Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Mad River Ohio
The Mad River is located in West Central Ohio. It flows
for a total of about sixty miles to Dayton where it joins
the Great Miami River. Only a portion of that length
stays cool enough to support trout. It starts north of
Campbell Hill near the city of Bellefontaine and flows in a
southwest direction near Springfield.
Mad River is actually a spring creek. It is the largest cold
water fishery in Ohio and one of the few streams where
the native brook trout reside. It is regularly stocked with
6 to 8 inch brown trout by the State of Ohio.
Although you cannot tell it from the pictures on this site,
the water is usually very clear. When it is low it is
especially clear. Catching the brown trout under low
water conditions is usually tough. It headwaters are
spring creeks. Glady, Muddy and Nettle Creeks are
tributaries. Spring Creek joins Nettle just above the
confluence. These streams form from a number of small
The river has several access points but they are
generally small locations at bridges where several small
county and community roads pass over the river.
Most of the river is covered with overhanging tree limbs.
Tight casting conditions exist in most places. Undercut
banks are the prime lies for the brown trout.
Catching newly stocked trout is one thing. Catching wild
or holdover trout that has been stocked for a while is a
completely different thing. Those fish have to become
acquainted with the natural foods in the streams or die.
Using generic and attractor flies sometimes works but
never as well as matching the most plentiful and
available foods in the stream. That's where Perfect Flies
comes into play. Our customers have found that they
get far better results using flies that look like the natural
aquatic and terrestrial insects as well as crustaceans,
baitfish and sculpins.
Much of your success fly fishing the Mad River will have
to do with where you fish as well as the time of the
season you fish. This is generally true of any trout
stream but more so in the case of the Mad River than
most others. Some parts of the river has far less trout
than others. The species also vary with the location.
Much of this has to do with where the stream is stocked
as well as whether or not your fishing a section of the
stream that is capable of reproducing trout. Much of the
river doesn't have the type of bottom composition to
sustain a wild trout population.
There are a lot of good fishing spots from north of
Springfield all the way up to Bellefountaine. Roads #36,
55 and 29/296 has some good access points. The
Pimtown Access and the Farm Market access are two
Mad River, Ohio
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 &12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Springtime is the best time to fish the Mad
River. Most of the hatches occur during the
spring. Dry fly fishing can be good.
The water can get on the warm side in parts
of the river during the summer. It also gets
low and very clear and fishing is usually fairly
Fly Fishing Guide to the Mad River
Fly fishing the Mad River is best in the
Spring and Fall seasons. Writing this seems
strange for me. I lived north of Fairborne,
Ohio, in the country for a year when I was in
the eight grade. My father was the
superintendent over the construction of a
large addition to Wright-Patterson Air force
Base. We passed the Mad River many times.
I can remember asking dad to let me fish
there. He was never for it because if I
remember right, he thought it was dangerous
for me to do that unless he was along with
me. There was a small stream near our
house that I found out recently was a
tributary stream of the Mad River. I caught
large carp there many times. I would cook
dough balls from a recipe I found in Field
and Stream to catch them. Oh well, it was
many years later before I fished the Mad
River. I didn't know it had trout in it at the
time and as a matter of fact, the lower part
probably didn't at that time, or at least in the
area of the river near our house.
Fishing the Mad River is predominately
brown trout fishing. Brook trout are present,
but mostly in the headwaters part of the
stream. We have only fished this stream one
time, or one trip I should say. We did fish it
for three consecutive days. As you can see
in the pictures, the water was a little high and
appears to be off-color in some of the
pictures; however, its looks are deceptive.
The water was actually very clear. I think the
bottom makes it look cloudy. It didn't take me
long to figure out that I needed to look for
the larger brown trout around cover and
shade. The only ones we caught otherwise,
were small and probably recently stocked.
Although this stream may appear to have
few aquatic insects, that is also deceptive. It
has many different species, I must assume
because of the low pH the stream due to the
spring water that comes in at its headwaters.
By the time the water gets in the area these
pictures were taken, the river receives a lot
of non-spring water from runoff. There are a
lot of crops growing along the stream in most
places. I would assume the river gets a good
dose of fertilizer at times after a heavy rain.
The river's bottom has lots of moss which
can be both good and bad. The river
flows through a farming countryside.
We collected stream samples of larvae
and nymphs from the river and were quite
surprised to find far more species than we
expected.I think the best way to fish the
river is in an upstream direction, casting
nymphs and streamers close to all the
heavy cover you can find, or dry flies
during a hatch. The stream is closely
bordered by trees that provide plenty of
shade and there's a lot of wood cover and
deadfalls in it.
The largest brown we caught in our three
days of fishing was only fourteen inches,
but I fell certain there are many there
much larger. It reminded my a lot of bass
fishing. Every time we were able to get a
good drift by heavy cover, we picked up a
brown trout. Even the bridge columns
(foundation around the column) in the
picture above provided one.
Most of our success came with streamers
fished underneath the overhanging trees
very close to the banks. We did catch
several small brown trout in the few riffles
and runs we found. Most of the water
flows moderately over an irregular bottom.
Most of the cover is near the banks.
Judging from the stream samples of
insects we collected, the river should
provide some very good dry fly fishing at
times. It has a huge number of different
species of Blue-winged Olive and Trico
nymphs. It also has a huge caddisfly
population from the amount of larvae we
found. It appears from our research, that
like many other trout streams, the Mad
River does experience low water levels in
the late summer and fall months at times.
Water temperatures can become marginal
for the trout to survive, but the river does
have a good population of holdover trout.
Mad River Hatches and Trout Flies:
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and
nymphs, not guess work. We base fly
suggestions on imitating the most plentiful
and most available insects and other foods
at the particular time you are fishing. Unlike
the generic fly shop trout flies, we have
specific imitations of all the insects in the
Mad River and in all stages of life that are
applicable to fishing. If you want to fish
better, more realistic trout flies, have a much
higher degree of success, give us a call. We
not only will help you with selections, you will
learn why, after trying Perfect Flies, 92% of
the thousands of our customers will use
nothing else. 1-800-594-4726
This streams has a large number of mayfly
nymphs that would be called Blue-winged
Olives. They are probably is the most
consistent hatches that occurs on the river.
These mayflies should start hatching in late
February or early March, depending on the
weather, and continue through May and on
into June. Other species of them, along with
those that are bi-brooded, should hatch off
and on, depending on the species, from late
August through November.
Little Black Stoneflies appear in late
February and March. This hatch is fairly
significant. It is over by the first week or two
in April. Green sedges hatch starting in April.
It last through June. There are more than
one species of them. Cinnamon Caddisflies
start hatching in May and last all summer
long. This hatch ends in August, depending
on the particular species.
March brings on some decent hatches of
Blue Quills. This hatch last about six weeks.
In April the Hendricksons begin to hatch.
This is a very significant hatch which last into
the first week of May, depending on the
May brings about some smaller hatches of
March Browns. They last until as late as the
first week of June but are rather sparse.
Look for hatches of Sulphurs starting around
the first of May. This is one of the Mad
River's best hatches and can last into the
first week or two of June. The first two weeks
of June, you should find some hatches of
Brown Drakes. This hatch can be
substantial. You will also find a few Light and
Cream Cahill in June, but both hatches are
In the middle of July, Tricos start to hatch.
These little mayflies are very plentiful in
the Mad River and the hatch usually last
until the end of September.
White Miller caddisflies are also very
plentiful during August and September. In
the middle of October, hatches of Great
Brown Autumn Sedges appear randomly.
They hatch until cold weather starts or
usually until the middle of November.
By the first of June, terrestrial insects
become important on the Mad River.
There are lots of grasshopper, beetles
and ants along the river and in the crops
adjoining the stream. Imitations of these
insects fish properly, can produce some
nice brown trout.
This river has a huge population of
midges. They hatch throughout the year.
Trout can be taken on imitations of their
larvae, pupae and the adults almost
anytime. They are more important during
the cold periods when few other aquatic
insects are hatching.
The Mad River has sculpin, minnows and
baitfish species, so streamers tend to
work great. They are more effective when
they are fished after the water has
become somewhat off color from melting
snow or rain and also, when it's early and
late in the day.
This river has a huge population of
craneflies and dobsonfly larvae. Trout can
be caught on imitations of these larvae
most of the year.
We have specific imitations of everything
trout eat in the Mad River. They are not
only the most realistic imitations you can
purchase, they are also the most effective
at catching trout. If you haven't already
done so, please give our Perfect Flies an
opportunity to work for you. We are
confident that you will be glad you did.
Fall is an excellent time to fish for the
Winter can be good on warm nice days
but they are far and few between.
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
(Bottom Of Page)
Fishing Report Updated 02/08/16
Mad River Fishing Report - 02/08/16
The river is flowing at a normal level. Melting snow will stain the water some. Lots of snow is
in the forecast.
7 Day Weather Forecast: There is a chance of snow everyday through Saturday,
otherwise clear. Highs will range from 20 to 39 degrees and lows from 8 to 34 degrees.
Recommended Trout Flies:
Brown Sculpin and White Belly Sculpin, size 6
Black Matuka and Olive Matuka Sculpin, size 4/6
Blue-winged Olives, size 20 and 18, nymphs, emergers, duns and spinners
Midges: Blood (Red), sizes 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
Midges: Light Green, size 20/22, larva, pupa and adults
Midges: Cream, size 20/22, larva pupa and adults
Winter Stoneflies: size 16/18, nymphs and adults
Strategies, Techniques and Tips:
Our Brown Sculpin and Whtie Belly Sculpin streamers are great flies to use during the
entire year. The Olive Matuka and Black Matuka sculpin streamers are also good flies
to use at this time of the year.
Various species of Blue-winged Olives will hatch off and on for the next few weeks.
Scuds and sowbugs are present year-round.
It is almost alway best to fish a tandem Midge rig under a small strike indicator with the
midge lava as the bottom fly and the midge pupa as the top fly. Fish the adult midge
only when you observe trout feeding on the surface.
Winter stoneflies should begin to hatch this month.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (email@example.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
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