Top Five Flies: Outside Bozeman Magazine by Jimmy Armijo-Grover December 01 2017

Bloom’s Parachute Caddis

 If I had to pick one caddis dry pattern to fish with for the rest of my life this would be it. It sits low, floats well, and is highly visible. This fly is a machine on the Gallatin in summer, especially because the tan version doubles as a killer spruce moth imitation and can hold up almost any dropper. Available in sizes 12-18.


Lightning Bug


This is a tough pattern to justify. It’s super flashy, it is tied in all the colors of the rainbow, and to the human eye it doesn’t imitate anything. But it’s a fish catching machine. A must have if you’re nymphing the Madison River. Best size range is 14-18 and my top three colors are silver, pearl and purple.


Wilcox’s Little Green Machine


The Green Machine loosely resembles mayfly nymphs, caddis and midge larvae, which is probably the reason it’s so effective. In order of preference it is available in the following colors: pheasant tail, gray and chartreuse, and is tied in sizes 16-20. It is a great pattern in all of our rivers, but it really shines in both the Missouri and Madison Rivers where there is a high density of insects of insects that are imitated well by this pattern.




This is a hugely underrated classic. When you see a Zonker there is no question that it looks like a small fish. And what eats small fish? Big fish. The design of this fly is a great combination that allows it to be stripped, dead-drifted and swung, and because the hook rides up you’re less likely to get hung up on the bottom. Tied in a wide variety of colors and sizes, but the natural/pearl and tan/copper combinations tend to be the most reliable in sizes 8 and 10. Can be fished anywhere, but a great swinging pattern on the Madison.


Royal Wulff Cripple


It’s pretty hard to improve upon a classic, such as the Royal Wulff, but it has been done. Like the Lightning Bug it doesn’t imitate anything especially well, but fish eat it. A must have dry for the Yellowstone River or on your favorite little creek. Best in sizes 14-18.



Jimmy Armijo-Grover is the general manager of Gallatin River Guides in Big Sky and has been obsessed with fly tying and fly fishing since the age of 10.