Bighorn Angler Fly Shop & Outfitters, MT

Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Outfitter / Fly Shop in Fort Smith, Montana


Discover valuable resources at the Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing outfitter Bighorn Angler in the small Montana town of Fort Smith. Bighorn Angler has been offering guided fishing of superior quality on the Bighorn River for 40 years. The Bighorn Angler prides itself on maintaining the most knowledgeable and personable guide staff anywhere. As the fishing and river conditions change so must the approach; only the guide staff at the Bighorn Angler will afford their clients the highest degree of wisdom and flexibility to make the most of the conditions. As a testament to the lineage of fly-fishing legends that have called the Bighorn home, you'll find the largest selection of custom Bighorn River flies stuffing our bins. These are flies you simply can't find anywhere else; some of these are tried-and-true patterns passed down through the years, while some are cutting-edge, next generation custom flies developed in-house or by anglers and guides affiliated with our shop. Our professional shop staff are on call to oversee every detail of your trip, and Bighorn Angler offers hands-down the most extensive array of lodging options in the valley. The visiting angler can choose from hotel-style rooms, cabins, or large four- and five-bedroom lodges with breathtaking river views. Additionally, we offer an on-site chef and dining hall exclusively for our guests, where all meals are made from scratch daily. We look forward to the opportunity to serve you and create fishing memories that will last a lifetime!



"Peak" Season on the Bighorn River starts with the Spring Baetis hatch in early April, and it runs all the way through September. "Off-Peak" fishing begins in mid to late October and can be some of the best fishing of the season (along with far less traffic). With a focus on streamer fishing and a very strong fall Baetis hatch, November is a great time to visit the Bighorn, as the temperature and weather tends to be more mild than that in early Spring.


  • Brown Trout
  • Rainbow Trout


The Bighorn River valley is a classic Montana river valley. The Bighorn River is a very tame tailwater that is free of rapids. There are 4 main sections of the river that are easily accessible to float anglers:

  • The Afterbay dam right outside of town to 3-Mile Access
  • From 3-Mile Access down to Bighorn Access (13 miles downstream)
  • Bighorn Access down to Mallards Landing
  • Mallards Landing to Two Leggins
  • The first two sections get fished the most by far, but the lower sections can be great options for larger trout when the conditions are right.
Carp fishing at Bighorn Lake just a few miles from the shop can be very good starting in May. Our guides do take advantage of that opportunity with our clients from time to time. There are other rivers and private springs creeks in and around the Bighorn, but require guided services to access them.

Typical Weather:

Early Spring (March 15 - April 30th): Temps generally in the upper 40’s to mid-50’s. The occasional front can render mild winter conditions; nice days can stretch the temperatures into the mid-60’s.

Late Spring (May through Mid-June): Temps generally 60 to upper 70’s in May. The odd winter cold front can move through in May as can hot weather. As we move into June hot spells are not uncommon, and usually accompanied by a brief afternoon thunderstorm that passes through as quick as it came.

Summer: Prime fishing conditions and 75-95 degrees. Normally in mid to upper 80s, hot spells of 90-degree days can be frequent as are brief afternoon thunderstorms.

Late Summer/Early Fall: Crisp mornings followed by warm days, sometimes hot, usually dry.

Late Fall/Winter: Late fall on the Bighorn is generally pretty mild with temps more mild than early spring. The odd winter front will move through from time to time, but overall a great time to be on the river. Winter temps range from 50 degrees to bitterly cold. Mild days are great fishing


Guided Fishing rates start at $425. You can find all pricing information at:

What Is Provided?

Guided Fly Fishing: Although we encourage our guests to bring their preferred fly-fishing gear with them, our guided fly-fishing trips are all-inclusive. Each trip includes all flies, equipment such as rod/reel, waders/boots if needed, tippet/leaders, and full-day trips include a river lunch. Not included is a Montana fishing license and guide gratuities (typically 15% – 20% of the cost of the guide trip).

All-Inclusive Packages: Our all-inclusive packages include all meals starting with dinner the night of arrival and breakfast the day of departure. The Bighorn Angler offers dining services from April – October for our lodging guests only. Breakfast includes a rotating hot breakfast (pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, quiche, French toast), with fresh ground coffee, juice, cereal, bagels, muffins, yogurt, toast, etc. also available. Dinner is prepared by our in-house chef from scratch each night. Each meal consists of a salad, entrée, and dessert. The menu is set nightly ahead of time. We can accommodate food allergies and gluten/other dietary restrictions when notified in advance. Please make your reservation for meals at the time of booking your trip. Last minute requests for food cannot always be accommodated. Our all-inclusive packages also include your lodging, and we offer the most comprehensive array of lodging options on the Bighorn River. These options consist of lodge rooms, cabins, and custom homes to accommodate angling groups of any size.

Not included is a Montana fishing license that can be purchased online ahead of your trip or at the shop, and guide gratuities (typically 15% – 20% of the cost of the guide trip).

Gear Recommendations:

Fly Rods & Tackle:

A versatile 9ft 5wt or 6wt rod will serve you very well on the Bighorn, as fishing techniques vary from light dry flies to heavy nymph and streamer setups.

2X-3X leaders with 4X and 5X tippet is the normal terminal tackle required.

Waders and felt or rubber-soled wading boots required for early and late seasons. Waders are optional for summer months where waders can be traded in for wet wading gear.

What to bring (additional):

Polarized Sunglasses, Rain Jacket, Fishing Hat, Camera, Sunscreen or Clothing with sun protection, Montana Fishing License (Online prior to arrival or available online or at the shop when you arrive).

We encourage you to bring the below items if you possess them, but all can be made available and are included at no additional charge with your guide trip:

  • Waders & Boots or Sandals (waders & boots available for rent)
  • Four to Six Weight Rod & Reel

Fly Shop

The Bighorn Angler is the heart of our fishing community here on the Bighorn, and it is the most sought-after shop on the river. Our Orvis endorsed shop is stocked with everything an angler would need to maximize their experience and performance on the river. In addition to stocking all the top-quality brands for all of your gear needs, we offer the world’s largest selection of custom Bighorn River, patterns that you can't find anywhere else. Whether it's equipment, advice, or simply a friendly ear with which to share fish stories, you'll find it here.


Bighorn Angler Fly Shop & Outfitters
Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Outfitter / Fly Shop
PO Box 7578, 577 N. Parkdale Court
Fort Smith, MT

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