Essential Gear for Floating the Madison River

This is a list of basic equipment you may want for a day of floating or wading the Madison River.  On our guided trips we can provide all of the gear you will need. We also have plenty of Rod & Reel outfits in all Trout weights available for rent.

Madison River Flies

  • Rods: 5 and 6 weight are the most common, but some circumstances are better suited to a 4wt or a 7wt.
  • Leaders: assortment from 7.5 ft. to 9 ft. and from 0x to 4x. You will rarely need 5x. 
  • Rainwear
  • Waders and wading boots, or wading sandals. Teva and Chacos are ok, but don't provide great traction in rivers like the Madison River.  Felt soles are still legal in Montana and encouraged for wading the upper Madison. Just be sure to clean and inspect prior to use.
  • Polarized Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Plenty of warm clothes for layering including hat and gloves 
  • Camera
  • Montana Fishing License

We carry a wide variety of all the items listed here at our online store or swing into the shop before your trip!

Fly patterns will vary greatly throughout the year, and from one river to the next.  Your guides will know what is working where and you can always stop into the Trout Stalkers Fly Shop and stock up on the MVPs prior to your trip.  There are several standard patterns that any angler ought to have in his/her box when fly fishing for Trout in Southwest Montana.  Here is a partial list:


  • Parachute Adams #14-20
  • Royal Wulff #12-16
  • Stimulator #10-16Madison River Trout
  • Royal Trude #12--16
  • Elk Hair Caddis #12-18
  • Blue Wing Olive #16-22
  • Pale Morning Dun #12-16
  • Griffiths Gnat #18-24


  • Pheasant Tail #12-22
  • Hare's Ear #10-20
  • Prince Nymph #12-16
  • Red Squirrel #12-16
  • Serendipity #12-18
  • George's Stone #6-10
  • Girdle Bugs #4-10
  • Psycho Prince #10-16
  • San Juan Worms #6-12
  • Scuds #12-20


  • Wooly Buggers #2-10 black, brown, olive, purple-all types
  • Zonker #2-6 Natural (pearl/copper) and olive
  • Sculpzilla #4-6
  • Trevor's Sculpin #4
  • Double Bunny #2-6
  • Sculpin Patterns #2-8