5 Favorite Flies for Runoff on the Gallatin | Upstream – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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5 Favorite Flies for Runoff on the Gallatin | Upstream

While runoff isn’t the most ideal time to wet a line, the fish are still there and can be caught with a little common sense and a touch of luck. The main thing is the water clarity. The fish just have a hard time seeing bugs in the murk unless they’re right in front of their face. However, they can still “feel” bugs through their lateral line. To aid both of these senses anglers should try larger flies that push some water and trigger the lateral line, as well as darker colors that show up better in the dirty water. That’s right, darker colors show up better in off colored water than bright colors; it’s all about contrast. Streamers are also a good choice because it’s potentially a big food source for the trout and these oversized flies typically push a lot of water. Try fishing your streamers straight upstream tight to the bank and swim it right down the bank. So, with this in mind here are some of our Bozeman fly shop‘s favorite fly patterns to fish in the Gallatin River during runoff (they are good choices for other SW Montana rivers experiencing runoff).

1) Pat’s Rubberleg – The classic freestone pattern of the west. You really can fish these bad boys anytime. As part of their lifecycle, stoneflies spend 1-4 years as a nymph, so they are always in the river in various sizes and colors. The Pat’s Rubberleg is great because it’s nice and heavy (almost a full under body of lead) to get down through the fast current, and it comes in every color imaginable; however, during runoff stick with the blacks, dark olives and browns. Easy to tie yourself too!

2) Mega Prince – Same stonefly spiel as above. The difference here is the white wings over the back of the fly can act like a target for the fish when the light hits them right. Also, like many of Dan Delekta’s fly patterns, there’s just a lot going on with this fly and that pushes water!

3) Worms – Yeah, yeah, “dark colors show up better than bright ones”. Well guess what? Worms are in the river during runoff and trout eat them. Red, purple, hot pink and all good color choices. Also try some with hot beaded variations.

4) Mojo Minnow – Nothing wrong with a little flash to your streamers on sunny runoff days. The light penetrates quite a ways into the water where these vibrant flies pulse light in every direction. It’s like a lighthouse leading the trout to your fly.

5) Sex Dungeon – A favorite streamer pattern most of the year, this fly really excels in the off colored water as the big deer hair head pushes a lot of water. Even the minis push plenty of water. Try the black, olive, white, yellow and natural colors.