Now is the time for huge stoneflies and Salmon flies. Big Sky Country sports BIG BUGS during June-July.
If you are fly fishing now, start with stonefly nymphs. Big black nymphs work great. Try eating a salmon fly nymph. They taste like a fresh pea pod.
Searching for bugs is part of the game. You need to find them to fish for them. The big bugs historically hatch when the water temps and diurnal cycles are suitable. The hatch starts to the west and moves eastward. The big bugs will emerge upstream as the hatch progresses.
Which Big Bug patterns are best? One of the first Salmon fly patterns was the Bunyan Bug. This fly was highlighted in “And A River Runs Through It!” There are also many foam bugs that float well but lack the mass of the real deal. These foam flies tend to move on the hook which can put the hook’s point in the wrong position. You may miss a lot of strikes. The more traditional hair flies tend to be a tad heavier and make the critical “plop” sound that excites and stimulates a quick strike.
Some simple tips that will help with more hook ups and easier, healthier releases.
1.) Sharpen your hooks.
2.) Off set your fly’s hook
3.) use forceps to remove the hooks
4.) Use a Catch and Release net for the fish.
5.) Use a heavier fly that matches the plop of a real bug.
6.) Dress the fly with a quality flotant such as Aquel. Also, use a decent desiccant drying powder to keep the fly floating. Wash the fish slime off the fly before using the desiccant. Shimazaki or Frog’s Fannie are good desiccant powder choices.
7.} Use a dropper off the floating bug. A lightweight stone fly nymph works well, or a water saturated dry fly, with a sinking agent on it works also. The trout loves to eat drowned bugs.
8.) Big trout will often ambush bugs close to shore or under overhanging shrubs. Cast onto the grass or rocks and allow the fly to flop into the water. Be ready for a big bite!
Salmon Flies hatch based upon water temperature and length of the day. Look for nymphs under rocks, near the shoreline. If you are finding a lot of nymphs, the hatch is nearby. Salmon flies march to the shore prior to emerging up the grasses and rocks. Exoskeletons will also begin to show up attached to the shores.
I have found the best fishing to be just before the hatch or a few weeks after. Trout can only feast on a few big bugs before they are full. Once they digest a gut full, they will still be looking for more. Scattered salmon flies often show up weeks after the main hatch or float/ fly downstream into areas where the hatch has already moved on.
Go Big or Go Home!