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Friday, 29 April 2011

Steelhead Take Cover


I just got a new rod this week--the Sage TCX 7119-4.  I'm looking forward to dry lining steelies with this rod.  My first spey rod was a Sage 9140-4.  While it's an awesome rod, it's a little overpowering for some of the fish and water I frequent.  I think this new 7 weight switch rod will be awesomerrrrrr!  I have a feeling I won't be exercising the 9 weight nearly as often in the future.

Summer Runs

It won't be very long until the summer run steelies start slipping in to some of BC's coastal rivers.  I've tied up a couple new dries to try and I've got a major stock of the old standbys.  I've paired an Islander 4.0 with my new rod.  It seems like the perfect match for the rod and will get its first action very soon.  I'll fill you in on how both the rod and reel perform and how they match up.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Monday, 25 April 2011

Wading Safety

I wear wading boots with tungsten cleats, try not to walk in front of a logjam, and a few other things to stay safe.  I'd also recommend you stay a good distance away from any sounds of watering thundering over a set of falls.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Matching the Hatch?

Fly fishers often get into matching the hatch.  Sometimes you get the big boys to take little bugs but the biggest of these big boys may just be into more of a meal when they sidle up to the dinner table.  Here's an example that may have you reaching for a big streamer.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


This one reminds me of my last steelhead.  I set the hook with a moderate amount of slack line still in hand.  As the fish starts running down river the line loops around my finger and knots itself on.  I ran downstream continually trying to flick the loop off my finger hoping to keep the leader from breaking.  Eventually I managed to free the line from my finger and land the fish.  This video from 406 Productions makes my little episode look like child's play.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Skid Row or Squidro

I must say I'm intrigued by the rubber leg steelhead intruders.  I may have to tie a few up and see how they do.

Big, & I mean big, browns

No exciting fishing footage but the size of the browns, and 1 rainbow, are massive.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Huge Rio Grande Browns

My M-O

Modus Operandi?

M-O can stand for modus operandi, meaning the way you work or operate.  My M-O is May-October.  Those are the months I look forward to.  Those are the months that all over the Pacific Northwest the water temperatures enter dry fly range.  Those are the months that I get to operate the way I like.  Whether you're in Cali, The Oregon Coast, Washington State or coastal British Columbia the summer steelies should be looking up.

Mayday, Mayday

As May is the beginning of this dry fly period, I anticipate its arrival for quite some time.  It's time to tie up extra copies of the tried and true, tie up a fresh leader with no kinks, clean the dry heads and reels and start planning days out with the boys.

Line Choices

Last year I switched from another manufacturer's skagit head to RIO's Skagit Line.  As the great philosopher, RM, often says, I'm luvin' it.  Although it seems RIO's Skagit Flight Head is all the rage, I prefer to avoid the extra connection between the head and shooting line travelling in and out of my guides.  I've just been sent a Flight Head without asking for one so I think maybe RIO wants me to give it a go.  Maybe they know something I don't.  I've certainly read things on RIO's facebook page that suggest people are very fond of the Skagit Flight Heads.  Maybe in situations that demand longer casting it would be the right ticket but I don't often need to make long casts.  Who knows, maybe there are other reasons as well.  Fill me in if you know some.


Being crazy about dry fly fishing for steelhead, it's not a big surprise that my absolute favourite tip is the 15 foot Skagit Floating Tip.  I usually start each pool with this tip and have been doing so for about 5 years.  If I draw a blank with the dry, I may switch to a wet fly.  If I want to go deeper still, I'll loop off the dry head and loop on a sink tip.  I've just received a few RIO Skagit MOW Tips.  Like the Skagit Flight Heads mentioned earlier, these tips seem to be very well received.  It seems a great idea to make all the tips the same length by combining differing lengths of floating line with T-8/11/14.  In the past, I've been using differing lengths of lead core.  I've had problems with knots or braided loops slipping off this very hard lead core material.  RIO's new Skagit MOW Tips with their welded loops will eliminate this problem.  The different lengths of lead core I used to use also required adjusting your casting stroke, another problem that should be solved by these sink tips that are all 10 feet long.

May I

With these new tips tucked away in my vest, all I need to do is wait for the water temperatures to warm enough.  For the dry line crazy, temperatures from mid 40's to mid 60's Fahrenheit is the zone you're looking for.  If you're even crazier or don't feel like carrying a thermometer, make it your M-O to start fishing the dry any time between May and October.  Remember...skate first, ask questions later.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Lowest Price Guarantee & Free Shipping On Fly Fishing Equipment

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If you want the lowest price, you don't live near a fly shop, your local shop doesn't carry all the brands you prefer, or you prefer shopping online period, click through from our blog (top right side) or website to Fishwest.  You'll get the guaranteed best price and support Fly Fishing Fantasies at the same time.

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Like it does in many other facets of life, perseverance pays off in fly fishing.  Just be careful when you're wading--you'll see what I mean near the end of the clip.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Big trout result from good habitat

I wish the BC government would treat our river habitat with as much care as these Montana folk.  Guess what, Montana rakes in tourist dollars from people flocking to its incredible fishing.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Luke Tailwalker

This is a great piece of action on a beautiful brownie.  Watching the take and the tailwalk are awesome--right up my alley.

An Epic Tail (Walk) from sharptail media on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

By Catch--Multiple Steelhead While Trout Fishing

Just Three Days Later

You know fishing was good last outing when you're out again just three days later.  This outing materialized out of a recent phone call from a guy I'd crossed paths with a couple years ago.  He's a keen fisherman that fishes both gear and fly.  As he'd never caught a steelhead on a fly he thought maybe I could show him the ropes.  I probably burst his bubble a little when I said I wanted to trout fish but the consolation was that picking up a steelhead as by-catch was a possibility.

Different Holds?

I led him straight to the zone that was hot the last time I was out.  The river was a little lower and the depth not quite enough to keep big numbers in this shallow to moderate depth riffle.  We fished from above and came up blank while touching a couple of trout.  Then we moved around some trees on the bank to have another go at the riffle from below as it was very good from this vantage point last time out.  I was soon into a couple of trout, one of which was a decent brown.  I thought I was pretty much done with the slower water so I started to move back down while attempting to throw out to the seam where the slower water joined the main flow.

Huge Brown

The biggest fish often position themselves with access to escape to the biggest water.  As my indicator drifted down a monster brown sucked in my fly and took to the air twice straight in front of me.  I started yelling for a camera man right away.  This fish was probably in the 25 inch range and thick.  He peeled me into my backing while jumping another two times and running toward the willow trees at my bank.  I chased and ran toward mid river to hold him away.  This manoeuvre worked as he turned back towards mid river and ran downstream.  Unfortunately there were more willows below that split the river's flow and he darted through a gap in these willows.  It was going to have to be a surgical operation if I were to pull him out of a very strong current and back through the gap in the willows.  I wound the line up fairly short in preparation for my next move but as I went to lead him through the gap the hook sunk into a good sized branch and it was over.  I really wanted to get a close look at this brown.


We moved downstream and split up the run with me taking what I thought was the poorer lower portion.  First cast my indicator dips within ten or fifteen feet and I'm into a very fresh late winter steelie.  I had some troubles closing the deal but eventually led him to a back eddy where he tipped onto his side and he was mine.  A bit of quick video and this 12 pound range steelhead was released back to the river.

New Holding Water

Last outing the top of this run was a little too strong to hold fish or to present a fly decently.  My fishing partner this day had thoroughly worked the top of the run but didn't move above a big sweeper where there was a soft water eddy.  I moved up around him and started to probe.  Unlike last trip, I could present a fly nicely and the fish were stacked in here.  After poking four trout in rapid succession, I called my buddy over to clean up the scraps.  He managed one more and then things turned cold.

More Steel

We moved further upriver to a new run.  A guided crew had fished all our water before we got to it, including this run.  I was the tail gunner for this corner pool and mopped up nicely with a trout on briefly.  A couple casts later I was into my second steelhead of the morning.  This one booked it.  It took all my fly line and probably another 100 yards of backing.  Just when I thought he would hold up, he would turn and run further downriver around the corner.  I eventually beached a fish that had good colour for this time of year, although it carried noticeably less depth than the previous fish.  This one was likely in the 10 lb range.

First Steelie on the Fly

A half dozen or so steelhead were holding in the next run.  It wasn't long until one of them was on and unfortunately, back off, my partner's line.  It was his first steelhead hooked on the fly and he seemed pretty excited about the inauguration.  We both managed to hook another trout or two before jetting home early.  Two great days of fishing back to back--gotta love it.


Sunday, 3 April 2011

I'm Waiting...For Rising Steelhead

Raising the ghost is my favourite steelheading film.  Other films, like Metalhead, show impressive fish, but can't compare with the quality of the experience.  Many aspire to catch steelhead, often referred to as the ultimate freshwater game fish.  A number of people then take on the challenge of catching them on the fly.  A precious few manage to reach the pinnacle of steelhead fly fishing--taking a steelhead on the dry.  Next we move to splitting hairs--multi-fish dry fly days, taking actively feeding steelhead on imitations of the natural food source, etc.  I've had the former and I've only seen the latter once.  Unfortunately, the steelhead I saw rising with abandon were rising for tiny size 14 ants and I had no match in my fly box.  It was a spectacle to see these fish parked sideways in pools, patrolling for the next ant splat.  And when the splat came, they were on it like white on rice.  Hopefully I'll run into this scenario again as my box now carries, you guessed it, size 14 ants.  I'm waiting........