Sep 3, 2015

Tarpon Trip 2015


I have just boarded my flight from Florida to Oregon (home). 

My adventure started Saturday morning in Orlando, Florida where we all met up for our trip. Seven of us gathered in the lobby where we awaited our replacement rental car, the eighth member of our team Andy would meet us the next night at the house. We were supposed to have a suburban, but the rental car company had mixed up and rented our suburban to someone else.

This trip was a mix of guys from all over the US and Canada. Other than myself there was Andy, Ebon, Sam, Scott, Steve, Tom and Whitey. Some I knew and some I did not. So we spent the time talking,getting to know each other. Meanwhile our fearless leader Whitey found our replacement car. Things didn't look to good, the new car was a Chrysler Town and Country minivan. First of all, there is seven of us. Secondly all of our gear. And lastly we had a 5 to 6 hour trip to our destination. None of us thought the Town and Country was going to work. Whitey loaded our luggage with precision proving us all wrong. We piled in the van, it was tight, but we made it work and on the road we went.

Stories started flowing about last year's tarpon trip. I am now more ready than ever for my first big tarpon trip. I could tell that this was going to be a really great group of guys and a absolute blast of a trip. AC/DC blasting on the stereo, rolling in the T&C, tarponland here we come! Several hours of travel later, one awesome BBQ place later we were getting close to tarponland.

We eventually arrived at the house that Whitey had rented. A nice pad for the 8 of us for the next 5 days. I quickly tossed my bag on a bed to stake claim and rushed out back to the dock to join the rest. The dock went out into the shallow bay behind the house. From there we could see what we believed were speckled trout busting on bait all around the dock. There was lots of talk about trying to go catch whatever was busting bait around the dock, but after a few more cold beers it was just talk.

After dinner Whitey gave us the lineup for the next day. I would be fishing with Ebon and our guide would be Travis. This got me all wound up with excitement of my first day of giant tarpon fishing. It was getting late now so I hit the sack.

Morning came quickly, awakened by the others excited voices getting ready to go meet the guides. Sam had made everyone a hearty breakfast casserole. We ate quickly, raced out the door, piled in the T&C and we were off. A little AC/DC to wake us up on the way to the marina. A few minutes later we pulled into the marina where our guides were waiting. We all split up to board our guides flats skiffs.

Ebon and I met our guide Travis, boarded the skiff and Travis quickly speeded the skiff out of the bay. As we sped along the coast line I could not help scanning the water for signs of tarpon rolling. To my surprise I thought I saw a big fish roll on the horizon, it looked like a tarpon. Then another, was I just dreaming or was it really tarpon. About that time Travis shut down the motor and said "we will try to catch one of these fish here".

That is when Ebon and I realized that we were surrounded by big tarpon rolling, splashing and crushing bait fish for as far as we could see. It was like a dream, giant tarpon everywhere. The water was quite muddy on this flat due to the wind and tide. Travis said that this was not going to be easy fishing in this spot due to the water color. Hard for us to see the fish and hard for the fish to see the fly. He said that it was worth a shot until the sun got a little higher so we could see fish in the next flat and travel lane he wanted to fish.

I was first up to the front to fish. I could hardly control my excitement as I stepped up on the casting platform, never fishing for giant tarpon, I was trying to think of all the things I had to do if I hooked one. The most important steps, get the hook bared and then make sure the line clears the deck as the fish screams line across the sea. Travis instructed me that he wanted me to wait to cast until I see a fish roll in range. Once a fish rolls try to cast in front of the fish, let the fly sink a few seconds then start my retrieve.

The first fish rolled with in range, I launched my cast, let the fly sink, then started my retrieve. Nothing! Travis said this would not be easy in these conditions, so I got ready for the next one. The next fish boiled I could not see which way he was going. So I bombed a cast to the center of the boil, let the fly sink and started stripping. One strip, two strip, three strips, my fly gets hammered. I kept the rod low, strip set several times as hard as I could waiting for the line to go flying off the deck as the tarpon exploded, but that did not happen. Travis told me to tighten up on it and see if I could move it. What are you crazy I thought, this tarpon is way to big, but I did what he said. To my amazement I could start moving it towards us. Travis, said it is a catfish. Catfish what are you talking about??? There are no catfish on saltwater flats are there I thought. Sure enough it was the oddest looking catfish I had ever seen. Travis quickly got the catfish free from the hook.

I cast to another tarpon, stripped the fly all the way to the boat right at the boat I had another hard hit. Then a huge boil of a tarpon as I set the hook. I quickly realized it was another catfish, my heart sunk. Travis said “ the tarpon chased it, but the catfish beat it to the fly. That was the tarpon making the huge boil”. Once again Travis got the catfish off the hook quickly so we could continue to fish. Travis said that the flat was covered with catfish and if we hook anymore we were going to move on. The cats just do nothing but get in the way and waste our time. So a few minutes later it happened again another catfish.

Travis said the light should be up enough that we could hopefully see fish cruising in another flat close by. The water should be clearer there so we could see them and make better cast to them. So we moved on.

It was now Ebon’s turn up to cast. Travis moved the boat over to a sand bar where the water was much clearer. He positioned the boat on the edge of the sand bar. He explained that the tarpon would run into the shallow bar near the beach. Then they would travel up the edge of the bar right to us. We had some overcast conditions so being able to see the tarpon a ways out would be tough. "So be ready for a short cast" Travis said.

A few minutes went by and then Travis yelled "tarpon ten o'clock forty feet cast now!" Ebon cast without being able to see the tarpon. Travis said "you were just behind him, cast to twelve o'clock". That is when we both saw the monster, it was big! Ebon made the cast, but the tarpon ignored the fly.

Ebon had a few more shots over the next hour, but no hook ups. I was up and had about the same results. Conditions seemed to be making it tough to see the tarpon until they were right on top of us.

I also realized that making 15 to 20 foot cast with a 12 weight rod was very difficult. I had outfitted myself with a Sage SALT 9' 12 wt., Nautilus CCF-X2 Silver King Fly Reel, lined with Hatch backing and a RIO Tarpon Quickshooter line. This outfit was well balanced. I cast it with ease at home in the yard, but with super short cast I was struggling.

We did not hook any tarpon this first day, but had a blast. Ebon was a very funny guy and kept us well entertained. We headed back to the house to meet up with the rest of the crew. Travis dropped us off at the dock in front of the house. It was hot and a ice cold beer was in order.

Slowly the rest of the crew returned. Scotty and Steve both hooked some fish. They had some pretty good pictures of them jumping. Whitey the "Tarponator" hooked I believe 3 and landed 2. This is the way most of the week went for Whitey.

We all stayed up to late having cocktails and telling fishing stories. Once I went to bed, morning came way to soon, but the thought of tarpon quickly gets the blood a flowing.

On the second day I was paired up with my buddy Tom and our guide Greg. Same as the day before we set off to meet our guides at the marina where they were all waiting. We met up with Greg, got in the boat and quickly head out on a 45 minute ride to his favorite flat at the edge of a bay. He explained to us how the tide would drop then the tarpon would hit a shallow bar which direct them right to us. He positioned us on the edge of a white sand area about 50 feet by 50 feet. The idea was that the tarpon would cross over this making it easier for us to see them. Greg did warn us that we might see tarpon come in from straight in front of the boat. These fish would be over grass and hard to see.

I was first up and right away Greg spotted a tarpon crossing in front of the boat 30 feet away. At first I did not see it, he said "cast to 12 o'clock 30 feet". I failed a cast and Greg said "more right! More right!". I missed again. I just kept telling myself to calm down, but easier said than done. A few minutes later Greg said "I see one coming in right down the bar, do you see it". "No I don't see it" I replied.

"It is at about 100 feet, it is going to disappear on the grass. Then it will appear again at the edge of the sand about 50 feet. Be ready! " Greg said. The tarpon appeared. I made the cast, right on target! "Long strip, long strip" Greg said. "strip, strip, faster, short strip, strip" Greg said. The tarpon turned away. Greg said " you were not listening to the speed and change of speed I was asking you to do"

I knew he was right, I could hear him but my mind and eyes were just locked on the tarpon. Just too excited and no control. It was now Tom's turn up, he handed the rod to Greg and asked him to show us how it is down. Greg said "no! it is your trip, I can't fish". Tom said "please we will learn more watching". " besides we won't tip you if you don't make some cast" Tom said jokingly.

So Greg got up on the front of the boat, right away he said "I see one coming in about 100 feet away do you guys see the wake from the tarpon?". I was sitting on the pulling platform and could see it. Greg talked us through what he was doing.

"The tarpon is going to appear about 40 feet 9 o'clock. There it is" he explained. Greg made his cast about 30 feet from the boat. "Long strip to get the fly in front of the tarpon. Now short strips" Greg informed us. The tarpon inhaled the fly. Greg set the hook, as the tarpon exploded on the surface of the water. Then before you could blink was gone like a missile. Take a rats nest of line with it, the tangled line about ripping every guide off the rod. Greg turned to us "do one of you guys want to fight this fish?" We both said "it is all yours Greg". Greg quickly broke the fish off, to our amazement the line broke in half where the rats nest was.

Greg turned to us as Tom and I said " that looks easy". We just laughed.

Tom got up to the front and had about the same luck I did. A few shots, a few mistakes. It just is not as easy as Greg made it look.

It was now my turn backup. I used Tom's G. Lomis NRX 1290 loaded with Airflo Bruce Chard Tropical Punch line. This was a much easier short range combo for me. I no longer got to the front of the boat and Greg said " tarpon coming in at 8 o'clock. Do you see it, 40 feet".

I could see it, I started to cast when Greg said "that is good lay your cast down". I did 5 feet in front of the tarpon. Greg said "good, long strip, short strip, short strip"

The massive tarpon opened it's mouth inhaling the fly. I set the hook hard several times as the tarpon exploded out of the water. Line flew off the reel as Greg fired the motor. The tarpon jumped again about 250 yards away. Greg put the boat in gear to take chase. He told me to reel as fast as I could. For the first few minutes the tarpon continued to run jumping several times, I gained little line as we followed. Greg told me to try to get the fly line back on the reel. By keeping the fly line on the reel I could really start applying the pressure to the tarpon.

Greg told me "give it everything you got, don't rest or it will take much longer."

So I put as much pressure on the tarpon as my 12 weight fly rod could handle. After about 15 minutes I got the tarpon to the leader for the first time. It rolled where we could get a chance to see this giant up close. She did not give us much of a look, before taking a quick run and jump.

Greg said "that fish is easily 150 pounds plus"!

I am now hitting the point of all out exhaustion, my arms, shoulders and back are all burning. After a few minutes I had her back to the front of the boat, leader in the rod guides. I pulled as hard as I could trying to get her to the side of the boat.

Greg told me " if she is hooked inside the mouth it is only a few minutes until she wears through the leader. If she is hooked in the lip we can get her up so I can grab her by the lip for a photo".

I kept as much pressure on her as I could keeping her most of the time right in front of the boat with the leader in the rod. She made a couple of short runs, but I could quickly pull her back to me.

Just as I thought I could not go anymore the rod snapped back limp. The leader had wore through. I didn't know whether I should be glad or sad. I do know there was a little relief.

Greg looked at me and said "don't be upset, be glad, you can battle those monsters for another 20 minutes before they will be calm enough to lip them and get photos". "Besides a tarpon counts as caught if you touch the leader. We could have done that almost any time over the last 5 minutes".

The word is the 70 to 80 pounders are the ones to land for the lip and grin photos.

We all high fived, it was now Tom's turn back up. Greg returned the boat back to the spot where the battle began. I climbed up on the pulling platform to watch Tom and think about the tarpon.

I realized at that moment I had to come back down to Florida and do this again!

The next day brought windy stormy conditions. So there was not much action from any of the boats.

The fourth and final day I fished with Sam and our guide was Greg. Conditions once again were not great, I had a few follows, but no eats. Sam had two tarpon eat, but they quickly threw the hook.

Once again fishing was slower for most the boats this last day. All though we were at the tail end of the migration, water temperatures were getting warm and we had bad weather, I was very happy with my first big tarpon trip. Sad to see it coming to an end.

That night we had a excellent dinner with the guides at a local restaurant. We told lots of stories, jokes and more. We talked about the hardest part of this giant tarpon fishing was controlling our nerves. All of us had the skills to do this, but our excitement would take over and we would mess up our chance. I guess it would not be so much fun if we did not get excited.

Here's to Next Year, but sadly tarpon trip 2015 has come to an end.

Travis Duddles
Owner and CEO | Gorge Fly Shop

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Sep 1, 2015

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (August 31st)

August 31st, 2015

Well, I have never heard so many anglers say so many different things about the clarity of the Deschutes.  As soon as I got off the river last Friday, I heard that it was everything from “completely blown” to “ehh, two to three feet”.  My most reliable sources were all saying something about a couple of feet of visibility all week, which is what I saw when I left it last.  Fishing sink tips and larger, dark flies was the ticket, and those that did were rewarded.  Those that looked at the river and went home did about as well as those guys using a floating line and a #8 coachman… not good. 

As the rain starts to come down for the first time in six months or so, I doubt that the early part of the week will provide us with any better clarity on the lower Deschutes or the Klickitat…  It will be a “wait and see game” as we see how much rain hit any certain river basin and how much the rivers are affected.   We will update as the rains progress.  . 

I fished the Klickitat this last Friday.  The water was 18” of clarity at the beginning of the day, slowly but steadily decreasing until we took off in the evening.  At the takeout, the clarity was less than a foot.  In less than a foot of visibility I was watching many, many trout rise to size 18 black flies with no concern for the apparent lack of visibility that kept everyone else at home.  If a (many) ten inch trout can see a size #18 dry fly from the bottom of the river, then a steelhead will absolutely have no problem seeing a three inch black bunny leech.  We did not get any hookups, but we did get a few solid grabs and felt good about the water we fished.  Talking with several guides that day, fishing was off that day.  Most attributed it with the front moving in instead of the clarity.  Travis Wallace of Western Waters Guides said he had been doing well last week with clarity fluctuating between a foot and 18”. 

The Deschutes above the White River confluence should remain in great shape despite potentially heavy rains this week.  There are definitely steelhead up above the White, although the bulk of the fish typically do not make it up that far until October.  The Klickitat will probably be unfishable for the first part of the week.  Unfishable is whatever you make of it, but I don’t usually spend a full day fishing in less than eight inches of visibility. 

The correct way to test visibility (turbidity) is to use a Secchi Disk (google it).  I do not have one, so the way I test visibility is to stick my rod/reel in the water and carefully watch for when I lose track of the reel or line.  I then measure the distance from where the rod entered the water to the top of the reel.  8” is where my cork enters the water, so if I can’t see my reel when the cork is at the water’s surface, I will likely not put in a full day’s effort.  I will still fish hard because I am on the river and I love fishing.  I have never driven to the river and then turned around and driven home.  I could only see doing that if the river was approaching flood stage…

The chances of catching a steelhead in perfect conditions are not that great, but the chances of catching one in less than ideal conditions are not that bad, so get out and fish if you feel like fishing as long as it is safe to be in the water because the chances of catching one from your couch are zero. 

Drano Lake:  A love/hate relationship…  If you want to catch a steelhead out of a float tube in a lake, now is the time.  The love part is that I love fishing in a float tube and I love catching steelhead within 30 minutes of my house.  The hate part is the very drunk bait fishermen (I’m no bait hater, but I am observant) that will troll their boats right over you and your line despite all reasonable attempts to avoid them.  I witnessed several near fights last year; constant yelling, bickering and overall bad sportsmanship while I was out there.  But… the fishing can be really good, especially because it’s the only local spot that is not suffering from bad clarity this week.  My advice is to go very early, before people start getting too drunk there.  An intermediate line with an olive bugger works fine.  The key is to get the fly right to their face.  They will not move much if at all to take a fly, but a fish will eat it if it is in front of them while they are moving.  A variety of drab, soft hackle style flies seem to work just fine, but there haven’t been a ton of guys out there and there is no magic formula for this place. 

Trout fishing has been good.  The Crooked has been a little off, but producing fish nonetheless.  The Metolius has been good, as fish seem to be more willing to take a good, sneaky presentation than usual.  The upper part of the Deschutes (above Lake Billy Chinook) has been really good with terrestrials.  The upper part of the Lower Deschutes (below Pelton Dam) has been fishing less consistently; it has definitely been more hit and miss this last week for trout.  One guy comes in and says he had a great day while another comes in and says it was terrible.  It just goes to show that a “good” day of fishing is what you make of it.  The McKenzie River has slowed down a bit in the past week or two.

Lost Lake is still fishing very well, and trout have been coming up to the surface early and late to eat Callibaetis, Grasshoppers and Carpenter Ants, as well as just about anything else including beetles, damselflies and maybe some early caddis.  Pull a woolly bugger deep and slow on a sinking line during the day for your best shot at good numbers of fish. 

As always, we are happy to talk fishing any time.  Give us a call if you have any specific questions on local rivers, gear, and tactics, or if you just want some encouragement to get out of the office.  

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Aug 24, 2015

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (August 24th)

photo credit: Greg Darling

Fishing Report
Let’s get out and fish!  The Deschutes finally came into great shape this week.  While the visibility is poor right at the confluence of the White and the D, it is very fishable on the lower river.  It was 2-3’ and a nice olive color on Friday.  We fished Airflo T-10 FLO tips and Skagit lines and had a great couple of days Thursday and Friday.  It was quite windy, but that didn’t stop the fish from grabbing an articulated bunny leech.  The color at the confluence with the Columbia is also worse than a few miles upstream as the Columbia backs up the flow and gets sediment mixing more than upstream.

I talked with several anglers that saw the visibility, called it blown out and went home.  The thing is that fishing was killer and there was no one up there.  You just have to change your tactics a little.  If that same angler was on the Klickitat, he would have claimed visibility to be great and fished with sink tips with no problem.  That is because anglers are used to a certain level of expectation with the Deschutes.  Fish bite there in a few feet of visibility just like they do everywhere else.  The clarity of the river reminded me of the Kenai the other day.  Kenai fish eat tiny little beads all summer long in poor clarity, so the steelhead in the Deschutes have no problem seeing your fly.  Visibility on the Deschutes is unlikely to get much better soon, so get your sink tips out and get to the river. 

Summer Steelhead are most definitely around right now in the local rivers big time.  The Deschutes River is great.  Get out there and fish!  Use light sink tips and bigger flies as long as visibility is on the lower end.  We left the river Friday evening to nearly three feet of visibility, but of course on Saturday morning, people are coming in claiming that it is blown out again.  I do not know what, if anything caused a blowout, but I would assume that the river is in the same condition as when I left it Friday, as no rain has come through since last night…  Until further notice, assume that the conditions are good on the lower.

The Klickitat River has been a bit worse than the Deschutes, but it is still completely fishable.  Hovering about 2-3 feet lately with a little grey color to it. It is improving and we have heard good reports over the past few days.   Both the Klick and the Deschutes should be money this week; just be prepared to fish a sink tip…

Smallmouth Bass fishing has been excellent on the John Day River and fair in the local haunts here.  Bass on the Columbia River have been hiding out in plain sight.  Suspending off of ledges and dropoffs and scattered all around, they are there, but harder to find in good numbers than in the spring and fall.  A good day fishing will just require lots of moving around and changing tactics to find the numbers.  The John Day remains a solid choice for an easy day of good fishing with big numbers of fish.  A small popper or grasshopper pattern will produce fish from first light to last. 

Carp fishing has been decent, but not stellar.  I have heard fish are eating bigger flies right now with less picky fish, but there are not tons of fish being aggressive.  The aggressive fish are really aggressive, so that is the bonus. 

Trout fishing has been good.  The Crooked is still pushing out some weeds and bio-debris, but fishing was good.  A hopper/dropper is the ticket right now.  The Metolius has been good, as fish seem to be more willing to take a good, sneaky presentation than usual.  The upper part of the Deschutes (above Lake Billy Chinook) has been really good with terrestrials.  The upper part of the Lower Deschutes (below Pelton Dam) has been better this last week with a hopper/dropper producing good fish.  The McKenzie River has also been good with a hopper/dropper setup.  Any small, #18 mayfly nymph works well as the dropper.  A #18 Flashback Pheasant Tail (beadhead) is a personal favorite, but copper johns, hare’s ears, lightning bugs and prince nymphs work just fine too. 

Lost Lake is still fishing very well, and trout have been coming up to the surface early and late to eat Callibaetis, Grasshoppers and Carpenter Ants, as well as just about anything else including beetles, damselflies and maybe some early caddis.  Pull a woolly bugger deep and slow on a sinking line during the day for your best shot at good numbers of fish. 

As always, we are happy to talk fishing any time.  Give us a call if you have any specific questions on local rivers, gear, and tactics, or if you just want some encouragement to get out of the office.  541.386.6977

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Aug 20, 2015

Trout Spey Lines: DEFINED by George Cook

Blazing New Trails On A Stream Near You

Trout Spey Lines : DEFINED….Conundrum SOLVED

Trout Spey….Micro Spey…”Small Ball” has indeed arrived! The Spey Angling enthusiast of today has limitless opportunity, be it Trout, Sea Run Cutthroat, Smallmouth Bass, even the various Shad species of both coast. Trout Spey tackle which spans from the 4 and 5 weight Switch Rod Theater down thru the 2 and 3 weight true Trout Spey rods set the stage for some mighty interesting angling adventures. In these pursuits like its bigger cousin Spey Rods, lines are aplenty and with it, a given (expected) level of confusion as to just what is “best”. The line “Conundrum” is our subject today , so take 5 and unspool the mystery as we DEFINE today’s Trout Spey Lines, their selection and use. 

Skagit Max Short

Skagit Lines: several choices here and completely dependent on just what the angler’s methodology “Objective” is. On one hand, the “Swinging Streamer” enthusiast will find himself at home with RIO’s Skagit Max Short Head. Here, the 200/225 and 250 Grain Heads sit at a very manageable 17’, while the 275 Grain Head comes in at 20’. Matched up with RIO’s “Light” MOW Family Tips makes for a great SWINGING set up. An Example here would be the 225 Grain 17’ Skagit Max Short teamed up on SAGE’s NEW 2109-4 ONE Trout Spey. The NEW 3110-4 SAGE ONE Trout
Spey is killer with the 275 Skagit Max Short , a combo I recently worked Ol’ Bow Bow out with on Alaska’s Middle Kenai River. Again, it is vital to note that the Skagit Max Short will BEST SERVE the Angler looking to ply his game via the SWUNG FLY with small to moderate sized streamers .
MOW Light and even MOW Medium tips can and will apply in this “Swinging” theater. I might also note that with the Skagit Max Short the “Transition” from normal Spey rod sizes (12 ½ to 14’) to Trout Spey lengths (10’6 to 12’) is less radical in terms of casting stroke format.

Trout Max Short
Skagit Trout Max: A NEW and very Specialized Skagit style head sets the stage for the Trout and Smallmouth Angler throughout the country who has set his sights on a STRIPPED STREAMER Approach. Most Lower 48 along with Chilean and Argentine Trout (Both Bow Bow and Brown Town) are largely caught by way of a STRIPPED Streamer Method (VS Say Alaska Rainbows, Dollies and Northwest Sea Run Cuts taken on the Swing). The Skagit Trout Max head employs a very fishy 11’ Head that maximizes one’s ability to really format a Stripping Streamer methodology. Here it can be expected that one shall cast either ¼ Upstream to 90 degrees (straight out) in order to gain a quick drop followed by the classic stripping motion made famous by the legendary Joe Brooks in the 1950’s. By formatting a short 11’ head the Skagit Trout Max ensures maximum “Strip Time-Length” before your attached head to running line gently “Clicks” into your guides queuing one to fire off another one to continue the hunt ! Again, the MOW Light Series as well as the Medium MOW members will employ nicely here. I would be remiss not to mention here that while the whole of Trout/Micro Spey involves a very conscious effort on the part of the caster to “Scale Down” both his overall stroke size and speed of operation (Get SMALL as I call it) the mere 11’ of the Skagit Trout Max dictates a further reduction here, get small, stay compact and ever so smoothly execute the Spey stroke, no big moves, no hurky, no jerky !
Scandi Short Heads

Scandi Short Heads: The elegant casting choice has Trout Spey in mind with Short Scandi heads from 180 (28’), 210 (28’) and 240 (29’) grains that play super well. Working with short RIO Versi- Leaders, all types Floating thru 7.0 ips (ips=Inches per second related sink rates ) in 6’ & 10’ styles or even a 9’-12’ RIO Trout Leader straight off the looped head these classic Scandi style
heads work beautifully with Soft Hackle and other related patterns. Un-weighted streamers , classics like the Light and Dark Spruce, Muddler Minnow, Black Dace along with a host of Northwest Sea Run Cutthroat Flies will fly fast and with ease utilizing these Scandi Short style heads. As with their bigger Spey Rod cousins the Scandi game always plays at a lower Grain Weight then the Skagit Weight for the given (Same) rod. An example here would be the New SAGE Trout Spey 2109-4 ONE, while the Skagit Max SHORT (Or Skagit Trout Max) choice sets up at 225 Grains the Scandi Short selection will roll in at 180 Grains.
RIO Switch Chucker

RIO Switch Chucker Lines: The vaunted Switch Chucker has a definite home in the Trout/Micro
Spey Theater ! Now available in a NEW size #2 and #3 Chucker’s these 25’ heads make Spey Casting Transition relatively easy coming down into Trout Spey/Micro Spey Rod sizes and overall expected angling methods. Versatile enough to cover the whole gamut of Trout Spey be it Soft Hackle Swinging (get crafty and use a 10’ Floating Versi leader here!), stripping streamers or swinging meatier choices for bigger grabs the Switch Chucker will prove a most versatile choice. Indicator game will have its day in court here as well. Can be utilized with MOW Light and even
Medium MOW selections as well as a host of Versi leaders in 6’ and 10’ feet. The Chucker should be dead on line size targeted, meaning put a 2 Weight on a 2 Rod, 3 on the 3 so on and so forth. To be sure, the RIO Switch Chucker is a great all around choice here.
InTouch Single Handed Spey

NEW RIO InTouch Single Handed Spey Line: Awe…this one falls into the “Didn’t know such could work but turns out to be a fabulous choice” category. While mega good on the single hand intended usage (Both Spey and shockingly good overhead) the NEW RIO Single Handed Spey Line is a “Sleeper Choice” on Trout/Micro Spey Rods. Based on a 34’ Taper the Single Hand Spey Line on a “3 Bump Rule” works simply wonderful on these small ball Spey rods. 3 Bump Rule will show that in order to hit an “Applicable” grain window one shall select this line 3 line sizes HIGHER than the given rod line size. EXAMPLES: again the NEW SAGE 2109-4 ONE Trout Spey is a 2 weight rod, simply bump 3 sizes up (hence the WF-5-F Single Handed Spey Line) and batta bing, batta boom you have a simply KILLER match up. Just so happens that WF-5-F weighs out at around 227 grains hitting the 2 Weight Spey Grain window perfectly giving it both max propulsion along with an fully integrated fly line to boot. 9’-12’ RIO Trout Leaders will fine tune this choice into a Trout Spey machine !

So as you can see RIO has you covered on your Trout Spey Game no matter what your needs are!

George Cook
Anglers Rendezvous
Northwest Representative
Sage, Rio, Redington

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Aug 17, 2015

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (August 17th)

Fishing Report  

Well things didn’t quite go as planned last week.  I had hoped that the Klickitat and Deschutes would have stayed in shape, but hotter than expected weather along with a couple of isolated thunderstorms caused our local favorites to be much tougher than expected.  

Conditions should (hopefully) stabilize this week as no rain is expected.  Temps are looking to creep up towards triple digits mid-week, so that could keep that muddy brown in the Klickitat, but the D should be looking good soon.  

I did a little backpacking into a couple of lakes north of Mt. St Helens last week.  I brought an Echo Glass 369 and a handful of hopper patterns... I love lakes that are loaded with brook trout that rarely, if ever, see anglers.  They were jumping several feet out of the water to eat those hoppers. 

Reports from the Deschutes indicate that the Angler Access at Oak Springs Hatchery are no longer public and that there are “no trespassing” signs where the public access once was.  We will investigate further and post something when we get an update.   

Summer Steelhead are definitely around right now in the local rivers.  The Deschutes River was down to under a foot of visibility Thursday through Sunday.  The White River blew out from rains on Mt. Hood, but conditions are improving.  I’d imagine that Monday and Tuesday will be a bit rough, but get out there this week as the fish in the river now have seen little pressure and should be snappy by the end of the week, barring any oddities.  

The Klickitat River has been all over the place this last week.  Thursday was poor, Friday was mediocre with around two feet and very high winds.  As of Sunday, visibility is less than 6” throughout the entirety of the river.  Rains up high on the mountain may have caused some coloration, but the word on the street is that the Cougar Creek Fire on Mt. Adams is actually burning across the upper part of the river.  This may be sending debris, dirt, and ash into the river, giving it the very poor visibility.  It will be a “wait and see” approach for this week.   

Smallmouth Bass fishing has been excellent on the John Day River.  Bass on the Columbia River have been harder to find lately as weeds are growing very high on the shorelines and the river has been up and down throughout the Gorge.  Bass do not like it when the river goes up three feet and then back down.  It tends to scatter them around and they tend to suspend off the rocky shorelines which makes them harder to find...  But the John Day has been great!  Head out to Cottonwood Canyon Park and get yourself into some smallies.   

Carp fishing has been good this past week as the rising flow in the Columbia has moved fish into some new flats that are relatively weed-free right now and holding quite a few fish.  The carp don’t mind as much when the water comes up and down, but their tolerance for spotty flows can wane and they will disappear without hesitation.  The side sloughs and impoundments have been more consistent if you can find one that is not overgrown with weeds.  

Trout fishing has been hit and miss this last week.  The Crooked filled with algae/weeds as the dam has been spilling more water from the top of the lake, which contains some pretty gross stuff.  There are still plenty of eager fish, but several anglers commented on having to deal with catching floating bio-debris.  The Metolius has been more consistent as this spring creek is more stable with flows and temperatures. Fishing on the Met is never easy, but it is always rewarding.  The upper part of the Deschutes (above Lake Billy Chinook) has been good, with plenty of eager fish that love to eat flies. The upper part of the Lower Deschutes (below Pelton Dam) has been tough, with similar reports as from the Crooked.  There is a lot of algae and weeds that are moving through the river, affecting clarity and an angler’s ability to get a clean drift (I ordered a trout, not a side salad).  Good fishing is still available, but one’s tolerance for dealing with weeds is the major factor.  The McKenzie River is still fishing well, and there are plenty of fish around that just love a #18 red copper john... 

Lost Lake is still fishing very well, and trout have been coming up to the surface early and late to eat Callibaetis, Grasshoppers and Carpenter Ants, as well as just about anything else including beetles, damselflies and maybe some early caddis.  Pull a woolly bugger deep and slow on a sinking line during the day for your best shot at good numbers of fish.  

As always, we are happy to talk fishing any time.  Give us a call if you have any specific questions on local rivers, gear, and tactics, or if you just want some encouragement to get out of the office.   

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Aug 13, 2015

Greg's Top Picks from I-Cast / IFTD 2015

Every year more and more I look forward to IFTD. Yeah we get to preview all the new products but more than that it's a chance to actually spend some quality time with the individuals we spend countless hours on phone calls and emails working together in the common goal of delivering the products we all benefit from. I can promise you this it's still, and hopefully always will be driven by pure passion for the sport much more than just corporate sales figures. Most everyone I meet in this industry is a passionate angler and I believe nothing is ever going to change that!

Kicking off with Fly Rods

Winston - Last year I quoted "There is a way different vibe at the Winston booth and I like it!", I'm happy to report that vibe is alive and growing!

Boron III Plus
Winston BIII Plus
The BIII Plus Comes in Freshwater, Saltwater and The new Jungle configurations and replaces and BIII SX Saltwater Series. Saltwater rods today are so versatile that labeling one salt specific just doesn't completely describe increasing usefulness of these rods. From trout streamers to jungle predators like peacock bass or golden dorado and all salt species in between this new series of rods are built to perform and exceed your expectations. Much lighter than the previous SX and much livelier! The freshwater and saltwater models certainly exceeded my expectations but it was the Jungle model that set off my adrenaline. While casting I could vision myself launching big flies from a boat into the wind and delivering them to the targets were these predators lie! I am certain we will be delivering solid reviews on this new series of rods once we get them in our hands and on the water. Stay Tuned! 2 Freshwater sizes, 6 Saltwater sizes and 3 Jungle Series sizes expected to arrive in September. $855 - $895

Sage - Sage came to the show with more new rods than some rod companies have in there entire lineup. I assure you there is a new Sage rod this year that will spark your interest.

MOD - "The MOD is a Modern Interpretation of a Moderate Action"

Mod Single Hand Trout - In a world where fast action rods seem to be the norm there is an ever increasing craving to get back to roots of days gone by when fly casting was relaxing and rod actions lend themselves to the finesse nature of the sport. Meet the MOD! Built on the Konnetic platform the MOD represents what modern graphite and technology are capable of achieving. You don't grab this rod to take out in the parking lot to impress your friends but instead you take it to your favorite river and enjoy a relaxing day of fishing.
5 models 2-6 weight all 9 foot. Retail $850

Mod Two Hand - The MOD two handed spey model could easily be that rod that writes a new chapter in history. It develops its power with such ease and grace. Basically takes no effort to make great cast with the MOD. Set a good anchor point, swing into a D-loop, pull some underhand and watch your fly reach orbit, It's really that easy. Just two models of the MOD Spey...6130-4 and 7130-4. Retail $1050

Little ONE - Replaces the TXL-F line of spring creek rods. These rods are so light and crisp and the Konnetic Technology provides unparalleled accuracy. 5 sizes: 082-4, 182-4, 282-4, 382-4, 482-4
Retail $850

ONE Trout Spey - You can rest assure I will be doing a full review of this new addition to the Sage ONE family once I've have some time on the water.
Two Sizes: 2109-4 and 3110-4. Retail $1050

BOLT - Ultra Fast Generation 5 Technology. Anglers looking for long distances, fast line speeds and quick recovery will appreciate the BOLT.
5 sizes, 490-4, 590-4, 690-4, 790-4, 890-4. Retail $650

PULSE - Replaces the Response. Fast action Graphite III in a full line of single hand, switch and spey models. Fast action but still connected.
Retail Single Hand $450, Switch $550, Spey $650

G. Loomis adds several additions to the Pro4x family of rods.

Pro4x Lite Presentation - Built on the wildly popular success of the NRX Lite presentation.
Four sizes: 269-3, 376-4, 486-4, 590-4
Retail $325 - $375

More Pro4x additions include: 

  • 790-4 Salmon/Steelhead rod
  • 790-4 and a 1290-4 Saltwater
  • 4106-4, 6110-4, 8116-4 Switch rods
  • 12'6" 5/6 Spey, and 6/7 Spey
  • 7'6" 7/8 Short Stix

Echo continues their tradition of delivering uncompromising rod actions

Gecko Outfit
Echo Carbon XL and Ion XL - The big news here is "LIGHTER!" I got a chance to cast both models and found them to be excellent rods with actions that would suit a wide range of anglers and with a very forgiving price tag. 8 Models of Saltwater grade Ion's retail at $159.99 and 6 Models of Carbon freshwater rods retailing at $139.99

Echo Glass sees some additions
Sales of Echo glass rods have been off the hook and often times they are exceeding supply. Glass is back and in a big way! Three new groovy models are coming soon to fill the need of big water anglers. Included are a 486-4, 586-4 and 690-4. Retail $219.99

Echo is also adding to their Shadow II Nymph rods and additional models to the popular Base line of rods.

Echo Gecko is now going to be offered in an outfit complete with rod, reel, line and rod/reel case. Retail $169.99

Redington continues to up the bar of value and performance

Redington Hydrogen - An incredibly good trout rod! Super light weight and a great mod-fast action. This rod really impressed me as an incredible value for an import rod. It casts and looks great. Pair it with the new Redington Zero reel and be a hero! 11 New Trout sizes including three nymph models. Retail $299.95


Redington Chromer - Feature custom polymer gripping sections on the top and bottom handles. No trouble gripping mono with these grips! 3 switch rods and 5 spey rods coming in at $399.95


Nautilus X-Frame
Nautilus - The new X-Frame is super light and has all the features you know and love From Nautilus including super smooth sealed carbon fiber disc drag, Activseal and Giga Arbor. While most open frame reels appear fragile I can assure that the X-Frame displays a bold look and the X beams provide amazing strength. Lighter than ever with sizes from 3/4 to 8/9 and priced from $275 to $395. Look for it around the new year.

Ross - Lots of good news coming from Ross Reels, The best is yet to come but for the immediate future the two existing imports get a complete make-over. Look for them in November

Left-Glimpse of a future New CLA, Middle-Rapid, Right-Eddy
Ross Rapid - Replaces the aging flyrise with a new large arbor design and enclose reliable rulon disc drag. Sizes 3/4 to 7/8 and prices are $100 - $120

Ross Eddy - A New entry level reel replacing the old standby Flystart. Utilizing a strong cast design coupled with large arbor and smooth disc drag the Eddy offers value at a price that's hard to find. 3/4 to 7/8 and price $70 - $80

Galvan Grip
Galvan Grip - Galvan Unveils it's newest creation called "Grip". The Grip features a fully sealed version of Galvan's Torque MicroTune drag system known for its silky smooth startup and reliable powerful performance. Three models to handle all your bonefish to tarpon needs. G-8, G10 and G-12 with prices starting at $525 for the G-8 and topping out at $625 for the G-12. Expected around October

Hardy Ultralite CA DD 
Hardy - Ultralite series gets an entire makeover. Two new models include a CA DD (Conical Arbor Disc Drag) and a MA DD (Mid-Arbor Disc Drag). The Ultralite CA DD reel is an ultra large arbor giving it incredible line pickup and reduces drag gain on long runs. The Ultralite MA DD offers extra capacity with its mid arbor design. Both reels feature a Color coded drag knob for easy reference. Sizes and prices coming soon

Sage Click -
I've always like the Sage click reel and with the redesign it looks better than ever. It's also lighter than ever with even the largest 4/5/6 size still comes in under 2 oz. Besides cosmetic upgrades the new Click has an even larger arbor than before and more open area for palming.
3 sizes from $259 to $299

Redington Zero - Looking for a good lightweight large arbor click pawl trout reel for a reasonable price than look no farther. Redington kept the cost down on this reel by utilizing die cast construction but it doesn't have the appearance of a die cast reel. Comes in two sizes a 2/3 and 4/5 and two colors (Sand and Black) with price set at $89.95

Redington Behemoth - Like the Zero the Behemoth is also a die-cast constructed reel offering up very impressive carbon fiber drag force. It's utilizes large arbor design for fast line retrieval and a V-shaped spool for backing capacity. Behemoth comes in four sizes (5/6, 7/8, 9/10, 11/12) and two colors (Black and Gunmetal) and retails from $109.95 - $129.95

Best Accessory

Hatch Nippers - Hatch continues to expand their superior line of products with a new pair of Nippers. The Nippers feature machined aluminum bodies with super hardened carbide cutters. Also incorporated is a hook eye cleaner. Nippers include the lanyard and retail for $100. Three colors: Red, Blue and Silver

Hatch Nippers

Fly Lines

Rio Skagit Trout Max
RIO...Too many changes to list...Most of it is current lines going to ConnectCore low stretch core technology. If you have not expereinced ConnectCore do yourself a favor and try it with the next line you buy.

Skagit Trout Max - You will either love this or hate this new skagit head and here is why. It's short! Very Short! I did not like this skagit head at first but when I learned what was positive about it I ended loving it. Two key notes about this head. First is the shorter the rod the better simply meaning everyone out there that has been looking for or creating your own skagits for short switch or single hand rods, look no more, here it is! The second key feature of these short skagits is that they cast more off the tip of the rod than they do with water load. Bottom line is it makes them more versatile in many different situations than the more standard length skagits we're use to.

Single Hand Spey - More and more anglers are discovering the benefits of spey casting even with single hand rods. Armed with spey techniques you can go ahead and make a cast even if you have no backcast room behind you. Finally a line for single hand rods that really gives you the power to make these spey cast and also have a line that performs excellent overhead cast as well. This is a great choice for anglers that have always wanted to learn some spey techniques without having to invest in Specialized rods, reels and lines. Comes in #4 thru #8 weight sizes and retails for $84.95

Scientific Anglers

S/A...Just like RIO too many changes to list...I'll hit some highlights!

S/A Mastery Series news - The big news in this series is S/A has gone back to their roots and revised the lines that we all have come to know and love. Like the GPX, Expert Distance and the Bonefish taper, the very lines that has set so many standards in the industry! S/A did a re-evaluation on the mastery series and applied modern line technology to these long time favorites. We asked for it and S/A delivered...Thank you Scientific Anglers

Titan Line additions - If you casts streamers or bass bugs from foot or boat with single hand power rods than S/A's Titan series of lines might just become your new favorite. While they are a short shooting head the Titan incorporates a longer rear taper that can help in two ways. One, no need to strip all the way back to the fly line head to recast and two, better line stability on false casting. I guess you could also include better mend-ability. Titan started out as a freshwater floating line in the textured line category. Due to the overwhelming success of this taper S/A has decided to expand into clear tips, sinking tips, saltwater versions, big water tapers and even a smooth original version for those not interested in a textured line. Look for my post in the near future were I will break down the entire series of these awesome lines.

Airflo Bandit
Bandit - Australia / New Zealand line. You asked for it and here it is! The bandit is an ultra stealthy line with the first 12' broken up with two tone bands. It also features a long rear taper for line stability on long casts. 4-8 wt...$79.95

Skagit Compact G2 (Generation 2)
Since introduction in 2007 there has never been a need to improve upon the skagit head that still defines what we know as skagit today.
Supple changes are what the new G2 is all about. Leading the way is Super-DRI Technology. 

With Super-DRI the G2 now floats higher than ever which helps tracking and improves mending. Slightly shorter overall and slightly increased rear taper requires less energy to cast, produces tight precise loops and is more stable in flight. Utilizing Zone Technology, the back of the head is more buoyant for better tracking and improved mending capability meanwhile the tip features increased density to help drive the cast on layout.
Look for it in September 2015

OPST - Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics

Pure Skagit Commando Heads
Designed by Ed Ward and Jerry French,  the new Commando heads take skagit casting to the next revolution. Get a complete look at this new product in OPST - Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics - $54.95 - In Stock
Pure Skagit Lazer Line
To Complement Commando Heads OPST releases Pure Skagit Lazer Line. This new shooting line is super slick, hydrophobic and easy handling. This is a line for those of us who love to launch a cast, sit back, maybe eat a sandwich while the line rushes out of the guides and pulls line off the reel as is comes tight. $31.95 - In Stock

My pick for this years best of the best!

Tough decision...And the Winner is...In my opinion everything I put in this article is a winner! That's why it's in the article. But if you must know here is three of my immediate favorites!

Seeing that so much of my summer fishing is predator fishing I can't wait to get the New Winston Boron III Plus Jungle rod in my hands. It really felt great casting it on the pond. I can't wait to throw some big bugs on it and tame some predators.

Equally I'm just as excited to get back to swinging streamers for trout! I am really looking forward to the new Sage Little One Trout Spey and see how it compares to the Winston Boron III Microspey. That will be a great showdown!

Going along with two hand trout swinging is the new OPST Commando head and RIO's Trout Max Shooting head. In my limited experience with these new lines thus far I really believe we are looking at the next Skagit Revolution!


Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Aug 12, 2015

Fishing Big Alaska Bows with Sage 3, 4 and 5 wt. Switchers

LEFT: Scott O donnell - the "O" in MOW...mccune odonnell ward = MOW4
RIGHT: Ted Larsen - AZ Cards
A week at Royal Wolf Lodge
All spring I looked forward to a return to Royal Wolf Lodge in Alaska—fly fishing for rainbows, char and grayling with dries, streamers and mice. With a lower snow pack this year and the weather gods smiling, June 26 to July 3 was shaping up to be epic. Flying out to a different river each day and fishing like a rock star would be fun and engaging.

Sage has two new “Baby Speys” a 2 and 3 weight. Both are in the Sage ONE series of Switch rods at 10’6” and 11’. They relate to singlehanded rods in the 4-6 line weight range. It was my good fortune to fish with the 3 wt prototype this week, along with my ONE 4116-4 and 5116-4. Fishing with “live ammo” like cone headed leeches, sculpins, and mice for wild trout is the best way to learn what these three rods were about.

All three rods were fished with the Rio Skagit Short heads with sinking and floating tips. The running line was the OPST Lazer line, which is made in smaller diameters that match up well with the lighter heads. (I did not have access to the new Rio Skagit Trout Max 11’ heads.) Guidelines for head weights are #3, 275-300; #4, 325-350; and #5, 375-400 grains.

Fun, Fun Fun!

These are not toys or rods for kids. They are very efficient fly rods that make effortless, precise casts. One afternoon we floated and fished mice mostly from the boat. I fished the 4 wt with ridiculous ease. With a larger trout on, like the size of summer steelhead, it was BENT, but not overpowered. To cast any of these rods, you do not need to change your casting stroke, but just listen to that little voice that says “sloooow the %&#! down”. The sheer number of fishing casts made in a broad range of water, various flies, wind, along with near constant action made for relaxed fishing with no conscious thoughts about the mechanics or the tools. After awhile I forgot what rod I was fishing. You look at a spot and it goes there.

The typical single-handed line up for Alaska trout fishing is 5, 6 and 7 weights, fished with a floater and a sink tip or two. The two types of rods complemented each other well. The Sage Circa 589-4 was by far the best and most fun dry fly rod.

Royal Wolf is one of the top fly-out lodges in Alaska. Their staff of very experienced guides, pilots and chefs make for an extraordinary week.

Jerry Swanson
Fish Head Expeditions

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Aug 10, 2015

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (August 10th)

MP Quote

Fishing Report

Fishing has really picked up on the Deschutes and is primed for some good days on the Klickitat this week.  Get out and fish!  The 2:00 restrictions have been lifted for the Deschutes, but most others remain in place.  Please check with us, Washington or Oregon Fish and Game Departments before fishing if you are not sure about the current regulations. 

Summer Steelhead is generally the fish of choice for most of the hard-core anglers in the area and prospects for a fabulous day on the river are looking really good.  We heard fabulous reports from the Deschutes River last week and expect it to be good this week and next week too.  The White was spilling dirty water for a few days, but it did not stop the fish from snapping.  The dirty water usually just prevents anglers from getting out.  I love fishing when the clarity is 1’- 3’ because the fish tend to be in closer to shore and you can typically fish a light tip as they are sitting in the shallower water than typical. 

The Klickitat River has been fluctuating clarity from around 1’ to 3’ or so (and we love it).  It never quite got to that “steelhead green” color that everyone else likes, but it has been fishing pretty well nonetheless.  The clarity hasn’t seemed to match the temperature as much as typical.  I believe (and I am usually wrong) that the “in-river” work that has been going on is affecting clarity as some natural settling of the dirt is throwing some sediment into the river that wouldn’t be there otherwise.  The work that I am talking about is the removal of an old road above where the Little Klickitat comes in.  This work is a good thing.  Improvement of habitat and returning portions of the river that were altered back into a natural state is one thing that we should all be able to agree on, even if it causes a little extra sediment to flow down the river.  So that being said, the clarity should get better, but I love fishing with it hovering about 1.5’ because I can go wherever I want; there is no one to compete with and there are just as many fish around as when the river is clear. 

Smallmouth Bass fishing has been excellent on the John Day River and Columbia River along with many of the impoundments along the freeway on both the WA and OR side of the Gorge.  The Columbia came up quite a bit as the powers that be have been pushing water downstream in a successful attempt to cool down the big river.  It should finally drop below 70 this week for the first time in two months.  This should get the smallies moving and opens up a bit of water as the weeds have not been able to grow up to the surface yet in a lot of spots that have otherwise been really weedy this summer. 

Carp fishing has been good this past week as the rising flow in the Columbia has moved fish into some new flats that are relatively weed-free right now and holding quite a few fish. 

Trout fishing has been great in most places this past week.  Unfortunately for you trout guys, the reports on trout fishing tend to get pretty sparse as soon as the steelhead start to show up.  As soon as one guy says “steelhead”, everyone seems to forget about the trout fishing.  I would bet that the Crooked, McKenzie, Metolius and Upper Deschutes are all fishing really well.  The upper part of the Lower Deschutes (near Warm Springs) has also been great lately with both Slate Wing Duns and a few early Mahogany Mayflies hatching that have been getting some attention as well as the evening caddis hatch just before dark. 

Lost Lake is still fishing very well, and trout have been coming up to the surface early and late to eat Callibaetis, Grasshoppers and Carpenter Ants, as well as just about anything else including beetles, damselflies and maybe some early caddis. 

As always, we are happy to talk fishing any time.  Give us a call if you have any specific questions on local rivers, gear, and tactics, or if you just want some encouragement to get out of the office.

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

  © 'and' Mike Prine 2009-2014

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