5 Tips for Fly Fishing the Hecuba Hatch

Hecuba Nymph
Photo by Bob Henricks

-Tip #1 Be Ready For The Hatch

The Hecuba is not the strongest hatch in Montana. In fact, it’s one of the most inconsistent fly fishing hatches we have. But it is out there, and when it’s on, the Hecuba is a favored meal. It’s easy to pass Hecuba patterns by in favor of buying more consistent producers like BWO’s and Mahoganies. Make sure to have a couple of Hecubas with you on the Missoula rivers, because while they’re not prolific, the fish look for them.

-Tip #2 Adjust Your Tippet

The Hecuba is a big bug. Combine that with inconsistency, and you have a recipe for laziness when it comes to tippet. If you’ve seen a Hecuba, and are going to give it a whirl, it’s easy to stick with the 5X you were using for BWO’s. Don’t do it. You lose accuracy, and the larger bug will twist and tangle your leader. Take the time to readjust your leader to the correct length and tippet size. Your fishing will be much more enjoyable.

-Tip #3 Move The Nymph

The Hecuba nymph is quite sizable, and the fish recognize and eat it readily. Because of it’s size and tendencies to be in slower water, this nymph is capable of some movement of its own. So when you fish a Hecuba nymph, don’t be afraid to give it a little bit of action. You’ll be imitating the natural when you do.

-Tip #4 Think Cripples

Getting through the surface film is no easy task for a nymph, and the bigger bugs seem to have more trouble than their smaller counterparts. If you come upon fish rising to Hecubas in Montana, our guides will usually begin with a cripple. During a hatch, it seems like the fish key on this phase immediately, and as anglers we have more success with the cripple.

-Tip #5 See It, Fish It

The Hecuba is a tremendous searching pattern. If you see a Hecuba fly by, and there’s nothing else going on, tie on a Brindle Chute or big Parachute Hare’s Ear and start casting. You might have only seen one, but the fish have seen many more, and they will take the adult with little hesitation, even when there’s no hatch present. As an aside, the Brindle Chute, developed on the Bitterroot River, is one of Missoula’s best fly fishing searching patterns in the fall.

Additional Hecuba Resources