I like to keep track of the flies that have been successful on our fly fishing road trips. Saving the information in a post on my RiverKeeper Flies website is an effective way to document the flies, both for me AND for you. I try to check out prior year posts about our road trip destinations to make sure I have the flies I need. Here is a list of effective dry flies for Montana, flies I’m certain to have in my fly box next year for late June, July, and August.

Madison River Brown Trout | www.johnkreft.com

We tried to arrive in Montana earlier this year with our goal of hitting the caddis hatch on the Madison River, which is the last part of June and much of July.

The timing is a tough balancing act for us because Green Drakes can be found on the Metolius River through the end of June and I love fishing the Green Drake hatch! We catch some beautiful Rainbow trout on our home waters, but the call of the Madison and other rivers in Montana is strong!

We’ve been fortunate to fish Montana waters for several years. You can read about our adventures by using the Fly Fishing Road Trips page under the Resources tab on the top menu.

All the flies you’ll find below have been successful on the rivers we fish. Perhaps that’s because we always fish them!

Well, I am open to new flies and this year was no exception.

I watched lots of Youtube videos this winter and there were two flies Kelly Galloup tied I thought might work for us – his Compara Spinner and the Sunken Spinner.

A Rusty Spinner – Biot Body has worked well, but it can be tough to see with its flat profile. Kelly developed his Compara Spinner with me in mind! I was surprised he didn’t tie it with a rusty body of some sort. If you look at his Slide Inn website, he offers it in two colors – PMD (yellow) and Olive.

Here is a fly he tied for me back in 2017.

Galloup's Compara Spinner | www.johnkreft.com

The body is deer hair to aid with floatation. He said it was the original fly pattern. The fly has changed over the years and the image below is what his commercial tyers provide.

Galloup's Compara Spinner | www.johnkreft.com

I decided to tie some with rusty spinner color dubbing.

I like the look of a biot body because it looks so much like the natural. So I tied up a few.

Galloup's Compara Spinner - Biot Body Bottom View | www.johnkreft.com

And the fish liked them. I liked them too because I could find the EP Fiber white wing.

The other fly I spent some time with was his Sunken Spinner. Here is the original pattern.

Galloup's Sunken Spinner | www.johnkreft.com

You know I enjoy fishing dry flies, so I changed the “sunken” Hungarian Partridge hackle and tied it with a dry fly hackle. It still had the same profile with a light grizzly wing. Turns out it worked…really well. I ran out on the river and tied more one night using a rusty dun hackle. It worked too.

Galloup's Sunken Spinner - Variant | www.johnkreft.com

It was a little more difficult to see, but the dry fly hackle provided more floatability. Oh, and notice the biot body. The fish liked it too.

Galloup's Sunken Spinner in Brown Trout on Madison River | www.johnkreft.com

I don’t doubt fish eat the original Sunken Spinner and Kelly’s fly pattern would work. I just like to watch the fish eat my fly!

So I added these two flies to our fly box. Here are the flies that worked for us this year as well as previous years.

I can’t say enough about the X Caddis in tan. A size 16 caught so many fish. If I only had one fly, an X Caddis would be it.

Madison River Rainbow with X Caddis | www.johnkreft.com

A couple of comments…

No, there weren’t any Callibaetis mayflies on the Madison River. We used a Callibaetis Spinner because the body color was similar to the mayfly spinners we noticed flying around. Perhaps the fly was imitating an Epeorus mayfly.

Secondly, I’ve had good success using a Morrish Hopper too. I only had a couple of smaller sizes and the larger Club Sandwich seemed to work better.

Would other flies have worked? Quite possibly, but I have confidence in these flies.

I’m looking forward to next year’s trip.

Enjoy…go fish!

PS: Consider following me on Instagram (@RiverKeeperFlies) or Facebook (@RiverKeeperFlies)

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  1. Another interesting, educational and enjoyable article. Keep up the good work. I look forward to Tuesday and Thursday each week. Stay safe in this smokey world we currently are living with and look forward to it moving off to the east. Our sun was a bright orange ball today which tells me things are improving. We haven’t seen the sun in days.

    George Wilson

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