Giant Swings on a Gallatin Green
Spring is an extremely bipolar season. One day we could have snow and frigid
temperatures, the next could offer near 70-degree days and crazy snow melt. But with the
unpredictability comes the excitement of wondering what the trout are eating. The river
can often be crystal clear and cold offering great nymphing. While on the contrary, it can
be slightly overcast and warmer with a greenish tint and the possibility of BWO’s and
some caddis flying around to rising trout.
But on the average, nymphing has always been the best option. However, if there are any
anglers out there like myself, I get down right bored of tying on the double nymph rig
with your favorite top and dropper combination coupled with the colored indicator of
your choosing. Watching it drift down stream through a deep pocket praying that you see
it dive underwater with a trout hopefully attached instead of the notorious stick and rock
But the other day, I strolled into the shop with a mindset of trying something drastically
different than what I’ve been throwing lately. I loaded up with dark, big and nasty
streamers with the goal of not leaving the river until I get a hook-up. Coming fresh from
a trip over on the Pacific Northwest chasing steelhead my mindset was on swinging flies.
I tied on a dark red and brown sculpin at a slow bend in a section of river just north of
Big Sky and simply launched it across to the other bank, let it sink a bit, and wait.
As that fly sunk for a couple seconds, I mended and watched as the line slowly began
moving downstream. Once the fly began catching onto the flow of the line moving down,
the swing had started. Feeling that fly catch on and begin moving away from the bank,
tantalizingly slow and effortless as I simply pointed my rod downstream and let the river
swing the fly across that slow section of deep water.
A couple casts like this and nothing spectacular had happened. But with each cast and
swing I made, I took a couple steps down and repeated the process. Again, with the
thought process of steelheading on my mind, I was simply thinking only 900 or so more
casts until I get a strike. But I had actually forgotten I was on a trout river in Montana.
With that fifth or so cast, I launched it to the other bank, let is sink, and waited for the
line downstream to begin pulling it away from the bank and slowly bend downstream.
And just as the river caught the fly, as it was about to swing, I got hit by what felt like a
I knew casting the pattern I was that only something of utmost quality would be attached
to it. And after what seemed like an eternity of line zipping out of my reel while me
retrieving it and repeating the process over again, I finally saw glimpses of a dark brown
flash of what had to be one of the biggest browns I have hooked into on the Gallatin.
Hand landing the fish and slowly removing the barbless sculpin away from its lower