Bighorn River Report: Dry Fly Opportunities!

It may be hard for some people to believe, since the water level is 10,900 cfs, but the dry fly fishing has been very good for over a fortnight (just showing the Brits that they’re not the only ones who can use that word.) Two days ago I guided a couple of gentlemen from back east, and we were able to dry fly fish pretty much all day. There was a short time in the afternoon when we drifted nymphs from the boat because we needed to make our way downriver, but there were surface-feeding trout to throw to all day. A great PMD emergence began around 9:00 AM, and the Yellow Sallies began coming off a couple of hours later. Black caddis started to appear around 3:00 PM.

Regarding PMDs, I’ve been throwing a Parachute pattern on my “up fly,” and hanging a PMD Student (bottom left) below it. The picky fish tend to eat the Student, since it looks like a tipped-over, stillborn dun. In the fast, choppy water trout often favor the Parachute. At other times, I drop a PMD nymph pattern below the parachute. The lighter pattern (upper right) works well when the fish are feeding near the surface; it seems the trout view it as an emerging dun. I tend to fish the darker pattern deep, on a conventional nymph rig with strike indicator, but this fly can work well near the surface also.

The PMD hatch is going strong and should hang around into August. The Bighorn has some of the best dry fly fishing in Montana right now.