With over 1500 fly patterns to choose from in our Bozeman fly shop; selecting the best bugs for a day on the water can be a daunting task. Different patterns are always needed for different waters and different times of the year. However, narrowing it down to the where and when can make fly selection simple after a few years of fly fishing around Bozeman. Here is a list of the "10 Best Fly Picks" for fishing the upper Madison River in July by the fly fishing guide staff at Fins & Feathers of Bozeman.
10) Beadhead Prince Nymph – A classic “generalist” nymph pattern that works well fished by itself, as lead nymph, or as a dropper off a dry fly. A wide range of sizes can be very effective, with a size 14 being the most common.
9) Tan X-Caddis – The X-Caddis is a Madison River classic dry fly patterns. A simple tie with deer hair wings, antron-dubbed body and a Z-lon tail, the X-Caddis floats high and is easy to see in a size 16.
8) CDC Rusty Spinner – Prolific insect hatches throughout the summer months on the upper Madison River makes for some great dry fly fishing opportunities throughout July. The PMD spinner fall happens just about every evening and good supply of Rusty Spinners in a size 16 should always be at hand.
7) Tan McCune’s Sculpin – Early morning streamer fishing can be super productive throughout July on the upper Madison River. Sculpins are found in good numbers throughout the river and the McCune Sculpin in a size 6 is one of our Bozeman fly fishing guide’s favorite patterns to fish stripped on a sinking line or dead-drifted under a strike indicator.
6) Cutters Yellow Sally – Yellow Sally patterns come in a variety of profiles tied with every conceivable material, The Cutter pattern has a spun deer hair abdomen and thorax, clipped tight, similar to an Irresistible, with an orange abdomen. Upright wings modeled after an Elk Hair Caddis, this pattern floats high and is easy to see and fishes best in a size 14 on the Upper Madison River throughout July.
5) Tungsten Bead PMD Crackback – Our guides fish the Crackback throughout July on the upper Madison both as a dropper of a dry fly and as the point fly on a standard nymph rig. The Crackback, in a size 18, works wonders on big fish that feed around the mid-river boulders during a PMD hatch.
4) Tan and Brown Pat’s Rubberleg – No Madison River selection would be complete without a Rubberleg nymph recommendation. The Pat’s Rubberleg is a Stonefly Nymph pattern that comes in a wide range of colors and sizes. The Tan and Brown - in a size 10 - is a great Golden Stone nymph imitation and can be fished under a strike indicator or even a big dry fly.
3) Black and Olive Bow River Bugger – If big fish are on the radar and you enjoy dead-drifting big bugs from a drift boat, this is a must have pattern for July fly fishing on the upper Madison River. A clipped deer hair head keeps this sculpin/stonefly imitation rolling near the bottom without getting hung up when weighted properly and fished under a strike indicator.
2) Chubby Chernobyl Pteronarcys – The Chubby Chernobyl comes in every size and color imaginable these days. This particular color, in a size 12 or even 14, is killer on the upper Madison River following the Salmonfly hatch of late June/early July on the Upper Madison River. Works great alone or with a small dropper fished a few feet below.
1)Olive BH $3 Dip – Choosing the number one pattern is hard, but day in and day out, there is no better mid-summer pattern than the $3 dip on the upper Madison. Fish this below your favorite dry fly or as the point fly on a standard nymph rig throughout the upper Madison River in a size 16 or 18. Myriad Caddis hatches throughout July keep fish looking for Caddis larvae and pupae throughout the day and therefore the $3 Dip in Olive is a must have for the upper Madison River.
Choosing the right fly for each situation and river is based on a wide range of factors, including water conditions, hatches, water speed, structure, weather, floating vs. wading, and even angler pressure. The staff at Fins & Feathers’ Bozeman fly shop and Montana fly fishing outfitter tries our best to help you take the guesswork out of picking the right bugs for wherever you are headed. This list is a great place to start for fishing the upper Madison River during the summer months.
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