What’s in Your Fly Box? Fly Selection for the Bob Marshall


By Zach Lazzari | Photos by Ryan McSparran

Do you have the right flies for your next backcountry fishing trip? Fortunately, remote cutthroat trout are not very selective but not all flies are created equal either. A number of factors are important when it comes to fly selection for remote fishing locations like the Bob Marshall. You will want a good selection of your favorite flies without having to stuff too man boxes in your pack. Efficiency through a simplified approach is the name of the game.

What Makes a Good Backcountry Fly?



Durability. We have seen a handful of flies last an entire week in the backcountry. Durability and strong knots are the keys to success. Foam dry flies with cement-coated heads are the number one choice for most anglers. You can successfully fish a single dry on most summer days. Dries with bushy hackles are also durable. Droppers are only necessary when conditions make the fish lethargic. Streamers are always a fun choice and you will want a box of big patterns for bull trout.

Favorite Dry Flies

Chubby Chernobyls, Morrish Hoppers, Stimulators, Rogue Foam Golden Stones, Foam Humpy’s, Royal Wulffs. Keep a few size 16 elk hair caddis and parachute Adams for the rare instances of technical dry fly fishing. Carry flies in purple, pink, yellow and orange colors. Pink is one of our favorite colors in the South Fork of the Flathead drainage system. Don’t forget a bottle of floatant.


Keep it basic with your nymph selection. Size 10 and 12 girdle bugs in brown and olive. Size 14 and 16 bead head prince nymphs and pheasant tails make great droppers. Throw in a few San Juan worms and you are prepared for anything. You can include any of your favorite attractor patterns. Most of them are likely to catch a few fish. Bring a few strike indicators for those rare days when dry flies are not effective.


Go big or go big. You will catch some trout on the streamer but it’s the big bulls that we are after. White and red or black and yellow are some of our favorite color combinations. Articulated patterns like Galloup’s Dungeon and the Cheech Leech are great patterns for bull trout. Look for flies with big bodies that will displace a large amount of water. These are large, predatory fish and you want to really focus on their aggressive nature.