It’s a rare day of the year when you can’t hook up on the Little Red. Winter and early spring typically bring high water so a boat is the way to go. If you are not familiar with boat operation in swift moving water we recommend that you consider using one of the superb local guides who will be suitably equipped.
For high water we like streamer technique—a mid-to-heavy rod, something like a 6 or 7 weight, fast action with a full sink or mini-sink tip. Short, stout leaders, 20” of 20# test fluorocarbon for the butt and 20” of 12# for the tip. There are many, many great streamer patterns that work on the Little Red. Kelly Galloup’s Circus Peanut, Peanut Envy, Butt Monkey and Barely Legal are all effective in olive, root beer and black. A weighted woolly bugger in olive or black with a tungsten cone head and a little flash is always a good choice. Hammer the banks, give it a few strips, pick up and cast again—big browns love/hate these things!
As the water settles down, watch for some big caddis hatches including the famous Mother’s Day green caddis hatch. Green bodied elk hair caddis patterns in sizes 14-18 can produce classic days of dry fly fishing. Light rods, full floating lines, long (pref. Nylon for dry flies) leaders in 5-6X are the ticket.
So much is written about nymphing on the Little Red that we’ll keep this simple—always have a dedicated box of sowbugs, scuds, pheasant tails and hare’s ears in your bag of tricks. There are a lot of great nymph patterns but on any given day, one of the aforementioned is likely to be “the fly”.