By Montana Grant

Posted: June 10, 2018

Salmon fly season is here! The Big Hole river hatch is under way and hopefully it will hang on until the water drops and clears. Salmon flies are huge stoneflies that hatch each year currently. The hatch starts in Montana’s western watersheds and moves east. Trout fishermen from around the world flock to Montana to take part in this entomological event.

The hatches usually last for a couple weeks and then die off. Nymph fishing before the hatch can be excellent. Trout will also still look for these bugs for weeks after the hatch is over. Basically, you may have a month of great BIG FLY fishing with a change in tactics and flies. As a guide, I would invite clients to eat the huge Salmon fly nymphs for good luck. They taste like a fresh garden snap pea and are delicious.

Timing is important. Trout stomachs can only hold so many bugs. Once full, the trout may not eat for a few days. Morning to evening fishing can vary. Different parts of the same river may have different hatch stages going on. Hatches tend to start downstream and work up.

Floating these huge flies can be a challenge. Use a good floatant gel and a desiccant powder to keep your fly on the surface. At the end of a hatch cycle dead bugs may sink. Don’t be afraid to fish dry flies as a nymph or drowned bug. Be observant and plan your strategy accordingly.

Sofa Pillows were the salmon fly of choice back in the day. New fly materials and skilled tiers have created a boatload of variations. Many tiers use foam and other lightweight materials to construct their creations. Just because the fly looks right does not mean it will work right. Less is more when finding a favorite pattern.

Casting huge flies is harder. The large hooks need to be sharp and heavy. This means it is easy to snag them in body parts, faces, and eyes. Wear a hat and eye protection. Cast with more attention to your timing and direction. Adding a small dropper complicates the casting.

Some are lightweight and others heavier. The perfect Salmon fly needs to have ASS! What I mean is that they need to plop in the water with the heft of a real salmon fly. This is an important part of the presentation.

Whatever Salmon Fly you have faith and confidence in is the choice for you. There have been days when several good fly fishermen, all using different patters caught equal numbers of fish. Presentation is the most important part when using any fly. If the fly drifts naturally, the trout will eat it.

Hopefully the waters you enjoy will begin to clear, drop, and offer a wonderful opportunity to get hooked up.

 Salmon Flies are amazing.

Montana Grant

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