Bud Lilly Papers, 1946-2003

Overview of the Collection

Lilly, Bud
Bud Lilly Papers
1946-2003 (inclusive)
0.4 linear feet
Collection Number
The Bud Lilly Papers consist of biographical letters, business records, printed materials, and photographs all created or collected by Lilly in the course of his life and business career.
Montana State University Library, Merrill G. Burlingame Special Collections
Montana State University-Bozeman Library
Merrill G Burlingame Special Collections
P.O. Box 173320
Bozeman, MT
Telephone: 4069944242
Fax: 4069942851
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Walen F. "Bud" Lilly was born on August 13, 1925 in Manhattan, Montana. His mother, Violet Collins Lilly, was a descendant of Mary Wells "Granny" Yates, a pioneer Montana settler who first arrived in the territory in 1863. Bud attended public schools in Manhattan and early developed a lifelong interest in fishing. In 1943 he enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve and attended officer training schools in Butte, Montana and Fort Schuyler, New York. Bud was assigned to the USS General R. M. Blatchford during the latter part of World War II and during his service visited Hiroshima, Japan after its bombing by American forces. After the war Lilly attended Montana State University in Bozeman, earning a bachelor's degree in science and beginning a career as a public school teacher in Roundup, Deer Lodge, and Bozeman, Montana and at Scottsdale, Arizona. He married Patricia Bennett on March 15, 1947 and the couple had three children: Gregory, Michael and Annette. In 1961 he purchased a trout fishing tackle store in West Yellowstone, Montana that had been started by Don Martinez and operated by Charles Borberg. Known simply as "The Trout Shop," Lilly's business became a great success, coordinating information regarding local fishing conditions, providing a space for fishing enthusiasts to gather, and offering a wide variety of custom made flies and related tackle. His entire family worked at the shop at one time or another and all three of his children provided guiding services. Publications associated with the Trout Shop included various editions of a merchandise catalog and a fishing map, both of which were created by collaboration with David Bascomb, a California advertising executive and fly fishing enthusiast. As Lilly's fame as a guide and store owner grew, he also became an advocate for catch and release fly fishing along with streambed and habitat conservation. Among the people he personally guided on fishing trips were British ambassador Sir Peter Ramsbotham and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Among the organizations Lilly has been active in are Trout Unlimited, the Federation of Fly Fishers, and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. In collaboration with Paull Schullery, Lilly has written three books on fly fishing: Bud Lilly's Guide to Western Fly Fishing (1987), A Trout's Best Friend : the Angling Autobiography of Bud Lilly (1988), and Bud Lilly's Guide to Fly Fishing the New West (2000). Although Lilly sold the Trout Shop in 1982, his business interests continued with the formation of the Western Rivers Club, an organization he founded to keep his former customers in touch, and the Angler's Rest, a guest hotel for fishing visitors in Three Forks, Montana. In addition to his work with the Montana Ambassadors, a state sponsored program to entice visitation and investment in Montana, Lilly has also worked as the river keeper for Baker Springs, a land development company near Manhattan, Montana. After the death of his wife Patricia in 1984, Lilly remarried in 1985 to Esther Simon, then the executive director of the Federation of Fly Fishers, and the couple has two children, Christopher and Alisa.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Bud Lilly papers consist of biographical letters, business records, printed materials, and photographs all created or collected by Lilly in the course of his life and business career. Among the letters is one he wrote while still serving in the Navy in 1946 describing the cruise of the USS General R. M. Blatchford. The business records consist of a financial ledger that predates Lilly's purchase of the Trout Shop. The printed materials include pamphlets, reports, and other ephemera from a wide variety of sportsman's and environmental groups. Photographs include 35 mm slides, digital images on CD and DVDs, a photograph album, and 100 individual prints which have been arranged under broad subject headings and are sequentially numbered.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Personal and business papers created by Bud Lilly were donated to Montana State University Library by Tim Crawford of Belgrade, Montana, on April 3, 2012.

Processing Note

This collection was processed 2013 June 18

Related Materials

The main collection of Bud Lilly papers has been separately accessioned as Collection 2528

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1 Biographical material
1 2 Letters 1946-2003
1 3 Letters pertaining to numbered photographs
1 4 Account ledger 1952
1 5 Printed material-American Museum of Fly Fishing
1 6 Printed material-Miscellaneous
1 7 Printed material-Montana Land Reliance
1 8 Printed material-Trout Unlimited
1 9 Photographs #1-5
Bud Lilly individual portraits
1 10 Photographs #6-31
Lilly family
1 11 Photographs #32-48
Bud Lilly with others
1 12 Photographs #49-61
Trout shop
1 13 Photographs #62-75
Individual fishing scenes
1 14 Photographs #76-84
Scenery and wildlife
1 15 Photographs #85-87
Trout flies
1 16 Photographs #88-100
Catalog artwork and miscellaneous images
1 17 35mm slides
1 18 CDs and DVDs
1 19 Photograph album
Oversize Posters, catalog artwork, maps

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Fishing--Montana
  • Fishing--Rocky Mountains Region
  • Fly fishing--Montana
  • Fly fishing--Rocky Mountains Region
  • Trout fishing--Montana
  • Trout fishing--Montana--Societies, etc.

Personal Names

  • Lilly, Bud--Archives

Corporate Names

  • General R.M. Blatchford (Ship)
  • Trout Shop (West Yellowstone, Mont.)
  • United States. Navy--Officers

Family Names

  • Lilly family

Form or Genre Terms

  • Business records--Montana
  • Photographs--Montana


  • Authors, American--Montana
  • Businessmen--Montana
  • Fishers--Montana
  • Fishing guides--Montana
  • Outfitters (Outdoor recreation)--Montana