First Fish

…..Fall leaves so bright among the evergreen trees that they look like flames running rampant in the forest. Blue skies with only a few puffy clouds to mark the abrupt contrast of colors and a pair of hawks that seem to fly effortlessly inside of a panorama that is so amazingly simple to look at but perhaps more complicated than we are as yet able to understand.
  A light fall breeze brushes across the lake as we release the straps holding our red canoe to the roof and get set to lower it to the ground. I set up two fly rods and set them in the canoe along with paddles, life jackets and assorted fishing gear. I take up my paddle and we silently move from the shore to begin our journey into the unknown. Oh, this is not the first time on the water for me nor is flyfishing a recent interest in my life, but in the front of our craft is an eleven year old boy, also known as my son, and this is HIS first time on the lake, any lake. He was a motorcycle racer, RC car competitor, airplane and drone pilot with an affinity for long bicycle rides and a budding interest in track and field. While he has always professed an interest in fishing he has, until recently, been unwilling to miss anything he loves to do for the sake of fly fishing. For whatever reason, he let me know that he was willing to try it. I have explained more than once what fly fishing is really about to him. How it is more about going fishing than it is about catching. Not everyone understands this, but there are those that do “get it.”  Twenty minutes into our journey he says: “dad, this is so…….peaceful.” No fish yet, but already I am of the mind that he “gets it.”
  Not long after this revelation he gets couple of small tugs on his line and soon after he has his first trout bending the rod. While I am working hard to not coach him (it’s his experience to have, not mine) I notice that he is almost expressionless. He is tending to business in his calm and quiet manner, not understanding that the fish may have caught him instead, he leads the fish into my waiting net. I remove the fly and release the trout. He seem quiet, not in any particular hurry to get the fly back into the water, like he knows the day is only getting started and there are more fish to catch. And there are more, and he does catch them. After a few more fish to hand he begins to sort things out and starts forming opinions about where the best spots are and why. And while some of it is nothing but youthful speculation, there is some insight there. It is as if that first fish had indeed caught him, and has made him use his ability to reason and put things together. This is life, and he may have found a quiet place to learn and reflect while on his journey.
  Life has always been a chore and a joy. Having a special place to rest makes the next day’s path a bit easier to walk. Powerful stuff that we all should learn sometime, no matter how old you are. It’s not the fish, it’s the fishing….
    And thank you son, for taking me with you.

J.M. Jones

Posted by Jack on 10/15 at 07:53 PM in (0) CommentsPermalink

We are just weeks away…

We are just weeks away…

  Arguably the best trout fishing of the year is just around the corner.  We have been busy getting ready to outfit you for all your Salmon Fly needs.  Thousands of flies, cases of floatant and shake, box upon box of leader and tippet have been coming in for the last month or so.  Are you ready?  WE ARE!
We thought we’d share a little bit about how to maximize your time on the river during this hatch.

Before you go

• Now is the time to test last years leaders and tippets.  If they have been stored properly they’re most likely okay, but you should check to be sure. 
• Clean your reel!  Most of today’s reels do not need any lubrication, so be sure before you lube.  Better yet, bring them into the shop for us to clean and pull maintenance, we will gladly do it for free.
• Check your fly line for any cracks or separation.  If they’re in good shape, clean them in the kitchen sink with dish soap.  Be sure to rinse well and run them through a towel a couple of times.  Note, only do the first 60 or so   feet unless you fish like your last names “Rajeff.”
• Organize your fly boxes.  This seemingly endless task was better suited during the last snow storm, but you were probably busy tying steelhead flies.
• Make sure you waders are still “dry” and patch any leaks.  Check the laces and felts on your boots to be sure there as ready as you are.

On the River

• Successful anglers will fish the hard spots.  You know that little break in the trees that you always say to yourself “I bet there’s a fish in there”, well that’s the spot.  Go for it and you will probably be delightfully surprised.  Shimmy down the shale on an inside bend, those boulders under the water are holding fish.  Break through the willows to cast under them either, side arm or with the “bow and arrow” cast.
• Change your fly often.  The successful angler not only watches their fly floating by, but also the water under it.  Looking for refusals…  If a fish refuses your fly, they want to eat!!!  Change to something they will eat.  Sometimes it’s the second fly and sometimes it’s the tenth.  Keep changing.
• Don’t tie up a hundred “Norm Woods Specials”, tie 10 each of ten different patterns.  Variety is key, when you think the fish went off the bite, change your fly.  If you are tying, get creative, tie a fly you’ve never seen before, sometimes a less realistic looking fly is best.  Hell, you may just create your new favorite.
• Keep on the move.  If possible start at the bottom of the spot and work your way upstream.  When I guided, we would often park the boat and work a mile of riverbank before hiking back to the boat.  Two to three casts in the little spots between the willows, then look for the next break.
• Play the fish as quickly as possible and keep them in the water as much as possible.  Please do not be a hero and bring your light rods, 5’s and 6’s give the trout the best chance for survival.  Nature gave them this hatch to help them rebuild their strength from the rigors of spawning. 
• Expect company.  Sorry, you will not be alone, this hatch brings crowds and that’s okay.  Just be sure to have it in your list of expectations and it might not bother you as much.


This is a prime target for your fly.


Bob’s Hat is a prime example of having a good selection of flies at the ready.


Salmon Flies are a great source of protein!

Posted by Jack on 04/12 at 08:37 PM in (0) CommentsPermalink

Choosing the best spey rod for trout

Choosing the Best Spey Rod for Trout Fishing

Spey fishing for trout is one of the fastest growing niches in the world of fly fishing. These days, you can find two-handed rods in a variety of sizes and lengths that will cover just about any trout spey fishing situation you can imagine. With all of the choices available, it helps to consider the rod’s taper, line size, and length when trying to find the perfect spey rod for your needs.

Spey vs Switch for Trout
While both spey rods and switch rods look identical, the reality is they have radically different actions with radically different performance attributes. To understand the difference, let’s first look at the actual taper or flex of each rod. A true Spey taper will possess a powerful tip and a relatively more moderate mid and butt section. That’s not to say spey rods can’t be fast action, but typically there’s some bend in the middle of the shaft. This taper allows the caster to easily make a sustained anchor cast, like a snap-T or double spey, without the middle of the rod unloading too quickly. In contrast, a switch taper bends more like a standard single-hand rod. It’s usually fast through the butt and mid sections and has some flex in the tip section. This allows the caster to easily make an over-head cast in situations like beach fishing and works well for nymph fishing with strike indicator rigs. In summary, a spey taper will excel at making spey casts while a switch rod will do better with overhead casts. While you can perform a spey cast with a switch rod, due to the faster butt and mid sections wanting to recover quickly (go straight) the caster needs to use more line speed and the timing must be spot on. Consequently, switch rods are not the best choice if you’re learning how to spey cast.

Trout Spey Line Size
If you’re new to the spey game you’ll notice that a #4 weight Spey rod is considerably heavier than a #4 weight single-hand rod. The reality is they’re not even close. A good rule of thumb is to consider the power of a spey rod two line sizes heavier than a single-hand rod of the same line size. For example, a #4 weight spey rod has a similar power to a #6 weight single-hand rod.

Knowing this, there are three questions you must ask yourself when choosing a line size for your new trout spey set-up. First off, how big are the trout you’re chasing? If you’re here in Oregon, chances are you’re going to be swinging rivers like the Deschutes, McKenzie, and Yakima. In general, our average fish ranges from 12” to 16” in length. Consequently, a #3 or #2 weight is ideal. Rocky Mountain trout tend to run slightly larger necessitating a #4 weight on many rivers. Finally, if you’re headed to Alaska, the average fish size on many rivers is 18” to 24”, which demands a #5 or #6 weight. (There are places up there that call for a #7 weight spey) The second question in choosing the best line size is what are the tackle requirements for your fishery? Will you need to cast large, heavy streamers? Does your river require heavy sink-tips?  While your average fish size may dictate a #3 weight, you may need to jump up to a #4 weight if heavy sink-tips are required on your river. Conversely, if soft hackles and caddis pupa are on the menu, #2 and #3 weights are better for protecting light tippets and small flies. The last question you need to consider is what are the average environmental conditions on your river? Large, open tail waters here in the West often offer up some fierce wind. –This element should also be considered above and beyond the size of your fish and tackle requirements as well.

Trout Spey Length
Choosing the length of your trout spey is the easiest part of the equation. Put simply, the longer the rod the longer you can cast. -The shorter the rod, the tighter you can be to the bank, brush and overhanging trees. While shorter rods in the 10.5’ to 11’ range clearly have an advantage in small rivers and creeks, longer rod in the 11.5’ to 12’ range have a few clear advantages on bigger water. First off, they’re easier to learn on if you’re new to the game. Secondly, a longer stick makes casting sink-tips way more efficient and fun. And finally, the additional length is ideal for line control and mending, especially on medium to large rivers. 

If I Only Had One Trout Spey Rod
Admittedly I’m a gear whore… When swinging for trout on my home waters of the Deschutes, the inside of my drift boat looks a lot like the deck of a glittery bass boat you might see in a tournament on the Outdoor Channel –Rods, rods and more rods! I’ll have a #3 weight rigged with a floating line for soft hackle fishing. Often times I’ll have a second #3 weight rigged with a light sink-tip and smaller streamer. I couldn’t leave the boat ramp without a #4 weight donning a heavy sink-tip/streamer combo, which I have an additional floating line for just in case I need to swing caddis pupa in the evening wind. And finally, waiting in the wings is a #5 weight that I only use for throwing heavy streamers on the windiest of days. Each tool has a specific fishing purpose in mind. That being said, you can get pretty crazy with this sport. However, if I was going to recommend one trout spey rod that can handle the widest range of casting conditions, fish size and tackle requirements, I would go with the G.Loomis IMX-PRO 11’11 #4 weight. This rod has a true spey taper which gives me that smooth, groovy feeling I love when two-handed casting. Additionally, it’s light enough to fish soft hackles and caddis pupa with 5X tippet on a dry line, yet it has enough in the tank to cast 10’-12’ of T-10 sink-tip and a weighted streamer. While this rod is medium-fast action, the tip is powerful enough that I can put some heat on it when I need to blast through a stiff wind. More so, I love the 11’11 length –Weight wise it feels like a shorter rod in your hand, though the additional length commands big water in the distance and line control departments. Finally, not only is the 41111-4 IMX-PRO a great trout spey choice for the rivers here in Oregon and Washington, it’s a perfect stick for many of fisheries I love to visit in the Rockies and Alaska.

Wading through all of the techno-mumbo-jumbo of spey fishing can be a little intimidating at first. Hopefully the points above will help you narrow down your search and get you going down the right path with trout spey. The good news is the staff at Northwest Fly Fishing Outfitters is always happy to help answer your questions, set you up with the right rod and make sure you have a balanced line for your new outfit. 

Tom Larimer

Posted by Jack on 04/06 at 09:28 PM in (0) CommentsPermalink

Tying a Bunny leach Tube Fly

Tying a Bunny Leach Tube Fly

So, this is why I don’t tie much anymore!  Zach Shot this video while I was working on an idea I had using some cool new frosted tipped rabbit strips.  We couldn’t include the audio as we wanted to keep it family friendly.

Posted by Jack on 03/21 at 08:31 PM in (0) CommentsPermalink

Winter trout swinging

Deschutes Trout Spey

So before we get started let’s take a moment to prove that yes the Deschutes will provide the tug on streamers even in the winter. This blog post covers several trips in the last month.


Eric testing his new G Loomis IMX-Pro 41111-4 lined with an Airflo Skagit Scout and 10’ of t-14 P: Zach Epstein


The first trip we floated a short section of the river on a partly cloudy day in hopes of testing some new lines, rods, and flies.  Eric had his new IMX-Pro short spey, I had the new Spey lite series of lightweight compact integrated lines for Scientific anglers and Robbie had well… Robbie brought the beer. Water temps were in the mid forties and the river was hovering around 4,500 cubes.  It’s the middle of winter and the fish are lethargic and not exactly full of piss and vinegar.  We had a slow day filled with lots of fly changes. Eric stuck with a steelhead presentation and a heavy tip. I went with floating line, long leader, and tungsten soft hackles. Eric won hucking the meat.  We fished deep runs with tanks near the shore, buckets, and a boulder field.  Honestly we were every where you would find trout in the winter. Probably the best part of the day was taking a break from the rain and dreary weather on Mt. Hood and hanging with friends on the river.  We did the usual; I make fun of Eric, Robbie Makes fun of me, I fall out of the boat, Alaska stories, and talk of bass.  I think the most interesting part of the day was how quickly you can get results by changing flies. Trusts your gut that fish are present and work that water.


Eric’s reaction upon learning this was not a bass trip but a trout trip.  P: Zach Epstein


Later in the month Robbie and I decided that once again we needed sunshine and some trout.  So we headed out to my favorite river right campground below Maupin and strung up the trout speys.  We arrived in the late afternoon and were moving at a really casual pace.  It was windy and in the 50’s.  I swear the feeling of warm wind after a summer in Alaska followed by your typical PNW fall and winter was worth the gas money alone.  Fishing was exceptionally good that afternoon. Fish were jumping and swimming around us with wild abandon. I had tug after tug and between the two of us I think we cleaned up shop pretty well. Its really fun to have a lot of hook ups, hoot and holler with your buds and generally be pretty stoked on the river.  I used a lot of t-14 on this trip, the river got a lot colder and I wanted to stay deep and slow. If there was a F.I.S.T head for 3-4wt speys I would have used it. No matter what I want to animate that fly just at different swing speeds.


Robbie puts one on the bank with a rusty micro sculpin. P: Zach Epstein


Typically, I find that gentle animation of the fly pays off. I stole a euro nymphing technique and instead of jigging the fly as it swings across, I drag (towards the bank) and relax the fly. Think of the relaxing step as a quality mend like you would when setting up your swing. Just enough to keep the line straight but fast enough to not pull the fly up.  What that does is take the slack line you find in jigging a fly and replace it with animation under a tight line.  There’s a million different ways to do this and no one way is the end all be all.  I just cycle through presentations till I get results.  Some I start with based on environmental factors like changes in barometric pressure or wither or not a fish has cover and concealment near by.



The Orange Crush defying Deschutes logic. P: Zach Epstein


So there you have it, trout on a swung fly. I hope it motivates you to give it try, we are stocking all the gear you need from G. Loomis, Winston, Echo, and Airflo. Don’t be left single handed, come in and talk to us.

Posted by Jack on 03/06 at 10:00 AM in (0) CommentsPermalink

Trout Spey Camping Trip

Trout Spey Camping trip on The Crooked River

My favorite pool for greased lining. P: Z. Epstein

Trout Spey camping Trip
Two through five weight spey rods are nothing new to the two hand crowd.  I use them in Alaska for leopard trout, Dolly Varden, grayling. In Oregon I swing for native red sides on the Deschutes and now for the first time on the Crooked River.  So if it’s nothing new why tell you about it?  Well… because I had fun with my fishing buddy and to me that’s what it’s all about.  So, Monday morning we loaded up Susie (that’s my truck) with 3wt Winston “Microspey” rods and a 18 pack of Tecate.  There was other stuff but not really as relevant to fishing.  The drive out from my home on Mt. Hood was hectic, lots of rain and wind. As we crossed the cascades the sun broke out over the horizon and Colby put on Electric Wizard. The drive turned into a cruise as we made our way into the Crooked River.  Located Just outside of Prineville Oregon and just below Bowman damn is ten plus miles of walk and wade paradise.  I’ll spare you the travel brochure, just know it’s beautiful and easy to access. 


Micro Spey setups? Which line and what flies? Streamers on the crooked! Yea I know it seems like a whole new world but really it’s just about finding what works for you.  My boss on the Kanektok put it like this “For hundreds of years trout anglers have been trying to duplicate what trout eat… The spey angler thinks, this is the fly I like and you will eat it!“  But in all seriousness the Crooked is not known as a streamer river or a wet fly river.  Well I can tell you swinging a leech with the right speed and depth in the winter will put em’ on the bank.

Zach Epstein catches a resident rainbow on a #8 black leach swung heavy across the bucket P: Colby Olson

Our setups consisted of 3wt Winston micro Spey rods with Airflo’s Skagit Scout heads. I like my Skagit head a little on the light side when I’m using a floating MOW tip. Sometimes if the line thickness at the tip of the head matches up to something from my versitip Scandi heads, I’ll toss that on for a better floating tip taper.  Why not just use a Scandi head?  Well because I don’t need 29’ of fly line on this river and I don’t want to wade too far in to make room for that head length, again personal preference.  I went with 9’ 5x tapered leaders and anywhere from 1-3 feet of 5x tippet. Colby went with an intermediate tip and 71/2’ tapered leaders.  I changed the length of my leader to change depth and rising angle of my fly depending on if I was swinging a soft hackle or streamer.  I really enjoy these setups, some people call’em skandits. They snake roll and single spey just fine, and of course all your sustained anchor casts will reach out and hit your camera man as well.



1.Colby trying to poke my eye out. P: Z. Epstein 2.Zach enjoying a snake roll P: Colby Olson
Lining up these rods correctly come with time and experience, or a trip into our shop for a chat with us.  A few things you’ll learn when swinging double hander’s for trout is that fly selection and presentation matter.  Not one fish was caught on a downstream and across presentation.  I grease lined or swung it heavy (that’s a broadside cast with a downstream mend) for every fish landed.  If I got taps put no tug I dropped the loop and let those little marabou leeches puff up in the fish’s face.  “That last one never works…”  Cast across broadside so that the leader and tip land in the tank, opposite of the center current, and let the current pull the Skagit head down. Watch this ugly U-turn of a line slowwwwwly pull the fly downstream, funny how right as the leader makes its way into the faster water and starts lifting the soft hackle, a fish will bite. 


Colby doing his best Lani Waller Impression P: Z. Epstein
Colby threw a laser into a 10” wide foam line for this one P: Z. Epstein

At the end of day one we had plenty of fish and even a few beers left over from the day. We camped right on the river’s shore. I ate top ramen and Colby had some fancy backpacking meal (guess which one of us has a real job?) We burned a few logs in the pit and I almost convinced Colby to give up his IT career for a summer in Alaska guiding.  After two days of swinging flies for trout and hanging out on the river in the sun I came to the same conclusion I always do. How do I do that again as soon as possible with people I want to be around.  If you think you would be interested in spending some time with a lightweight two hander come in and see us. 


Hey Colby does your snopeak stove do this?  P: Z. Epstein
 
Colby warming up after a long day of fishing.  P: Z. Epstein

Posted by Jack on 01/03 at 11:17 AM in (0) CommentsPermalink

The Flyshop

Ah, the fly shop. Most of us have good memories of the local fly shop, and, perhaps a few near some of our fishing destinations. We have been in shops that are well appointed with oak trim, paneled walls, tight woven wool carpets and displays that were built to be part of a retail marketing system. And we have been to those that simply have everything on display in a sort of organized chaos theme. Most of the tying tools are centrally located, except those that did not fit so they are over there instead. Might be a few dogs around either type of shop, cuz dogs just, well, fit.
In an age of internet shopping there might be those that now rarely set foot in a fly shop. Everything they buy is but a click and two days away. No parking, no dealing with the folks that work at fly shops, never bumping into someone else while looking thru the fly bins.
Perhaps it’s my age, but I like going to the fly shop where I live. It smells like coffee there, and it sounds like people who fish are talking. Countless times I hear someone say “I was just there! We were using this little red fly like this one here. Even Fred was catching fish, but he was using this green thing….”
Perhaps one of the dogs wanders up and licks your hand and sits down next to you. He really does not care that you are finally going to step up and get new waders, he only cares that you have not petted him yet. And the odd thing is that very few people seem to care about the interruption. There is something nice about the dog picking YOU for getting attention.
Your local shop is a resource that connects you to your passion for fishing or fly tying. Places to fish, casting tips or formal lessons. River conditions, environmental issues and the fact that a fish was caught just this morning in the local area using a green and yellow Intruder behind 12’ of T-11. It’s a place where memories start. A place where information flows both directions all day. Friends meet here, and sometimes friends are made here. It’s one of those places that the human touch seems to make it better.

Jonsey

Posted by Jack on 12/04 at 09:01 PM in (0) CommentsPermalink

State of the Deschutes

    Our “Crown Jewel” of steelhead and trout rivers in Oregon, the DESCHUTES River is in trouble!  But… It is still fishing quite well.

A good many of us who fish realize that the river now faces some new challenges. From where I sit, river temperatures, declining insect populations, algae growth and wide spread “black spot” disease are a few of the most often discussed subjects. Many of the folks that we come into contact with feel that the mixing tower at Lake Billy Chinook is the reason for the decline of the rivers health. There seems to be plenty of science-based facts that indicate this conclusion. And if I seem a bit iffy, forgive me. I am not a scientist, biologist or any other “ist” that has the education to make educated conclusions. I DO believe these problems exist and, more importantly, need to be addressed. I have seen the evidence and there can be no doubt that the Deschutes River is changing, and not changing for the better.

    Rather than drag you, the reader, through the thought process of trying to convince you of the reasons behind the difficulties. Or urge you to support the groups working hard to affect these declining changes (and you should be helping to support these groups). I will instead offer the same advice I have offered seemingly forever.

You might want to head to the Deschutes and do some fishing. Trout?  Steelhead? Same answer to both questions. Fishing has been reliably solid! No, not red hot, but very consistent regardless of the media’s reporting.

Guides are telling us that this season has been very good for trout. Caddis hatches are still going strong. Fishing has been great, and it seems that no one is fishing. It’s no secret that this year’s steelhead return has been very low, but the catching has been fair. Recently, it has turned into a great time to fish for steelhead. There have been many reported multiple fish days of late. There might be fewer steelhead, but with fewer folks fishing, your odds are actually better. Regardless of the difficulties there is one constant thread that runs through this…. A good day fishing is still, a good day fishing.
 
Declining insects, algae growth and all these negative issues aside… The fishing has been quite good. The river needs help, yes. And now! But, you should head on over if you are looking to get a bit of fishing in.

John Jones

Posted by Jack on 09/19 at 10:35 AM in (0) CommentsPermalink

Mt. Hood lakes Update

Fishing report for the MT Hood Lakes for July 2017.

Fishing has been spot on now that the weather is finally warming up and so are the fish. Lots of bugs hatching and the fish are very active. We have had some incredible catches of rainbow, brook, and brown trout over the last few weeks.  While most of the crowds are heading to the Deschutes this time of year, the lakes are beautiful destination loaded with both stocked and native trout.
Some techniques that have been fruitful can be stripping for trout with a sinking lake line and woolly booger. We have had great success with the olive, black, and dark brown buggers.
For the risers we have prevailed with Callibaetis, Ants, Purple Haze, and Woolly Buggers.

We Hope you all get a chance to get out on the local lakes very soon. Imagine catching lovely trout only an hour outside of Portland, it’s like a dream come true.

Tight lines all,
NWFFO Staff

Posted by Jack on 07/05 at 01:19 PM in (0) CommentsPermalink

Tying The Big Willie

We’re coming into spring, and along with that, Bass and Browns will have a big jump in metabolism after a long winter of not eating much. 

Posted by Jack on 03/15 at 08:36 AM in (0) CommentsPermalink

Tying With Finn Raccoon

Using Finn Raccoon as a sub for marabou in very cold temps

Posted by Jack on 01/14 at 10:33 AM in Bugs and Tying • (0) CommentsPermalink

Tying Big Intruders

Posted by Jack on 01/14 at 10:31 AM in Bugs and Tying • (0) CommentsPermalink

Tying The Pinky Tuscadero

Posted by Jack on 11/04 at 01:14 PM in (0) CommentsPermalink

Tying The Pom Skater

Posted by Jack on 07/16 at 03:51 PM in Bugs and Tying • (0) CommentsPermalink

New Employee

Meet Dutchess, Jason’s German Shepherd puppy. Dutchess will be in the shop most days Jason is here, swing by and say hi anytime

Posted by Jack on 07/12 at 09:38 AM in (0) CommentsPermalink
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