5 Tips for Fly Fishing the Hexagenia Hatch

Photo by Matt Saliga

-Tip #1 Hot Days

Most mayflies do not enjoy hot, sunny days, but the Hexagenia hatch is a whole different beast. When fly fishing in Montana for the Hexagenia hatch, you are looking for those hot July days and nights. Next time you decide that it’s too hot to fish during the day, try your luck on some late evening fishing with these giant Mayflies.

-Tip #2 Fish Into The Dark

While you start seeing Hexagenias in the last hour of daylight, some of the best fishing we’ve seen with this hatch is when it gets dark. Often times we fish these bugs even when you can’t see where you are casting but can still hear the fish crashing on these massive insects. Make sure to always keep your line tight in case you don’t hear anything, this way you can feel the fish.

-Tip #3 Swimming Nymph

The Hex nymph is a big bug, almost resembling a small fish swimming. That gets a lot of attention from the fish subsurface! Fishing the nymph is normally a much more successful way to fish this hatch. Not only are you covering more water stripping the fly, but you can also fish the nymph for a much longer time. Instead of just fishing the dry when you see them start popping, fish the nymphs hours before you see the first adult emerge. We will sometimes use this technique to fish all day when the Hexegenias are most active.

-Tip #4 Twitch It

These bugs make a lot of commotion on the surface when emerging, often getting stuck to their shucks, and using their wings to try to escape from the water and their shuck. When a big bug moves that much on the surface, trout take notice and home in on that motion from long distances. Twitch your fly a bit to give it the appearance of a struggling Mayfly. This also helps keep your line tight in darkness, ensuring you can feel the take as mentioned in Tip #2.

-Tip #5 Silty Bottoms

Fly Fishing Hexagenias in Montana is not a hot topic, because we don’t have a lot of lakes with these amazing insects. You can probably count the lakes with Hexagenias in western Montana on two hands. Silty bottoms are key for the Hexagenias survival. If you fish a lake with a silty bottom, focus on silty, weedy areas as opposed to rocky, graveled areas. If you’re not sure if the lake has Hexagenia, it’s worth it to spend a few late evening/nights waiting to see if these big bugs hatch. If you’re dedicated to finding this hatch but are having trouble locating this hatch, then stop in the our fly shop and we would be happy to point you in the right directions.

Additional Hexagenia Resources