Stillwater Anglers Montana Fly Fishing Hatches

When and How To Fish The Spectacular Montana Fly Fishing Hatches

Everyone knows how fantastic Montana fly fishing is, and we think it has something to do with the Montana fly fishing hatches. Typically fly fishing here is good all year long, but the best times fall around hatch seasons.

In this article, we discuss when certain hatches take place in Montana and try to offer tips on how to fish them.

Spectacular Montana Fly Fishing Hatches and How To Fish Them

Fly fishing in Montana is great because there are so many different places to fish. We literally have thousands of miles of water in all shapes and sizes. Though every season is different, and conditions change from season to season, Montana fly fishing hatches typically occur around the same time every year.

Here we give a brief overview of what hatches occur in Montana and when, as well as provide some tips on how to fish each hatch.

Mother’s Day Caddis Fly Hatch

You can probably guess why it’s called a “Mother’s Day” hatch, but in case you aren’t sure, we’ll fill you in. During the Spring months, typically starting mid-April to early May (hence the Mother’s Day name), when trout’s metabolism starts to increase with the temperature. The fish are hungry and eager to eat insects off the surface.

Mother’s Day Hatch is one of the Montana fly fishing hatches that every angler should experience as many times as they can.

Quick Tip: Though run-off is common throughout this time, the fishing can be great. Focus your casts on back eddies and foam holes, where there will be a concentrated number of caddis floating on the surface and you’ll be more likely to get a bite.


Salmonfly hatches are much more common in Western Montana, but they are famous when it comes to Montana fly fishing hatches. Salmonflies are huge and impossible to ignore. Typically their hatch is very short-lived but the Big Sky state is a great place to fish due to the fact that salmonflies hatch somewhere in a 6 week period from mid may all the way to early July.

Spruce Moth

For later summer fishers, the Spruce Moth seems to hatch in July and August. Though it is a lesser known hatch in Montana, anglers can see great fishing mid-summer because the Spruce Moth creates quite a disturbance on the water, which is a great indicator to the trout that it’s time for lunch!

Quick Tip: Elk Hair Caddis patterns closely resemble the spruce moth and just might do the trick!

Yellow Sally Stonefly

This is another hatch that is often overlooked when it comes to Montana fly fishing hatches. Another midsummer (mid-July to mid-August) hatch, the Yellow Sally Stonefly is very small and their nymphs swim slowly and are very vulnerable to trout. They are of course, yellow in color but adults have a distinctive pink or red abdomen.

Quick Tip: Stay away from dry fly patterns or bulky and hairy nymphs during this time. Stick with something slim and small.


It’s typical for most anglers to choose favorite their favorite patterns, and hoppers are very popular. Big hopper patterns can get a quick rise out of trout, specific in late July to mid-August.

Quick Tip: Cast your hopper patterns near the banks and see how fast those hungry fish try to steal a bite!

Western Green Drake

The Western Green Drake hatch typically lasts for the majority of the summer. Green Drake mayflies are known for being clumsy and typically they start transforming from a water-nymph to a fly around mid-morning.

Quick Tip: Have a variety of flies available to imitate the lifespan of the Western Green Drake.

Pale Morning Dud (PMD)

The small Pale Morning Dud mayflies usually start hatching the middle of June and go through July. They typically start to emerge around mid-morning when the sun starts to heat the water.

Quick Tip: Again, it’s best to have an assortment of nymphs, emergers, duns, spinners, etc., when fishing during PMD season.

Montana is home to some of the best fly fishing hatches in the country, and with the lack of people crowded the rivers, you’ll get to enjoy the day in peace and quiet. There are great Montana fly fishing hatches nearly all year long, and Stillwater Anglers offers some of the best guided trips ever. Ask us what we use when we go out, or check our River Reports for helpful tips and river conditions.