Oct 23, 2014

EXPLORATION - Secret River

Secret Oregon River
The ______ River
5:00 am always comes as a surprise. No matter how often that alarm goes off early, I still always believe that I must have inadvertently set it too early. This time, the whiskey from the night before was pulling me back to sleep, but we were on a mission. Coffee, sausage, eggs, quickly. Then more coffee, wet waders, and into the truck.

The ______ River had been on our minds for quite some time. From the research we had done, it looked like everything we could want in a winter steelhead stream. The river had no drive-in access, almost no private lands, and most importantly; no reports in any of the books or web forums. There was (still is) a highway that crosses it down along the beach, and it seemed like a difficult task to walk up for several miles through the marshy tidewater to get to the thickly forested, emerald green pools that (hopefully) were waiting for us upstream. We would need to get really creative.

secret road to fly fishing river
Shhh don't tell anyone...
We had spent several hours the night before scouring maps and scrolling through Google Earth until our heads hurt. We had found what looked like old logging road that led to a retention pond that drained a mile or so into the river, or at least some scattered lines through the forest that resembled an old logging road on Google Earth. Based on previous experiences, those “roads” may or may not actually be there any longer. We saw no evidence that there were any gates on that road, but we had run into too many unexpected gates while exploring to be sure. That was all we needed for an exploratory trip.

Shaking off our hangovers, the hour drive to the coast gave us time to get our heads right. Now trying to read a printed-off page from Google Maps is not that hard, unless what looked like one logging road through a thick forest is actually an extended network of logging roads due to a fresh clear cut. This was going to be more difficult than we thought. We could see where the drainage was. It was just down that hillside maybe two miles away. We just couldn’t figure out which of these “roads” (mud pits) was going to get us there.

It took more than an hour of driving around these logging roads (once all the way back to the highway) to find the right place to park. We had driven past the right spur road several times already, debating its authenticity. We were basically as close as we could get to the river. A bit of a hike got us sweating, and then a tough, long scramble down to the river dropped us right on an amazing looking little pool.

Slow down, no need to rush here. We took a few minutes to string up, and most importantly, sit down and listen to the river. It’s calming and reminds us to take our time. My partner steps up first and rolls a nice cast right into the meat of the current. Fish on! It’s a nice coastal cutthroat, which wasn’t what we were hunting for, but it’s a good start. A couple more cutties came out of that run, but no chrome steelhead. We decided to head downstream, which turned out to be a bad idea because we quickly ran into that swampy tidewater marsh that we had been so careful to miss on the way up. It was high-tide (well planned) and we did see some steelhead cruise up a deep unfishable trough.

We kept on trucking downstream for some reason. We had seen that a little tributary met up with the main stream down here somewhere and maybe there were fish stacking up at the confluence.

Mud and muck and knee deep misery eventually forced us to turn around. We never saw any confluence, but our progress had slowed down to a muddy crawl. If bigfoot is real, he must live down there because no one is ever going to be able to find him there. That mistake cost us a couple of hours of precious winter daylight, but we would never wonder again what is downstream…

So four or five hours after our journey started, we had made just a couple of casts and really hadn’t found a whole lot of great action. Just chalk it up to learning. Heading upstream through some seriously thick underbrush, we finally found a nice little corner run. There was a log down across the front of the pool. It lay at an angle so that the deepest part of the run, right where the river turns, was cutoff. We either had to get a fly under or over the log, but there must be some chrome in the corner pocket.

Ryan drifts one under the log and lets it dangle… Bam! Fish on! A huge, chrome bright, fresh-out-of-the-salt 17# winter steelhead gave up an impressive fight, jumping and running through that small pool before popping off and slinking back into the depths of the river. All of a sudden, the day takes an amazing turn for the better.

secret river fish
 Bam! Fish on!
We let it rest for a good twenty minutes. This is very difficult to do. One must find something to preoccupy their time while resting a hole. Re-tie a leader, sing a song, or organize a fly box…

A sufficient amount of time passes, and then I step up to drift a few under the log with no success. I can see what we are going to have to do here; I have to throw one across to the other side of the log and let it drift all the way back to the corner. This was not a task which I foresaw much success, but one cast over the log, a slow drift, then FISH ON! A second huge, chrome bright, fresh-out-of-the-salt 17# winter steelhead is on but we have a problem; he is on the other side of a log that I cannot get around. We dance this little dance for a minute, but this is certainly a problem with limited options for a solution.

I knew he was going to jump eventually, so I got ready and when he came airborne, I pulled on him as hard as I could. Somehow miraculously, by sheer will alone, I got him to land atop the log, pulling him about five feet through the air in less than a second. I pulled my line to its max, and just as he was about to slide into the water on my side of log, he kicked hard and fell back onto the wrong side…. Needless to say, I quickly popped him off.

The End to something Victorious
The day was over. We had been defeated, yet still felt victorious. We did not land a single steelhead, yet this was one of the most successful days of fishing that I have ever had. The drive home was amazingly quiet and serene. We stopped and took some pictures of the sunset on the beach, then headed back to the house. We poured some cheap whiskey and then pulled out the map to look for our next place to explore.

Andrew Perrault
Gorge Fly Shop

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Oct 22, 2014

Winston MicroSpey takes on the Mighty Missouri

As we drive up I-15 through Idaho on our way to Montana it's clear that fall has arrived in these parts of the country. Leaves are turning, the days are growing short and fall smell is in the air. We are on our way to conjoin the Missouri River equipped with the new Winston Boron BIII TH-MS (MicroSpey).

Montana: Missouri River - Fly Fishing
Big Water, Big Sky

I booked this trip way back in January. Little did I know I would have a brand new Trout two hander in my possession. You see on this very river just a year ago I landed my first two hand caught trout swinging a pair of soft hackle flies. From that point forward only one thing was certain about my future of trout fishing. It would be with a Two Hand Rod!

The package arrived about a week before the trip. I didn't even get a chance to go hit water for some line tuning. I just went with my gut and gave myself a plan B if needed. The Winston MicroSpey comes in 3 sizes, 3106-4, 4110-4 and 5116-4. My new rod is the 4110-4

There is a way different vibe at Winston and I like it!

From my first cast I knew something was very different about this rod. A little slower than what I was use to so I had to take some casting time to make some adjustments in my stroke. Once I tuned in to the action a feeling of harmony came over me. 

The MicroSpey has a compact lightweight feel much more like a good single hand rod. I think the compact feel comes from the grip. The grip on this rod keeps your casting box in a tight formation. It's so lightweight in hand and balances beautifully. 

Montana: Missouri River - Fly Fishing - Wild Life
I believe that is a Golden Eagle Not sure...I know fish better than birds!

The Boron Responds

For the past year I have been fishing the Sage ONE 4116-4. The Rio Scandi Short has been a perfect marriage with this rod. The faster tip of the ONE really favors this line. I like this line because it gives me the versatility to make a variety of spey casts and also performs overhead and roll casts to perfection. I feel that these casts are an important element to the trout two hand angler for versatility.

For the purpose of comparison and fish-ability I lined the MicroSpey with this Rio line. While I knew the MicroSpey has a slower action what I didn't expect was how the Boron in the butt section would load and respond with such authority. Casts were effortless and as I fine tuned into a relaxed stroke I found myself overcasting my targets. I should also mention that when I say "tuning into the relaxed stoke", doing so took about half dozen casts. The MicroSpey (like its single hand and full size spey siblings) are remarkably intuitive!

Montana: Missouri River - Greg Darling - MicroSpey
So Sweeet!

Battle for lines

For lines I fished a Rio Scandi Short VersiTip in the 320 Grain. That grain weight is nearing the top end of the suggested grain weight window for this rod. I usually like to feel a rod load deep so being at the top end of the scale comes as no surprise to me. I fished this set up with a Lamson Litespeed #3, a Rio ConnectCore 0.026 Shooting line. For soft hackle fishing I used the intermediate and type 3 tips and for streamer fishing I used the type 3 or type 6 tips. If there was one thing I could change with the Rio Scandi Short is I would like to see it fully integrated into a shooting line. Often times I find myself stripping a streamer inside the head loop and this gets really annoying dragging the loop back and forth through the guides. This is not a problem when I'm flat out swinging flies but I want to refer back to versatility. Today's two hand rods are so versatile and the only holding them back is lines.

The race for great switch lines is on and great progress is being made. I want to be quite clear that there will never be one perfect line to do everything. Example; My Rio Scandi Short VersiTip does a lot of things really good but it has a limit to fly size and sink tip size. Bigger and deeper is better suited for a skagit type of line. Nymph/Indicator fisherman could be looking at the best new rod ever for these techniques but you will need to line it out with a indicator line that has a heavy head to casts the cargo and a long rear taper to make the mends

Winston Boron III MicroSpey Specifications -
Line(Grain Window)LengthTop GripBottom GripWeight (oz)
3wt.(190-270 grains)10'6"11"3'6"4
4wt.(240-330 grains)11'11"3'6"4 5/8
5wt.(300-390 grains)11'6"11"3'6"5

New lines are expected soon from Airflo. Winston Ambassador Tom Larimer worked closely with Airflo to produce lines specifically for the MicroSpey and should breath some new life into your existing switch rods. Airflo Switch Streamer and Airflo Switch Float. Both Airflo lines will feature fully integrated running lines and are designed to be used with polyleaders and T-Series sink tip material.

Montana: Missouri River - Fly Fishing with MicroSpey - Greg Darling

I get the most satisfaction from new discovery. Discovery comes in many different forms. This stretch of the Missouri river is heavily fished every day for about 9 months of the year. Most are dry fly, indicator or streamer fishing and much of that is done from drift boat. If feels very different to me when I’m swinging flies and wading in a stretch of water others have ignored. I feel like I am presenting something new. The fish respond and I am rewarded with good catches. There are many fishermen on the river but none are doing what I’m doing. While I certainly did not discover the latest greatest new fishery I have in fact still made a discovery.

My conclusion is simple. I'm taking the MicroSpey on tour this year. Rainbows, Browns, Bass, Walleye and anything that swims in front of my fly beware! I have a new tool and I can't remember when I have been this excited!

BassProGreg - Greg Darling - Gorge Fly Shop
Catch the story of my first Trout on the Swing in - 
Rio Fishing Trip - Missouri River, Montana

Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Oct 9, 2014

Klickitat River Late Season with John Garrett

Jeremy Hull successfully swung up this beauty right after losing one earlier. He totally redeemed himself. You know that feeling of losing a fish after working so hard to get the grab, yeah that feeling! Jeremy was using a Morejohn Bantam when he went from a zero to a hero! There were so many fish in this run, we could have easily went through it a couple more times. The only reason we left was we had 5 more miles of river to fish and it was noon already!


Wow, time is seriously flying by. It seems like I just finished the first and second editions to fishing the Klickitat River. I thought I could take a breather and not have to worry about what to write and here we are, what seems like the next day, and I am writing the final entry for late season steelheading on the Klickitat River. Before we know it, the river will close and we’ll have to wait six months before it re-opens again in June.

Spey Casting Errors by Charlie Chambers

Spey Casting That Prompts Cursing
Original photo and Credit by Larimer Outfitters - Photo edited by GFS for this blog post.

He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.
Leonardo DaVinci

I don't pretend to be an expert when it comes to spey casting but I've screwed up my cast without any outside influence enough times that I have become moderately skilled at troubleshooting my cast when "the train comes off the tracks". Anyone who has spent much time with a two handed rod can profess many experiences where the casting was going perfectly then suddenly went from a little bit off to full on incompetence. A flurry of curse words inevitably follow. When you are dealing with a fulcrum that is 13 feet long, a small change at your hands can translate to a huge mistake at the tip of the rod. And frequently, we try to troubleshoot our casts by doing the exact wrong thing in attempts to heal our sins. So, here's my list of my most common spey casting mistakes and some suggestions to help. I'm not a guide or a casting instructor so these aren't the most common mistakes for everyone but these are my most common evils, but I'm willing to bet that you've done these a few times as well.

Oct 8, 2014

Tibor Signature Fly Reels (Hubba Hubba)

To many Fly Anglers the art of Fly Fishing is a form of expression. It says a lot about who we are or who we want to be. With today's innovative technology reaching into the Fly Fishing retail world we have more ways to customize products than ever before. 

Oct 6, 2014

Sep 24, 2014


That's the spot. Right there!
That's the spot. Right there!
Every day fishermen come into the shop or call wanting to know about this river or that river. It happens all day long; the phone rings and someone wants to know how the Deschutes or the Klickitat is doing. “The fish are there, get out there and catch them” I reply. That should be enough to spur anyone who is contemplating a fishing trip to get out of the house and do it. Often, that advice is not enough; there are a lot of people that would like a map with precise directions to exactly where the fish are, preferably with a sign on the river that says “there is a fish behind this rock that will eat a purple size #2 hobo spey.” Doesn’t that take all the fun out of it?

Sage Method Vs. Anything...

  © 'and' Steelhead.com Mike Prine 2009/2010

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