Missoula, Montana Fly Fishing
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Spruce Moth

Photo by Seabrooke Leckie

Spruce Moth Overview

  • Family: Terrestrial
  • Size: 13-15mm (Size 10-12)
  • Emergence: Late July through August
  • Emergence Time: Morning through Early Afternoon

The Spruce Moth hatch in Montana has become an important insect in the last 10 years around Missoula, but the fly fisherman is the only group that welcomes it in Montana. The larvae hatch in the tops of coniferous trees and burrow into the base of the pine needles to feed. This will kill the top of the tree, doing tremendous damage in the forest.

The larvae move to pupate in early to mid-July, and they need hot dry weather to successfully pupate. Once they come out of the trees, they are attracted to the water. No one knows why, but they are. And the trout know this.

Fly Fishing The Spruce Moth

Coming at a time when food in the rivers is scarce, the trout will key on the Spruce Moth. If you see one Spruce Moth flying, tie one on the end of your line. Because they enter the water sporadically, you rarely find trout consistently rising to eat Spruce Moths. However, trout take them opportunistically, and because of their penchant for water, Spruce Moths enter the rivers quite often.

Mottled cream in color, the Spruce Moth is a big morsel at a time when few insects are hatching. If you see Spruce Moths in the air, then they’re entering the water, and the trout are eating them. When it comes to hopper style fishing, the Spruce Moth is just as exciting, and a lot more consistent.

MAngler Exclusive Fly Pattern

Ron Beck, Missoulian Anglers longest tenured employee, has devised a Spruce Moth pattern that is the best in Missoula. Made from mixed Deer body hair, it perfectly mimics he Spruce Moth color. Missoula fly fishing guides line up to buy these in the fly shop. If you want to see how to tie it, check out our video on tying the MAngler Moth.

Additional Spruce Moth Resources