Fishing Gear for the Madison Wind

Springtime in southwest Montana is honestly one of the best times to
fish.  However with the arrival of spring comes the dreaded windy
days.  Many anglers don’t think about the gear they’re using but still
head out to the river with gale force winds.  Chances are these folks give
up 10 casts into their day because their equipment can’t handle the adverse
conditions.  Like I said, many anglers overlook their gear but still
expect it to perform in rough conditions.  This is a big mistake.
The soft 5wt rod you use to throw small dries wont get the job done in windy
conditions.  Go out and get yourself a 9’6wt rod.  The 6wt has more
of a backbone and will allow an angler to cut through the wind a heck of a lot
better than a 5wt; Not to mention the fact that spring usually means large
nymph rigs and streamers.  In order pick up and cast these rigs during
hurricane force winds you have got to use a 6wt, at minimum.

Lets talk more about rods.  I say go get a 6wt
rod but what I really mean is go get a fast action, 9 foot 6wt rod.  I
prefer using a saltwater 6wt with a 7wt line.  A saltwater 6wt gives me
more backbone and casting power than a freshwater 6wt.  The 7wt line helps
me load the rod a lot quicker which is essential in the wind because you don’t
want your flies flying through the air too long.  If the saltwater rod is
too much for you, a freshwater 6wt will work just fine.  9 feet is the
minimum length I would use in the wind.  Here on the Madison, some folks
like using 9.5 foot rods because the river is so wide.  The extra 6 inches
will allow an angler to cast a little further and they also seem to have more
of a backbone than a 9-foot rod.  For those that don’t think size matters,
I’m here to tell you that it does.  Along with the added strength, the
extra 6 inches allows an angler to be more precise and direct with their cast
and this becomes obvious during windy conditions.

Fly line and leaders are two more overlooked piece of
equipment.  To have success in windy conditions, one must use the right
fly line.  Paired with a 6wt rod, the Orvis Hydros Bankshot line is a
solid choice for better casting in the wind.  Another great choice is an
Orvis Hydros Power Taper.  Both of these lines feature a large front taper
that allows for quick loading and easy casting with large nymph or streamer
rigs.  In my opinion, leaders aren’t as important as fly line both there’s
a few tricks to keep in mind while setting up your rig.  In the wind I
always like to use a heavier leader like 0x-2x.  The bigger leader seems
to cut through the wind easier than a smaller, thinner leader.  On top of
that, spring fishing isn’t nearly as technical and fish are less leader shy so
it only makes sense to use a thicker leader.  Who wants to fish 4x when
you get the same results from 1x or 2x?


Orvis Helios 9’ 6wt (Saltwater or Freshwater models)

The Helios is super lightweight and pays dividends to
your arm after casting heavy flies all day.


Orvis Hydros SL III

The Hydros SL III is designed to match line weights of
5wt-7wt lines.  This is a perfect match for either the freshwater or
saltwater Helios rods.


Orvis Hydros Bankshot and Power Taper

Both lines offer a power taper that makes it easy to load
the rod and will cut through the wind more efficiently.


Orvis Super Strong tapered leader 0x-2x

There is no need to fish anything less than 2x right now
and like I previously mentioned, the thicker leader will be easier to cast in
the wind.

Fishing Reports and Trips

  • Fishing Reports

  • Want to know the most up-to-date information to find where the fish are biting? The Tackle Shop Fishing Reports provide you with a comprehensive look at current water conditions, recent hatches and flow data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

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  • Float Trips

  • The Tackle Shop offers a range of full-day and half-day float trips in the Madison River Valley area. The trips are all-inclusive and cover files, rods, reels, waders and boots. Leave your worries behind and let us give you the fly fishing trip of a lifetime.

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  • Walk/Wade Trips

  • Enjoy one of our full-day or half-day walk and wade trips for a more immersive, slower-paced fly fishing experience. The Tackle Shop will cater to your individual needs so you are able to take in the sights and sounds of the best waters in Montana.

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