Most of us only get a few chances to go fly fishing each year. You’re going to want to make it count. So when is fly fishing best?
Fly fishing is typically best throughout the summer from June to as late as September. This timeframe takes advantage of several different insect hatches throughout these months, which in turn offer some of the best fly fishing of the year.
Best Time of Day to Fly Fish
The best time of day to fly fish depends on a few factors. The obvious and most typical time would be in the morning, from roughly just before sunrise to a few hours after, with fishing typically slowing down by 10 a.m. in many cases.
The afternoon can also be a great time from mid to late afternoon, from around 4 or 5 p.m. up until just after sunset.
Other excellent fly fishing times are during the moon’s majors and minors. It changes from day to day and correlates with the moon. Moonrise and Moonset can offer incredible feeding and activity windows for fish.
These windows can happen in the middle of the day and change by about an hour each day, so be sure to keep tabs on these two crucial fishing windows. You’ll want to be at your best spots 30 minutes before and after these precise times.
Match The Hatch
Summer from June to September can be the best time to fly fish. The bug hatches play a significant role in fly fishing, and changing your tactics to “match the hatch” during the summer months can be incredibly useful.
In the later months of summer, as you get into fall, streamers can also be very useful, mimicking small baitfish that hatched in the spring and are now larger, thus being an excellent food source for trout in August to September.
Bug Hatches and Fly Choices in Summer
When fly fishing in Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado, it is worth taking a look at some of the common insect hatches that occur. You can take advantage of these hatches to catch trout using flies that precisely imitate these insects.
Midges hatch all summer long giving Starting early in the spring in March and continuously hatching until the weather gets colder in October.
Midge imitations are best used with nymph style flies and emergers, allowing them to get down to the level where the fish are, the bottom of the river. While floating flies can and will work, it may be challenging to make your fly stand out on the surface during a large hatch.
It’s also important during a large hatch to make your fly stand out amongst the crowd. Bright colors like red can help attract trout that are surrounded by midge flies.
Any trout anglers know the power of a hatch of insect species like the Brachycentrus Caddis. Hatches of this species happen from the middle of April to the Middle of October, and large hatches can make the fish go crazy.
Recommended fishing tactics for these insects are nymphs and emergers in the adult stage.
If you are fishing at the right time, before a significant hatch, flies imitating the caddis fly’s larvae can also be useful. Green nymphs or combinations of green and brown to mimic the gravel cocoon they live in can seal the deal.
Trico flies hatch throughout the summer from June to September and is another excellent hatch.
These flies are black, and most flies used for them are typically black with prominent white wings. Spinners are great to use during this hatch, and trout can’t resist when you land a Trico spinner on the surface.
Western Green Drake
The western green drake has a pretty specific hatch time compared to some insect species in the western U.S. Matching the hatch for a particular species with a small hatching window could be critical to a personal best catch.
The green drake hatches from the beginning of June to the Middle of July in most cases. Like most insect species, the weather can affect the hatch’s specific timing by as much as a couple of weeks.
Green drakes have a prominent olive green coloration and are best used like most “match the hatch” imitations as emerging flies and nymphs. These precisely timed hatches can cue fish to feed on that specific insect without much hesitation.
There are tons of insects that hatch throughout spring, summer, and fall. And if we listed every single one, we would have written an article about the size of a book. To help you choose what to use at a given time, we included the chart below.
|Species||Fly Type||Hatch Time|
|Midge||Nymph/Adult/Emerger||March to October|
|Western March Brown||Nymph/Adult/Emerger||March and April|
|Little Olive||Nymph/Adult/Spinner/Emerger||April and May|
|Brachycentrus Caddis||Nymph/Adult/Emerger||April to October|
|Slate Gray Dun||Nymph/Emerger/Dun/Spinner||May to July|
|Salmon Fly||Nymph/Adult||May to early July|
|Rhyacophila Caddis||Nymph/Emerger/Adult||mid-March to mid-September|
|Brown Drake||Nymph/Emerger/Dun/Spinner||June and July|
|Western green Drake||Nymph/Emerger/Dun/Spinner||June and July|
|Small Western Drake||Nymph/Emerger/Dun/Spinner||May to August|
|Slate Cream Dun||Nymph/Emerger/Dun/Spinner||July and August|
|Spotted Sedge||Nymph/Emerger/Adult||March to April and again in July|
|Western Red Quill||Nymph/Emerger/Dun/Spinner||Mid-June to Mid- September|
|Speckle Wing Quill||Nymph/Emerger/Dun/Spinner||Mid-April to mid-May and July to September|
|Trico||Nymph/Emerger/Dun/Spinner||June to September|
|Western Gray Drake||Nymph/Emerger/Dun/Spinner||May and June|
|Mahogany Dun||Nymph/Emerger/Dun/Spinner||Mid-August to Mid-October|
|Tiny BWO||Nymph/Emerger/Dun/Spinner||Mid-August to Mid-October|
|Blue Winged Olive||Nymph/Emerger/Dun/Spinner||March to October|
|Pale Morning Dun||Nymph/Emerger/Dun/Spinner||April to October|
Starting in late August and running into early September, the Salmon spawn can be a great time to get out and fly fish. There are tens of thousands of salmon, and the opportunities for success are endless.
The best part about salmon fishing during this time is it’s better off to keep the fish you catch. While in most cases, catch and release are promoted above keeping fish to enhance local fisheries, the salmon die after spawning and end up on the banks, making it a great time to get some fish in the smoker or freezer.
For bait presentations, the best fly type to use for salmon is egg imitations. A simple single egg imitation can work great, along with the “scrambled egg” patterns that imitate a broken egg with the yoke running out.
Mixing up the egg flies’ colors can also help, and bright, flashy colors can make a difference, consider trying flies in clown patterns or other colors that pop.
Other Prime Summer Species
Bass fishing is incredibly good in the summer months, with poppers working exceptionally well in shallow and highly vegetated areas.
Pike fishing around submerged vegetation and weed lines with poppers and large streamers that imitate baitfish can be an absolute blast. It can result in all-day action in the summer months.
If you find a backwater area without much fishing pressure and a good forage base, you might find a fish population in the 30 to 40-inch range.
The summer months are dynamite for a wide range of species, not only trout and salmon. If you’re going to get the opportunity to get out on the water, make sure it is prime time. When you get out there, be sure to match the hatch, and you will undoubtedly be successful.