Like many other midwestern kids with grandiose fly fishing dreams, the West has always had a certain allure that I’ve never been able to kick. Now at 23, I find myself in the epicenter of the fly fishing world with a box full of midwestern flies, and a soul full of midwestern fishing habits. Let me make one thing clear though, the flies that were brought with me into the Madison Valley are still able to wrangle the few odd fish. However, since I began fishing with the trout bums of CAF, I’ve quickly realized that I have a heck of a lot to learn when it comes to fly selection. So let me help you, the reader, learn from the mistakes of a Western novice who has found his way into some incredible fish with the help of those around me.
To start, throw the damn Turd. Hell, throw two of them if you’re feeling a bit cavalier. If there is one thing that I can stress upon it is that a Pat’s Rubber Legs aka the Girdle Bug, will earn you fish. Seriously. What I assumed to be a gaudy attempt at catching a pristine Madison River trout has turned into my go-to lead fly this spring. In a world of jargon and endless flies to choose from, you can find comfort in knowing a Pat’s Rubber Legs will produce fish time and time again. And the best part is they can be fished year round, all seasons for all types of fish.
When fishing the Pat’s Rubber Legs, or any big stone fly pattern, you want to make sure it’s getting down to where the fish are feeding. So if your fly is not ticking along the bottom, make sure to throw a split shot or two, a good foot or more in front of the lead fly. Fish the lead fly deep, low and slow, especially when the water is cold and the fish are less active. As long as you’re in the feeding zone, you should get some eats.
Now that we’ve selected your lead fly, it’s time to figure out what you're putting beneath it. I’ll be frank, there’s a multitude of flies that will put fish on the end of your line.
Since my arrival to Southwest Montana, the Imposters (the fly, not your neighbor who blew out his knee in high school) as well as the Blood Dot Eggs have put a healthy flow of fish into my net. At the end of the day they’re both simple and effective. If you’re anything like me, then that’ll work just fine.
Things are finally starting to warm up here in the Madison Valley. Warmer air temperatures bring in the long awaited warm water temps, and we couldn’t be any more excited about it. To quote my buddy Pat McGinnis, “When temps hit 50, fish get frisky”. What’s the answer to this so-called friskiness? Big dark streamers. If you’re as giddy as I am about the fishing that lies ahead, be proactive and stock up on the flies that’ll bring home the bacon.
By Danny Eiden
Danny grew up fishing the driftless region of Wisconsin focusing on warmwater species, tricking bass, northern pike and muskies with big streamers and poppers. A recent college graduate, Danny finds himself tying a lot of flies and working on navigating his new territory around the Madison Valley while contributing to the CAF blog.