Reap the Rewards of Fall

Tips to Take Full Advantage of the Fall. By Simms Ambassador, Mark Raisler.

Why is fall so much better than the spring when the mayflies first show? Why do I get more excited than the first caddis emergence of the summer? Than the early morning and late evening dry fly periods that rival any season of the year? Than the aggressive hopper attacks of mid and late summer? Why do I find the fall arrival so very slow as the remnants of summer finally fade? Oh, lots of reasons. Read more and learn how Simms Ambassador, Mark Raisler of Head Hunters Fly Shop takes advantage of the fall season.

The decomposing of the river born weeds and aquatic vegetation fill my nose with the full flavor of fall. The fall colors that we so look forward to are making their annual appearance. While we in Montana do not have the hardwood forests of the east coast, we do have enough to make us aware of their seasonal metamorphosis. Unreal sights, sounds, smells, dry fly takes and streamer tugs keep me finding fall fishing fresh, while phenomenally fun.

Beyond the extra sensory advantages, the fishing tends to be pretty good late season on the Missouri and beyond. Reason #1 is that there are so many other pursuits available in September, October, and November. Football and hunting captivate many. Those two keep a majority of anglers otherwise occupied. And guess what — they can have it.


The primary reason that I am a lover of fall fishing is the quality of the fishing. The fish sense that the lion’s share of their feeding season is coming to an end — consequently, those hungry trout are getting after it. Trout need to get those calories stuffed into them as the water temperatures decline ever so slowly to a bone chilling, nearly freezing slushy consistency as we move toward winter.

The summer months are carefree — long days and long evenings. Not so much in the fall. The days are short and the hatches — fast and furious, as the conditions have the tendency to change several times a day. That’s why when it comes to reaping the rewards of fall, we have to fish smart. How? By being prepared. Being prepped in the areas of rods, flies, and clothing and devising a master plan for the day and more importantly, sticking to it, will help you catch more fish.

Rigged and Ready
Have your fly rods pre-rigged for fall success. I like to have my 6wt or 7wt streamer rod ready to roll at all times. As far as the MO is concerned, four patters are all you need. These go-to patterns include the classic Wooly Bugger, Hickman’s Skiddish Smolt, Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow, and Kraft’s Kreelex. An intermediate tip isn’t a bad idea but keep in mind, many folks just love to throw the dry line here and have solid results. Skinny water on those overcast days hold a ton of big brown trout. An overlooked tip for streamer fishing (any time of year) is to take the time and clean your fly line to increase distance. A clean, slick fly line allows you to smile longer and reduce those frustrating line tangles.

In addition to my streamer stick, I also have a nymph rod at the ready as well. We like to rig with some sort of scud or sowbug along with one of the many killer narrow bodied mayfly nymphs available at any fly shop. The infamous San Juan Worm has caught many fall trout in many rivers and the MO is no exception. When it’s on, nymphing during the fall can be nothing short of spectacular. High catch rates with fish that are in the process of putting on their winter weight keep you plenty busy before BWO’s come off.

Make no mistake, my dry fly rod is ready as well. You may stumble upon a solitary rising trout during a morning or evening session, so be ready. These often fickle risers may not wait for you to get that rod from the tube, string it up, tie on a new leader, add a fly, and make your approach. A great tip for these often freely rising fish is to employ a long leader. We commonly start with a 12’-14’ leader and tippet it out an additional 4 feet. So you may be throwing a rig that can reach out there to 18’+. Don’t worry, you can cast the new leader designs. The standard issue Parachute Adams is still in style here and if they get picky, which they commonly do, you may have to get out some sort of CDC emerger or the ever popular Quigley Cripple.

Stay Comfy
I’m a big believer that comfort never falls out of style, after all, I like comfort and come to think of it, I like being warm too. I am not tough enough anymore to be anything but outfitted with the best outerwear available. A hat is the most important feature. Find a warm one. For truly bad weather I do not leave the house without my SIMMS Elmer Fudd, also called the GORE-TEX® ExStream™ Hat. A must for those who truly desire head warmth. I also like my  Sungaiter. In truth, no matter the conditions, this is a piece of gear that I’m never without. The gaiter not only protects me from the sun but it also works great for keeping the wind off.

I have also fallen in love with my Bulkley Jacket. It offers warmth as well as protection from rain, sleet and snow. When temps drop, any wool sock is a good sock, but the best I have found are the ExStream™ Wading Sock with Merino Wool. They are taller than most and they keep my toes nice and cozy. I am all over the ProDry™ Glove with the removable stretch fleece liners. When I am fishing I just wear the fleece liner. If the conditions change I then put the GORE-TEX™ outer glove on when rowing or hiking between runs. The best of both worlds with this quite functional glove.

Only Simms clothing on me? Pretty much. The longer I am in the business and the more time I spend on the river the faster I find my collection of Simms gear growing.

In short, fall offers outstanding opportunities to anglers across the entire country — that being said, the best advice I can give is to gear up, stay warm, stay dry and enjoy the season!