March madness is definitely on with local fly tiers here in Missoula. That grand time of year when fur and feathers are flying around dusted off vises, guides are scrambling to fill long-neglected boxes and the memories of skwala fishing from last season are inspiring gaudy creations filled with enthusiasm and hope, and not so much common sense. This time of year, fly shop rats are so sick of hearing the word “skwala”that they might actually get some of their college homework done, but there’s always a vise handy in a fly shop, so it’s just as likely that they’re churning out bugs with big wings, rubber legs, and more synthetic add-ons than an episode of “Pimp My Ride.” We’re all guilty of it this time of year. And with good reason- the Bitterroot river produces one of the most consistent olive stonefly hatches in the nation.
If you’ve been cutting foam and fighting rubber legs and size 8 hooks, it might be time for a challenge of a different kind. Going small is just the ticket to not only improve your tying skills but fill boxes with flies for those tough days. This great tutorial from Tightline Media will set you on the path to tying small with style. Small, unweighted nymphs plain work on picky trout, and tying a fly the size of a grain of rice properly can give you a big sense of accomplishment. Try this Micro Pheasant Tail Nymph out for size, and have an answer for those skinny water lurkers.