BlogJune 2024

What to Know About Fly Fishing During the Salmonfly Hatch

What to Know About Fly Fishing During the Salmonfly Hatch

By Debbie Hanson

Jun 18, 2024

Beginner level information about fly fishing during the salmon fly hatch. What is this hatch, where to go, how to match the hatch, best timing for your trip

In the world of fly fishing, there are few events that are as eagerly anticipated as the salmonfly hatch. This insect hatch occurs in rivers from New Mexico to Oregon, but North America's most famous salmonfly rivers include the Madison, Yellowstone, Gallatin, Big Hole, Rock Creek and Smith in the state of Montana.

Fishing during the salmonfly hatch isn’t just about catching big trout on a fly rod, it’s about timing and the opportunity to witness a wonder of nature. This hatch and the golden stonefly hatch can be two of the strongest summer hatches. Learn some basic information about June fly fishing during the salmonfly hatch in Montana.

What are Salmonflies?

If you don’t fly fish yet, your first question is likely to be, “What is a salmonfly?” Salmonflies are large stone flies with orange-colored abdomens that can reach up to three inches in length. These big aquatic insects require clean, well-oxygenated water and play an important role in river ecosystems as a food source for brown and rainbow trout.

Salmonfly Hatch: Timing and Water Conditions

Timing is everything when it comes to the salmonfly hatch. Fly anglers eagerly await the emergence of these aquatic insects, which typically occurs from mid-May to early July, based on location, hours of daylight, and water temperatures around 56 degrees. The hatch triggers a feeding frenzy among brown and rainbow trout. Since these insects are nutrient dense and abundant, they are an irresistible and welcome meal to hungry trout.

Choosing the Right Fly Patterns

June fly fishing in Montana can be incredibly exciting if you can time your trip according to when fish are likely to take dry salmonfly patterns (often tied with a combination of foam and deer hair) that are presented on the surface. Matching the hatch is a fundamental principle of fly fishing that takes on added importance during this time of year. This means selecting and using artificial flies that closely resemble the current stage of the insect’s lifecycle.

Why Fish During the Salmonfly Hatch?

The salmonfly hatch is a spectacle unlike any other in the world of fly fishing –- it’s a testament to the complexity of nature and an excellent reason why we need to play a role in conserving this aquatic insect’s habitat. As you await each year’s hatch, you are reminded that we are all part of a greater ecosystem, connected by the timeless rhythm of the natural world.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.