Fly Shop

Bighorn River Fly Fishing

The Bighorn River is a tailwater fishery that consists of near perfect trout habitat.  Optimal water conditions created by Yellowtail dam and Bighorn Lake provide anglers with exceptional angling opportunity throughout the year. These cold, clear nutrient rich flows being released from the bottom of the dam produce a thriving biomass of insects and crustaceans that allow Rainbow and Brown trout to grow to above average size, while being found in an incredible abundance.  This unique trout habitat provides anglers with an exceptional mix of dry fly, nymph and streamer fishing, nearly year round.


SPRING (Late March – Late May) – Low flows and gin clear water.  Abundant Midge and Baetis Hatches.  Excellent Nymphing with Sowbugs, Scuds and Midges.  Streamer activity can be somewhat inconsistent as water temps are generally at their lowest ranges of the year.

SUMMER – (June – Late August) – If higher flows occur, it’s usually in late May – early July.  The river is fishable the entire time.  Peak nymphing with Worms and Sowbugs.  Streamer fishing is excellent as well.  July brings on the best and most consistent dry fly fishing of the year starting with PMD’s, Black Caddis, Tan Caddis, Tricos and excellent Hopper fishing.

FALL – (September – Early November) – Great technical dry fly fishing with Tricos and Psuedos.  Terrestrial opportunities as well.  This can be the time of year where there is some ‘vegetation’ in the water from summer grass growth.  The traffic is gone by Mid October and weather is generally very comfortable.

WINTER – (November – February) – The ‘Sleeper’ season of the Bighorn, although more folks are taking advantage of it.  Excellent Baetis hatches in November and Streamer fishing is at its peak.  Plenty of good weather throughout this season!


Trout – 70% Brown Trout and 30% Rainbow Trout with trout averaging 15” – 17”. With fish upwards of 24″.

Access/Stretches – Afterbay, 3 Mile and Bighorn Access sites provide excellent access for both wade and float anglers.

Best Hatches – Midges, Blue Winged Olives, Black Caddis and Tricos

Equipment – 8’6” or 9′ 4 weight for match the hatch dry fly fishing. 9’6” 6 weight or 10’ 4 weight for nymph fishing. 9’ 6 weight for streamers and hopper fishing. Anglers should carry tippet and leader material in sizes 3X – 6X for nymph and streamer fishing.

Closest Airport – Billings International Airport

For an in depth look at the Fly Fishing the Bighorn River, view our Slideshow – HERE!!!!!!!

Bighorn Angler Fly Shop

Located in the heart of Fort Smith, Montana, the Bighorn Angler is a fully stocked year round fly shop, offering the traveling angler everything they need to maximize their trip to the Bighorn River.  Customer service and expert information are the cornerstone of our business.  From fly pattern selection, fishing techniques or river information our friendly and courteous staff is here to ensure you have the best fishing trip possible. Hours: Open daily 7 am – 7 pm


We offer a fast and reliable shuttle service for your vehicle while you float the river.

Afterbay – 3 Mile Access…………………………………………………$20.00

Afterbay or 3 Mile Access to Bighorn Access……………………..$25.00

Bighorn to Mallards Access……………………………………………$40.00

Mallard’s – Two Leggins…………………………………………………….$50.00



The Bighorn Angler serves breakfast and dinner daily by reservation only for our guests.  The Yellowtail Market is also next to our fly shop.  They have a very basic assortment of boxed, canned and frozen food.


The Bighorn River flows through the Crow Indian Reservation, where the sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.  Alcoholic beverages should be purchased in Hardin or Billings prior to your arrival.


If you do not want to rent a car, Big Sky Shuttle Service provides a shuttle between Billings and Fort Smith.  This a popular option since there is really no need for a car in Fort Smith. Prices for this service is $2/per mile and $5 per person. Figure about 90 miles each way. 406.254.2900