McKenzie and Willamette River Spring Fly Selection

mckenzie river redside

Our local rivers are still swollen, but they are clear and in shape to fish. The lower McKenzie and Willamette Rivers are seriously rested folks, and despite the current outgoing “smolt-fest”, and blizzard Grannom Caddis emergence, there is some good fishing to be had.

Here are some of the best flies to have when you venture out on the lower McKenzie, lower Willamette or Middle Fork of the Willamette Rivers this Spring.


The Double Bead Poxy Backed Peacock Nymph in sizes #4-8 . A great nymph to use when fishing a two fly rig. Tie a smaller nymph off the eye or bend of the Double Bead Peacock and you will get down in a hurry. We run between 4-8 feet of tippet off of a Thingamabobber when fishing the double nymph set up during high Spring flows.

wild trout on the mckenzie river


Tungsten Poxy Backed Stone. Another heavy but slender nymph built to get to the bottom fast. This time of year both Golden and Salmon Fly Nymphs are moving about on the bottom of the river. When high water is the norm trout get after these large nymphs rolling along the bottom. The Tungsten Poxy Back is another great “tool” fly for a two fly rig.


Sexstone Nymph. The Sexstone Nymph is rather simple looking but it’s simplicity lies in two very proven materials. A peacock body and rubber legs, what more does a fly really need? Another heavy nymph that works well when the water is up. Use it with a Mega Prince for two large flies to fish off of riffle drop off’s in the Spring.


No doubt the Mega Prince has reached “Hall of Fame” status along with the Possie Bugger. The Mega Prince has truly shined the past couple of high water Springs. It will fish deep, in tandom, or swung. Simply one of the best things you can tie on in the Spring.


Bead Head Rubber Legged Kaufman Stone
. These are like small spark plugs, when you want to go deep and stay deep tie on one of these babies. Hard hat optional. Excellent for fishing super fast water that you really didn’t think could possibly hold fish. Also great to help get any other nymph deep.


Bead Head Pheasant Tail. A solid choice in sizes #12-18 in the Spring. March Brown, Blue Winged Olive and other Mayfly nymphs are well imitated by the Pheasant Tail. Often not enough all by itself, we normally run it off the end of one of the aforementioned nymphs under and indicator for a two fly rig.


Bead Head Hungarian Caddis Pupae. The Hungarian Caddis Pupae is another great dropper pattern. It will swing well, fish off of a larger dry, or deep along the bottom with a heavy nymph. When there are a ton of Grannom Caddis around the Hungarian Caddis Pupae is well worth trying in Tan or Green.


Bead Head March Brown Emerger
. In high water you often need a fly that will cut through a bit, and stay down in some of the faster tail-outs and runs. The Bead Head Emerger fishes very well swung, all alone, or with a Mega Prince 4-6 feet up a dropper along with it.


Silvey’s Bead Head March Brown Emerger. Another great swing fly before, during, and after the March Brown hatch.


March Brown Soft Hackle. A great fly to swing, fish in the film, dead drift or hang off of a dry. The simple Hare’s Ear dubbed body, wire rib and Partridge hackle have been getting it done for years.


Partridge and Pheasant Bead Head Soft Hackle
. Now this one really gets down past the film, and fishes on the swing well. When we want to fish a slighter fly on the end and still have a little weight above, we use the Partridge and Pheasant up on the leader and the Soft Hackle March Brown on the point for an excellent two fly “rising” swing.


The old Royal Coachman Wet hair wing is a Cutthroat killer on the lower McKenzie in the Spring. Another great fly to swing and twitch along the surface.


Parachute March Brown. This Parachute pattern has a lighter colored body, floats just right, and is visible. March Brown’s adults have been hatching daily, although caddis have outnumbered them the past few warm days.


Sparkle Dun March Brown. The trailing z-lon or antron shuck on this pattern and the large wing silhouette have made it a favorite for years. A good floater in riffles and flats.


Western March Brown. When you want your adult March Brown Pattern to really float high through the riffles use the Western imitation. It has enough hackle to float through the roughest of water.


The Peacock Caddis
in sizes #16-18 does a fine job of imitating the Grannom Caddis adults that are thick on warmer days on the McKenzie lately. Look for consistent feeders along current edges and banks, the Peacock Caddis is a great all around caddis pattern.


The March Brown Heavy Hackle will float hi and dry. It has enough hackle around the parachute to allow you to fish a small nymph under it, or and emerger behind it. The quill body is slender and realistic, we like this one in fast water.


Parachute Purple Rooster. Not sure what fish see in Purple but they like it. This pattern is surprisingly effective, give it a shot during any hatch.


Carlson’s Copper Haze is a new parachute pattern for us but it has the slender body and copper color that March Brown spinners have. Give it a shot in the evening and later in the hatch.


Parachute Slick Water Caddis. Another excellent caddis pattern in small sizes during the early season blizzard of caddis on the McKenzie and Willamette.


Hogan’s Yuba River Caddis Emerger sits down in the film enough to entice the pickiest of fish, yet it float high enough so you can still see it. A good caddis pattern all year locally and mid-summer on the Deschutes.

Have fun out there!


lower mckenzie rainbow

This entry was posted in Fishing Reports, Lower Willamette, McKenzie River, Middle Fork Willamette River fishing, Proven Spring Fly Patterns. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to McKenzie and Willamette River Spring Fly Selection

  1. D.L. says:

    Thanks, been waiting for a posting like this for a while, can you do one for summer steelhead?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *