Great Falls, Montana Fishing Report by North 40 Fly Shop 12.06.18
By angelamontana

Posted: December 7, 2018

Missouri River

Winter fishing is all about the weather and it looks like it will be warming up a bit this weekend and into the beginning of the week.  Following the weather is key to planning an outing this time of year.  Look at the low temperature the night before and follow the rise the next day to determine what time you want to be on the water.  The warmer the low, the earlier you can get out there.

Swing Season

In places, you will still find some fish in steady flow, but for the most part, fish are shifting to their winter zones.  Think softer water.  Walking speed current is often ideal.  You will often find fish nosing toward faster water at shelves and drop-offs midday.  Active fish will also feed where the current picks up at the tail of a run or hole. They are avoiding the fast runs and quick water they frequent in summer.

Flies that work especially well in slower moving water are small minnow and leech pattern streamers.  Often, a bit of a retrieve will be needed to activate the fly as it swings into the slowest flow or the dead water nearer shore.  Don’t feel that your cast is done if your swing is complete.  Many fish will follow the fly into the dead zone and eat on the retrieve.


It is fire bead season again.  For serious hatch matchers, it can be a boring time of year, but many folks love the simplicity of winter nymphing.  Pair a fire bead nymph like the pink FB Ray Charles or the skurp with a black, red, or purple zebra and you should be in the game.  The most important part is where and when you fish your flies.  You will want to fish where the fish are and when they are biting.  Think midday and near the dam for the most consistent results.

Dry Flies

I heard a report of some bwos last week, but unfortunately, that will be an anomaly until at least late March.  It’s midge season.  Cluster midges with an emerger or a zebra dropper can be a prime presentation for soft water cruisers.  Targeting feeders on single adult midges can be a fun challenge if you can find them.

Stop In

Fly tying season is upon us and we are having fun creating new patterns daily. We also have some great new fly tying materials available -including 14 colors of simi seal for your leech tying pleasure. If you want the best foundation for your leeches, you have to come in for the new Genryuu Hook Company 90-degree jig hooks.  These are simply the best jig hook you can find, and they are not available online yet. The coffee is always on and we can tell some pretty good stories too.

For more information, visit

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