Montana winter nymph patterns

Bobber Report 2.11.15

Enough of the Spey, you say. What’s up with the “normal” winter fishing techniques? You know, bobbers and such.

Though we haven’t been talking about it that much, those who have been chasing the bobber this winter have had great fishing, and arguably the most consistent catching of the off-season. Nymphers usually hang up around Holter Dam, and this winter has been no exception. Through mid-January you didn’t have much choice as much of the lower river was iced up. After our recent “Chinook-zilla” event, however, you can now float the entire river.

Dam fishin is it’s usual self. Pink. Pink. Pink. Zebra. Sow Bug. You know the deal. And as usual it’s not really the fly, but where you put it. By where we mean how fast (current speed) and how deep (bobber to split-shot distance). Lately, the key to success has been the very slow stuff, and 4-8 feet depending on the run. I heard Ninch tell some guys today, “It’s hard to call a spot ‘too slow'”. I concur.

If you’ve read our blog over the years, you’ve heard preach the “lead with your bobber” technique. This involves limited and “light” upstream mends. Mend enough to slow your drift a bit, but not enough to throw that bobber back upstream. You need to keep the bobber in front, imperceptibly dragging your flies. This insures that you detect the lightest and quickest bites, and they will be light and quick.

Last weekend some anglers hit the Canyon as well, including Headhunters guide Peter Skidmore. All reported pretty good fishing, getting them on bait larger, longer and red patterns. There were also some good streamer reports (from the boat, not swinging). The Canyon and below doesn’t always fish that well in the winter, and it’s great to see it as an available option. I suspect the Dearborn thaw is helping. Those fish like a little dirty, nutrient filled water this time of year.

I think we’re on the verge of seeing some midges busting loose as well. We’ve seen some pretty good emergences lately, and hopefully we’ll see a late-winter like we did 2 and 3 years ago.

But back to the nymphs. Stick with the usual, and Ninch lined up his fav’s for me in the shop today. Some are winter standards (anything with a fire-bead) and others are a little newer. The smaller midge patterns can be critical to success from the Dam to Craig.

And speaking of bobbers, lots of folks are digging these Strike Foundry bobbers, which are a good style for “lead with the bobber” fishing. I kind of like the inherent weight in these. They don’t fly all over the place, and detect light takes very well.

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