Russ Symons ties a Mini Montana
IFIRST tied this fly several decades ago on the premise that it would be about the same size as a Buzzer, but with the colours and basic form of the Montana, which was one of the most successful flies of that time, at least on my patch. Mind you, the Buzzers of that time were not nearly so sophisticated as they are today, but fished in the same manner as a Buzzer, the Mini Montana worked then and it still works ever so well today.
It is particularly successful on those days when you can’t make your mind up what is happening and you puzzle about what fly should be on your leader. My small water prospecting rig for those occasions is often a Beadhead Damsel on the point and either a Buzzer or the Mini Montana on the dropper.
This year, for some reason or other, the Mini Montana has done well for me, fished off a short sink-tip line and figure-of-eighted three or four feet under the surface. Honours are about even with the Damsel. It also seems to pick up fish ‘on the drop’. So, casting out I pull in a yard fairly soon after the line has settled on the water so that the leader is reasonably straight. Then I wait, hardly moving the line at all as it settles in the water. After a while, often more than a minute, I then figure-of-eight the line for a few moments and then wait again. Often the pull will come just as you have moved the line. I reckon the fish has been watching the fly, wondering what the heck it is and at the first sign of movement its curiosity gets the better of it and off to the dance we go!
This is a style of fishing which many of today’s anglers seem to have a problem with. So often ‘pulling’ is the only tactic which is in their armoury. This season in particular I have fished alongside anglers who only fish a floating line – I am sure that’s the only line that some of them have got – while pulling fluffy marabou beadhead flies for all they are worth. At the end of the day they are disgruntled to have only caught one fish! The problem is that the fish have been at mid-water or deeper and all these pulled flies have been
“If the Mini Montana on the dropper is taking fish, put another one on the point and see what happens.”
whizzing over the top of them. Very occasionally a fish will come up in the water and have a snap at the fly and that is the angler’s one fish for the day. I cheerfully confess that over a lot of years I have learned a lot from watching anglers more successful than myself. What line are they using, how fast, or slow, are they retrieving. Is the fly a big one or a small one? Sometimes I even walked along the bank and politely asked what fly they were using. I met a couple of long-time friends this way.
Flyfishing is a funny sport, some anglers will respond with a meaningful conversation, others will take the hump and grizzle at you. But at the end of the day, it’s worth remembering that you can learn a lot from just watching.
When fishing the Mini Montana from the bank my first choice of set-up would be a midge-tip floating line or a sink-tip with a short sinking length, maybe one of those lines with a seven-foot sinking tip. Rig a fairly steep tapered nine-foot leader with a leader ring at the end. Then attach a five or six-foot length of fluorocarbon, say 5 to 7lb breaking strain to the point fly of choice, often a beadhead pattern, or a well weighted fly to pull the leader down in the water. Then rig a short six-inch dropper off the leader ring for the Mini Montana.
If you find, as has happened to me twice this year, that the Mini Montana is taking the fish, then put another one on the point and see what happens. This is a good little fly... enjoy!
A nice rainbow caught on the Mini Montana.
Dr Charles Reaves plays a nice fish to the net.