Caddis Flies on the Lower Madison – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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Caddis Flies on the Lower Madison

Caddis are happening in a big way on the Lower Madison. Just yesterday bugs started coming off in swarms and the fish were on them. This is the start of true dry fly fishing in our Bozeman area rivers. Here are a few tips and tricks for making the most out of your day dry fly fishing the Mother’s Day caddis hatch on the Lower Madison River.

Terminal Tackle

Leader – 9’ 4x or 5x leaders will be plenty to trick the rising trout in the green water this time of year. Start with the 4x and stick with it if you can consistently get fish to eat your fly to reduce the number of fish that break off. If the risers are being picky maybe switch to the smaller 5x leader to get the eat.

Rio Powerflex Plus Leaders Orvis Superstrong Nylon Leader 2-pack Rio Powerflex Trout 9' 3-Pack

Flies – Start with your standard Elk Hair Caddis with a darker body such as olive or black in a size #14 or #16. Be prepared with a few smaller and more technical patterns just in case. It will be worth having some low-profile bugs like a X-caddis or an Iris Caddis in size #16 or #18 to be prepared for fish that are eating bugs just below the surface. If they still refuse this style of fly, try dropping a light caddis pupa a few inches below your dry. Good flies for this method include Silvey’s Olive BH Caddis Pupa or a Tung Dart.

Black Elk Hair CaddisOlive X - CaddisSilvey's Olive BH Caddis Pupa


Swinging – Caddis are incredibly mobile in their adult form. They skitter along the surface and even swim beneath the surface to lay their eggs. While pupating, they can rapidly accelerate through the water column. Fish that are eating moving caddis will typically make a splash on the surface of the water when they take an insect. To target these fish, it is worth casting beyond and upstream of the fish and holding your line tight to get your fly to swing in the fish’s field of vision.

Choosing the right Rod

Rod – 9’ 4 wt. or 5 wt. rods that are a bit slower in action are great for a softer or delicate presentation for light dries to spooky fish. Our personal favorites are the Scott G-series, the G-Loomis NRX+ LP, or the Sage Trout LL, all of these are slower action and specifically designed for light presentations.

G-Loomis NRX LP Scott G-Series

Sunscreen – Our Bozeman fly shop staff has already learned the hard way that the May sun is harsh. Nick is very crispy, also known as Crispy Bacon.