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ruby river montana fly fishing

Fly fishing the Ruby River offers a unique experience in a stunning valley. The Ruby is a wade fishery with cold water, deep undercut banks and great fishing. The river is split by a reservoir and ultimately joins the Jefferson River in Twin Bridges. The river has good access points and plenty of water to explore with a variety of species.

Above the Reservoir

The upper Ruby has Forest Service access and great fishing for cutthroats, rainbow trout and grayling. It has clear, cold water and is a blast to fish. You will also find camping in this area and plenty of trails to hike and explore. The river is best fished during the summer season when the flows are stable and the fish are active. Dry fly fishing is fantastic here and while you don’t need a dropper most days, it can add to your fish count. Fishing the upper river is ideal for all skill levels and it produces exciting strikes on the surface.

Below Ruby Reservoir

The river changes below the reservoir. It has more volume and meanders through a beautiful valley. Brown trout populations increase but you will still find plenty of rainbow trout. Cutthroat and grayling populations drop off but the average fish size increases significantly. You can access the river directly below the dam to focus on the immediate tailwater section. There are several FAS sites and you can also access the river at county bridges. Stay below the high water line while wade fishing through private property. Vigilante, Alder and Silver Springs fishing access sites are all good areas to fish with legal access on different sections of river. Spend some time walking to get away from the access points and the fishing can be incredible.

Ruby River Hatches

Hatches on the river are similar to other rivers in the state. Caddis are an important food source throughout the summer months and fish will eat pupa and elk hair caddis consistently. Yellow sallies and golden stoneflies are also consistent summer hatches. BWO’s hatch early and late in the season and PMD’s offer an excellent summer hatch opportunity. The undercut banks also make the river conducive to streamer fishing. Brown trout over 20-inches tend to hold tight under the banks and a streamer can pull them out. Searching with an attractor dry fly is also a good approach. Grasshoppers are a major food source throughout the late summer and early fall and a foam pattern will draw aggressive strikes.

Best Fishing Seasons

Summer is prime on the upper river but the river below the dam will fish through the shoulder seasons as well. Spring and fall are great times to explore this river. Flows during the summer will drop when the irrigation ditches are opened but the river still fishes well. When the irrigation ends, the river will see a bump in the flows that can turn on the fishing. The best approach to fishing this river is on foot. Higher flows will push enough water for small boats but the meandering nature of the river and the potential for hazards make it difficult to fish from a boat.