Spring Trout Fishing in Montana
by Mark Raisler
Sage Ambassador & Owner of Headhunters Fly Shop
I love the spring time in the Rockies. The weather is changing for the better, the sun is more common than chilly snow flakes, and finally the trout rods move from the garage to the comfort of the truck
Ahhh, a nice time of year.
Finally you get to try out the flies you have been diligently tying all winter long. The new fly line will see the light of day. Maybe even a new fly rod to initiate.
Spring trout fishing requires more gear than you would travel with the the dog days of summer. You need more than just a light rain jacket, a small box of dries, and a 5wt. You need lots of back up gear as the weather does not always cooperate. Sometimes those snow flakes do fall following that picture perfect 70 degree fantasy day. Socks, hats, gloves, heavier rain jackets, 3X, a full assortment of nymphs, streamers and dry flies. You really need so many tools for spring outings.
What you do not need a lot of is fly rods. A fast action fly rod is all you need.
Why would you need the variety of other items but not a full quiver of fly rods?
Because you truly need a rod that can perform all duties. A tip flexing fast action rod will get you in position to accomplish your fishing goals in all seasons. But in the spring when you may dunk nymphs into the stream in the morning, pin point and pea shoot a few technical sippers under overhanging dead fall in the afternoon and finish the day by chucking heavily weighted buggers til the sun sets.
Just the one rod?
During the summer months you may have your presentation rod like the SAGE CIRCA for creeping up behind delicate rising trout. Short accurate casts with a rod that allows landing fish with 6X and beyond. You may keep in the boat a 7wt. SAGE METHOD for plying the depths of the river with ridiculously overweighted streamers scraping the bottom looking for kipe jawed brown trout. But in the spring you may need to apply all three disciplines on any given week, day, or any given run!
That is why I like to have a all around fly rod for the season. I choose the SAGE ONE 9’ 6wt. I live and work on Montana’s Missouri River. I big resource with big winds and big trout. You gotta bring the right weapon for the day. Do I need other rods along for the ride? Oh yeah as I am most often fishing from my Adipose Flow. But if I am walk wade fishing I grab the only rod I need. A good, no a great, all ‘rounder.
I may have mentioned in the past that I was a big fan of softer rods. For 20+ years! Slower, softer, soggier…whatever you may call them. But as I matured as an angler I just felt they did not offer as much as the faster action rods do. You cannot battle the wind as well with said rods. They do not handle a streamer well and when you add a couple split shot to these tools they do not always respond well. If you are wandering around with one fly rod, you better have one that can do it all!
I choose the 6 weight for my river but that may not be the right tool for you. You may want the 4 wt. or 5 wt. with some looking at the 6 wt. or even the 7 wt. Whatever works for you on your particular stream or stillwater.
As I said above wind can be an issue. A stronger tool is something we are all thankful of when this Rocky Mountain beast rears it head. If you are one of those anglers who likes to over line the rod a faster action rod can handle and give you extra horsepower when addressing the often variable spring weather and fishing conditions.
When nymphing the all round rod can give you the quickness to hook more trout. Slower and softer rods do not always have the rapid response time needed to set the hook properly. A better tool for the job.
When you find yourself attaching a cone head articulated monster streamer you need a rod with backbone. Not some Sunday Driver that looks good but does not perform.
And when you come upon that difficult lie with a nose sticking up occasionally, you certainly need an accurate stick allowing you to make the right cast…the first time!
There you have it. The Spring Time will brig so many different conditions and situations when trout fishing the river and streams of Montana, or your local creek or pond. The clothing, outerwear, flies, portable heaters, a Thermos of stew. Those things are hard to put together. The rod? Easy. Just grab your best all ‘rounder and head for the river!