Dry Fly Tactics for Spring: Part Deux

By now, if you’ve taken all the advice contained in part one of “Dry Fly Tactics for Spring,” you’re an accomplished angler, admired by all of your colleagues. Or you’re broke. Some of the tackle I suggested is expensive.

Let me expand a bit on fly rods. I like four and five-weight fly rods, but I don’t like wimpy four weights. Case in point: one of my clients had an 8’ 4 weight rod that was a “nice little rod.” I won’t mention the brand, but the rod was better suited for a small, mountain meadow stream. I’m not saying the mountain has to be small, I’m saying the stream on the mountain … ah, you know what I mean. Anyway, the client was not the most accomplished caster, and he was up against a brisk head wind as he was trying to turn over his leader and put the #20 Baetis imitation over a group of shallow-water trout. I mention the shallow water because these fish could not be approached closely. Granted, a casting Jedi could have gotten the job done with his little rod, but there aren’t many Jedis around anymore.

So for the Bighorn River, have a dry fly rod that can get it done when the wind is blowing. And remember that the Bighorn is a large river. You don’t always need to cast a long line, but there are times you do. In the flat above the mouth of Duck Blind Channel the water is slick with slow to medium current speed. The fish see a lot of flies. They get very sensitive to the approach of a wading angler, and to the flash of a fly line. The solution is to stay back and fish a longer line. But you need to be able to do it, and you need the tools to do it.

Recommended Bighorn River Dry Fly Rods (aka “The Terrific Trio”). If you can’t get it done with these rods, it’s your fault:

1. C.F. Burkheimer 490-4, 9’ 4 wt.
comments: “Yeah, baby!” I realize that’s not real technical, but come and cast it.

2. Winston Boron III X, 9’ 4 wt.
comments: Hard to find anything wrong with this rod.

3. G. Loomis NRX Lite Presentation, 9’ 5 wt.
comments: Yes, get this rod in a 5 wt.. The 4 is great, but the 5 is more versatile when conditions get ugly. Smooth, sweet action.

Maybe you’ve figured out that I like 9’ rods for the Bighorn River.


TroutHunter’s Finesse Leader is great for dry fly fishing. I like the 9’ length, but the 12 footer is great as well. These leaders are designed with a thinner, longer butt section, plus a longer tippet.

Cutthroat Leader Company makes some great products. Their 76” Camo “Ultimate Dry Fly Furled Leader turns over very well and they have no memory. They are especially useful in situations where the drift is difficult, or aquatic grass is creating swirling microcurrents. These ultra-flexible, furled leaders tend to adjust to the situation while minimizing drag on the fly. Add about 4’ of tippet to the furled section and have some fun. I’ll write more about this product at a later time.