes with Alex Lafkas, April 22
A series of classes designed to introduce new and exciting techniques to moderate to advanced fly tyers

Fly Tying for Spring Hatches.  Recommended for medium to advanced fly tyers, Alex will run you through some new and old patterns that are proven imitators of our big spring hatches.  Covering emergers, duns and spinner patterns and the tying differences between patterns for blind fishing and flies for hatch matching.  Timed so that you can tie flies in the morning, and hit the afternoon hatches after the class.  $75/person.  Limit 8 people.  All materials included.

Fly Casting with Mark Hendricks, May 6 and June 3
A perennial favorite.  For everyone from beginners to intermediate casters.  

Casting is undoubtedly one of the most important of all the fly-fishing skills.  You must b able to present the fly to the spot in which the fish is located in order to be successful.  Although fly-casting may appear to be difficult, it’s really not.  There are a few basic things that you need to know about fly-casting in order to cast efficiently and they’re a lot easier to learn than you might think.  This class is for both beginners as well as those with some casting experience.  FFF Certified Instructor Mark Hendricks is one of the best casting instructors in the Midwest.  $85/person.

Advanced Casting Cleanup with Alex Lafkas, May 20 and June 17

Designed to help your casting immediately

A brand new class for us.  The idea is that just about everybody could use a quick tune-up.  If you like what you got, but wish it were better, sign up!  Does your double haul need help?  Do your loops seem too wide?  Need to learn to backhand cast?  Alex is a nationally renowned angler and high-level caster.  The limit on this class is eight people.  Almost everybody could benefit from this class, and leaves plenty of time for fishing.

Advanced Dry Fly Classes, July 22
Explores the nuances of dry fly fishing on the Au Sable

The focus of this class is for you to improve your dry fly fishing ability.  Basic fly casting is the first step in fly-fishing ability.  Basic fly casting is the first step in fly-fishing.  This course will aim to improve on casting, mending, and approach.  Dry fly patterns, lies and leaders will also be covered.  A presentation and Q&A will occur in the morning.  There will be a tying demonstration over lunch.  The afternoon will be spent with casting, mending, and water time.   This class will make you a much better dry fly angler.  $150/person.  Includes lunch, flies and tippet material.

Orvis and Trout Unlimited Free Fly Fishing Day, May 27 and July 1
Learn to fly fish…for free.  In partnership with Orvis and Mason Griffith TU

Orvis and TU have teamed up with dealers to offer FREE instruction for everyone. Mason-Griffith Founders TU volunteers (guides themselves) and MGFTU board member and Gates Lodge lead instructor Mark Hendricks are here to make fly fishing fun and accessible. No wading or waders required. This is the easiest way to get started. Please bring appropriate clothing, as well as anything you might want to drink or snack on.   Bug spray and sunglasses are recommended. Class limit is 15. Class is free.

Fly Fishing Schools

July 8-9 and July 15-16  – Fly Fishing Weekend School: There’s simply no better way to immerse yourself in fly fishing than to spend a weekend learning from a guide. Our weekend fly-fishing school will help make you a better fly angler! We teach self-sufficiency on the water. Our goal is that when you finish our weekend school, you’ll be able to go fly-fishing on your own! Check in is on Friday. Participants will meet at 8 am on Saturday morning for breakfast, followed by a morning lesson in fly-casting. After lunch, it’s time to hit the river and learn the ins and outs of dry fly fishing. The evening is yours to enjoy (which more than likely means more fishing!) Sunday morning will once again begin at 8 am with breakfast, followed by time on the river, first with a little dry fly fishing if the trout are rising, and then with a comprehensive class on fishing wet flies and nymphs. In short, this weekend school is the best instruction and best value you’ll find anywhere. Taught by FFF Certified Master Instructor Mark Hendricks. Participants should bring waders, fly rods (rentals of both are available) and as much of their own gear as possible including bug dope, multiple layers of clothing including a rain jacket, sunglasses and sunscreen. All flies are included. Over 12 full hours of instruction! Two breakfasts, and a lunch on Saturday, and two nights lodging. Limit 6 people. $400/single. $750/double.

August 18-20 – Advanced Weekend School: A new type of school for us that tackles summer trout fishing and shows experienced anglers tricks to tackling some of the Au Sable’s native techniques. Includes Friday night fishing with guides, small fly tactics, summer daytime wet fly and nymph techniques, leader building and leader formulas, fly-tying, and more advanced stream theory. This is an exhaustive school with instruction and fishing time lasting much of the day and some of the night. Includes Friday dinner, all three meals on Saturday, and Sunday breakfast, as well as lodging. Lead by noted guide Alex Lafkas, and assisted by other members of the Gates Lodge team. This is an in-depth and valuable school for those who want to solve the mysteries of catching trout during the summer.   $700 single/$1300 double. Limit 6 people. Includes all flies and tippet material.