Missoula Fly Fishing Report 6/22

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot has improved a lot over the last week and is fishing well. Few Salmon flies up top but Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies in the sun and PMD’s and especially Green Drakes in the clouds. Most of our reports have been on the upper stretches although the mid section is fishing decent as well. For dries try Demoes Golden, Morningwood Golden, Double Dutch Bug, Carnage Green Drake, Comparadun PMD and the Film Critic. For nymphs try the G-Kes, Jiggin Stone, Yellow Resin Wing, Pilva or many of the other 200 different styles of Jig Nymphs we in stock.

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot is dropping and in great shape. There has been bugs all over including Salmon Flies, Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies and Green Drakes. This is a great time of year to hit the Blackfoot and should keep you busy with dry flies action all day. The Salmon Flies are on the mid to upper stretches and Golden stones everywhere. With the clouds this week, be ready for some great Green Drake hatches. Our dries of choice the last few days have been the Super G, Rastaman, PK Stones, Bullethead Salmon Flies and Golden. The streamer fishing has been great too if you are into throwing big flies. If 
the dry fly fishing slows midday then throw on droppers off the dry like G-Kes, cream ptail jig, Jiggin Stones, Hot Pheasant Jig, Bullets, Pats Rubber Legs and DB Stones.

Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork is also coming into good shape and plenty of bugs to keep you and the fish busy all day. We have been seeing some Salmon Flies, Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies and many Green Drakes in the clouds. Another great option around Missoula and should continue to fish well here on out. Streamer fishing and nymphing is also a great option but we have been busy on dries all day long. When the dry fly fishing slows midday then throw on droppers off the dry like G-Kes, cream ptail jig, Jiggin Stones, Hot Pheasant Jig, Bullets, Pats Rubber Legs and DB Stones.

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is one of your best options right now along with dozens of other tributaries in the Missoula area for wading or floating if you are a confident rower. Salmon Flies are all over the upper creek and Golden Stones showing up as well throughout the creek. Green Drakes have been great on the cloudy days. Most days there is no need to go subsurface unless you want to. Dries all day long is the game, Stones in the sun and Green Drakes in the clouds.

Casting A Fly Rod With Dr. Beck

Thoughts on Casting . . . . . and Travel

Miles Davis, the great jazz trumpeter, said, “If I don’t practice for two days, I start to notice. If I don’t practice for four days, my fans start to notice.”

This isn’t about contrasting casting styles, or the merits of a fast or slow rod. This is about being ready when you get off the plane or out of the car. Our guides have quoted numerous clients, when getting into the boat for the first day of five days of fly fishing trip to Missoula, “I haven’t picked up a fly rod for 6 months.” And the thought, “REALLY?!?!?!?” immediately floats through the guide’s head. You’re about to spend $2750 and you haven’t even picked up a rod?

I knew a man who was comped a 7 day trip to the South Island of New Zealand. Four 5-Star lodges and the finest fishing the South Island could provide. On day two, after having blown his third shot at his third fish, the guide turned to him and asked’ “Did you not even practice before coming here?” He wasn’t implying he was a bad fisherman, because he wasn’t. He was saying that a bit of planning might have made the trip a bit more successful and a bit less frustrating.  Our guides don’t do that, but they definitely know you’re not getting anywhere near what you could be from your time on the rivers around Missoula, MT.

When pre-trip information is given to someone going on a Billfish trip, it lists tackle and fly needs, clothing and other necessities. It also directs the angler to purchase a 10 pound dumbbell, and starting two MONTHS before the trip, begin to do one minute of forearm curls, with each hand, three times a day. Move to two minutes, and try to increase even more. Why? Because when a billfish sounds and then starts to spiral, you will need to derrick that fish to the surface. If you’re not prepared, if you haven’t trained for that, your Billfish experience is going to be long and painful.

We’re not asking you to spend hours a day casting, or hire a casting instructor till you can hit a trash can lid at 85’. But if you haven’t picked up your rod for a while, string it up. Put in 15 minutes day for a week before you head out. Don’t change your style, just refresh your familiarity with the tools of the trade. You’re going to be stunned at how much better your guided trip goes with a bit of pre-practice. You’ve made a pretty serious investment of time and money. If your fishing time is limited before the trip, an investment of a little casting time will maximize your time on the water.

Missoula Fly Fishing Report 6/14

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot has been rising a bit the last few weeks with the warmer temps. The Bitterroot should fish better and better every day as the water continues to warm up and flows steady out. There are Salmon Flies moving on the upper along with some Green Drakes and Sallies but the nymph and streamer game will be your best technique up here right now. Focus on Salmon Flies and Golden Stone Dries up and Green Drakes in the clouds. Nymph patterns to try are be DB Stone, Pats Rubber Legs, G-Kes Jig, Jiggin Stones, Jig Prince Nymph, Hot Pheasant Jig and the good ole worm.

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot is dropping and in great shape. There has been bugs all over including Salmon Flies, Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies and Green Drakes. This is a great time of year to hit the Blackfoot and should keep you busy with dry flies action all day. Our dries of choice the last few days have been the Super G, Rastaman, PK Stones, Bullethead Salmon Flies and Golden. The streamer fishing has been great too if you are into throwing big flies. If
the dry fly fishing slows midday then throw on droppers off the dry like G-Kes, cream ptail jig, Jiggin Stones, Hot Pheasant Jig, Bullets, Pats Rubber Legs and DB Stones.

Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork is also coming into good shape and plenty of bugs to keep you and the fish busy all day. We have been seeing plenty of Salmon Flies, Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies and a few Green Drakes in the clouds. Another great option around Missoula and should continue to fish well here on out. Streamer fishing and nymphing is also a great option but we have been busy on dries all day long. When the dry fly fishing slows midday then throw on droppers off the dry like G-Kes, cream ptail jig, Jiggin Stones, Hot Pheasant Jig, Bullets, Pats Rubber Legs and DB Stones.

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is one of your best options right now along with dozens of other tributaries in the Missoula area for wading or floating if you are a confident rower. Salmon Flies are all over the upper creek and Golden Stones showing up as well throughout the creek. Most days there is no need to go subsurface unless you want to. Dries all day long is the game, Stones in the sun and Green Drakes in the clouds.

Missoula’s Largest Fly Selection

Missoula’s Largest Fly Tying Selection

Missoula Fly Fishing Report 6/10

It’s June, which means it’s time for Salmon Flies!

Check out our newest blog that talks about tips and techniques when fishing the Salmon fly Hatch in Western Montana.

https://www.missoulianangler.com/2019/05/salmon-flies-the-big-start-to-missoulas-summer/

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot has been dropping like a rock for the last week or so and is definitely an option right now. The Bitterroot should fish better and better every day as the water continues to drop and warm up with the weather forecast looking like warmer days ahead of us. There are a few Salmon Flies moving on the upper along with some Green Drakes and Sallies but the nymph and streamer game will be your best technique up here right now. Focus on Stonefly nymphs as many of them are waiting for some warmer temps to fly which means they are migrating to the banks and become more susceptible to fish. Nymph patterns to try are be DB Stone, Pats Rubber Legs, G-Kes Jig, Jiggin Stones, Jig Prince Nymph, Hot Pheasant Jig and the good ole worm.

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot is big but you could do worse as far as clarity is concerned. The river continues to drop and conditions improve every day. Salmon Flies have just started showing up on the lower river. We have had a few good days up here this last week focusing on streamers tight to the bank and heavy stone fly nymph rigs on the soft edges of the inside seems. Yuk bug, Pats, Bitch Creek, DB Stones, Jiggin Stones, Hot Pheasant Jig and worms are the nymphs of choice up here right now. Dry fly fishing should continue to improve on the lower end later this week.

Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork is surprisingly clearing up fairly quick and while not your best option around Missoula, it is definitely not a waste of time. We fished it just to bring you a report and pulled a few nice fish out nymphing inside seems and a few bonus fish on Salmon Flies(yes there is adults on the Clark Fork and they are starting to look up for them). If you do decide to try the Clark Fork, then cover every inch of the soft inside seems. We believe it should continue to clear up and the dry fly fishing should really pick up towards the end of the week. Although you can find many better places to fish around Missoula right now, it’s still a fun challange to go out in less then ideal conditions and catch fish.

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is one of your best options right now along with dozens of other tributaries in the Missoula area. Salmon Flies have been out mid river and fish are eating them. The last few cold days slowed the advance of the hatch upstream but the bugs will continue their journey upstream followed by golden stones. Our go to stone patterns are the PK, Damiens SUV, Super Gee, Rastaman, 64 Impala and the good old Orange Stimulator. For nymphs try Pats Rubber Legs, G-Kes Jig, Hot Pheasant Jigs, Jiggin Stone and Hard bodies. Don’t hesitate to tight line(no indicator) a stonefly nymph early in the day before the dry fly action starts.

Missoula’s Largest Fly Selection

Missoula’s Largest Fly Tying Selection

Missoula Fly Fishing Report 6/4

It’s June, which means it’s time for Salmon Flies!

Check out our newest blog that talks about tips and techniques when fishing the Salmon fly Hatch in Western Montana.

https://www.missoulianangler.com/2019/05/salmon-flies-the-big-start-to-missoulas-summer/

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot has bumped back up in flows after a few heavy rain showers followed by a series of warm days. Fishable? yes but there are plenty of other options like small tributaries that will offer better conditions. If you do head to the Bitterroot then focus on nymphing inside seems, edges, side channels or any other soft water you can find.

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot is big but you could do worse as far as clarity is concerned. Steadily dropping over the last week even with warm conditions and color is turning green. We have had a few good days up here this last week focusing on streamers tight to the bank and heavy stone fly nymph rigs on the soft edges of the inside seems. Yuk bug, Pats, Bitch Creek, DB Stones and worms are the nymphs of choice up here right now.

Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork along with most of the streams has been affected by heavy rain and a few warm days, making this one of your last options around Missoula. If you to decide to hit the Clark Fork then focus on where tributaries dump in creating clear seems.

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is one of your best options right now along with dozens of other tributaries in the Missoula area. Salmon Flies have been out on the lower end and fish are eating them. The bugs continue their journey upstream followed by golden stones. Our go to stone patterns are the PK, Damiens SUV, Super Gee, Rastaman, 64 Impala and the good old Orange Stimulator. Don’t hesitate to tight line(no indicator) a stonefly nymph early in the day before the dry fly action starts. Nymphs include DB Stone, Pats, Yuk Bug, Bitch Creek or one of the hundreds of jig patterns that we carry!

Missoula’s Largest Fly Selection

Missoula’s Largest Fly Tying Selection

Clark Fork River Brown Trout

Streamers in Missoula – Big Fish Business

The first rule of piscatorial predation. Big Fish eat Little Fish. The first rule of Missoula’s Piscatorial Predators. Big Streamers catch big fish!

There’s never a wrong time to throw a streamer. Unlike grasshoppers or Salmon flies, which appear at specific times, small fish are available to larger fish 365 days a year. There are many winter streamer fishermen in our area, and while they may not catch as many fish as a cold weather nympher, total weight may be a close contest. When the weather breaks in March, smaller fish migrate to the warmer shallows. The big fish take advantage of this migration and streamer fishing rocks. Rising and falling river flows surrounding run-off also kicks off excellent streamer fishing. Flow change displaces all fish, and big fish take advantage of disoriented smaller fish seeking new homes. The streamer fishing will be strong through mid July, and then it tapers back to normal.

Missoula’s largest fly selection and guides favorite.

The Missoulian Angler Fly Shop has the largest selection of streamers in Missoula, for very good reason. We have streamers for all water and all line weights. The big articulated streamers, like the Articulated Kreelex, need a 7 or 8 weight to effectively handle them. We have highly weighted streamers, like the Sculpizilla, for use with floating lines. And we have a large selection of Galloup’s neutrally buoyant streamers (Butt Monkey, Tips Up) that work best with a sink tip 7 or 8 weight.


We also carry a wide variety of flies handled with a 5 or 6 weight like the Clarks Rat. These are by necessity lighter and smaller than their grown up cousins, but still move big fish. From a biological standpoint, it’s conventional wisdom most fish will not attack anything that’s bigger than 1/3 it’s size. So if you fish a 3 inch streamer, you can expect to catch nothing smaller than a 9” fish. Put on a 5” streamer, and now you’ve weeded out all the fish below 15”. This is one reason some anglers feel streamers are less effective, because a dry fly angler or nympher makes his living on 8-13” fish. (Hey, just being honest) Tie on a big streamer, and 80% of the river’s trout population is now untargeted. No wonder streamer fishing can feel slow, when so many fish aren’t even in the mix.

When choosing your fly, line weight isn’t the only factor. In late June, when the water is high, the size of your streamer doesn’t really matter. Even if it hits the water with a thud, the big water masks it’s landing. But throw that same fly in late August, and it will move fish- all away from you! Skinny waters need skinnier, low impact streamers. Especially if you’re wading. Streamer fishing is the most intrusive form of fly fishing, with dry flies being the least intrusive and nymphs falling in between. If you’re fishing a spot with limited wading opportunities, run your dries first, then a nymph, then streamers. Because if you rip a big streamer through the pool first, the fish may not be as amenable to rising after that! In a boat, it’s not that critical. You’re always moving to new fish, so it’s not important how you attack specific spots. You’re just going to move on! You can also fish a bigger fly in skinnier water, because the splash will be in one spot, and the streamer will be fished in another.

Montana Fly Fishing Guides – Float Or Wade Fishing Trips

Let Us Make Your Montana Fly Fishing Trip A Vacation Of A Lifetime!

Missoula Fly Fishing Guide Chase Harrison

We’re big fans of fluorocarbon for streamer fishing. We all know Fluorocarbon is invisible in water, but it’s also much heavier than standard leader material. On a sink tip, a 3’ leader of 10 pound fluoro keeps the fly down at the level of the sink tip. With a floating line, a full Fluorocarbon leader helps the fly gain a little more depth. Invisibility is just an added bonus, it’s the higher specific gravity that’s more important.

We have enough streamers that it can sometimes be a bit of an adventure filling your fly box! We recommend, when getting started in this, following this old adage. Light day, light fly- Dark day, dark fly- Bright day, bright fly. With that in mind, make sure to vary your fly size, always remembering what line weight you’ll be using. If you use sink tips, weight won’t be critical. Floating lines might require you to look for flies with a little weight on them, like a conehead or smaller dumbbell eyes. One of our favorite weighted flies is the Sculpzilla. Others are the Skullhead Super Tinsel and the Baby Gonga. These flies can be thrown on a 5 weight with some concentration, and larger rods handle them with ease.

Classic streamer fishing while wading utilizes a cast quartering downstream. Fish the cast out, and then take 3 steps and do it again. We would amend that to consider water clarity. In stained water, you may only take one step. In clear water, you may take four steps. What you’re trying to do is give every fish within casting range a chance to see your fly, without throwing over stale fish. From a boat, the classic streamer technique is hammer the bank, the closer the better most of the time. But keep your eyes open for mid river structure like rootballs and boulders. These hold fish as well. Don’t neglect the riffles. Two feet of moving water holds more big fish than you think, and are well worth running a streamer through.

No matter where you’re fishing or what your fishing for, listen to the fish. They’ll tell you what they want, and how to present it. We often start with a very gentle stripping action, but if that doesn’t move fish, we get continuously more aggressive until we’re stripping with the line hand and pushing the rod forward with the other, moving the fly as fast as possible! Don’t worry. If a trout wants your fly, you CANNOT strip it faster than the trout can swim. Varying your retrieve allows the trout to respond to the action it prefers.

Stripping Streamers on the Clark Fork River or Bitterroot River often comes with a few surprise pike.

There are three types of strikes to a streamer. The type A strike is a killing strike. The trout is eating, and your streamer is dead. You almost can’t miss this type of strike. The Type B strike is the action of a fish defending its territory from an invasive presence. The trout will lash out and chase the intruder away, but is not as interested in feeding, and you may not gat a take to this movement. The Type C strike is asimple curiosity. The trout will follow the streamer out, slowly, making making light nips on the tail in an effort to find out what this thing is. This fish is not actively feeding, and may be enticed to strike, but it’s definitely not a given.

From a boat, the Blackfoot River may be the best streamer river in our area. Strewn with boulders, and a gradient that keeps the water moving, the Blackfoot is streamer paradise. Lots of places to hide, and your fly is moving fast enough that fish don’t get a long time to look at it. Rock Creek holds awesome streamer fishing for the wading angler, because its smaller size allows working both sides of the river. Smaller streamers, like the Sparkle Minnow, are often more effective on Rock Creek, due to the average size of the fish.

As an aside, yellow streamers seem to be a clarion call to the Northern Pike Minnow. So while trout are also attracted to yellow, you will see way more than your share of the NPM if you go lots of yellow. A black streamer seems to perform all the time, as does white in our area. Special mention should be made of the Kreelix. Made from Kreinik sparkle material, this bright fly pulls fish out of places they don’t normally leave. All of our staff and guides are streamer junkies, so if this has raised any questions, call 406-728-7766 or email [email protected] for more information!

Additional Streamer Resources