June fly fishing in Montana. It’s why so many of us live in Missoula! The best fly fishing in Missoula, the best fly fishing in Montana is happening right now. Salmon Flies. Because when the big dog barks. . . . . . Green Drakes. Big fish rising consistently. With summer just around the corner, so a smattering of Pale Morning Duns, Pale Evening Duns and Golden Stones will round out the month. If there was ever a time to do a little distancing, pretty much pick a spot on the Clark Fork River, Blackfoot River, Rock Creek or the Bitterroot River for the next four weeks, and enjoy the best fly fishing of the year.
Picking favorite flies for this month is a pamphlet length affair. So we’re going to concentrate on a style of fly, and then apply that style to all the different hatches that are bursting out right now. And we’re going to be talking about a specific type of imitation, and that’s the ass in the water fly.
A very good outfitter in Missoula invented the Gould’s Half-down Salmon Fly, and he told us this story about the first time he used it. He said he knew he had a winner, and couldn’t wait to tie it on. When the first salmon fly starts to fly, he puts it on a clients rod, who does nothing for 45 minutes. So he takes and early lunch, feeds his guests and then asks if he could borrow the rod, and of course the guy says sure. Off he goes, up the stream, to find out why the magic isn’t working.
Third cast along the shore, and a beautiful 15” trout gently twists its pectoral fins and lazily drifts to the top of Rock Creek, and sips that salmon fly just like a mayfly. Released, and a couple casts later another nice trout slips up and sucks it down, same slow rise form. And the big 500 watt lightbulb went off over his head. The bug is SUBMERGED! It can’t get away! Why waste energy slashing at a trapped insect when a slow sip is just as effective. Back to the clients, and tells them to look for a subtle rise, not the classic Rock Creek slash, and they were off to the races. An epic day on a fly that imitates, what in mayfly terms, would be a cripple. This is basically a stonefly Klinkhamer.
We carry a lot of stone flies that ride with a half submerged body, in addition to the Half-down. The 64 Impala Salmon Fly, The El Camino Grillo and the Demoes Mill all float with a submerged abdomen. As long as you dress them correctly! For these flies, we use a gel floatant and only apply it on the front half of the fly. We want the rear to sink, so no floatant on the rear of the fly. It makes these flies a bit trickier to see, and they may not float a dropper as well. A small price to pay for flies that really connect with the fish. That ass in the water sends a message to the deeps- this fly aint going anywhere.
If you’re looking for the same “action” in a mayfly imitation, look for the Sprout and the Sparkle Dun to provide that sunken backside that’s so irresistible to trout. Once again, the submerged abdomen means the fly is trapped, and is worth the energy expenditure to move for. Breaking the meniscus with the abdomen is a clear call to all trout- this fly is easy pickings. Get your Sprouts and Sparkle Duns in all the June hatches you plan to meet on any of your fishing adventures.
So while this may not detail the exact flies you need for June, it certainly helps you get started with knowing which of the hatches are present, and gives a strategy for meeting them. To be honest, the fishing in June might not be this technical. The water is still big, and the fish are hugging the shore. As the flies zip by, the fish don’t always have a lot of time to make a decision, so you can use pretty much any hatch matching fly and be sure of some success. Big Orange and medium Gold/Tan cover the stoneflies, while pale mint green and pale olive cover the Green Drakes and PMD’s/PED’s. Stop by our Missoula fly shop or check out our online store to find the flies you need for June fly fishing in Missoula, and then get on the water. Don’t squander the years best fly fishing in Montana!