The Salmonfly hatch is the most anticipated hatch of the entire year. These massive flies guarantee a chance at trophy fish. Passionate fly anglers need to fish the Salmonfly hatch before their career ends. There’s nothing like throwing a massive dry fly and watching the water explode with a ravenous trout on the hunt for your fly.
Our Best Salmon Fly Patterns
1. Rogue River Foam Salmon Fly
- Hook: 3XL Size 4-8
- Thread: Fl. Flame 6/0 Uni Thread
- Head/Collar: Elk Body Hair
- Wing: Orange Krystal Flash
- Legs: Black SpanFlex
- Body: Open Cell Orange Foam
2. Chubby Chernobyl
- Hook: TMC 5263 Nymph #4
- Thread: Orange Semperfli Classic Thread 6/0
- Tail: Black Krystal Flash
- Body: Black Bruiser Blend Junior Dubbing
- Thorax: UV Hot Orange Ice Dub
- Foam 1: Black 2mm Fly Tying Foam
- Foam 2: Brown 2mm Fly Tying Foam
- Wing: EP Trigger Point Int’l Fibers
- Legs: Black Round Rubber Legs
3. Fluttering Stone
- Hook: Orienstun 7380 Size 6
- Body: 6mm Craft Foam
- Legs: Orange Flex Floss
- Wing 1: Packing Foam and Elk Hair
- Wing 2: Elk Hair and Bright Yarn
4. Henry’s Fork Salmon Fly
- Hook: Tiemco 5262 #2-8
- Thread: Orange UTC 140
- Tail: Black Coastal Deer Hair
- Body: Orange Hareline Dubbing
- Hackle: Brown Whiting Rooster Cape
- Wing: Natural Elk Hair
- Head: Black Coastal Deer Hair or Moose Hair
5. Morris Foam Salmonfly
- Thread: UTC 140 Brown
- Hook: Umpqua U203 #8
- Tail: Black Hen Saddle
- Body: 2mm Orange Foam
- Overwing: Natural CDC / Sheet Foam 1mm
- Legs: Pumpkin/Brown Rubber Legs
6. Pat’s Rubber Legs
- Hook: 3x-long Dai-Riki 710 #4-12
- Weight: 015 Lead-Free Wire
- Thread: 6/0 Black Denier
- Tails/Antennae: Black Spanflex
- Body: Variegated Chenille, Black-and-Coffee
- Legs: Black Spanflex
7. Water Walker Stonefly
- Hook: TMC 5263 Nymph #8
- Thread: Brown UTC Ultra thread 140 Denier
- Body: Bruiser Blend Junior Dubbing
- Body: Rootbeer Fly Tying Foam – 2mm
- Wing: Tan Rainy’s Cross-Link Sheet Foam – .5mm
- Wing: Rootbeer- Krystal Flash
- Legs: Brown Speckled Centipede Legs- Medium
All About the Salmonfly Hatch
What Time of Day Is Best
Salmonflies are going to hatch both in the mornings and the evenings. An hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset are good times to follow if you want a peak Salmonfly hatch. If you had to choose between morning and evening, Salmonflies generally seem to be the most effective during the evening.
In the evening, the larger trout in the river or stream are getting ready to feed as it gets dark. They’re more willing to cruise into the shallows and feast on some larger salmon flies they can find.
If you see salmon flies in the air, you can feel free to tie on a pattern and see what happens. These hatches don’t last forever, so trout understand that they need to eat as many as possible while still around.
When in the Season Does It Occur
Depending on where in the Western United States you’re fishing, you’ll find that the hatches occur at different times in the spring and summer. The main factor in when the hatch occurs is the water temperature, and the Salmonfly hatch will fully begin when water temperatures are consistently around the mid-50s.
The first week of June in Montana is usually when the hatches start, and the hatch will last for several weeks before it concludes.
In other Western States, the hatches occur as early as April, but most fall in the late May and June timeframe. Whatever you do, you don’t want to miss a chance at this experience. It’s one of the most exciting times of year to catch fish.
Check with a local fly shop to get the best intel on when the hatches will occur.
Duration of the Hatch
The Salmonfly hatch will last around 4-6 weeks in most states. Most guides advise fly anglers to time their fishing trips for about a week or so after the peak of the hatch. This way, the fish will be more eager to eat Salmon Flies because they aren’t as readily available.
Plus, they’ll have had time to digest all the insects eaten. Trout usually need around four days to digest, so the peak of the hatch is an excellent time to avoid because the trout have been filling up on the nymphs and dries since they started moving and hatching.
The beginning of the hatch is also another good time to fish with Salmonflies. The fish are eager to feed on them, so you’ll have plenty of success if you can get there right at the beginning.
Regardless, stay away from the peak. It will usually be the most frustrating time to fish with the big dry patterns.
Best Rivers for Salmonfly Hatches
A few rivers in the Western United States are well-known to be the best options. Most anglers would choose Henry’s Fork of the Snake River in Idaho because it is usually one of the first Western United States rivers to get the Salmonfly Hatch. Around Memorial Day, you won’t find a fly box without Salmonfly patterns in Idaho.
Next on the list would be the Big Hole or Madison Rivers in Montana. Both of these rivers have massive hatches that last around 6-weeks. The Madison River has a consistent hatch that usually starts in the Beartrap Canyon and works from West Fork to Ennis, and the Big Hole has sporadic hatches.
One of the last rivers you should consider is the Yellowstone River in Wyoming and Montana. Over 100 miles of the river, experience a Salmon fly hatch. The stretch below Livingston, MT, into Black’s Canyon within Yellowstone National Park, sees hatches.
How to Fish the Salmonfly Hatch
One of the best things to do when fishing the Salmonfly hatch is to fish early. As soon as the sun starts rising, hit the water. Fish will have digested their food and be ready for more.
Don’t be afraid to fish a fly sitting a little lower in the water column. Yes, the large patterns that sit high on the surface are a blast to throw, but fish often want a fly with a bit of its body submerged.
If you don’t see rises, that doesn’t mean fish won’t eat your fly. Fly fishing with salmon flies isn’t guaranteed, so feel free to throw a nymph when they’re rising and a dry fly when they aren’t. The variation can work in your favor.
Finally, remember the fish are eager to eat, but that doesn’t mean they’re always hungry. Wait a few days until the peak of the hatch has subsided to give yourself the best chance at a trophy.