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Lateral view of a Female Hexagenia limbata (Ephemeridae) (Hex) Mayfly Dun from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
Hex Mayflies
Hexagenia limbata

The famous nocturnal Hex hatch of the Midwest (and a few other lucky locations) stirs to the surface mythically large brown trout that only touch streamers for the rest of the year.

27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

By Troutnut on July 4th, 2019
After spending the morning and early afternoon at Norris Hot Springs, Lena and I drove down through the Madison River valley to get in some evening fishing. Mid-afternoon we stopped at Beartooth Flyfishing, which is one of my favorite fly shops because I like the flies designed by the owner, Dan Delekta, and wanted to buy some more to use as models for tying my own. I like his sense of how to mix in flashy synthetics without detracting from the buggy appearance of the fly overall. His SureStrike nymph pattern became one of my favorite attractor nymphs last year and has worked well for me in Montana and Washington. This time I picked up a box full of other nymphs and dries to try, primarily as attractors, buying two of each pattern to fish and one to save as a tying model.

After the shop, we hit a couple spots along the Madison in the evening, and I finally broke my short but painful streak of skunkings or near-skunkings on this famous river with a decent 14" brown and a couple smaller ones. There wasn't much bug activity compared to a week earlier, and I only saw a couple rises, but attractors and soft-hackles were able to get some attention right at dusk.

Photos by Troutnut from the Madison River in Montana

Typical scene along MT-287 driving down the Madison River valley... flat pastures backed by dramatic mountains and weather in all directions.

From the Madison River in Montana
Outlet of Earthquake Lake on the Madison.

From the Madison River in Montana
The Madison River in Montana
The famous Three Dollar Bridge access point to the Madison River. I can't remember the last time I went to an access site and found so many other anglers in spot after spot after spot, on and on up the bank of the river. Every time I spotted likely-looking water up ahead and got closer, there was somebody standing along the bank waiting for an evening rise. Finally after 10 minutes of walking or so, I found about a 50-yard stretch to myself with some nice pocket water. I caught a few small fish and missed a couple bigger ones.

From the Madison River in Montana
The Madison River in Montana
View upstream from near Three Dollar Bridge on the Madison.

From the Madison River in Montana

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