by JD Miller

Fishing in Yellowstone National Park this year? Make sure you have these six patterns in your box before you go……..
I spent the 2004 season guiding the famed rivers in and around Yellowstone National Park. This time allowed me to gain intimate knowledge of these waters, their hatches, and the techniques that catch fish consistently. Of those techniques, learning what flies produce on a regular basis was one of the most important. Pictured below are six of the best flies and their recipes to have in your box when you hit the water this year. I encourage you to tie a couple up before your trip - I promise you won't be disappointed! -- JD Miller

Editor's Note: JD will be working for Henry's Fork Angler this summer as one of their professional in-house guides. If you're in the area stop and in and say hello. We are going to miss him - our loss will be Mike Lawson's gain.

Brook's Stone as tied by Matt Minch
Hook: TMC 5263 sizes 4-8
Thread: 6/0 black
Bead: Black Tungsten, sized to hook
Underbody: 15-18 wraps of .030 lead free wire
Tail: Brown Grizzlybou
Abdomen: Pearl Black Chenille, size small
Hackle: Brown Rooster Hackle
Thorax: Dark Hare's Ear Dubbing
This pattern was developed by Matt Minch from Gardiner, MT and took its name from Charlie Brook's stonefly pattern because they are both tied "in the round." Fairly simplistic, this pattern is a "must have" during early season in the Park and the surrounding waters such as the Yellowstone and Madison. I like to fish this pattern as the lead fly on a two fly rig on a 7.5' 3x leader close to the bank. Salmonfly hatches inside the Park include the Firehole in Firehole Canyon, the Gardiner River, and the Yellowstone River below the Lower Falls. This fly also works extremely well on the Madison between West Yellowstone and Ennis and the Yellowstone River between Gardiner and Livingston.

Flying Ant
Hook: TMC 101 sizes 14-20
Thread: 8/0 Black
Body: Black 2mm Foam
Wings: White Swiss Straw; split
Hackle: Grizzly or Black Rooster Hackle
Several rivers and lakes inside Yellowstone have great flying ant hatches, and this is one of the best patterns to match it. Depending on location, the hatch will start anywhere from mid July through the middle of August and lasts about 2 weeks. Slough Creek and the Lamar River both have excellent hatches, but this fly can work as a general attractor on almost any river or lake. Try using it as a searching dry on the Upper Yellowstone above the falls once it opens July 15th.

Segmented Chernobyl Ant
Hook: TMC 5262 size 6-10
Thread: Black UTC 70
Body 1: Tan 2mm Foam, segmented
Body 2: Brown 2mm foam
Legs: Medium Brown Round Rubber
Indicators: Orange and white foam
If I only had one fly to fish with in July, August, and September inside Yellowstone Park-this would be it! For whatever reason, this fish in the Park respond to this fly all season long-I even caught a trout with it in the middle of October during a snowstorm on Slough Creek! I like to fish this fly tight to the bank on a dead drift with 4x tippet, dropping down to 5x only if I get a lot of refusals. Rivers in the Lamar Valley, the Snake (if you are willing to hike!), and the Gardiner are good places to fish wet a line with this fly, but it WILL work on almost every water in the Park.

BH Hare and Copper Nymph
Hook: 3761 TMC size 10-18
Thread: Grey Olive UTC 70
Bead: Copper, sized to match hook
Tail: Natural Partridge
Rib: Brassie sized Copper Wire
Body: March Brown Hareline Dubbin

This fly was originally designed for the trout streams of New Zealand, but it has proven very effective throughout Yellowstone National Park. I think this fly imitates a free living caddis larva/pupa but it could also be used to imitate a variety of mayflies depending on where/how it is fished. Right after the opener, I like to fish this fly in the riffles on the Madison, Gibbon, and Firehole to imitate the many caddis species in the river. Later in the year, it makes a good dropper off a dry fly on the Yellowstone and Lamar. Tied with a soft hackle collar it is deadly on many of the stillwaters in the Park as well.

Thorax BWO
Hook: TMC 2487 size 16-22
Thread: 8/0 Gray
Wing: Iron Gray Antron
Tail: Olive Antron
Abdomen: Olive Quill or Quill II
Thorax: Medium Dun Hackle-tied in heavy and clipped 180 degrees under the shank
This is one of my favorite flies during a BWO hatch anywhere in the Rockies-including Yellowstone National Park. The heavy wire hook and clipped hackled make this fly ride low on the water yet it is surprisingly easy to see. BWO's are around almost the entire fishing season at one locale or another, late summer and fall are when the fish start to really key in on them. At the higher elevations BWO hatches can start as early as mid August, but September and October is when the blanket hatches occur. In early September, hatches on Slough Creek and the Lamar River will have fish looking up between 10am-3pm. In October, BWO's will hatch sporadically throughout the day on the Firehole, Madison, and Gibbon. Fish this fly on a 9' 5x leader, dropping down to 6x if you see refusals on a regular basis.

CDC PMD Emerger
Hook: TMC 2312 sizes 14-16
Thread: 8/0 Lt Cahill or Brown UTC 70
Tail: P.M.D. Shuck Antron Yarn
Abdomen: Rust Turkey Quill
Thorax: Lt Yellow Dubbing
Wing: 2 Yellow CDC Feathers tied in "Comparadun" style with Lemon Wood Duck over the top
PMD's hatch 5 months a year in Yellowstone, and this is one of the best patterns to imitate them with. Hatches on the Yellowstone, Firehole, Lamar, and Bechler Rivers make the trout take notice when these insects come off. I like to fish this with a greased line in the surface film behind a parachute or adult PMD; using the lead fly as more of a strike indicator than anything else. If you are fishing in the riffles, be sure to let this fly swing through before you begin another cast as the fish will often hit once the swing starts. It also makes a lead fly in a nymph rig when the fish aren't looking up.