Green Drake Overview
- Family: Mayfly
- Size: 14-16mm (Size 10-12)
- Emergence: Late June through mid July
- Emergence Time: Afternoon
The Green Drake Hatch in Montana is not the steadiest hatch, but when it’s on it’s on. Often overshadowed by the Salmon Fly and Golden Stones in the Missoula area, the fish recognize when Green Drakes are on the water in Montana.
It’s a fun hatch when it’s going, because the bugs are big, and they’re often not a strong hatch. Strong enough to get the fish moving, but not so dense that you need a lot of different patterns. We all have our favorites, but on a normal day, the fish will eat almost any decent imitation presented properly. That’s a comforting feeling!
With that said, a cripple is always a great choice. The Green Drake emergence differs from many mayflies. The nymph unfolds its wings 6-12 inches below the surface, and then uses them to push through the surface film. Even with their size, this is a difficult process, and a cripple is often the way trout find Green Drakes.
The Green Drake is such a big mayfly, you need to adjust your leader. Since the fly is a size 8 or 10, the lightest tippet you should use is a 4X, and many of our guides in Missoula will go as thick as 2X. The thicker leader provides more accuracy, and helps to control a trout in the bigger water Green Drakes often hatch in. Late June may be the end of runoff, but the water is still big and fast. Thicker tippet helps fight fish in high water, especially on the Blackfoot River and Rock Creek because the water is moving so fast. The nymph is also a pretty big nugget! As a dropper off a Golden Stone, the Green Drake nymph can be a strong producer.
The Green Drake hatches are on the Bitterroot River, Blackfoot River, Clark Fork River, Rock Creek and many other smaller streams around Missoula and throughout Montana. When these big Mayflies hatch, fish often ignore all other insects on the river.