Our Rivers

Bighorn River Fly Fishing in May

Bighorn River Fly Fishing in May

A consistent weather pattern of warm temperatures arrives in Montana by mid-May, and runoff begins across the Big Sky State. Much like the Missouri River, the Bighorn River in Montana has relatively stable flow conditions, and is a great spring destination for fly fishing in Montana.

In May, Bighorn water is crystal clear and cold, but temperatures are on the rise which prompts a more consistent hatch of midges and baetis. Less lethargic, trout begin to feed with more ambition. Warm cloudy days are perfect conditions for dry fly fishing.

Anglers fishing the Bighorn River in May tend to spend their time on the upper 13 miles of the river by starting at either the Afterbay Dam or 3-mile Fishing Access Site and floating to the Bighorn Fishing Access Site. This stretch of the river offers the most consistent nymph and dry fly fishing during May.

Bighorn River Fly Fishing Hatches in May

Much like in April, Blue blue-winged olives and midges are the primary hatches of note for the dry fly angler, but the hatches become more prolific with the warming water temperatures.

If you are lucky enough, you may get a chance to experience the Mother’s Day caddis hatch, most likely appearing between the 3 Mile and Bighorn Accesses.

Later than most rivers in the state due to water temperatures, this is the time when rainbow trout begin their spawning season which lasts well into June on the Bighorn River.

Bighorn River Fly Box in May

Bighorn River Fly Fishing Techniques in May

Nymphing is the most consistent fly fishing technique on the Bighorn in May using 7-to-9-foot leaders with lighter tippets. Variations of sowbugs and scuds as the lead fly, with a midge or Baetis as the dropper is most effective.

Rising water levels make dry fly fishing less reliable in May and water temperatures are still too cold for effective streamer fly fishing.

Bozeman Fly Fishing Guide Pro Tip:

An effective Bighorn River nymph fishing rig for higher flows in May includes a leader that is 9 feet from indicator to weight, 16 to 18-inch tippet from weight to lead fly, and 16 to 18-inch tippet from lead fly to dropper fly. Use 5x fluorocarbon tippet and tie the dropper off of the lead fly hook eye, rather than the hook bend.

Bighorn River Fly Fishing Trips in May

Fins and Feathers Guide Service has been outfitting Montana fly fishing trips for over two decades along the Bighorn River. Our Bozeman fly fishing guides regularly spend time guiding anglers fishing this legendary tailwater when other rivers around the state are amid the runoff.

Many of our guests will add a few days of fly fishing the Bighorn River to a customized Montana fly fishing tour itinerary. We require advanced reservations and a minimum 3-day booking for Bighorn River fishing trips. We can provide referrals for last-minute or single-day booking inquiries.

Bighorn River fly fishing trips can be reserved online, through e-mail, or by calling us at 406-468-5019. Our experts are here to help, use our Contact Form for help planning your Montana fly fishing trip.

Please include prospective dates, number of guests in your group, and any specfic information requests using the form below.
Our Rivers