The Montana Nymph
  |  First Published: April 2009

The Montana Nymph is an import from the US and was originally tied to imitate the large stonefly nymphs that are found in the Midwest of the United States.

These stoneflies are huge nymphs, dwarfing anything found in Australia. Although the Montana is not a close representation of the natural, it nonetheless presents a large, buggy profile.

It is the type of pattern that lends itself to a bit of variation in tying materials and coloration and with all the new materials coming onto the fly-tying market the opportunities are endless.

As we all know, the old trout enjoys a bit of colour in its diet and once or twice a year seems to enjoy a bit of variation as well and goes looking for a little colour just for the hell of it. So with that in mind, have a bit of a rummage through your material store and drag out a little bling.

Towards the end of the season, from mid-April to the end of May, is a great time to use this fly, especially around the mouths of rivers as they run into lakes. This scenario of the lake upstream in the river for the first couple of kilometres is a great place to bounce a large, colourful Montana through the runs, riffles and rocky banks of the lakes where these stream inflows are.

Estaz or cactus chenille is a great material to use to dress up the Montana; this material comes in many colours, from natural hues through to the hot pinks and oranges that seem to be popular to trout at season’s end.

It also contains just the right amount of flashy bits to make the fly appealing in the water as it reflects the light.

There are a number of effective ways to fish this fly.


My preference is to fish it deep in the runs and riffles under an indicator. Quite often you will see the flash as the fish rolls on the nymph to take it.

Other times, especially in the lower pools of streams such as the Thredbo and the Eucumbene rivers during late April-May and again around August-September, you will find pods of fish still holding near redds as they prepare to spawn.

A well-placed Montana will often see a fish swing out and grab the nymph, more out of annoyance than hunger. The brighter colours help here.

In the lakes and impoundments around the rocky shores where rivers flow, use this fly in tandem with a streamer-type fly.

Fish often school up in these areas waiting for the first flush of fresh water before beginning their upstream journeys. Fishing the tandem rig deep using an aggressive strip-and-pause retrieve will often coax a response from these waiting fish.

For the streams, a 5wt to 6 wt outfit with a double-taper or weight-forward line is fine. If you want the extra depth, an intermediate leader can be attached.

Because the flies are a bit larger, a tippet of 2kg to 3kg is fine and will see you through with any larger fish.

In the impoundments, a larger outfit can be used; around a 6wt or 7wt is OK because you want the extra strength to handle a full-sink or intermediate line which will get your flies down to where the fish are holding.

Tippets again can be larger, 3kg to 4kg, because some really big specimens can be encountered.



HOOK:Mustad R72 #12 LS nymph
THREAD:Black 6/- pre-waxed
BODY:Black estaz or cactus chenille
TAIL:Black marabou
THORAX:Pink estaz or cactus chenille
HACKLE:Black cock hackle


Place the hook in the vice and then take some lead wire, medium to heavy gauge. Make about 6-8 turns of the lead where the thorax will be, as shown. Secure the lead in place with a few drops of superglue, then wind the thread over the top and take to the hook bend.


Tie in a bunch of black marabou and a section of fine black estaz or cactus chenille. Then take the thread to the rear of the lead as shown.


Wind the body on, forming a narrow taper, leaving the tag end of the chenille attached, and then tie in a medium to large section of pink estaz or cactus chenille, followed by the black hackle.


Wind on the chenille for the thorax, brushing the fibres back as you take each turn.


Now wind the hackle on, 2-3 turns is sufficient. Follow this by pulling the remaining tag end of the black chenille over as a wing case. Tie the lot off, form a head and add a drop of superglue or head cement to secure the lot in place.

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