Bighorn River Dry Fly Fishing

Bighorn River Dry Fly Fishing

September 7, 2010 9:00 pm Published by

Bighorn River Dry Fly Fishing


The Bighorn River offers excellent opportunities for match the hatch dry fly fishing. The Bighorn’s unique spring creek characteristics demand the most from an angler when pursuing its trout with a dry fly.

The Approach

To me there is one element of dry fly fishing more important than any other: observation. Being able to determine what bugs are emerging, what stage of the emergence the trout are feeding on and how the trout are taking them is critical to your success on the Bighorn. Being patient and watching the water for different rise forms and trout behaviors will go a long way to your being

successful. Too many anglers rush into the water and start flock shooting at rising trout and wonder why they didn’t catch any fish. Every step of the dry fly approach should be a calculated one.

Pattern Selection

There are three keys to pattern selection: size, shape and color. If you adhere to these three characteristics you will be in the ball game. I tend to lean towards more subtle or sparse patterns on the Bighorn, to fool the most wary of trout.

The Presentation

One of the other most important elements to dry fly fishing is being able to present your fly from any casting position. Being able to present a fly straight down, straight up and across will never limit your ability to approach a rising trout. Regardless of which position you are approaching the rising trout from, I find that the reach cast is an indispensible tool for the fly angler. The reach cast allows you to place your fly in the trout’s feeding lane without placing your line over the fish. The reach cast in essence is a mend you do in the air before your line hits the water that angles the line away from your target while still placing your fly where it still needs to be.


Equipment & Rigging

When deciding upon a dry fly rod I look for two things: feel and accuracy.

A 4 weight rod in the 8’ – 9’ range is ideal for dry flies. If you have a calm day and you are fishing small flies, such as midges or tricos, a 3 weight can be an exciting way to fish. If you get a windy day or you are fishing large dries such as hoppers, you may want a rod with more backbone, such as a 5 weight.  When selecting a dry fly reel I look for a reel with a low start up inertia. Having as little of a hesitation as possible from your reel after you hook a Bighorn trout will help protect the fine tippets often needed when dry fly fishing.

I like to rig for dry flies with leaders in the 9’ – 12’ range.  If I am fishing a 5x tippet I like to use a 4x leader for better turnover. One thing you have to look out for when fishing larger dries is not using too light of a tippet, causing it to spin and kink up.

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