Top 3 Flies for Spring on the North Platte

Written by: CiCi Oliver, Ugly Bug Fly Shop

Early spring in prime nymphing season on the North Platte.

The North Platte has something special to offer in every season, but after a long winter, the itch to get outdoors has made spring fishing a favorite here. Wyoming winters are more severe than most, so by the time spring comes around, our fish are ready to eat. In the early season, it’s mostly leeches, worms, eggs, scuds, and midges on the menu. The North Platte is generally considered a nymph fishery through and through, but nymphing is particularly productive in the spring, when lighter flows allow for longer, deeper drifts and easier wading.

The feeding frenzy that takes place in the spring can put anglers into both high-quality fish, as well as high quantities of fish, as long as you’re throwing what they want. When it comes to bugs, here are three must-have patterns for your box: 

1. Skinny Leech (size 10)

The muddy, flat structure of the riverbed allows leeches to thrive year-round, making them a main protein source. You can strip a Skinny Leech as a streamer, or dead-drift it under an indicator. Either way, this pattern is a must-have in your box all year long.

2. Mayhem Midge (sizes 18-20)

The black Mayhem Midge is the go-to midge pattern on the North Platte. Our trout eat this one up. With its slim profile and foam back, it has all the components of a productive pattern, and it successfully imitates many different species of midge. This pattern is best fished on a nymph rig. During spring, focus on the slower tailouts in the early morning, moving toward the riffles by mid-day.

3. Jackson’s Mcgruber (sizes 18-20)

The Mcgruber comes in many different colors and variants, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Designed and tied specifically for the North Platte, this is our home pattern for our home water. Similar to the Mayhem, this pattern imitates many of the midges and BWOs within our river system. The McGruber is also best fished on a nymph rig, and is incredibly productive in riffle water or pockets in the colder, earlier part of spring. 

CiCi Oliver works for the Ugly Bug Fly Shop in Caspar.

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