Copyright 2017 James Marsh
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Fly Fishing On The Ruby River In
The Ruby River is a little known, small stream flowing
from the Gravelly Mountain range and into a valley
located near some very famous trout streams in the
Southwestern corner of Montana. If it were not for
the Madison River and other famous streams
nearby, the Ruby would receive much more attention
than it normally gets.
There are really two separate sections to the river
that the public can fish. The most fished area is the
tailwater below Ruby Reservoir. The other section is
the headwaters located on Beaverhead-Deerlodge
National Forest land.
Most of the freestone stream runs though a valley of
private ranch property with little or no access. Fly
fishing the Ruby River is great in the headwaters
and tailwater sections.
The trout in the upper river in the National Forest
are mostly rainbows, cutthroats with a few grayling. It
lies in a very remote area that takes some time to
get to over several miles of gravel roads. Once you
are there you will most likely have plenty of the
stream to yourself.
You can access the river outside of the National
Forest at a few bridge crossings but you better make
certain you wade inside the stream. The entire upper
part of the river is tightly enclosed with bushes along
its banks. There are very few places you can cast
from the bank.
Below the dam at Ruby Reservoir in the tailwater
section of the stream, you will find some public
access sites and a few bridges from which you can
gain access provided you stay in the river and don't
get out on private property.
The stream flows through an agricultural valley. The
trout in this section are mostly brown trout. Although
they don't have a reputation for being the state's
largest trout, they average about twelve to fourteen
inches and get much larger.
The middle and lower Ruby River has its share of
private property problems but the fact you can stay
within the stream and fish, helps a lot.
The uppermost headwaters provide excellent small
stream fly fishing opportunities. Although it takes a
while to get there over some rough roads, once you
do, you will find it a beautiful secluded stream that is
under fished. If you looking for an alternative to a
usually crowded Madison River and Yellowstone
National Park, give the Ruby River a try. You will find
it offers a very good option.
Ruby River Montana
100% Satisfaction Guaranteed
Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 &12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 71/2
ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five or
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Seasons follow the general Montana
The tailwater section can be a good choice
for winter fishing.
Except for the runoff, springtime is a good
time to fish either the freestone or tailwater
Fly Fishing Guide to the Ruby River:
The upper headwaters and the lower
tailwater sections fish entirely different. The
uppermost section in the National Forest
begins for all practical purposes at the
confluence of the East Fork and the West
Fork of the river. At this point the river could
be floated during high water levels in a
kayak possibly, but most of the time it would
be limited to wading. The problem with the
wading is the thick bushes along the stream.
Willow trees and several other types of
bushes line the banks most everywhere.
You have to get into the water where you
can and wade upstream.
You want to make short upstream cast as
you progress upstream. Wading
downstream would spook most of the trout in
the river. Dry fly fishing is usually very
productive on the Ruby, even with attractor
and generic flies at times. Of course nymphs
also will catch their share of trout and as a
matter of fact, usually far more than the dry
fly if there is no hatch occurring.
After the stream leaves the National Forest
land, you only access points are at bridges.
Some of places are difficult to access
because of the high fences at the bridges. It
is rather obvious that the local ranches don't
cater to anglers very well. Provided you can
get into the stream on the right of way
property, you better make sure you stay in
Montana law permits you to do this as long
as you don't leave the streambed. When
you finish fishing upstream, you must turn
around and wade the entire distance back
downstream. It is possible to reach some of
the stream from the lake by boat. We
haven't tried that and cannot vouch for its
The tailwater section below Ruby Reservoir
has some public access areas one of which
is right below the dam. This area can
become crowded at times but the fishing is
usually good. The fish are mostly brown
trout in this area. Hatches in this area
amount mostly to midges. Most of the
fishing should be done using nymphs or
larva imitations. Double nymph rigs are
popular. Most anglers use a strike indicator
in this area. The water is relatively deep
and the fishing is mostly limited to the
Farther downstream there are other public
access points but in many cases you must
wade in the creek to fish outside the public
boundaries. Dry fly fishing is better than it is
just below the dam and hatches are far
more common. At times you may have an
entire access to yourself because all in all
the river provides plenty access for its few
Ruby River Hatches and Trout Flies:
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and
nymphs, not guess work. We base fly
suggestions on imitating the most plentiful
and most available insects and other foods
at the particular time you are fishing. Unlike
the generic fly shop trout flies, we have
specific imitations of all the insects in the
Ruby River and in all stages of life that are
applicable to fishing. If you want to fish
better, more realistic trout flies, have a much
higher degree of success, give us a call. We
not only will help you with selections, you will
learn why, after trying Perfect Flies, 92% of
the thousands of our customers will use
nothing else. 1-800-594-4726.
Midges hatch throughout the year but are
especially important during the times nothing
else is hatching in the early season, near the
end of the fall season and during the winter.
They are more important in the tailwater
section of the stream.
The Blue-winged Olives hatch from March
through June with April bringing on the
largest hatches. There is a second hatch
from about the first of September through
Stoneflies are important throughout the
Ruby River. There are some Little Brown
Stonflies that hatch during March. Golden
Stoneflies hatch from about the first of
through the third week of June. Little Yellow
Stoneflies, or Yellow Sallies, hatch during the
month of July. The large Salmonflies are
found in the fast water sections of the
stream. They hatch during the month of
June, usually near the later part of June.
The Pale Morning Duns are as important as
any of the mayflies. They hatch from about
the first of June through the middle of
August. The largest hatches seem to come
from about from the middle of June through
the middle of July.
There is a Mahogony Dun hatch from about
the middle of September to the middle of
October. The little Trico mayflies hatch from
about the middle of July through the first two
weeks of September. They are heavy
hatches just above the lake and in some
parts of the tailwater.
There is a hatch of October Caddisflies that
takes place from about the first of
September through the middle of October.
This mostly occurs in the headwaters.
The Green Caddis or Sedges hatch during
the months of July, August and into
September. The Rock Worm, imitating the
larva of the Green Sedge is a great fly to
use during that time.
Spotted Sedges are plentiful during June,
July and August. They are the most
abundant species of caddisflies on the Ruby
River. The Little Short-horned Sedge hatch
during the same time period.
The terrestrial insects, consisting of grass
hopper, ants and beetles, are very
important, especially in the agricultural
areas of the river. That is most everywhere.
They are important starting about the
middle of June through September.
Streamers are always a good fly to use,
especially in the tailwater section of the
Ruby River. There are plenty of sculpin and
that would be our number one
We highly recommend our "Perfect Flies".
They are not only the most realistic flies you
can purchase, they are the most effective in
catching trout. If you haven't already done
so, we ask you to give the a try. We are
positive that you will be very glad you did.
The cold water releases keep the fish
active all summer long in the tailwater
Fall is an excellent time for fly fishing the
Ruby River tailwater section because the
brown trout spawn during the fall season.
Ruby River Fishing Report:
12/02/13 Customer reporting catching
trout, mostly browns, on the Ruby in the
afternoons. Water is running below normal
and fishing has been good. Water
temperature running in the high forties at
mid afternoon. He is using our Brown
Sculpin streamer fly and called to order
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
(Archive at Bottom Of Page)
Ruby River Fishing Report
01/08/13 No reports from customers. This
weeks weather forecast is better and the
odds of success will improve. The tailwater
stays almost a constant temperature.
01/15/14 A regular customer ordered
several more midges in light green, cream
and red. He reported the fishing to be
very good day before yesterday in the
tailwater just below the dam.
01/22/14 No reports came in last week.
Fishing conditions were pretty good for
wintertime fishing. I think most anglers
choose to fish Madison between the lakes
but that may have been a mistake.
01/29/14 Good news. The long running
law suit between the state and land owner
ruled in favor of the state regarding
02/05/14 Very cold weather is in the
forecast for the coming week. The water in
the tailwater section will be fine, if you can
keep your guides free of ice.
02/12/14 We haven't received any reports
from anyone fishing but the weather is
going to be much warmer this coming week,
so maybe we will.
02/19/14 It still seems all the locals are
fishing between the lakes on the Madison
River. They may be overlooking better
opportunities on the Ruby.
02/26/14 We finally received a report from
our local contact who on two trips managed
to catch 5 nice browns up to 16 inches just
below the dam. He used our red PF midges.
03/05/14 Much warmer weather is in the
forecast for the next week. There's more
rain and rain/snow, so watch the stream
03/12/14 Our local contact reporting he has
caught trout 3 days of the last 7. He is using
our PF midge larvae and pupae in cream
03/19/14 More good reports from the
tailwater. Two customers reporting some
nice catches but colder weather returning.
03/26/14 We didn't receive any reports
from anglers fishing this past week, but
conditions are currently good. There is
plenty rain/snow in the forecast.
04/02/14 One report came in from a local
catching some nice size browns this past
week. He didn't say what he was using.
04/09/14 No reports from this past week for
some reason. The weather has been
warmer. The reason is the discharges have
been running high.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (email@example.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
04/16/14 One customer reported catching
some nice size brown trout using our Brown
Sculpin streamer. He lost them all and
ordered more. The discharges have been
high most of the time.
04/23/14 No reports from the past
week probably due to high discharges.
04/30/14 One customer reported catching
some nice browns one day this past week.
Much warmer weather is in the forecast with
rain this coming weekend.
05/07/14 High discharges (water levels)
have prevented anyone from fishing this
past week and we have no reports.
05/14/14 Discharges have been much
better and the tailwater section has been
fishing good again. Two customers
reported catching some nice trout.
05/21/14 Stream levels are currently high
in the freestone section and tailwater due
to discharges below the dam.
05/28/14 Water levels still high to blown out.
06/04/14 Stream levels are in much better
shape. There's still some color to the water
but the levels are down to normal.
06/11/14 The stream is in much better
shape in the headwaters and tailwater
section. Keep a check on the discharges.
Several insects have begin to hatch.
06/18/14 Lots of rain in the forecast.
Discharges may possibly be high. Right now
conditions are excellent in the headwaters
07/10/14 Both the headwaters and the
tailwater are fishing good. Watch the
discharges on the tailwater but otherwise,
conditiions should be great. Lots of insects
07/23/14 Two customers reporting catching
lots of trout in the headwaters. The tailwater
is also fishing good.
07/30/14 Excellent conditions from
throughout the system. Anglers catching
plenty of trout in the tailwater. No reports
from the headwaters this past week.
08/13/14 One customer camping in the
headwaters reported catching lots of trout.
He is using terrestrials and PMDs.
09/03/14 Two customers reporting great
fishing in the upper headwaters. They
caught trout on caddis, PMDs, terrestrials
and streamers early and late.
09/24/14 Great brown trout fishing in the
tailwater and good conditions in the
10/08/14 Two customers reporting some
nice catches in the tailwater section on
BWOs and midges. BWOs are bi=brooded
and will hatch for a few more weeks.
10/15/14 Discharges have been a problem
at times for the tailwater, but when wadable,
plenty of brown trout are being caught. No
reports from the headwaters.
10/22/14 Two good reports from local
anglers using our Brown Sculpin streamer.
Browns are in a pre-spawn mode.
10/29/14 No reports but the conditions for
the tailwater remained good most of the
time. You have to check the stream levels.
11/05/14 One good report from a local
angler and customer. Flows have been
good recently and he has caught some
nice brown trout
12/05/14 Few good reports but they do
come in when the discharge levels and
weather is good. Midges are working best.
Use Blood (red) and Cream.
12/13/14 One good report of a large
brown caught in the tailwater, Better
weather is in the forecast for this week.
12/24/14 No reports from the past week. I
guess people are in the holiday mode. Much
colder weather for the next week.
12/31//14 One report from a reliable
customer. He caught three browns on
midges in the tailwater with his guides
01/14/15 Only one report for the past two
week. Angler caught a few browns on
midges, red and cream larva and pupa.
01/21/15 No reports from the past week but
conditions are as good as they get in the
01/28/15 One report from a customer fishing
yesterday who managed three good fish in
two hours. Good water levels and good
02/02/15 We didn't receive any reports from
customers but conditions remain very good.
02/17/15 We received a good report from a
local angler that's a regular customer. He
caught some browns during three different
days this past two weeks.
03/03/15 Snowing now but clearing and
warming up for the next week.
03/10/15 Great conditions coming up for
this next week. Much warmer weather and
03/17/15 Along with the warm weather came
lots of precipitation, melting snow and
discharges from the dam.
03/24/15 Still no reports from anyone fishing.
The discharges have been rather heavy.
03/31/15 Discharges from the dam have
been rather heavy lately. No reports.
04/07/15 Discharges have been less lately
but no reports from anyone fishing lately.
04/28/15 The tailwater is fishing good when
the discharges are not to heavy. Little Black
Caddis are hatching.
05.19/15 Discharges are running a little high
at time but otherwise, conditions are good
with a few hatches getting underwayi.
05/26/15 Great conditions in both the
freestone and tailwater. Hatches of BWOs,
caddis starting. .
06/09/15 The freestone is falling but still
high from runoff. The tailwater has few
opportunities for wading.
07/07/15 Runoff is over and the stream
back in good shape from the headwaters to
08/04/15 Discharges have been good and
trout are being caught consistently by the
locals. PMDs, terrestrials, Little Yellow Stones.
08/11/15 We have been getting good reports
from the upper freestone section and the
tailwater. Terrestrials, Caddis and PMDs.
08/18/15 The upper sections of the river are
a little low but other than that, conditions are
08/25/15 Discharges have been good for
wading recently and the upper national forest
section in very good condition.
09/01/15 Stream levels have been a little low
in the freestone section but anglers are
catching plenty of trout. The tailwater has
provided a few opportunities to wade.
09/08/15 The tailwater discharges have been
high at time but should be lower this coming
week. The freestone section is in great shape
with some hatches and lots of terrestrials.
09/15/15 The freestone section in the
headwaters has been in good shape and
producing. The tailwater has been doing well
too, but watch the flows this coming week.
09/22/15 The freestone section in the upper
headwaters is in great shape and customers
are catching a lot of small trout.
09/29/15 The brown trout in the tailwater are
in the pre-spawn mode and very aggressive.
Two good reports from this past week.
10/06/15 No reports from the past week but
conditions are great in the freestone and
tailwater sections of the river.
10/13/15 Most visiting anglers are fishing the
Madison while the locals are catching some
big browns in the tailwater of the Ruby River.
Ruby River Map
10/27/15 Great conditions exist right now.
Rain in forecast for a few days next week, so
watch the levels. The tailwater is producing
some very nice size brown trout. The Brown
sculpin streamer is working great.
11/03/15 The winter storm warning shouldn't
effect the tailwater fishing. Some very big
brown trout have been caught this past week.
11/10/15 The tailwater was good to at least
one angler last week. He caught a few large
post-spawn browns. Conditions are good
11/17/15 Discharges have been very low
permitting wading and shouldn't change this
coming week much. Great conditions.
11/24/15 Good stream levels exist. Getting to
the river will be a bigger problem than
catching trout. There's Winter storm underway.
12/01/15 The tailwater would be an excellent
choice to fish this coming week. Good stream
levels and discharges and good weather.
Midges and the Brown Sculpin streamers are
the flies you should be using.
12/08/15 There's a lot of rain and snow in
the forecast but it won't affect the Ruby River
tailwater fishing. It should be a good
destination this coming week.
12/15/15 The tailwater is a good option due
to the fact the freestone water temperatures
have most all got in the high thirties versus
this one in the mid forties near the dam.
12/22/15 The tailwater remains the same
temperature throughout the winter. Fish
close to the dam and you can catch trout.
Midges and Brown Sculpin are the flies.
12/29/15 Discharges have been low lately and
some very large browns have been caught
high sticking the bank below the dam.
01/05/16 Make sure you read the special
regulations. The regular Montana trout
fishing season is closed. Make sure you fish
the "catch and release" section. This report
doesn't mean it is okay to fish anywhere.
01/13/16 Red and Cream midges with the
larva the bottom fly and the pupa the top fly
is working great. Use an indicator.
01/19/16 Good discharge rates and stream
flows, and nice weather coming this next
week. MIdges as above and winter stonefly
nymphs. Fish the adults if you see egg laying.
01/26/16 The tailwater of the Ruby River is
one of the best fly fishing destinations in
Montana at this time of the year. Check the
stream flows before going.
02/02/16 Both cream and red (blood) midges
are hatching good on overcast days. Use the
pupa and larva in tandem and adult when
you see them on the surface.
02/09/16 Warmer weather is expected this
coming week and although that won't affect
the water temperature of the tailwater, it
makes it more comfortable to fish. This is a
very good destination for this next week.
02/16/16 Local customers are reporting
some good brown trout catches on Cream
and Red midges. Some days they hatch.
02/23/16 The weather has been warm and
melting a lot of snow and ice in the
watershed. That has stained the water and
kelp in cold. Fish near the bottom discharge.
03/01/16 Two good reports from the past
week from customers using cream midge
larva and pupa in tandem. They landed
several nice brown trout. Good conditions.
03/08/16 The discharges are still low and
fishing conditions good, but we think they are
likely to rise this week due to heavy rain in the
forecast. Midges have been working good.
03/15/16 The freestone section is too cold
to fish, with lots of slush ice. The tailwater is
a great destination at this time of the year.
Midges, Winter stoneflies, and BWO nymphs.
03/22/16 The tailwater is one of the best
destinations Montana has to offer at this time
of the year. Good discharges and levels exist.
Brown sculpin streamers catch brown trout.
03/29/16 The discharges and stream level
are low, wading possible and condition
excellent right now.
04/05/16 The discharges have been low
and the levels good for wading. The
weather is warming back up some.
04/12/16 The discharges are bouncing up
and down. There has been a lot of rain in
the watershed and more to come.
04/19/16 They are running a lot of water and
this is likely to continue. Melting snow in the
watershed and more rain is on the way.
04/26/16 The discharges and stream levels
are likely to be high for a while due to last
weeks melting snow and rain coming this week.
05/03/15 The freestone section is high and
dirty but warming. The Mother's day caddis
hatch should start in the near future.
05/10/16 The freestone section is high and
dingy. The tailwater discharges are high and
the water stained.
05/17/16 When the discharges are low our
customers are catching some nice brown
trout below the dam on midges, little BWO
nymphs and Sculpin streamers.
05/24/16 The discharges are still a little
strong but well worth fishing. The water is
slightly stained, but great for streamers.
05/31/16 The discharges are a little strong
but it can still be fished from the banks.
Wading would be difficult.
06/07/16 The freestone section is high and
muddy from runoff. The tailwater is in good
shape at this time. This is currently a good
option for fly fishing but check the levels.
06/14/16 The stream level above the lake is
down a lot and so are the discharges and
resulting level below the lake. You should be
able to fish the tailwater with some success.
06/21/16 The levels in the upper river have
dropped a lot and getting into good shape.
The tailwater discharges are lower and in
good shape. Lots of insects are hatching.
06/28/16 Want to fish untouched water, then
head for the Ruby headwaters in the Nat.
Forest. It is down and clear. The tailwater
discharges are low and the river in good
shape with lots of insects hatching.
07/05/16 The upper river is in good shape in
the Nation forest and the tailwater discharges
are low. You can fish the river about
anywhere it is legal and catch trout.
07/12/16 Great conditions continue in both
sections of the river, uppermost and tailwater.
We are getting some good reports and only a
few anglers are fishing.
07/19/16 You have to drive through a lot of
private property from the lower river to get to
the headwaters with public water but right now,
it is worth it. Lots of trout are being caught.
07/26/16 The tailwater is in good shape with
low discharges and cool water. The upper
section is warm except in the national forest
08/02/16 The tailwater is in very good shape
and our customers reporting some good
catches. Pale Morning duns, Tricos, caddisflies
and other hatches are taking place.
08/09/16 Hoot Owl restrictions on Ruby River
from Duncan District Road to the confluence
with the Beaverhead River. You cannot fish
after 2:00pm. Fish near the dam.
08/16/16 The stream levels are a little low in
the headwaters and tailwater. It is slightly
cooler and good reports are coming in from
both sections of the river.
08/23/16 Hoot Owl restriction are only from
Duncan District Road to the confluence with
the Beaverhead River. The upper headwaters
and tailwater near the dam is in good shape.
08/30/16 The water temperature is lower
and the Hoot Owl restrictions have been
removed on the Ruby River.
09/06/16 The stream levels in both the
tailwater and freestone section are in good
shape. There are still lots of insects hatching.
Those fishing the upper headwaters are
catching good numbers of trout.
09/13/16 Excellent conditions in all sections.
You can wade most anywhere including the
tailwater in places. Lots of caddisflies are still
hatching and terrestrials are working good.
09/20/16 Stream levels are still a little low but
should be coming up in the freestone section
soon. It is raining and will rain all week.
Mahogany duns and October caddis are
hatching in the Freestone section.
09/27/16 Both the upper freestone and the
tailwater are in excellent shape with lots of
trout being caught. There are some good
hatches continuing, especially BWOs.
10/04/16 The river is still in good shape from
the headwaters through the tailwater. Brown
trout are entering the pre-spawn mode and
taking our Brown sculpin streamers well.
10/12/16 Our customers are catching some
very nice brown trout in the tailwater. Use the
sculpin patterns. BWOs are also hatching good.
10/19/16 The headwater are just above
normal levels. The tailwater discharges are
low and it is easy to wade. There are lots of
BWO hatches taking place.
10/25/16 The upper river is headed up from
rain but the tailwater is still very low and easy
to wade. It too may rise some. Very good
11/01/16 The river is still high in the
headwaters but discharges are low and wading
possible in the tailwater. Good conditions exist
with some big browns being caught.
11/08/16 The upper freestone and lower
tailwater both have good stream levels that
are easy to wade. They should remain that
way this coming week. Excellent conditions.
11/15/16 The weather is turning much
colder. The tailwater discharges are low and
easy to wade. It is a good option right now.
The discharges and stream levels
remain in good shape most of the
time. The water temp ranges from
37 to 32 from the dam to the lowest
end of the river. Black Matuka
sculpin streamers work good when it
is snowing or heavy cloud cover.
Midges are still the main insects to
11/22/16 The discharges are remaining low
allowing good wading opportunity. The
upper river is very cold, averaging around
40 degrees. Midges and Blue-winged olives
are hatching good. Our Brown sculpin
streamers are the larger trout.
11/29/16 The upper freestone river is going
to be very cold, with water temps in the high
thirties. It won't be worth the effort to fish.
The tailwater will be in good shape with good
discharge levels and MIdges and BWO
hatches taking place.
12/06/16 The discharges and stream levels
have been low the past few days and should
continue to be this coming week. Wading
should be easy. Midges, creams and reds,
and Winter stonefly nymphs should be good
12/13/16 The river is in good shape in the
tailwater section. Forget the freestone
section for now. Two good reports came in
this past week. Midges, creams and reds
fished with the larva and pupa in tandem, is
working very good.
12/20/16 The tailwater section of the Ruby is
one of Montana's top places to fish during
the Winter, yet few fish it. Few know about it
and the locals like it that way. You can catch
trout all winter long on midge imitations.
12/27/17 We didn't receive any reports from
the past week, probably due to the holidays,
but conditions remain about the same. The
discharge levels are still low enough to wade
below the dam but be sure to check them
before wasting a trip.
01/03/17 This is one of a few streams you
can fish with good odds of success. Fish
cream or red midge larva and pupa rigged in
tandem, with the larva the bottom fly. Early
and late, crawl a sculpin streamer, like our
Brown sculpin, slowly along the bottom.
01/10/17 The discharges and stream levels
remain low and wading possible and safe.
Midges continue to be the main insects
hatching. Creams and Reds (blood) midges
are most plentiful. There are some Winter
stoneflies and Black Flies hatching.