Wilderness Excursions

Fishing Equipment

Montana Fishing Licenses:

Licenses are available to non-residents either on-line or over the counter when you arrive in Montana.  Prices are subject to change per the Montana Fish and Game Department up to February 2017. The Montana Fishing licenses can be purchased online at on this link:  Montana Fishing Licenses Online   Recommended fishing and camping gear summary can be downloaded below:

These wild cutthroat are beautiful and they fight like they think they’re marlins! 

Bob D - CA

Fly Fishing tackle:

Rods

We recommend a 5 weight/9 foot rod with a 6wt forward floating line with several leaders (4x – 5x).  4 wt rods are nice dry fly rods and really nice on smaller streams, but probably shouldn’t be your primary rod.  If you have two rods that you like to bring please bring them both. 

Reels

A reel with a decent disk drag is nice. The reel basically just holds your line most of the time so you don't need the highest end reel. If cost is an issue put more into the rod than the reel. Redington and Temple Fork make some nice lower priced reels in the $100-$200 range that are great for saving some money. Other great reels are made by Ross, Galvan, Lampson, Loop and Orvis.

 

Waders

Waders are not really necessary in the rivers we fish.  They are a little overkill for the rather shallow river crossings.  Most common attire is bluejeans and shorts with good wading shoes.  Or perhaps a pair of sun pants or shorts teamed with some neoprene booties or thick socks under wading boots does the trick.  If you chose to go with waders, the Gore-tex or breathable waders are the best bet and most comfortable. Team a pair of stocking foot waders up with some wading boots.

Lures

The wilderness fish are not sophisticated, but you’ll want a variety of western/mountain trout patterns from the list below, depending on your fishing preferences (dry, wet).

Early Summer – Late June to late July

Dries:  size 16-18 parachute adams, size 14 elk hair caddis with olive body, size 12 red and yellows Humpies, size 6 rouge salmon, size 8 golden stones, size 12 yellow sallies, royal pmx size 10, purple haze size 14, pmd dries and emergers sizes 16 and 14, Chubby Chernoblys size 10-6

Nypmhs: san juan worms in red, wire worms in red and wine, 16 silver and gold lightning bugs, 14 and 16 red and copper copper johns, 16 and 18 pheasant tails, cdc baetis emergers, 16 prince nymphs, caddis pupae emergers, 14 and 16 hares ear, 8 and 6 black and brown girdle bugs, 8 and 6 black and olive wooley buggers, 6 zonkers, 6 sculpin patterns, clouser crayfish 8-6

Late Summer - late July to mid September
Dries: foam Joe’s hoppers 10-6, size 10-12 sofa pillow stone, flying ants 18-14, beetles, brown Chernobyl ants 10-6, chubby chernobyls size 10-8, 12-10 royal pmx, stimulators 12, adams 18-16, purple haze 18-14, size 14-12 gray and royal wulffs, size 14-12 royal coachmen, size 14-12 mosquito patterns

Nypmhs: 14 and 16 red and copper copper johns, 16 and 18 pheasant tails, cdc baetis emergers, gold and silver lightning bugs 18-16, 18-20 micro mayfly, 16 prince nymphs, caddis pupae emergers, 14 and 16 hares ear, 8 and 6 black and brown girdle bugs, 8 and 6 black and olive wooley buggers, 6 zonkers, 6 sculpin patterns, clouser crayfish 8-6

For those wishing to spin fish, we recommend ultra-light rods and reels set up with a 6 lb test line. 

Recommended lures include small 1/8 oz to ¼ oz spinning lures:

  • Mepps (red & white, silver, gold)
  • Panther martins in a variety of color patterns

Leaders

Standard nylon leaders are fine (you don't need fluorocarbon for the leader). For nymph fishing and dry fly fishing we mostly use 2-4x leaders. We also use a lot of 7.5 foot 2x and 3x leaders.  When fishing smaller streams and creeks 9 and 12 foot 5 and 6x leaders are most commonly used. 

Tippet
The most commonly used is 2-5x nylon tippet for dries and 2-5x fluorocarbon for nymphs. When fishing spring creeks we also occasionally drop down to 6x.

Additional Fishing Related Equipment:

We also recommend the following ancillary equipment for your fishing trip.

  • Mosquito repellent, sun screen
  • Sunglasses
  • Baseball or similar had
  • Light waders or light shoes with material appropriate for rocky stream beds and slippery rocks
  • Shorts with lots of pockets
  • Fishing vest
  • Clippers
  • Dry fly floatant

There will be cooler days from time to time on the rivers, so refer to the wilderness camping gear download for appropriate cooler weather gear.

 

Water sizes:

The water sizes vary quite a bit depending on the season and the specific fishing trip.  If the trip is shorter duration of one or two sites, then typically we’ll be on the Sun River where it runs 300-500cfs on average.  There are many smaller streams feeding the Sun River that are chock full of trout and run around 50-75cfs.

We also fish the headwaters of the South Fork of the Flathead and Middle Fork of the Flathead.  The upper Middle Fork is a particularly remote river that runs close to 600cfs in the summer.  Additional Middle Fork tributaries will be 70-100cfs.

 

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