Dry Flies Galore on the Madison River

Late July Madison River

July 25th, 2019 -

Summer and warmer days have finally made their way to Ennis, Montana, giving way to some of the best fishing we’ve seen all year. The salmonfly hatch has come to an end, but some excellent caddis and PMD hatches have quickly filled the void. Not to mention we are right at the beginning of hopper season. Some of us here in the shop have already experienced success with the hopper on the Upper Madison, and you can expect it to only get better from here. Certainly don’t be afraid to break out the hopper or even a hopper/dropper rig. Chubbies and Micro-Chubbies are solid options that should not be forgotten. Dropping a nymph behind the Chubby has been very effective. A Chubby, particularly a Micro-Chubby, with a caddis tied behind it has been a very consistent dry rig as of late. Consider trying some smaller flies as your second dry. (#16/#18)

Dry fly fishing has been excellent and we’re experiencing success on dries throughout the entirety of the day. As far as the most productive choice throughout the day goes, nymphing is absolutely a great option. Classic attractor patterns such as a Prince, Copper John or Pheasant Tail have been excellent and can work effectively as a dropper below that hopper or chubby. Patterns with yellow and green have also been standouts in the nymphing game. Psycho-Prince/Crazy-Prince are good examples of that. We have seen a lot of success in the last couple of weeks nymphing more towards the middle of the river, particularly in buckets and areas where multiple seams are coming together. Look for that color change (greener water indicating deeper water) and take note of where you are getting eats and start building on that pattern.

If you are looking for that big bite and are a streamer-junkie, don’t worry... There is also plenty of action that may tickle your fancy. Fish have been aggressive and are certainly willing to chase a streamer right now. Make sure to mix up your retrieve and take note of what you were doing when your streamer gets eaten. Once again, build out that pattern. Start with short/quick strips and work your way towards dead-drifting on your search for the pattern. Olive and black are go-to colors, but don’t be afraid to step outside of the box. Sometimes that little something different might just make the difference.

Following the conclusion of the salmonfly hatch, I have caught 5 of my biggest fish of the year and had some really high number days as well. My success truly has come from a variety of tactics. In my own personal fishing experience as of late,  more than anything I have found consistent success on a double-dry rig. Either a Micro-Chubby up front or even something like a Parachute Adams/Elk Hair Caddis around a size #12. Something big enough to easily see and to help get a good drift in more riffled water. A large number of those bites have come on the second, much smaller fly that I have dropped off of the #12 up front. Small caddis patterns, mayfly and PMD’s. A caddis emerger has been my secret weapon for those more weary fish.

Bottom line- The fishing is rockin’ and the weather is beautiful. Get out there and enjoy the gift of experiencing summertime fishing on the Madison with us. Come see us in the shop for additional info/recommendations! 

Check out the latest Madison River Fishing Report here.


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