The number one question I am asked as I conduct seminars in the off season is, “when is the best time to fly fish Montana?” I reply with, “There are no bad times to fly fish Montana just certain months are better then others.” But of course as a guide and avid fly fisherman I have my favorite times.
One river I like in particular is the Missouri. June and July are for me the best months to fish the mighty MO because of the incredible dry fly fishing. Located between Helena, MT and Great Falls, MT this is one of Montana’s best tail water trout fisheries. The Missouri River is a “blue ribbon” trout stream and is a somewhat slow moving river that resembles fishing a giant spring creek. The river boasts high populations of rainbow and brown trout and is known as one of the best dry-fly fisheries in the West.
The weed-laced flats, rocky canyons, and the river’s gentle flow require a soft presentation when matching the hatch. Caddis, Trico’s, and Pale Morning Dunn’s are just a few of the flies you see hatching on an average summer day. The Missouri River can be fished successfully all year. I recommend May through October for the best dry-fly fishing with a strong emphasis on June and July. If you like to fish hoppers consider fishing from August through October. A hopper with a dropper is a deadly combination this time of year. A dropper is simply a nymph tied to the curve of the hook with a piece of tippet material anywhere from 18 inches to 4 feet in length depending on the depth of water you are fishing.
The average fish is 14 to 20 inches long, but there’s always the chance of hooking into the Missouri’s brown trout, which can weigh up to five pounds. As the fishing picks up so does the traffic on the river. Plan on staying until last light to see some of the best hatches you have ever experienced.
Without a doubt, the Missouri River is a hot fly fishing destination.
Fly Rods: Five or six weight. Six weight rods give you a little more control on a windy day. I recommend two rods, one set up with a dry fly and one for nymphing.
Tippet & Leaders: 3X to 6X Waders most months, shorts and wading shoes preferred by most in July and August
Best Flies to Use:
- Caddis – all variations #14-22
- CDC PMD’s #16-22
- PMD Spinners pale, olive #16-20
- PMD’s All Variations #16-22
- Trico’s Duns and Spinners #18-22
- Griffith Gnat #18-22
- Orange Stimulator #6-14
- Parachute Adams #14-22
- Hoppers #6-10
- Damsel Fly #8-10
Nymphs and Wet Flies
- Beadhead & Regular Pheasant Tail #14-20
- Beadhead & Regular Hare’s Ear #12-18
- BeadHead Caddis Pupa #16-20
- Caddis Emergers #14-20
- Beadhead Midge Pupa #18-24
- San Juan Worm #6-10
- Sow Bugs #12-16
- Pink Scuds #12-16
- PMD Emergers all types 16-20
- Woolly Buggers all colors, prefer brown, yellow, black #4-12
- Muddler Minnows #6-10