Originally Posted by skrap
Being new to the game I hear the phrase "match the hatch". I understand the term and it's logical. Throw what "bugs" are on the menu any given month.
I was on a Montana fly shops website and they have a list of dates broken out into varying lengths of weeks from early Spring to late Fall. Within these date they have recommended what flies tend to have success during these given time periods. Seems as they are sort of "matching the hatch" for the bugs they have in their region, I assume.
My question is: Will this recommendation of flies typically be similar from year to year for the same time frames? Will what they state that has been working, say in Aug 2013, most likely be the same/similar fly recommended for Aug 2014?
There are several issues at play in your question.
The first issue is that you are a novice and I assume you have NEVER fished these waters. The second is that you are going by a list of recommended flies according to a certain fly shop a year in advance. The third is that the fly shop's fly pattern recommendations are based on a generalized hatch chart for an average year with average flows.
The other replies have addressed some of these issues and pointed out that things can vary with local river conditions and weather.
What has not been addressed is that aquatic insects prefer certain types of habitat, usually based on the river gradient and flows. For example, stoneflies are =found in faster water flows with a rocky bottom. Mayflies have three body types = clingers, crawlers, and burrowers that inhabit fast, moderate and slow flow portion of a river respectively. Caddis can be net builders and case builders.
What this means is that, although the hatch charts can be accurate, you need to be at the right kind of water at the right time for the flies to "match the hatch."
Another important issue that has not been mentioned is that the need to match the hatch ONLY occurs when the fish are feeding selectively on the hatch that needs to be matched. Most of the time the fish will be feeding opportunistically and the fish will take many types of flies if they are presented in a correctly in a natural manner.
My suggestion is to buy flies that will work in almost any situation and location and then go to the fly shop for specific patterns when you arrive. I would stock up on X-caddis, iris caddis, parachute and comparadun mayfly patterns, flashback pheasant tail nymphs, serendipities, prince nymphs, etc in the proper colors and sizes.
For example if the pale morning duns are going to be the mayfly that is hatching get the parachutes and comparaduns in the correct color and size for the pmds.
Then get flies that may needed for the time of year or for a specific hatch that is not matched by the general flies above. Hoppers, ants, beetles, tricos, and midges would be examples.
The flies above are general patterns that can be used all over the country and you can likely use them when you get home.
Then when you get to Montana, see what "killer" patterns the near by fly shop recommends.