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Trouts Journal

The Things They Carried: Bighorn River- Trouts Hosted Trip Edition

Ivan Orsic / Apr 16, 2015

As many of you might know- myself and 6 lucky Trouts customers are heading to the Bighorn River tomorrow on a hosted trip that was put together with the help of our good friends at the Bighorn Angler in Ft. Smith, MT. Any month can be prime time to fish the Bighorn, and using the term "prime" to describe the current conditions we're looking at over these next few days is an understatement. Flows are great. The weather looks good....and from the sounds of it, the fish have been cooperating nicely. Read on to see what tools I'm taking along to help get the job done.

Let's start at by referencing the picture above. My Fishpond Dakota bag is a constant companion of mine no matter where I'm headed and it is definitely loaded down for this trip. I'll be using Winston Rods and Hatch Reels throughout this trip (plus the additional 6 days I'll be spending in Montana after the trip...tough job but someone's got to do it) and here is the breakdown for why I'm taking what I am.

Winston 8'6" 4wt BIII-LS paired with a Hatch 3plus - This is my dry fly stick. One of the biggest reasons for planning the trip when we did was to take advantage of the dry fly fishing. The midges and baetis are showing up daily and I plan on putting a bend in this rod many times over. The BIII-LS is a medium-fast rod with a super soft tip that delivers deadly accurate casts. It's the perfect technical dry fly rod. This setup will be loaded with a Scientific Anglers Trout Textured fly line.

Winston 9' 4wt BIII-SX paired with a Hatch 4plus - This will by my primary nymphing rod. Even though it's a 4wt, the SX series of rods from Winston are super fast with a serious butt section capable of stopping fish in their tracks. This thing feels tougher than most 5 weights you'll find on the market today and is perfect for making anything from short to long drifts. The power it generates is perfect for cutting through even the biggest of winds with ease and the soft tip helps keep big fished buttoned. This set up will be loaded with a Scientific Anglers GPX Textured fly line.

Winston 9' 6wt BIII-X paired with a Hatch 4plus - Many people have said it before and I'll echo their praises- If I were stuck with just one rod to fish with for the rest of my trout fishing days, this would be it. To me, it fishes more like a 5wt and is simply just a great all around rod. I might nymph with it...might throw dries with it...either way, I'll be fishing with it. This set up will be loaded with a Scientific Anglers GPX Textured fly line.

Winston 9' 6wt BIII-SX paired with a Hatch 5plus - This is my floating line streamer rod. (Scientific Anglers Sharkwave GPX) When the Bighorn fish decide to eat streamers, there's no place else you'd rather be. This rod is capable of handling any streamer I care to tie on.

Winston 9' 7wt BIII-SX paried with a Hatch 5plus - This is my sinking line streamer rod. I've got a Scientific Anglers Streamer Express loaded on this rig and to me, this is the perfect setup for throwing streamers out of a drift boat. Cast, strip, strip, strip, pick it all up, slap it back down and repeat. I can't wait to put this thing through the paces.

Fishpond Waterdance Hip Pack- I started carrying this pack earlier in the season and couldn't be more pleased with it. Plenty of storage for the fly boxes, leader, tippet, indicators and anything else I decide is necessary for the moment.

Fishpond Westwater Boat Bag- This boat bag is another constant companion of mine no matter where my travels take me. I'll store all my additional fly boxes in here, as well as all the addtional accessories I carry to the river- extra forceps, leaders, permanent markers, split shot, pliers, etc.

Flies- As mentioned above, flows right now are ideal on the Bighorn. It's looking like we'll be somewhere in the 2000 cfs range which will be ideal for wading the islands/side channels/gravel bars where the fish like to stack up. Now I know 2000+ cfs sounds high when we're looking 75cfs on the Dream Stream, however when I fished this river at the same time last year, it was around 7000cfs if I remember correctly. (just for comparison purposes) On any given day, an angler should be able to catch them on dries, nymphs and streamers. I've been at the vice alot lately and have my arsenal ready to go. For nymphing, multiple colors of the ever popular Ray Charles patterns will always be at the ready. This pattern, paired with a midge (zebra, pure, juju, etc) always seems to put fish in the net for me on this river. Much like in Colorado, it's Baetis time on the Bighorn and I've got plenty of these nymph patterns ready to go also. From a dry selection, it should be pretty basic and will mirror the nymphing selection- midges and Baetis. Several streamer boxes are locked and loaded as well to round things out.

Not Pictured:

Waders- Simms G4 Guide Waders, G3 Guide Pants- I'll most likely be spending more time in the pants than the waders, however both will be in the truck throughout the week.

Boots- G3 Guide Boots- I've got over 100 days on these boots and they're just now finally starting to show a little wear. These are hands down the best wading boots I've ever spent time in. Period.

Nets- Fishpond Nomad Mid-length and Guide Length- I use the Guide net for (you guessed it) my guiding, and the mid-length for my personal fishing. The Guide net also double decently enough as a boat net due to the longer handle. The mid will be stuck in my hip pack when wading.

Cooler- YETI 65 Qt.- I haven't done the math yet to see if this cooler has paid for itself yet (due to the lack of ice I now need to purchase) however this will definitely be keeping my tasty beverages cold for the entirety of my time in Montana.

Sunglasses- Costa Del Mar Blackfin 580G- Because as I've said before...the world just looks better through a pair of 580's.

Backup Rods: Because sometimes fly rods break- 9' 5wt Orvis Recon (x3), 9' 6wt Sage XP, 9' 7wt Sage VXP, 9' 4wt G.Loomis Streamdance.

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