5 Tips for Fly Fishing the Callibaetis Hatch

Shop Staff Bryce Hasquet with a big Rainbow Trout caught on one of Montana’s many great stillwater fisheries.

-Tip #1 Skinny Bodies

The Callibaetis is a very thin bodied Mayfly and your pattern of choice should reflect that. The size 16 Parachute Adams is a great Mayfly attractor pattern and is a good shade of color for the Callibaetis hatch in Montana, but often the body is too bulky. Thinner profile flies are the ticket for this hatch. Many of our favorite patterns feature a quill body which has a much thinner profile than a dubbed body fly.

-Tip #2 Corner Pocket

Fly fishing lakes in Montana brings a whole different set of problems than river fishing, and one of them can be wind. But wind has positive affects as well. Wind acts as current in a lake, pushing food in the direction the wind is blowing. If the wind maintains a consistent direction, then it often moves the Callibaetis spinners into corners of the lake. We have seen it many times, follow the wind and find the food. Trout feed aggressively in these shallow spots close to the bank where wind has moved the food to.

-Tip #3 Soft Hackles

Dry fly fishing on lakes can be difficult as fish are cruising, popping up to feed in a random way. Because anglers have no idea which direction they’re moving, they have no idea where to cast.  While dry fly fishing is fun, it might not be the most effective way to approach a lake. One of our favorite ways to fish Callibaetis is with a size 14 or 16 light colored soft hackle, stripped slowly. Trout will key on this presentation near the surface with a floating line, or just above weedbeds with an intermediate sinking line.

-Tip #4 Size Down In Tippet

Trout eating on the surface have a lot more time to check your presentation than trout in moving water. If you are seeing fish approaching your fly and then refusing, try sizing down in tippet. This has saved many lake days, dropping from 4X tippet to 5X tippet. The lighter tippet will often turn those refusals into takes.

-Tip #5 Control Yourself

Many Montana lakes are very clear, adding to the fun because you can see the trout moving toward your dry fly. This can make it tough for the angler to keep their cool and not set the hook to soon. It’s hard to wait for the fish to take and turn, but you have to. Easy to say, hard to do! We usually love quick reactions from anglers but in this case, everything is in slow motion and you need to be patient on the hook set. If you find yourself quick striking, think about taking your polarized glasses off. If you can’t see the fish coming, you can’t quick strike.

Additional Callibaetis Overview