The Fish It Guide to Fall Flies


Well, Fish It Missoula Nation, the pigskin is flying, the leaves consider a’changing, the trout aren’t so willing in the morning. Fall has arrived.

We’ve had a busy summer, and I wore waders today. It was weird, but I kinda liked it.

The Trico fly fishing below town on the Clark and on certain stretches of the Bitterroot has been technical but solid. Try a drowned pattern a few inches below a parachute on 5x sized tippet.

Do you know what a Hecuba is?

They are a spotty hatch that some of us get all excited about. It is a juicy, almost stubby Mayfly, similar to an Autumn green drake. It signifies for me that a mahogany bonanza may grace us…you know, like with “set your watch” consistency as the brown duns apper around two in the afternoon.

But the point is that the Hecubas are around that I can support claims-wise. You know what, get old school, try a big red humpy or a royal wulff.

These are great flies, and you ought to know why they are surely pillars beneath whatever fly pattern castle that has been built. They both float high, are very “buggy” and highly effective. Someone told me once to fish one… and I finally listened, passing the savings on to you.

There is a stretch of river which I quite like, it is far away and special, and last week I witnessed one of the best hours of dry fly fishing I have seen in years. Big fish, rise forms, willing snouts, as it should be.

Showing off some of fall's goods.

So wave goodbye to epic hopper fishing that never was, and put your superstition towards amazing mayfly fishing that certainly could be. We live in paradise, the mountains will be white with winter’s want sooner that we know.

Get out, cast one fly that floats, just one fly. Feel the rod load, feel the level sections shoot out, giver ‘er a mend, and connect with one or two.

Attention, anglers! Matt lost a Scott rod and St. Croix rod with a Bauer reel at the Sunset Hill Access on the Blackfoot on September 18. If you find them, send him an email. There’s 50 bucks and a debt of gratitude in it for you!


Fishing for more tales from the river? Check out Matt and Bryce’s other posts: Missouri River Fly Fishing, the Best in AmericaZen and the Art of Not Fishing At All, and An Ode to Brown Trout, or visit the Fish It archive.

Be sure to visit the Make it Missoula fishing page.


Photos of Missoula Fly Fishing Experts Matt Devlin and Bryce McLean

Matt Devlin (left) is originally from Annapolis, Maryland and learned to fool trout on the technical waters of the Gunpowder River. He has fished in Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Maine, Michigan, Indiana, North and South Carolina, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. He thinks about flies and fishing a whole lot.

Bryce McLean (right) was born and raised in Montana, and has been fly fishing here for almost 20 years. He first learned to fish on the Missouri River, but when he was ten, his family moved to the Bitterroot Valley. He’s been fishing the Bitterroot River ever since. This has been his second season guiding the Missoula area rivers, which he consider to be some of the best trout fisheries on planet Earth.

Their most recent fish-related project is