Everything is poetic and right with the world when a trout rises to the dry fly.
There are Big Bugs on the water from Varney Bridge to Windy Point, currently. Best to fish the banks where the fish are keyed in and looking up. Under an overhanging willow is a particularly good hot spot to find a lunker. Later in the afternoon downsizing to a golden stone or smaller micro chubby pattern has brought fish up for me.
Nymphing the middle seams, riffles, and boulders with larger Prince and Pheasant Tails under an indicator is bringing many quality fish to hand. A Tungsten Bead Pat's Rubber Legs up top with a smaller pmd or perdigon trailing is money. The river flow is fairly healthy, considering the low snow pack, so adding a split shot to keep your bugs down on your nymph rig can make the difference in success.
No doubt the fish in the Madison are spoiled on insects, but there are still fish eating meat consistently. Dead-drifting weighted Sculpin patterns and Zonkers under an indicator with a smaller nymph trailing close behind will put the numbers up. Tiny and shiny nymphs like a Lightning Bug or a Red Spanker make great trailers for a streamer.
Don't sleep, we wait on these precious days all year long. Have confidence in your methods and techniques. Commit to the flies that give you confidence and stick with them. Legendary fishing is at hand. Get out there and find out for yourself!
PSA: Remember to practice safe fish handling and keep them wet. Water temperatures are high and these fish are worth a lot more than just a photo. Let's all be good stewards to the river and its inhabitants!
- MRFC Guide Patrick McGinnis