Written by: John Way, The Tackle Shop
June in Montana is a special time—not quite summer yet, but not spring. It’s sort of an in-between time, when you can expect snow one day and 70 and sunny the next. An epic battle between spring and summer plays out each day, with the soundtrack of some of the best and most prolific hatches of the year. Legendary hatches like salmonflies, golden stoneflies, caddisflies, and PMDs keep hungry fish looking to the surface for their next meal. Here are my ten favorite patterns for this great time of year.
[Click the name of each fly to be taken to a place to buy, a recipe, or a video.]
1. Chubby Chernobyl—This is the do-anything stonefly, hopper, or attractor pattern. In June, I carry these in sizes 4-10, with a orange body to imitate salmonflies. You should also have some yell-body versions in sizes 8-12 for golden stones, as well as a few Royal Chubbys in sizes 8-14 to represent anything under the sun.
2. Rogue Foam Stonefly—This is the perfect imitation of a stonefly. Have it in your box in June in sizes 6 and 8 with an orange foam body for salmonflies and in sizes 10-16 with a yellow body for goldens and yellow sallies.
3. X-Caddis Tan (sizes 12-26)—While most people recognize the larger stoneflies, sometimes the fish are hungry for the millions of caddisflies that also hatch in June. The X-Caddis with the trailing shuck represents an adult just emerging from the film, and the fish can’t get enough.
4. Parachute Adams (sizes 10-16)— Use perfect all-around mayfly to represent almost any mayfly on the water.
5. Purple Haze Parachute (sizes 10-16)—Another great mayfly, as well as a general searching pattern. The purple color and elk tail make this one of the fishiest flies out there.
6. Bugmeister (sizes 10-14)—This is a local Montana favorite, first tied by outfitter John Perry in Missoula. I am not sure if it is because of the profile or the peacock body, but fish certainly take notice. Fish it in size 14 for a caddisfly and in a 10 for a golden stone.
7. Hedgehog Salmonfly (size 8)—An old-time pattern with multiple elk-hair wings, this fly rides low in the water. It works great when fish have seen every foam variation of a salmon fly. Make sure to have some with a burnt-orange body.
8. Furimsky’s Fluttering Caddis, Tan (sizes 10-14)—This is really an Elk Hair Caddis with a foam body, which means that it floats forever. The best part is that the foam body can be customized with a few colors of sharpie markers to be a golden stone, salmonfly, or caddisfly.
9. Royal Stimulator (sizes 8-16)—It’s sort of an old-school pattern these days, but it’s still a proven winner. The peacock-and-red body triggers fish looking for a variety of insects.
10. Goddard Caddis (sizes 14-18)—The Goddard, or what we like to call the “God Like Caddis,” floats like a cork and represents the adult caddis. I fish these anytime there are caddis on the river.
John Way owns and operates The Tackle Shop in Ennis, Montana.
6 thoughts on “Top 10 Dry Flies for June on the Madison River”
Nice fish, Dirt!
Nice ties and very good images. I just wonder why are these hooks barbed? Aren’t you practicing a high percentage of C&R in your waters?
Kind regards and tight lines,
T.Z., These images are mostly taken from commercial sites where the flies are sold. Almost all flies are sold barbed, giving the angler the choice to fish with the barb or to mash it. Most folks I know mash the barb. You’ll note that the two patterns shown in the vise both have flattened barbs.
I’m heading up your way at the end of July for a week of fishing in the Ennis area. What subtractions or additions to this list do you recommend for late July?
When I see lists like this I wonder is it the time of year the bugs are reacting to, i.e., the air temp and amount of daylight or is it the water temperature? Since water temp is directly related to time of year but also other things like amount of rain, runoff, etc. can “June” flies work in late May or July if conditions create the right water temps?
Yes you are correct many of these hatches are driven by sunlight, water temps and a variety of other thing. Some years they happen early some years late depending on what mother nature has in store for us. This year we are running slightly behind schedule so there will be overlap into July. Some of these bugs will be play when you are on the Madison. I would suggest golden stones, caddis are a big one as well as the goldens smaller brother the yellow sallie. May flies like the PMD will stick around and will be a good one to have in your box. The other thing I would have is ants. Fish eat ants year long and the end of July is prime time Ant time. I like ants in a size 12-16 and the rusty color fishes better for me. Also that time of year we will see nocturnal stone flies. These are goldens but they hatch at night and are flightless. We fish them primarily in the morning. Let me know if you have any further questions.