Spring Snows

Posted By on March 27, 2014

Many fisherman do not want to fish in the spring because of the weather, but this is a great time to fish.  I highly recommend everyone try fishing in an nice gently falling snow some time soon.  It is soothing and the fishing can be very good.


htc 563

htc 1966

Have fun.


Spring is here, at least at the lower elevations.

Posted By on March 25, 2014

If you are planning on venturing to the Bighorn Mountains this year, plan on a bit more water than you are used to fishing.  High water actually makes the fishing better, it also makes it a little harder.  More food, bigger hatches and healthier fish are what you can expect during high water.  If you don’t like to fish high water, you will have to wait until Mid to late July this season.  I can tell you this;  I’m not waiting until July, so I have gone out and learned how to fish these higher waters and learning the techniques to catch fish in the toughest conditions.  If you want to be great, you have to put in the time to develop all the skills and techniques.  Not just the easy skills and techniques.  I have guides that are willing to teach all year round, it is just that the clients don’t want to learn all year round.

We have great snow pack in all the drainage’s in the Bighorn Mountains this year, so along with our cool wet spring weather flooding is going to be an issue this year.  Most all of our water will end up in the Yellowstone, Missouri and Mississippi rivers systems.  I hope and prey for all who are in the way of these rivers.  If you are one of the people in these rivers ways, start preparing for the worst.  I hope I am wrong, I hope flooding will be minimal, but it is not looking good right now.  If you are not directly affected by the flooding, but flooding will be in your area, I recommend booking your vacation right now and getting away from it all.  In 2011 I warned many people of the flooding and few listened.  If you are heading fishing this spring, come check out our area and learn how to fish higher faster free stone waters.  You will become a much better fly fisherman fishing in high spring waters.  Fast spring waters make fishing seem like it is in slow motion the rest of the year.

Call us to book your spring fly fishing days from April through June.  Pack warm quick dry clothing and rain gear.   If you have not tried this type of fly fishing before, you have to come with the mind set of learning how to catch fish in fast off colored water.  If you focus is on fish numbers you will likely be disappointed, very disappointed, because you have little or no fast water skills.  It takes time on the water to be developed the essential skills needed to catch a lot of fish in these conditions.  Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of fish to catch, and the fish are feeding.  So why aren’t there many people catching fish this time of year?  Simply put; few have not figured out the proper skills and techniques of catching fish in these conditions.  You just have to learn the proper skills and techniques to catch fish in these conditions.  I get to teach only a few people each spring how to fish in these fast off colored spring waters because most people do not equate great fishing with having to learn how to catch fish in hard conditions.  I will say all the fisherman I have taught are much better fly fisherman now and they fish more because they catch more.

Unfortunately, most fly fishers don’t challenge themselves enough and their fish catching is limited to the easy summer fishing.  If you want to get away from the crowds, learn to fish in the spring and fall, and learn to fish mountain streams and creeks.  The best way to get away from crowds is to walk.  Walking is both great fun and great for your health.  Both spring and fall time frames for fishing have distinct skills sets that must be developed by the individual fly fisherman in order for the fly fisherman to catch the numbers of fish one would typically catch in the summer.  However;  once you develop these skills, you will likely catch more fish than you will in the summer months.  Yes, More…. and often bigger!

If you want to learn how to fly fish these “off seasons”, call us and book your learning trip today.  307-672-5866.

The weather and fishing are challenging, but anyone can learn how to do it if you take the time.

Enjoy your fishing.  I will be!!!


Get out of the boat and learn to fly fish!

Posted By on March 20, 2014

Get out of the boat and learn to fly fish!

Whoa there son….them there’s fightin’ words….

The following comments are not to enrage those that deeply love nymphing out of a boat or those who have reached a level of greatness at guiding out of a boat.  In fact; I do this same style of fly fishing myself because my clients demand it.  I am one of those guides who regularly take clients on float trips that want this exact type of fly fishing experience.  I am OK with that as a guide.  The float trip experience is extremely valuable in the development of every fly fisherman.

The problem with this style of fly fishing is that it gives a fly fisherman a false sense of skills and abilities.  And for some reason too many fly fisherman get pigeon holed into doing nothing else.  Too many fly fisherman fall to the lure of catching fish after fish after fish and not developing many other skills beyond basic nymphing.  When a fisherman stops learning and developing more skill sets, the fisherman gets sedentary and often becomes a one trick pony.  I have seen many fisherman catching lots of fish with confidence, but with no direction or purpose as to why they are catching so many fish.  When you have only one skill set, the purpose of fly fishing becomes deluded and gets lost and twisted in to a misconstrued equation of numbers of fish equaling skill and fun.  What?  This floating and nymphing aspect of fly fishing is a very small part of what fly fishing is in reality.

Let me explain, most fly fisherman get into fly fishing because they find fly fishing interesting and they “want to learn how to fly fish”.  I have heard many new fly fishermen say those exact words.  Their self-imposed purpose:  to learn how to fly fish.

Most fly fishers start with a simple goal of catching one single fish.  My customers and clients reiterate this every year when I ask them “why are you taking this guided fly fishing trip?”  All beginners at some point tell me “I want to learn to fly fish and catch a fish.”  I think we all have said that at some point.  Sometimes I will tease them for more insight into their intentions by saying “only one fish?”  This concept of fly fishing is so simple and perfect, but it is all summed up in that precise statement “I want to learn”.  So why?  Why do so many aspiring fly fishermen lose sight of their goal of learning to fly fish the first time they catch 20 or more fish while floating down a river with a nymph and a bobber?  There is so much more to fly fishing then just nymphing.

When a fly fisherman first starts learning and developing skills as a fly fisherman he or she will aspire to catch just a few fish every time they go fishing.  I can remember back when I first started fly fishing and I thought if I could only catch just two or three fish today, I would be satisfied.   As one gets better and better after each time they go out to the water they begin to want to catch more fish, a lot more fish.  After even more time on the water practicing their skills, the fly fisherman crosses a plateau of moderate competency with a fly rod and has complied a fair amount of knowledge about fly fishing.  The fly fisherman then determines after studying innumerable aspects of fly fishing that the fly fisherman has developed a need to catch a single huge fish.

The huge fish becomes all-consuming of the fly fishers time on the water and off the water.  After finally catching that elusive first huge fish, he or she with shaky hands and a pounding heart releases that rare creature of nature’s miraculous wonders because that fly fisherman has reached yet another substantial plateau.  He or she then moves forward to another level of learning and growing.  Respect for that rare and uncommon fish.  No one is done there; there are far too many directions one can take from this point.  Some go on to try to catch a lot of big fish.  Others switch gears and start going the way of Hemingway.  Or they go in any million other ways that are along the path of the fly fisher.  This progression of skills and knowledge keeps the fly fisherman growing and learning, which is what, keeps us going back for more.

So then why do so many fly fishermen get so far off track of their goal of learning to fly fish after they float down a river watching a bobber?  It seems like a conundrum, but it’s actually simpler than one would think.  People like to feel like they are good at something and people love even more when they get quick easy positive feedback.  We also love to tell great and exaggerated fish stories to anyone who will listen.  The ease of catching fish in this manner is intoxicating to our human senses and our egos.  Much like drugs and alcohol clouds the mind from continuing on the path of knowledge.  Humans tend to falter and get stuck with the easy quick fix ways of catching fish.  The quick fix almost always clouds our choices on how we catch fish and where we catch fish.  Don’t take the addicts path to fly fishing.

Typically this all boils down to the most common reason why too many fly fishermen derail their ascent to greatness by stopping off at the corner of catching lots of fish and the need to brag about back home.  The bragging again strokes the ego helping them relive the intoxicating event over and over again.  Which in turn embeds the need to go back and catch more fish again and again, forsaking all else that fly fishing has to offer.  If you are starting to think fly fishing sounds a bit too much like drug and alcohol effects on the human body causing cravings and euphoria’s, the effects are definitely very similar. The effects can also be very therapeutic and beneficial as well.

I often ask fly fishermen if they have gotten out and to get their fix.  If you frequent fly shops, you will hear comments like this in most every shop all across the country.  Why do we say this?  It is not because we are whacked out drug and alcohol addicts; it is because fly fishing makes us feel good and therefore makes us happy.  It removes the bad in the day and replaces it with positive feelings and a positive mind set.  It helps us work better and faster because we feel good and we want to get through our work day and get back out there on the water.  Its positive influence leaves an indelible mark on all our personalities, which helps us collectively as fly fisherman.  We help each other without even knowing we are benefiting each other as fly fisherman every day just by sharing silly fishing stories.  We clearly want to go fishing much more than we want to go to work or go do most anything else.

Bottom line…. When a fisherman stops learning and growing with the experiences that makes fly fishing what fly fishing really is, we have to ask ourselves what’s the point of continuing to fly fish on the same water and in the same manner every time you go fishing?  I suggest mixing up the pot (no pun intended) much more often to keep growing as a fly fisherman.  Take this advice, you will thank me later.

Understand what I am trying to get across here… I don’t stop there and you should not stop there either.  Don’t pigeon hole your fishing or your skills either as a guide or a fly fisherman.  Get out of the boat and learn other ways to catch fish while fly fishing. Or at least refresh those old skills that have gone dormant or are getting rusty.  I can’t count the times I get people in the store asking what nymphs they should I buy.  At that moment I am able to discern a lot about the fly fisherman such as where that fly fisherman is mentally along their path for knowledge.  I make it a point to tell them as many correct nymph options as there are hatches going on at that time to help them broaden their understanding of what is going on in the water.  I also add which dry flies and streamers patterns I recommend they explore.

I do this for the fisherman’s benefit, but most people probably think I am just trying to get them to buy more flies.  That could not be further from my intent.  My intent is to break through to the mundane masses and help them learn more about what they can do with fly fishing.  It surprises me how often people tell me they don’t utilize two of the three techniques of fly fishing such as dry flies or streamers.  Typically this means they are not having much if any success with those fly fishing techniques.  All I can do is offer more options, variations and suggestions on how to get more out of fly fishing for them.  I can only assume they are asking the question, because they do not know the answers.  It is my job as the professional to help people to learn fly fishing, no matter how the fly fisherman tries to limit themselves.

As a guide, I will always try to persuade my clients to try new techniques, new flies and develop new skills every time I guide them.  I feel this is an obligation for every guide, no exceptions.  I will always switch through nymphs of all kinds teaching them how to properly present the different flies.  I try to convince the fisherman that they want to try dry flies just as much as they want to nymph.  This way I can help the fisherman adapt to any new circumstances that arise while they are trying something new.  I will also change them to streamers at least for a few casts to develop their skills even more before I bring them back around the skills loop to reaffirm what they have learned.  I always search for the right fly at the right time.  I do this as often as I have to keep the day interesting and informative for the client.  I demand this from all my guides and I will fire them if they get lazy.

Finally, many guides and outfitters have lost sight of what guiding is all about.  Many have become more concerned about getting the customer to return, rather than teaching the customer to fly fish.  Most people hire a fishing guide to learn how to fly fish.  Most of the guiding being done nationwide is being done with the mentality of catching fish as the primary reason for being guided.  This needs to change.  Too many fly fishing guides are not teaching their clients to fly fish.  They are just helping them catch a lot of fish mainly to get them to book again next year.  If you are a fisherman that is stuck in this cycle, I recommend you start searching for a guide that will teach you more about fly fishing and stop selling you on just catching fish.

If you are a guide stuck doing this cycle, keep in mind just as many clients will return if they are learning new skills and catching fish.  Sure we guides are always teaching clients something on every trip down the river, but why are guides not pushing their clients to get better than they currently are?  A guide should take pride in teaching clients to become better and better every time the client goes fishing, so the client can be more self-sustaining.  When I first started guiding, one of the best thing I was taught by my guiding mentor was “You should try to teach yourself out of a job; I know it sounds strange but you will get more repeat clients this way”  As the years have gone by, it turns out, his statement is proving true.  The bonus is that my return clients are better and better each year, and my clients are making my job easier and easier.

To sum all this up.

There is a limited amount of skill and knowledge involved in floating down a river with an indicator nymphing.  The statistics show that on average a trout will feed sub-surface as much as 98% of the time.  Most long term guides worth hiring for a guide trip would agree that floating and nymphing is relatively simple and can be boring.  I grant this style of fishing is extremely effective and millions of fish per season are caught and released using this technique.  The big shops on big rivers account for tens of thousands of fish caught this way every year.  A low estimate for the Bighorn River alone (if you take into account all the clients and guides on the water per year) the number of fish caught and released is easily over 300,000 trout each season.  Floating and nymphing is great for the sport of fly fishing because it makes beginners and average fly fishermen feel very good about the time they spend on the water.  It gives them great stories to tell when they get home and they are very satisfied as customers with their guide because they caught lots of fish.  So how does one break this chain of floating and nymphing addiction?

It starts with the guides.  Make your clients change their fly fishing techniques several times per day.  Make your client get out of the boat and fish from a shelf or the bank every time you can so they can get a different perspective on fly fishing.  At a minimum keep your eyes open for that dry fly teaching opportunity with every client, no matter how novice they are.  And finally at afternoon thirty when you have to row out those last few miles convince your client to throw a streamer or a bugger to complete the trout tri-fecta.  The trout tri-fecta is at least one fish on each of the three main techniques of fly fishing, dry flies, nymphs and streamers/buggers.  And finally recommend to your clients that they go fish some small stream, creek, pond or lake both with a guide and on their own to develop specific skills you can help them with the next time they are on the river with you.

If you are a fly fisherman that is stuck in this float trip merry-go-round, get out of the boat and get back to learning how to fly fish.  Yes, it will be harder and you likely won’t catch as many fish and the fish may be smaller on average but you will become a better fly fisherman.  You can start by going on more walk and wade fishing trips each season.  Stop thinking you have to catch a certain number of fish of a certain size to have a great trip.  Think about what skills you are lacking and find a guide that will help you develop those skills.  You should stop throwing just a bobber and nymph and start focusing on the intense skills of dry fly fishing.  And finally, at a minimum you should break out of your mold by chucking streamers or buggers.  Your casting and presentation skills will grow fast if you mix up your skills though out your days on the waters.

I hope this information helps people become better fly fishermen and or fly fishing guides.  I took the time to write this article in hopes of changing people’s thoughts about fly fishing.  If any of this article upset your sensibilities, you are closer to being this guy than you might like, and you may want to re-evaluate your thinking as a fly fisherman and not just a fisherman focused on catching.  If you don’t know what a fly fisherman is, Google search it and read all about it to form your own opinion.

By the way one of my favorite people to read is John Juracek.  John is one of the greats that have ever written, photographed, spoke or demonstrated aspects of fly fishing. Check out some of John’s writings and photographs at johnjuracek.com

Thanks for taking time to read this exceptionally long article.  I tried to not get too far off track but I thought sharing a different perspective might help change fishermen into fly fisherman.

Tight lines and great fly fishing.


Fun on the Horn

Posted By on March 14, 2014

I fished the Bighorn River, MT Wednesday and had fun.  There is definitely some activity starting.  The next couple weeks fishing will ramp up even more.  Around three mile access, the fish were chowing red midges and some brown to reddish san juan worms.  The sample I collected also had a few grey sow bugs as well.  The midge of the day was about a size 18 black midge, a couple different versions worked well.  The midge that was most common was light green with a dark brown or black head and a wisp of a light wing.  Orange scuds were also catching some fish.

Keep an eye on the Bighorns flows over the  next few weeks.  It was ramped up to 5000 CFS on Friday and could go higher depending on snow melt and additional weather.  If the water board is not careful, we could see flooding levels again this season much like 2011.  When that happens, check out the lakes and reservoirs and watch small creeks and streams for some great fishing while the rivers are raging.

Have fun and be safe.


March is here and it’s warming up!

Posted By on March 6, 2014


It has been a long …. cold …. slow … snow covered winter.  Beau and I are excited  March has arrived.  It is going to hit 50 degrees today and be warmer for the next week or two.  This is the time to get out and get your fly fishing fix.  At least get out and break the rust off your skills.  We should see some canyon waters open up and may be the creek in town will open up enough to wet a line.  The water temperatures will also come up just enough to get the bugs moving and the fish more active.

This time of year midges and possibly beatis may be hatching.  Other insects are moving around and getting bigger for spring.  The canyon waters may also have black stone flies hatching.  Black stones will hatch through the winter.  That’s right winter. In places where the water is frozen over the stones can escape winter waters by crawling out through cracks in the ice and snow, finish maturing, mate and return to the water to replenish the species.  If you area ever out in the mountains near a creek that is snowed over completely and you see a swarm of black stone flies in the air or on the snow, you will be happy to know that the fish are eating well through the winter.

coming soon!

coming soon!



Get out there and have some fun!  Come in the store and we will tell you what is going on.


Snow Pack chart USDS

Posted By on January 13, 2014

Check out the snow pack as of today.  The snow pack is looking good for next season so far. The early cold weather in the mountain froze the ground which is helping keep the snow on the mountain in the right places.  I drove over the mountain last week and there is visibly a good amount of snow.  We should build up even more snow quantities by the end of April.  The frozen ground will hold the snow from melting longer into the spring.   With great snow pack comes big spring run off and typically bigger and healthier fish and longer runoff time.  We may see higher water levels deep in to July or maybe August this season.  I am looking forward to this seasons fishing.

I hope we see some grass hoppers this summer in more areas than we saw last season.  We did had great numbers of hoppers on the mountain in some areas and none in many other locations.  There was enough to get excited on the Tongue, but most of the other areas had none.  Our clients had fun in August and early September.  Keep an eye on this web site and you can learn a lot on the levels of summer fishing.  It will take a few years of watching to understand the changes and affects that snow pack has on the fishing.


Have fun.


November 2013

Posted By on November 13, 2013

The fishing is mostly done in the mountains.  The canyon waters and the low lakes and reservoirs are fishing good.  The creeks are very cold, and the fish can be lethargic in the mornings and evenings.  The Bighorn River is fishing awesome as normal and many people are taking advantage of this fantastic water.  Get out as much as you can.  The lakes and creeks will be freezing over for the season, so get out on these great 40-60 degree days for some late season fun.  I look forward to seeing anyone else on the water in the cold weather months.  Diehards like me are few and far between in the winter days.  I recommend wearing some hunter orange just for safety.  It is hunting season and although we are not required to be seen, some hunters may not see you in their line of fire.

Beau and I are holding open tying at the shop on Saturdays from 12 noon to 4 pm.  We are allowing people to come in and tie flies with their own materials and tools to build friendships and share ideas during this time.  The fishing stories are fun as well.  Our 70 inch TV is available for tying videos or sport games.   It is open to up to abut 20 people at a time, so bring your stuff down and stay for an hour or stay for four it is up to you.  Our class room at the back of the store is where the open tying will be going on.  We hope some of you will stop by and take part.  This is a great way to learn and get better at what we do.  So far few are taking advantage of this amazing opportunity that the shop is offering.

We are also having Friday night tying from 6 to 9 pm.  This is basically the same as open tying, but adult tiers are allowed to bring a beer or two and we will take a collection if people want a pizza or two.  This is a fun time.  Bring your stuff to tie and have fun.  This is not a drunk fest.  Adult tiers only.  18 to 20 yoa are welcome, but no alcohol will be offered or allowed to be consumed by anyone under 21.  Some times the Po-Po are tying with us.  These Law Enforcement Officers are great guys, so be mindful, they don’t want to have to work on their off time.  We are looking forward to creating some fun for the winter months and we hope to create a great learning and sharing atmosphere for the local tiers.

Hope to see everyone at some point of the winter.  Stop in, reservations are not required at this point.












October is here and fall fishing is in swing!

Posted By on October 4, 2013

When we are all out fishing the next couple months, there are few things to keep in mind.  First what is hatching?  The most common hatches will be midges and beatis.  Some lucky people will see great trico and caddis hatches.  What?  Those who know where to find that kind of great fall dry fly fishing are usually fishing a beloved tail-water.  Nymphs and streamers will also work well this time of year.  The hard part of the fishing is the cold weather and getting out to get it done.

The second part of the equation is the cold weather.  It can be easily accomplished if you have the right gear.  We have some gear in the shop that would be perfect for this time of year, so stop by and see what we have.  If we don’t have what you are looking for, we can order it for you.  Our access to Simms and Orvis clothing and gear will help you enjoy every second out in the cold, catching that 20 inch fish on a size 20 dry fly.

The holiday seasons are coming, but if you are interested in some classes, we will be taking names and numbers for educational, tying and rod building classes.  I have been studying the North Fork of the Tongue and other areas of the mountain for Mayfly, Stone fly and Caddis hatches all summer.  I don’t know everything, but I have learned some great information that will help you catch more fish.  I will be trying to break down the college level entomology books down to a fly fishermans understanding.  I hope some of you can come to learn and have fun with the insect side of our favorite sport.

Thanks for stopping by.  Hope to see you out this fall, winter and spring.


Come one, Come all!

Posted By on July 29, 2013

It is the end of July and the Bighorn Mountains are relatively empty.  Simply amazing.   The store has slowed down in sales which is never good in the middle of the summer when things should be flying off the shelves.  We are looking forward to seeing all the late season fisherman this year, but if you have time, you should take the time to come fish in August.  We still have two months of prime fishing season.  Grass hoppers are starting to jump and fly around in many areas of the Bighorn Mountains.  There are good to great numbers of hoppers in the many different areas around the mountain and the fish are looking up for a good meal.  Caddis and Mayfly hatches are good in the middle of the day.  Yellow Sallie’s have been good high in some areas as well.   We just got some cold weather in the Sheridan area (58 degrees this morning in town at 8 am) and we are seeing the water cool down.  The cold water is great for the fish, but does not help the bigger flies reach their hatching destinies.

We were just starting to see some of the big mayflies hatch up on the North Tongue when the cold weather bumped into the hatch.  The hatches have been erratic, but the Green drakes (Ephemerellidae, Drunella or Flavilinea) are starting to show up in small numbers.  The Drunella Grandis has not showing up just yet.  Hopefully in the next week or two that will change.  The same with the Ephemerella or PMD.  We should be seeing them, but not many as yet due to colder water.  Keep your eyes open and keep getting your line wet, you’ll surely see some in the coming weeks.  As August warms up and the waters get lower, the big bugs will start driving the fish to the surface.  Stop by and check out the creeks and streams of the Bighorn Mountains and stay away from the crowds on the famous rivers and destinations.

Thanks for stopping by.


Spectacular Scenery


July is doing GREAT, nobody is here!

Posted By on July 20, 2013

Hello everyone.

The 2013 season has been great for the past three months.  We have had a good spring and a wet June and early July.  The mountain is very green as of today and many of the mountain flowers are still blooming.  If you want to see this you better leave right now to get here.  It is getting hot and this won’t last much longer.  The grass hoppers are looking great for this seasons’ fishing in many areas of the mountain.  We are seeing a lot of grass hoppers in some areas with sparse hoppers in other areas of the mountain, but for the most part good hoppers.  All the typical hatches are happening all over the mountain so come see us and we will help you get the right flies for the Bighorn Mountains.  All you have to do is present the flies appropriately to the fish and you will catch them.

The Cutthroats in the North Tongue have been only moderately harassed this season.  (low numbers of people)  Other than Saturdays and Sundays, the fishing pressure is very low.  Every day I have been up there in the past four weeks I have seen fewer than ten cars on all of the area above Bear Lodge at Burgess Junction.  Can anyone say SPOILED!!!  With only four weeks of active summer left, Tourists should stop by on their way to Yellowstone, Montana or Mount Rushmore.  We have been having a blast.

I have been watching great hatches of Chloroperlidae, Cinygmula Ramaleyi, Flavilinea, Rhyacophila caddis,  Brachycentrus caddis and Hydropsyche caddis to name a few of the many bugs that are hatching.  If you don’t know what these insects are, come see us (or break out your Hatch Guide for Western Streams) and you’ll learn some very important information about the best recreational sport in the world.  This winter I will be holding classes on what’s in your fly box.  I hope to see all who want to learn how to catch more fish.  If you have a winter trip scheduled, check with us about the scheduling dates and times.  The classes will be aptly priced for this invaluable (meaning expensive) information.  Those who understand will gladly pay any price for this mental gold.

The Fly Shop of the Bighorns has great patterns that work for all of the above mentioned insects, and we are always on the look out for better patterns and tactics to help customers catch more fish.  But as always, you the fly fisherman need to know the basic skills and knowledge of which fly, what time of the day and how to present the appropriate stage of the appropriate insect with the appropriate presentation of every fly you use to catch more fish.  HUH?  Stop by and we will gladly help you. (if you have a pleasant personality)  We help customers everyday with more knowledge than they typically can consume.  We do this in hopes that every fly fisherman can grow in skills and knowledge every time you thank us by shopping in our store.




Photo By John Frazer



Get out and have fun.


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