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Montana Fly Fishing in October

October is fall fly fishing at its finest in Montana. Anglers will find great fly fishing on our blue ribbon rivers in Bozeman, MT as well as the Missouri River. Fall in Montana offers the combination of excellent fly fishing, strong hatches, beautiful scenery, and open space that makes every Montana fly fishing trip in October memorable.

Many of our long time anglers and guides consider October to be the best month for fly fishing in Montana for anglers that prefer angling on our rivers in solitude. It is not uncommon to not see another angler on a Montana fly fishing trip in October and pressure is always low on all of our rivers. Fall weather can make for variable and challenging conditions by the middle of the month but anglers can expect rewarding fly fishing regardless.



  • Consistent conditions and low pressure on the Missouri River make for some of the best fly fishing of the season. Good hatches of caddisflies and BWOs make for great dry fly fishing most afternoons and productive nymphing and streamer fishing in the mornings.
  • The Yellowstone River near Bozeman, MT offers consistently great fly fishing along its entire length from Gardiner to Columbus, MT and true solitude on the water.
  • Seasoned anglers will enjoy rewarding fly fishing in all conditions.


What to Expect in October

October fly fishing in Montana is all about slowing down, taking it all in, and having fun while enjoying blue ribbon fly fishing in solitude. Anglers can expect low angling pressure on all of our Montana rivers and good hatches throughout the month. Fall weather can be variable throughout the month and anglers should expect any and all conditions ranging from sunny and warm to snowy and cold. Wind is the main factor that can impact the fly fishing. Calmer days will be more productive and windy days less so. Even in the most challenging of conditions and anglers can expect rewarding fly fishing opportunities.

On the Missouri River anglers can expect the most consistent conditions for fly fishing in October. The Missouri River near Craig, MT is considerably lower elevation than our Bozeman, MT area waters which means conditions are generally milder. Hatches of BWOs, midges, and caddisflies are also predictably better on the Missouri River often making for world class dry fly sight fishing on a daily basis. Angling pressure is lower on the Missouri River in October than during other prime months of the fly fishing season.

On the Yellowstone River, Madison River, and other freestone streams closer to Bozeman, MT anglers can expect true solitude on the water and great fly fishing. Conditions are generally favorable but anglers should be prepared for angling in often challenging conditions including cold, rain, snow, and wind during the month of October. The fly fishing is rewarding regardless. Consistent afternoons hatches of BWOs and fall drakes makes for great dry fly and dry-dropper fishing most days.


Where to Fly Fish in October

Anglers planning a Montana fly fishing trip in Montana should consider the Missouri River and Yellowstone River to be the two premier destinations for fly fishing in October. The Missouri River tailwater below Holter Dam offers the most consistent fly fishing, regardless of conditions, and strong hatches that makes for great dry fly fishing. The Yellowstone River offers true solitude and more than 150 miles of blue ribbon water to fly fish, which means there is always somewhere to fish and find favorable conditions near Bozeman, MT.

Other rivers in Montana including the Madison River, Jefferson River, and Gallatin River can also offer great fly fishing in October, but often challenging conditions due to Fall weather. While anglers can count on solitude and productive days when conditions are right, our Montana fly fishing guides recommend heading elsewhere on colder and windier days.


October Fly Fishing Tactics

Generally anglers can expect to employ a variety of fly fishing tactics in October in Montana. Colder mornings mean hatches often start late-morning or early afternoon. Nymphing and streamer fishing are generally productive before hatches of BWOs, midges, and caddisflies make for excellent dry fly fishing. Hopper fishing can often continue to be productive through the month on warmer days and shouldn’t be overlooked.

On the Missouri River anglers should plan on the daily pattern of nymphing and streamer fishing in the morning followed by dry fly or dry-dropper fishing in the afternoon. Strong hatches of BWOs on cold overcast days will bring huge numbers of rising fish to the surface and make for some of the best sight fishing of the year. The presentations are often technical and demanding, but make for truly rewarding fly fishing for all anglers. #16-20 BWO patterns including cripples, spinners, and emergers will be the most productive.

On our freestone rivers in Bozeman, MT anglers will find similar conditions and can expect to nymph or streamer fish in the morning and dry fly fish in the afternoon. Hatches vary significantly depending on conditions ranging from blanket hatches to non-existent and the dry fly fishing will vary accordingly. The Yellowstone River offers the most consistent hatches of BWOs throughout the month in Bozeman and anglers can expect quality dry fly fishing most afternoons on all but the windiest of days. Targeting slower water, back eddies, and mid-river seams will be the most productive.


October Fly Fishing Trips

October fly fishing trips with our Montana fly fishing guides are great for anglers that value solitude on the water and quality fly fishing, regardless of conditions. Seasoned anglers can expect success in all conditions and beginner anglers will find ample opportunity to learn and grow as anglers.

Our Missouri River fly fishing trips offer generally favorable conditions and consistent productivity. Strong fall hatches make for some of the best dry fly fishing of the year. Bozeman fly fishing trips in October offer true solitude on the Yellowstone and Madison River. Conditions can vary, but anglers can expect rewarding fly fishing on every October trip.

We encourage anglers to explore all of our Montana fly fishing trip options in October. Day trips are perfect for a quick trip while our custom trips and lodging packages make for a more immersive experience. Fall fly fishing in Montana truly is classic western fly fishing at its finest.

Contact us to learn more about October fly fishing trips with the Montana Angling Company.