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Here is a list of our top ten favorite nymphs to have in your box when making a trip to Craig. There are many other patterns what will work an any given day, but these are the ten staples that will work almost year round.

10. Firebead Soft Hackle Sow Bug #16- One of the hottest flies in the spring, this fly will also work throughout the summer.

9. Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear #18- Not really a fly that people talk about much around here. This fly works well to imitate a small mayfly and the shaggy dubbing can also be a little scud like. Ones that are tied a little skinny seem to pick up a few more fish.

8. Love Bug #20- A little like a midge pupa, a little like a mayfly. This is a good one to drop off the back of a larger bug in a two fly nymph rig.

7. Lightning Bug #18- A local favorite, this one comes in four different colors. Pink, purple, silver, and gold. They all work well, we really like the pink one because it can be a scud or mayfly.

6. Zebra Midge #20- A great fly year around. The midges are always here, always hatching. Try any color body or ribbing. We really like black and red ones.

5.  Czech Nymph #16- There are so manny different color combinations to consider. They all seem work. This fly can make a good scud, but also works well during Caddis hatches as a pupa. Not to mention this fly just looks buggy. Its really good.

4. RS2 #18- Good as an emerger or fished deep. This nymph is a really great all around fly.

3. Pat’s Rubber Legs #8- Just kidding, this isn’t a staple here on The MO. We don’t really have many big stoneflies in the river, it’s a tailwater. However, there are always a few guys every year that come out from freestone rivers that catch a few on this fly…makes me wonder.

2. The Worm #6- The worm always works, year round they are here. We really like them in high water or after a big rain storm. San Juans, Wire Worms, and the Heavy Wire Worm are all good.

1. Flashback Pheasant Tail #18- The all around best fly for The MO. It works all year long. In fact most flies that are used on this river are based off the profile of this fly. It works good as a dropper off a dry or fished deep with some split shot. If you ask most guides what they would pick as the only fly they could use on this river it would be the Flashback PT.

If your interested in tying some of these bugs up for your next adventure on The Missouri River, check out the fly tying room on our webpage. There are some good recipes and tutorials for a few of these flies as well as many other good patterns for the river.

5 Responses to Top Ten Missouri River Nymphs
  1. Nice work at The Current Seam. Thanks for deciding to follow Rivertop Rambles!

  2. I like this list. Though I have fished the west, I’ve never wet a line in the Missouri. In particular I wish to comment on No. 10, the Firebead Soft-hackle Sow Bug. Despite my passion for traditional wet flies, streamers, and drys, I am also a nymph fisher. I never heard of this pattern or saw it until reading this post, but what I want to say is this: That pattern can’t possibly be an actual imitation of a sow bug, but yet, it has the bead for attractiveness or “bling,” and a soft-hackle for life-like movement. What I really want to get across is the fact that trout often respond to patterns like this that look like food, even if it does not “imitate” food. I bet that fly would work here (in Pennsylvania) on Spring Creek and Penn’s Creek. Thanks for this list, and thank you for your like of my Bergman Fontinalis post on my blog. Cheers!

    • Don, I 100% agree with your thoughts on the Fire Bead Soft Hackle Sow Bug. It’s not really an exact replication, but rather just a buggy looking fly that may mimic anything. We fish a lot of different fire bead patterns in the spring and they do really well. I can’t say exactly what the fire bead does to make it catch more fish, but it seems to work. I think the concept is a spin off the original Ray Charles pattern that became very popular on Montana’s Big Horn River. The Ray Charles uses orange thread so the finished head has the same effect as a orange bead. I really appreciate the thoughtful insight on this fly and trout behavior. It’s great to see someone very interested in fly design! For more thought on the whole fire bead pattern check out this link to Charlie Craven’s Soft Hackle Sow Bug…

  3. […] what flies might be good to have around for the summer take a look at this older post about our favorite nymphs. Or if you want to tie up some dries check out this post about our favorite […]


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