Things are finally starting to heat up on the small streams all around the Helena and Craig area. When the fishing slows down here on the MO, our CrossCurrents Fly Shop employees often head towards the smaller streams this region has to offer. Fishing size 16-20 dry flies on the Missouri all season can get tiring, which is why fishing larger size 8 dry flies (like the one picture above) become a real treat.
The composition of the stream-bed on smaller freestone streams is drastically different than what we are used to out on the Missouri and it has a huge affect on the hatches and the fishing. The Missouri is typically described as a super-tailwater stream with a smaller rock bottom and heavy moss growth. The picture above depicts what most freestone stream beds in Montana will look like: medium and larger rock structure which is more inhabitable for specific types of insects. Larger mayflies like the Western Green Drake typically thrive on freestone streams throughout Montana, along with many in the stonefly family. What that translates to for us anglers is fish eat larger flies more often on smaller freestone streams than they do big tailwater, both because of the size of flies the fish are used to seeing and because the hatches are generally not as big which makes the fish more eager to take a fly. For flies I would stick to size 14 Bloom’s Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis, size 8-12 Stimulators, size 14 Parachute Adams, Para Wulff’s and Purple Haze’s, and anything that looks remotely like a grasshopper. Now is the time to leave the bobbers and nymphs at home and enjoy some of the finest dry fly fishing Montana has to offer.
One great thing about smaller streams in the area is they provide us with a chance to fish smaller rods like the 7’6″ Orvis Superfine Touch 3 weight pictured above. In both our downtown Helena and Craig location you can find a great selection of Superfine Touch, Superfine Glass and Helios 2 rods in lighter weights for smaller streams.
Personally, the best part about small streams is in the beauty and solitude that they have to offer. Although there is always that voice in the back of you head that tells you a big grizzly bear around the corner, there is a removed feeling fishing smaller streams which are often way outside of cell service. The best way to hear the latest on small streams in the area is to either give a call (406-449-2292) or stop in the downtown Helena shop at 326 N. Jackson Street. Our staff is constantly exploring smaller streams and catching a few fish along the way. Get out there and catch a few yourself.