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.


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,

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. 

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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

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Tying The Pinky Tuscadero

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Tying The Pom Skater

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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

East Side Update

Fall River:  There is a real issue here.  Since they stopped raising the stockers at the hatchery and are importing from Wizard Falls on the Metolius the fish seem to “disappear”.  Hatchery guys I talked to say they have recorded stockers at the mouth of the Deschutes within a week of introduction.  They is very little in the way of natives in Fall River any more.  Some say some Brookies and Browns up towards the headwaters, but I haven’t seen any.

Century Dive Lakes: Century Dive open to the gate just past Lava Lake turn off coming from the south.  All Crane and Wickiup launches are open.  Davis Lake is as full as I’ve seen it in a while.  One trip there had me blown off the water.  Best hit the lakes in the AM.  The wind has been coming up daily around 2:00 – 3:00.
North Twin still waiting for initial stocking after they Rotenoned it last fall to eliminate bull heads illegally introduced.  Hatchery guys told me they will re-stock with Oak Springs trout from the Deschutes hatchery.  South Twin should be good for stocked fish.

East and Paulina Lakes not open.  They are shooting for Memorial Day

Posted by Jack on 05/11 at 04:54 PM in (0) CommentsPermalink

SIMMS Limited WQW G3’s In Stock Now

SIMMS G3 Guide Wader - WQW Limited Edition
In Stock Now

For a limited time only, Simms is offering a special edition G3 Guide™ Stockingfoot to benefit the Bozeman-based Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation. WQW helps reintegrate traumatically combat-wounded U.S. veterans and active service members from recent wars into society by building hope and resilience, facilitating camaraderie, and providing security and serenity through fly fishing in southwest Montana. Help us raise $100,000 for Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation by purchasing these limited edition waders. Simms is proud to work with the finest specialty retailers in North America.

Posted by Jack on 01/29 at 08:40 AM in (0) CommentsPermalink

Tying Berry’s Fish Mover

Posted by Jack on 01/09 at 04:11 PM in Bugs and Tying • (0) CommentsPermalink

Fly Contest Voting

Here are the flies for you to vote on. Pick one in each category and shoot us an email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or vote on facebook at Everyone who votes will be entered to win a custom Finn Utility Tube Fly Wallet and all the flies. Make sure to give is your name if you vote via email. We will draw the winner Jan. 10th 2016. Good Luck!






Posted by Jack on 12/10 at 10:24 AM in (0) CommentsPermalink

Rigging Tube Flies

Posted by Jack on 12/03 at 05:32 PM in (0) CommentsPermalink
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