Top 5 Early Spring Nymphs for Bozeman Montana – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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Top 5 Early Spring Nymphs for Bozeman Montana

When fly fishing in the early spring, there are a few bugs that work nearly every time you hit the river. Whether I am fishing the Yellowstone, Madison, or Gallatin before runoff I won't leave home without these tried and true fly patterns.

San Juan Worm

Any time we see precipitation worms are flushed into the river systems in SW Montana. When this happens, San Juan worms are a must-have fly. But, when the water temps are still cold like right now, the worm works daily. This fly works all winter and will finally lose traction after runoff.

Copper John

A pretty generic pattern, the Copper John is heavy and looks like several different aquatic insects. It gets to where the fish are quickly and looks like their early season meals. This fly just works as soon as it is in front of a fish. I usually will use size #14 - #16 and behind a larger nymph.

Dark Olive Spanish Perdigon

This fly looks a bit like a midge and a bit like a BWO, two of the very active insects before runoff. The Perdigon also drops like a rock right to where trout are waiting for their next meal. While being such a simple tie, the pattern is wildly effective when water temperatures are still cold.

Pat's Rubberlegs

Prior to runoff and well into June, a Pat's Rubberlegs is incredibly effective on the Yellowstone, Gallatin, and upper Madison. It has even been known to catch some fish on the lower Madison despite the low stonefly population. I like dark colors and smaller sizes (#10 - #14).

Olive Mangy Caddis

Caddis Pupa are some of the more active aquatic insects throughout the year. They are constantly available as a food source for trout. The Olive Mangy Caddis has been one of my favorite patterns for early spring fishing due to the overall buggy appearance of the fly and how often fish eat it this time of the year.

When fishing the above flies, I will typically set up a double nymph rig. I tie on the first fly, worm or Rubberlegs, a foot below a BB split shot which is 4 feet below my indicator. Using a clinch knot I'll tie a 16" section on 4x from the bend of my first fly. The loose end of the 4x will have my second fly attached to it. For my second fly I use the Mangy Caddis, Copper John or Perdigon. Fish this setup in the deep slow moving water for the best success. Stop by our Bozeman fly shop to learn about our additional go-to early season flies.