John Sindland is a 14 year veteran guide on the Bighorn River. His infectious love of fly fishing, technical efficiency on the water and unique charisma make him one of the most requested guides on the Bighorn. John works for the Bighorn Angler and is an ambassador for Simms Fishing Products and Hatch Reels.
What is the benefit to guiding on the Bighorn River and what makes it a great fishery?
First off it is a great river for so many reasons! What makes it so great is its consistency. Year after year it produces great fishing. Some years may be better than others due to the result of stream flows and the size of the fish the river produces each year. That being said, it still produces great fishing and it produces a variety of fishing throughout the seasons. Dry flies, nymphs and streamers all come into play throughout the year. There is also no other river that gives you the mix of wade fishing and boat fishing opportunity. To me that is the definition of a great fishery.
What are the most significant changes you have seen to the Bighorn over the years?
It is hard to believe it is going on 25 years, boy does time fly. Angling pressure, drought years, and the high water years. The reality is I have changed more than the river has. The river just like life has cycles some we enjoy more than others. The fishing as whole is still really good and has been good every year I have been here. I think as a whole the expectations of the fishing community need to change with the times. People forget even though the Bighorn is a tailwater river and more consistent that most rivers, the fishery is still at the mercy of Mother Nature and mankind.
Light, current and wind all being equal, what is your favorite position for fishing to a pod of rising fish?
If I am fishing to a pod of rising fish in a run or riffle I prefer to use an upstream approach. I find I can get pretty close to the fish when approaching from behind. If I am stalking larger single fish in flat water I lean more towards down or down and across so I don’t line the fish.
How much should angler know about entomology?
It is great to know as much as you can about the insects hatching when you are fishing a particular river at a certain time of the year. At the same time you don’t need to know their latin names either. One should have a basic understanding of the Midge, Mayfly and Caddis life cycles when fishing the Bighorn and understand why certain fly patterns work well at imitating a particular stage so you can make an educated fly pattern selection.
What is an ideal flow for the Bighorn River and why?
My personal choice for flows would be a minimum of 2500 cfs to a maximum of 5000 cfs. With that being said I have seen the Bighorn fish great anywhere from 1400 cfs to 15,000 cfs. From 2500 cfs to 5000 cfs the water tends to be colder and the wading spots in both the side channels and the main river more numerous. If it is less than that you lose the ability to fish many of the side channels effectively and more than that you lose wading spots in the main river.
Guiding someone completely new to the sport of fly-fishing, how do you prepare them for the day?
I break out the dog training collars!!! Bad joke. I tell them to relax and have fun. We will have fun. They need to have realistic expectations. Most of all relax and accept what the river gives them and enjoy the day on the water. The Bighorn is an incredibly friendly river to beginners and I believe they will be pleasantly surprised at how well they do on their first trip with a good guide.
Why should someone hire a guide on the Bighorn?
They can hire a guide for several reasons. Maybe it is your first time fishing the river – hiring a guide can be a great way to learn the rivers nuances very quickly. Also if you are looking to work on your techniques – dry fly fishing, sight nymphing or learning to throw streamers for the first time a good guide is a great coach and can help you improve all aspects of your game.
What’s your favorite dry fly hatch/season on the bighorn?
Whatever hatch is happening at the time, I love fishing to rising trout. That’s like asking me what my favorite english shotgun is. I like shooting them all. Bwo’s and midges in the spring. Pmd’s, yellow Sally’s, Black and Tan caddis, Trico’s thru the summer months and in to the fall. When you subscribe to the church of the dry fly, all hatches are equal in my eyes. The sight of a rising trout never gets old. That question is not fair.
What is some of your favorite gear on the market today?
As a Simms Ambassador I love all the gear Simms Fishing Products has to offer. They make the best line of apparel and waders for fly fisherman on the market. The new G4 Pro Jacket, the Kinetic Jacket, G3 Waders and Headwaters Hip Pack are a few of my favorites.
I love my Hatch Reels. WhetherI am fishing trout or bonefish the Finatic does the job. It is Made in the USA, extremely durable, the drag is flawless and they look great. When you step in my boat I always have a Hatch for my clients to use.
I have always liked Winston and Sage rods across the board. They seem to lead the way in innovation year after year and produce a high quality product. Over the years I have switched over to the faster rods. If I had to pick a rod I am into right now I would say the Sage one 490 for fishing dry flies on larger rivers such as the Bighorn and the Henry’s Fork.
Three must have patterns for the Bighorn and why?
Crippled Thor, Student Fly and the grey Ray. I feel with the Thor and the Student they are my go to dries. Day after day they are consistently good and the fish respond to them well when presented properly. The grey Ray Charles or all day Ray need I say more. This nymph catches trout 365 days a year on the ‘horn.
This post was written by Bighornangler