Pro Tips: Top 5 Flies for Springtime on the Madison

Written by: Kaitlin Groundwater, Madison Valley Ranch


Patrick Fulkrod of South Holston River Company shows off a springtime beauty on the Madison.
Photo by Patrick Fulkrod

In the middle of winter, many anglers find themselves longing for something that the snow and chilly weather has kept at bay–the tug of a trout at the end of their line. We find ourselves eager to shed our mittens and coats and slip on waders for the thrill of a productive day on the water. Here in Southwest Montana, there is a lot to look forward to with the arrival of spring and the departure of icy rivers.


The Channels section of the Madison can be gorgeous in April.
Photo courtesy Madison Valley Ranch

On the Madison River, some of the most exciting and productive fishing happens in April in May, with lots of fish actively feeding following months of winter lethargy. Throughout spring, nymphing is very reliable, but there are also some great opportunities for the dry-fly angler. The season begins with midges, Baetis, and Skwalas, and it culminates in our yearly Mother’s Day caddis hatch, which generally occurs in the first few weeks of May.


Springtim caddisfly hatches offer great dry-fly action.
Photo courtesy Madison Valley Ranch

To shake off the winter doldrums, fly tiers can start preparing the following patterns:

Zebra Midge (Black), sizes 18 and 20

Pat’s Rubberlegs (Olive, Brown, or Black), sizes 6 and 8

San Juan Worm, size 8

Elk Hair Caddis, sizes 14 and 16

Griffith’s Gnat, size 20

See you on the river this spring!

Kaitlin Groundwater is the Lodge Manager – Guest Relations at Madison Valley Ranch in Ennis, Montana.

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