The Super Bowl of flies

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Weather forecast models, as I write this on Super Bowl weekend, are showing up to 32 inches of snow can be expected in Columbia Falls!


A potentially historic storm and, a probably boring second half of the football game, are two good reasons to drag out the fly-tying stuff and top-off some boxes.

Recipes for the flies listed below can be found online. Don’t hesitate to try alternative materials and colors.

Here’s 10 gotta-have flies for the Flathead Valley:

• Doc Spratley. Over the years, I’ve caught more trout, from lakes, on this fly than any other single pattern. This Canadian sedge pattern, with sinking line, sink-tip, or split-shot on a floating line, the Doc will increase your trout hook-ups.

• Black Woolly Bugger. Sometimes called the “Montana State Fly.” Effective in both rivers and lakes. Tie from size 16 to size 2. Sometimes add a beadhead.

• Prince. Another trout killer that works with or without a beadhead.

• Brown Woolly Worm. No, this isn’t Fly Tying 101. The Brown Woolly Worm is one of the best (and certainly the easiest to tie) crayfish patterns.

• Black Ant. Whether dressed with deer hair tied Humpy-style or pieces of black foam, Late summer trout love to eat ants.

• Elk Hair Caddis. A perennial Montana fishing favorite. Move the wing back a bit and wrap a hackle up front and call it a Stimulator.

• Adams. By any other color (including purple) is still an upright-and-divided hackle tip Adams. Probably has caught more trout on the surface than any dry fly in Montana history.

• Brown Soft Hackle. Regardless of body material—biot, stripped peacock eye or dubbed synthetics—the key to catching fish is one, sparse wrap of Hungarian partridge rump feather.

• Swisher’s PMX. Look it up! Often draws fish out of fast, choppy waters.

• Water Boatman. Legs. Legs. Legs. You may need one only a few times all summer but when trout are keyed into boatman, that’s the only answer.

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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