Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Hatches and Trout Flies for the Madison River - Outside Yellowstone
National Park
Remember, the Madison River covered in this section includes many miles of river. The time
slots given don't apply to any one particular section, rather the entire stream, so the exact
dates are subject to vary at any one location.

The first mayflies to hatch on the Madison are the Blue-winged Olives. They start about the
first of April and hatch until the first of June. These mayflies are bi-brooded, and will hatch
again in the Fall from about the first of September through mid November.

From about the middle of June through the end of July, the large Green Drakes hatch. Some of
this hatch gets caught up in the Spring runoff. At about the same time, the Western March
Browns hatch. The hatch can last until the second week of August.

The "Flavs", or the Small Western Green Drakes start hatching around the first of July. This
hatch can last until the end of August, depending on the section of the river.  The PMDs, or
Pale Morning Duns, start about the second week of June and can last through July. This is one
of the better and highly dependable hatches that takes place.

Speckled Wing Quills hatch from about the first of July through August in the slower sections of
water in the Madison River. You will find them for the most part at the heads of Quake and
Ennis Lakes. You will also find some Tricos in the same type of water. They hatch from about
the middle of July through September.

Yellow Quills hatch from about the middle of July through August. These hatch in the faster
water of the river.

The first caddisfly hatches of the year of significance are the Little Black Caddis, or
Brachycentrus species. This hatch is called the "Mothers Day Hatch". They start around the
middle of April and can hatch until the end of May. There is another species of these
caddisflies that hatch during the month of July.

The Spotted Sedges are very common caddisflies on the Madison. They hatch from about the
middle of May through the month of July. Their Little Sisters start around the middle of June
and can hatch until September.

The large, Great Gray Spotted Sedge hatches from about the middle of June through July. At
the same time the Green Sedges start to hatch. They last until near the end of September.
Their larvae are the most important stage of their life. These are called "Rock Worms" and
imitations of them are effective all year. From about mid June through July, you will see lots of
Little Short-horned Sedges. These are small caddisflies that anglers often discover crawling up
their waders.

Anglers consider the most important hatch that takes place on the Madison River to be the
huge Salmonflies. They start hatching in the lower section of the river around the middle of
June and progress upstream several miles a day. The hatch is usually not over in the upper
part of the river until near the end of July. Just as important, in our opinion, are the Golden
Stoneflies. They start hatching around the first of July and hatch for most of the month
depending on the section of the river. At the same time, Little Yellow Stoneflies, called Yellow
Sallies, start hatching. This hatch last for up to two months, or until the end of August.

From about the middle of July to near the end of September, terrestrial insects can be an
important part of the trout's diet in the Madison River. Ants, beetles and grasshoppers all play
a part in this. Although you cannot predict when, there is usually a flying ant fall on the river.
This would most likely occur in August, but that is a guess based on finding them only on one

The Madison River is full of sculpin, leeches and baitfish. These are imitated with streamers.
They are effective all year long, especially under low light conditions, or when the water is
stained from melting snow or rain.

We recommend our "Perfect Flies" over any flies you can purchase. These are not only the
most realistic imitations you can buy, they are the most effective flies you can buy. We have
specific imitations of all the aquatic insects and other trout food that exist in the river. If you
haven't done so already, please give them an opportunity to perform for you. You will be glad
you did.
Madison River, Montana
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