By Montana Grant

Posted: June 4, 2023

It’s time to double check your fly boxes. Complete an inventory and see what you need. The extra rain and high, off-color water won’t be around for more than a few weeks. That means salmon flies, stoneflies, caddis, and Trico time is near.

When I investigated my midge boxes, I noticed a sparse compartment of Griffiths Gnats. I tie them in a grizzly hackle in sizes 16-20. When small bugs are coming off, the trout will attack the gnats thinking that they are a cluster of smaller flies.

Gnats are an easy tie, especially with the new superlong hackles. I use these as a terminal fly and add a more realistic dropper. Even if they refuse the top gnat, I can still see it and identify any strike on the dropper.

You never have enough caddis dry flies. There are so many variations to tie. My personal favorite is the PMX style. I again use it as a top fly with a more natural dropper. You can also add a small Desert Storm size/style dropper and use the bigger fly as the indicator. It makes an awesome presentation.

Some fly guys are cheap. They buy the cheapest flies tied with the cheapest hooks and materials. My free fishing time is precious. I do not want to miss a fish due to a dull, broken hook. Trout refusing a cheapo fly just isn’t worth the savings. Use quality materials for quality results.

There is nothing worse than running out of specific pattern during mid hatch. One day along the Bighorn, I hit an early Baetis hatch. It seemed like every fish in the river was feeding. I matched the hatch using a #16 Adams dry fly. There were no refusals. Even the best dry flies have a limited life expectancy. They can only survive several voracious Browns before they refuse to float or fall apart.

I ran out of flies and the hatch was stronger than ever! Fortunately, a friendly fly guy stopped by. He was worn out from catching fish. I told him about my dilemma, and he handed me a dozen beautiful Adams dries. Not all fly guys are snobs!

It took another hour or so of lip ripping before I too was out of energy. The sunset meant it was time to leave. The next morning, I was at the picnic bench reloading for the next session. I had tied an extra 2 dozen, and put them in a small cup, in case I saw the generous Fly Guy. That evening, I was prepared.

90% of the time, rout feast on minnows, nymphs, or sub surface bugs. A quality dry fly hatch is rare. Not having the proper flies is tragic. One day at Buffalo Ford, a great caddis hatch exploded. This was when there were thousands of Cutthroat trout in the river. I was catching a few fish on my caddis but not putting on a clinic. The big cuts were looking at my fly but refusing. When I grabbed a real caddis and examined it, I saw that the body was yellow. My caddis was gray, green, tan, and not yellow.

I took a break and went back to the truck. I dropped the tailgate, grabbed a cold beer, and set up to tie. In 30 minutes, I tied nearly 2 dozen X-Caddis, with a yellow body and a yellow tail/shuck. Refreshed and reloaded, I attacked the river again. The bite was on and wore me out!

Sometimes the right fly can make a huge difference. Don’t be the guy watching everyone else catching fish.

Be Prepared!

Montana Grant

New Podcast!

Riley's Meats - Butte Wild Game Processing