Written by: John Way, The Tackle Shop
The January thaw this time of year makes everyone think winter is nearly over and gets the juices flowing for spring fishing. If you need to scratch the itch and get out on the great waters of Montana, here are a few nymphs that you really need to have at your disposal.
1. Rubber Leg Stonefly / Pat’s Rubberlegs
(Black, olive, or tan; sizes 6-12)
This is the gold standard for all nymphs in Montana. Stoneflies are present year-round in the river and provide a steady source of food for trout. During the spring, I really like the Black with white legs, or an olive body.
2. San Juan Worm
(Various colors; sizes 10-14)
Love it or hate it, the San Juan just flat out catches fish. In the late winter and early spring, I like the hot pink as well as the pink Laser worm.
3. Copper John Nymph
(Copper, red, and black; sizes 12-18)
I do not know why, but in the early spring a large size 10 or even 8 copper johns can really produce. I think it is the color and the weight of all the copper on these large nymphs. These large CJ’s are always in my rotation prior to runoff.
3. Egg Fly
(Pink, orange, peach; sizes 8-12)
The whitefish are wrapping up their winter spawn, and the rainbows are just starting. Fish that are hungry from a winter of cold will snatch up any free-floating egg they can find. During this time of year, I like the Otters Soft Egg in pink/peach as well as the Crystal Meth egg in bright pink.
5. Zebra Midge
(Red and/or black; sizes 16-22)
For many rivers, the first hatches are midges, which actually hatch all year long making them a constant food source. We like the standard black and silver in a size 14-16 for late-winter fishing.
Late winter and early spring can be a great time to get out and fish. The fish are hungry, you should have the place to yourself and the water is usually low and clear. Take these five nymphs with you when you go and you will be stacking the odds in your favor.
John Way owns and operates The Tackle Shop in Ennis, Montana.