The Tackle Shop has been named The Orvis' 2017 Outfitter of the Year!

10 Early Spring Patterns for Montana Fish

10 Early Spring Patterns for Montana Fish

10 Early Spring Patterns for Montana Fish. 


While the calendar might say it is still winter but thanks to some El Nino fueled warm days the river and the fisherman are starting to wake up.  Good fishing can be found across much of Montana during this time of year and eager local fisherman after a long winter lay over are more than happy to oblige. 


If you’re headed out for the first trip of the year or just a few hours on the river there are a few flies that you need in your box. 


San Juan Worm:  Most people do not like fishing the worm as it is not a true fly but few can argue its effectiveness.   If you have a moral conflict with the worm I like to think of it as an aquatic annelid emergence.   We really like it in hot pink for this time of year with fire engine red a close second. 


Egg Pattern: With the rainbow-spawning going on in the early spring the river is awash in free floating eggs.   Fish love these tasty morsels.  We like the Otters Soft Egg in Peach or Pink color. 


Crystal Meth:  This is an egg pattern on steroids or meth.  It is shiny and bright colored and has taken over as one of our early spring favorites.  We like it in bright pink or chartreuse.   I know the saying is Not even once but you should really try this.  The only harmful side effects to fishing this fly is getting bent for several hours a day each spring and it is habit forming. 


Pats Rubber Leg: If you’re going to be in Montana fishing you need this pattern.  It accounts for more fish than any other pattern season long.  During the early spring we like our Pats in size 10 and dark bodies either black or coffee. 


Fire Bead Ray Charles:  A classic scud pattern with a hot red or orange head.  Some think the fish eat it as an egg some think the ostrich hurl body represents movement in the water.  Whatever reason the fish love this fly on tail waters state wide.   We like them in a size 14-18. 


Copper John: A very traditional pattern that can be fished most of the year. During the spring months we like it larger sizes say 8 or 10.   A real sleeper. 


Para Midge:  Good midge hatches take place most of the spring and the para midge will take all risers.   We like this pattern because the parachute gives better visibility and increased floatation.   We like this in size 16-20. 


Zebra Midge: A great midge larva representation.   Black and white is traditional but also have it in red and white.  Sizes 14-18


Purple Haze:  You will need to be ready for the first Blue Winged Olive hatches of the year and the now famous purple haze will do the job.   During the early spring we like it in size 14-18 and we tend to darken the parachute and hackle with a sharpie just a little. 


Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail:  Blue winged olives are on the horizon and this is a good representation for a nymph.  Also works well in the upper water column as an emerger during a hatch.  We fish this all the time when mayflies are around and have become a staple in our boxes.   Have them in sizes 14-18 for spring fishing. 


This is a great time of year to be on the water in Montana.  The days are getting longer, the fish are hungry and the rivers have significantly less fisherman than the summer season.   In fact it is one of our favorite times of the year to fish.  


John Way Posted by John Way

Guide, Outfitter and chief bottle washer for the Tackle Shop.  Recently developing his inter web ninja skills. 

Products related to this article

Recon 6-weight 9' Fly Rod

Recon 6-weight 9' Fly Rod

Recon teams a high-performance, fast action feel with light swing weight. With close-in loading prowess and the power for longer reach, Recon rods boast a completely new ferrule design, a modern shadow green blank, and covert black nickel hardware and reel seats. Proudly made in Manchester, Vermont, and complete with a..




Related Articles

Here is a great video that Guide Bill Youngs and I help film for Southwest Montana Tourism association.   Some great views of the Madison River.  ..
0 comments on this article - view comments
Outside Bozeman and The Tackle Shop Fly Tying Video
Here is a great video from Outside Bozeman and The Tackle shop on tying one of our special spring stone flies.  This is a great pattern for the spring skwala and nemora stone fly on the local rivers.  ..
0 comments on this article - view comments
Pink is the Color of Spring Fishing

Here in Montana when spring rolls around and old man winter has finally given up his grip on the lower elevation landscape many peoples attention turns to the rivers and fishing. Spring fishing on the Madison River is probably the best kept secret in Montana.

0 comments on this article - view comments
Fishing Report for the Madison River in Montana 3/6/2017

Fishing on the Madison is just getting going.  It all depends on mother nature this time of year.  Is it going to be a spring like day or will old man winter reclaim the Madison?  The river gorge has broken up but you will still find a bunch of ice along the banks from the Lake up to just below Varney Bridge.  

0 comments on this article - view comments

0 Comments To "10 Early Spring Patterns for Montana Fish"

Write a comment

Your Name:
Enter the code in the box below:
Your Comment:
Note: HTML is not translated!