The upper stretches of the Madison River offer some of the most prolific and rewarding fly fishing in the American West each July. Anglers from across the globe travel to Montana to test their skills against these selective, wild Rainbow, Brown, and Cutthroat Trout.
July is the peak season on the river with both insect and fish activity at their annual heights.
As the river drops and clears throughout the month, fishing becomes productive throughout the river on the banks, near mid-river boulders, and through the shallow riffles that hold hundreds of feeding trout.
The Madison sees major hatches of caddis, mayflies, and stoneflies during the summer months. Salmonflies are still abundant in the upper stretches above Pailsades and up into the headwaters in Yellowstone National Park throughout July.
Evening Caddis activity and PMD spinner falls bring slow-rising trout to the surface.
Terrestrial insects like grasshoppers, ants, and beetles start to become more important in late July.
July is some of the best fly fishing on the Madison River. Get out early and swing small streamers to catch some of the larger Brown Trout in the river. As it warms, typically around 12 pm, Salmonflies become more active with their flying, and clumsily fall into the river. When you see this, tie on a #6 Henrys Fork Salmonfly with a small PMD nymph or Caddis emerger abound 1-2 feet below, targeting shallow riffles and seams where two currents converge.
Dry fly fishing is the mainstay on the upper Madison throughout July. Stealth and accurate casting are key as the river begins to clear and drop in flow. We focus on achieving drag-free drifts with flies that match the sizes and colors of the most active insects.
Nymph fishing with weighted flies and strike indicators is effective, especially in early July when the Salmonflies, Golden Stones, and Yellow Sallies are the most active.
Dry-dropper rigs allow you to fish a dry fly while suspending a nymph below to cover multiple levels of the river and are the go-to rigs for experienced Madison River fly fishing guides during the Stonefly hatches.
Fins and Feathers Guide Service offers guided full-day float trips on the Upper Madison tailored to the seasons and insect hatches. Our guides have over 20 years of experience guiding the Madison River, near Ennis, and work hard to put you onto the river's biggest trout.
July is the prime float-trip season with wading opportunities between Varney Bridge and Ennis. Anglers that prefer wading will enjoy fishing with our guides between Ennis and Ennis Lake in late July.
Learn more about planning a Madison River fly fishing trip with Fins and Feathers' expert guides. Use our Contact Form for help with planning your Montana fly fishing tour that includes the Madison River. Reservation can be secured online, requested via e-mail, or call us at 406-468-5019.