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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Born and raised on the southside, fished all over the midwest, veteran of northern wisc... (spin fishing)

I relocated to NW Montana years ago and promptly began fly fishing in this trout laden paradise...

I will be returning to fish the Eagle River area, Sugar Camp Chain, 2nd week of June, and having never fly fished these waters, I wonder about good patterns for panfish and for musky.

Any help would be appreciated, and would love to help anyone coming to fish/hunt in Montana.

I would like to tie up some big "junk" patterns for musky, perhaps entice a follower with the fly-rod, so I presume big streamers, poppers, and baitfish patterns are the way to go, but hopefully someone out there can offer some reccommendations.

Also would like to get into some panfish on the fly, any suggestions?

thanks
 

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Panfish will hit just about anything small.
Most of your stream trout ones will work.
Black knats, adams, anything small and little fuzzy, twitched on the surface around them, they'll hit.

Never threw a fly for muskies but presume they'd be like pike.
I've caught pike on the types you suggested.
 

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Muskies will blast a big streamer no questions asked. Sight fish in the spring with big bunny strips and you will be suprised.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
thanks,

I will certainly bring a few big, gaudy, bunny leech patterns, as they are my top pike producing flies, a big red trailer hook sure helps hook fish with this pattern.

I can almost smell the crappie and bluegill frying in the pan, it makes sense that they would eat small buggy looking flies.

I think i may have developed a technique to catch walleyes on the fly, I've been catching a lot of lake trout and bull trout with this technique, and I think it will translate well for walleye fishing.

I can't wait, I just got my plane ticket, it was spendy, but it's non-stop to Ohare, which is unheard of from my neck of the woods, usually I have to make a couple connections. I know it's not a waste of money because it's tough to beat a family vacation in the Northwoods. Although, I leave for Belize on Friday...

I will give a run-down on fishing Belize upon my return.

Fishing is insane in NW Montana right now, March & April are the best months, lakes will ice out here by early April, rivers are usually fishable year round. Ice out is nuts, it's almost not fair.
 

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big dahlgerg divers are supposed to work great also. Have'nt hooked into one on the fly yet but when it happens, its going to be on e heck of a ride.
 

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Regular readers of this forum know I am a big fan of the "popper and dropper" combination for bass and panfish. I have caught hundreds on this since moving to Illinois in 2001. I moved from New Hampshire where I was a devoted trout fisherman and learned I had to adapt to what was here. I still travel to trout water a few times each year but for everyday fishing go after what's available.

Put a large weedless popper on the end of a tapered bass leader. Tie a small weighted nymph like a copper john or a smaller wooly bugger to the bend in the popper hook so that it trails about 18 inches to two feet below the popper. I prefer using 4lb tippet material for this although bass and panfish don't seem to be very leader shy. I like black or dark green or brown for the dropper, perhaps with a little crystal flash or a splash of red but that's more preference than science. I have no idea what panfish and bass are looking for.It's possible the dropper looks like a little predator following the popper above and makes for an easy snack.

Cast this heavy, double mess out near weed beds or into holes in weed beds. Let the water settle from the initial splash. This gives the dropper time to drop. Make sure the popper is large enough so that the dropper doesn't sink it because the floating, splashing popper acts both as an attractant and as a strike indicator.

When the dropper is down, start splashing the popper with short, jerky stripping moves, no more than a few inches at a time. Sometimes you will get big bass to hit the popper and other times bluegills or crappie will hit the dropper. Sometimes it works in reverse and a big bass will suck in the dropper or a 'gill will attack the popper, either way it is fun. Once in a while you get lucky and get two on at a time. That's a real trip.

I fish Independence Grove in Libertyville, Grass Lake on the Chain and any retention pond that isn't fenced off or guarded. This combination produces more fish for me than anything else I've tried. I learned it from an old fishing guide who claimed it is so good it should be illegal. Don't know about the legal part but it seems to work consistently in all weather and light conditions if you can keep the dropper out of the weeds.

The only drawback I've found is that it is a pain to tie up if your fingers are as stiff and clumsy as mine. Once you get it in the water I can almost guarantee you'll get strikes.

Good luck, post your results here if you have any luck.
 

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Wooly bugger,

Loved to fly fish IG from a kayak when I lived up Norh. However, I would eliminate the popper because I could do some slow trolling along the shoreline as well when I'm moving from spot to spot (on the outer edges of the lily pads and weeds). I think I must be the laziest fly fisher, three of my go to methods (trolling from a boat, strolling trolling the shoreline up stream during high water for smallies, and wading downstream with a woolly bugger just drifting for mid stream trout), don't even involve casting. But you can cover significantly more water.
 

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Hi, lakas

I have become pretty lazy too as I get older and my arthritis makes things a little stiffer and slower. I have used the strolling and trolling technique myself and caught two of the biggest largemouths I've ever hooked that way within a couple feet of shore. One at IG and one at a local retention pond. Each time it felt like I'd snagged a rock or log and then the rock swam away. Great fun.

I have switched to the double lure method most of the time because it consistently catches more fish for me. I have stripped clousers and dahlbergs and other popular flies thru miles of water with less success. The wooly bugger is my most consistent winner. When I go for trout I still use a variant of the double rig. I put a big floating deer hair monstrosity at the end of the leader and trail a nymph far enough below it to skim the bottom as it drifts downstream. Usually the nymph gets the action but every now and then a hungry one hits that floating fur ball and makes my day.

Don't get to IG as often as before since I moved out of Lake County. Now I have to pay a fee to get in but it's still worth it. There you are in the heart of Libertyville but it feels like a Minnesota lake. Lately I've been playing along the banks of Nippersink creek in my hometown of Spring Grove with little success but it's still a neat getaway.

This winter has lasted too long and I'm really antsy to get out. Maybe this weekend ... ?

Tight lines.
 

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panfish fly patterns

Some of the most consistent bluegill fly patterns I've used have been ants and rubber spiders. The McMurry ant in black or red is amazing but other ants work well too. The best rubber spider pattern I've used is a green rubber body with thin white rubber legs. Sometimes a white body or black body rubber spider works well too.

A small white or yellow popper will usually work well, better than other colors. If the popper has rubber legs and you move it in intermittent twitches so the legs appear to kick, the strike by a big bluegill can rival that of a bass.

When the panfish are not hitting surface flies, I go to a weighted wet fly and have great success with patterns that use yellow. My favorite is a wet fly pattern that has a yellow egg sack of chenille at the end of the body. I've caught 30 bluegills in 30 minutes with this one.

Mel
 
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