Posts Tagged ‘Spey Fly Fishing


The Pull by Ryan Peterson (Rich Zellman)

The Pull…The NW…Pursuing Steelhead

Short clip called The Pull that I found on Yuhina (FlyinTropical). This is the Pacific NW. I don’t think I could ever move away. 


Spey Lines Information

If you infrequently chase Steelhead with a two handed (Spey) rod then you may not totally understand all the talk about Skagit’s, Scandi’s, Shoot Heads, T this & that. Also, different manufacturers put their own labels to the same basic designs their competitors have so the nomenclature becomes further mixed up in your head.

So, I found these three vid’s helpful in explaining the basic concepts of the various lines and the set up. Now pay particular attention as there will be a test! Don’t fault the instructor’s style too much… watch them a few times and take some notes for when you walk into the shop for advice. Don’t be surprised if things have evolved further, but know these basics to evolve from down the river….. 





Spey Casting Advice (Nice fix)


This is a nice, short reminder on foot placement, Snap T landing points and just the visuals of how the cast should look and what a Steelhead actually looks like…..been toooooo long. Video from FlyFishUSA (Bachmann)


Fly Fishing: Snagging, Flossing and other ways

Mike Nutto, an avid fly fisher and hunter is now living on the East side in New Jersey. Outspoken, independent, often misunderstood by his brashness, Mike is opinionated and often has the interesting topic in his sights. Mike sent me a link to his blog (The Wayward Drifter) about  his recent posting. He delves into the limited hunting options/management in New Jersey and then swings over into ‘combat’ fishing and the often attendant snagging. 

There are a couple things here that are easy to mix together and that shows the presentation divide amongst fly fishers as well: using lead to get down with egg patterns (nymphing technique of sorts) is fine by me. Strike indicators etc. are part of the mix. But, if you are new to the sport you can see that there is a group of fly fishers that swing the fly (steelhead and salmon presentation & wet fly swing for trout/grayling). They will appear to be criticizing the technique of nymphing for fish, particularly steelhead. Many are. If you are a trout fisherman, only, this will seem confusing because a major portion of fly fishing presentation, for trout, is nymphing regardless of the fly ‘pattern’ (insect, worm, egg, scud patterns). 

It is important to separate out the most important issues that I believe Mike is most focused upon. His need for solitude is apparent. The pressures and population densities of the big city are not for Mike, whether he lives on the East Coast or West Coast. He needs room to roam and ‘combat’ fishing is off putting.

Steelhead-Salmon Close Quarters Fishing (Shin Deep, Visiblilty Good, Snagging Frequent?)

I have purposely suffered through shoulder to shoulder gear fishing on rivers on Oregon’s coast, as well as only slightly more spaced out fishing with fly fishers dredging pieces of orange yarn or egg patterns for salmon. I believe the real issue, for me, is…are the fish on the move (not on a reed) and is the set of the hook in response to a visible take or visibly close enough to appear to be a take? When I swing a sinking line or dredge a nymphing rig into a visible, moving or holding group of salmon, I will feel a movement from the fish. Is that the fish taking the fly? Is that bump from a take of the fly or your line brushing over the back or belly of a fish? Is that bump from your leader ‘lining’ or ‘flossing’ through a fish’s mouth? Sometimes you can tell by seeing the fish in low, gin clear water or sometimes you can only feel and set the hook with the bump.

Often on late Fall days, while fishing for salmon on Oregon coastal rivers, I have ‘hooked’ into several dozen fish. Of those hooked fish, half+ were snagged in the cheek or dorsal fin (they were released and/or won the tug of war). While doing the same sort of fishing for steelhead, I have rarely snagged a steelhead. I don’t know why the difference beyond numbers of fish (not unusual to have a larger pod of salmon together and fewer steelhead near each other). 

So, the question is do you avoid all this potential snagging of fish not on a redd by only swinging a fly? It can be elevated as a noble presentation option for steelhead because it avoids the confusion  re fair takes. It can rightfully be set aside amongst various options as a worthy presentation option to take a fish clean and righteous. I have friends that only fish wets on the swing and with a dry fly like presentation for trout, so averse are they to nymphing. Decisions, decisions.

There is a great deal to debate here. Mike raised interesting points about why he fishes, why he swings a steelhead fly and learned a two handed presentation style. Most importantly, all can agree: no fisherman should ever stand over spawning fish on a redd and purposely snag or set any hook into those fish…EVER! It is equally problematic to swing or nymph through known pods of fish on the move and set at every bump. This last scenario is something I have personally had to work through. I have no qualms about fishing blind for trout by nymphing and have rarely snagged a trout. Indicator/nymphing presentations for Steelhead (by Mike Gorman) is popular in the NW and the East Coast.

For me, the best part of Mike’s post was his passion for learning a fly fishing technique (two handed rod and swing the fly) and his passion, his pursuit for “The Moment”. All practiced and enjoyed with room to roam and a sense of freedom. Lots of food for thought, debate, pursuit, for solitude. Ain’t It Grand!

•´¯`•.¸. , . ><(((º>`•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸><(((º>


Fly Fishing: Prep & Common Sense

Lately my life, like many of yours, has been consistently diverse and problematic. I learned yesterday that a pesky upper back issue requires surgery, and soon. Persistent pain indicated something was not right.

Well geese! Surgery? I will miss out on fishing after surgery. I thought I better get in a little fishing while I could. Silvers, late Summer Steelhead and a few Chinook were pushing up the river. Out I went. I would don my waders and try the two hander. I hadn’t had any chance to use it since last Winter.

I was pretty much alone. Maybe a half dozen anglers, mostly gear guys, & a few ladies, lined the bank. Salmon were breaking the surface. Mischievous Jack's jumped into the air, no doubt avoiding an aggravated mature male. The clouds hung low and only the faintest sprinkles hit my lens.

When I put on my waders and packed away the needed tools and prepared the rod, I felt pretty relaxed. I walked to the river’s edge and felt energized and care free. I had very nice conversations with some fellow fly fishers and lit my briar. What an afternoon…yes, indeed.

The crossover, lifting the line up and back. Pivoting with the bottom hand (not the impulse I may always fight given how infrequently I get out)

There was a hint above: my spey rod hand not been used since last Winter. The Skagit line and 15′ cheater were still on the reel. I gave no consideration to the balancing of the line to the water’s depth etc. I stood out there attempting to get the hang of it all and frankly I sucked. I did not have the proper line on…where was that Scandi…oh, back up at the truck. Too impatient to re-rig or study in advance and re-rig.

I could not get the proper movements down and soon felt this odd sensation in my upper back. Next lesson: passion for fishing…the obsessive drive once on or near the water is a force we praise and cherish. But, sometimes common sense suffers. What a bozo! I had just, this day, received word from the Ortho Surgeon about the need for surgery….he explained why. Definitive…no nonsense advice to ‘take it easy’.

Nope…hear I am on the river needing to wet a line because I could foresee it being a cold day in hell…or December before I fish again. And, by then I will be cold, further out of shape and struggling….yes better to get out there now!

Soon the pain intruded each time I lifted the rod to raise the line and recast. Eventually, I was making a sound like a tennis player who yells each time they hit the ball. I looked about to see if anyone was looking at me. I think they were if only for the crap casting.

I thought perhaps a fish would grab this pink little morsel, plus it was easier to cast. The larger pink Intruder pattern was just that much extra wind resistant calamity upon the water's surface. SwittersB

Eventually, I did the unthinkable. I decided to leave the water at the prime time for the salmon bite. My gut wrenched. My brain quaked. My damn spine was ready to explode. I considered getting the single hander rigged and slinging some egg pattern beneath a strike indicator. Hello!!!

All those considerations went by the wayside as I felt nausea and broke out into a cold sweat. I hiked up the embankment and made it back to my truck. It took all I had to break down the rod. I put it in back with out putting it into its case. I struggled to get into my truck. I didn’t take off the waders. I knew I couldn’t. It was a long drive home. Terrible pain. My guardian angel guided me to safety this evening.

So, as obvious as it appears: balance your gear to the waters at hand. Be prepared. And, recognize fishing’s OCD vs. Common Sense (Risk Avoidance) Dynamic. I am writing this today, slightly medicated….I hope it makes sense. 



Fly Fishing: Hemostat Triple Twist~Grab Tag & Pull

h/t to John Newbury from FB re this knot tying technique: The Hemostat Knot.  This might be particularly helpful when the finger tips are frozen, or for general use.

For the beginning fly tier, you would be well served to practice your tying techniques while tying a limited scope of patterns. The temptation is to tie every pattern in that book and more that come to mind. Tie this and tie that. If you were limited to just tying as a past time with no opportunity to fish your creations, then tie hither and yon, but otherwise I would stay toward basic nymphs, dries, emergers, streamers and flymphs/wets (or, the basic patterns for the species you chase….it could be a variety of streamers only for a predatory species). This way there is a practical benefit to your targeted tying.

Flymphs: this style of ‘wet’ fly is worth a study on your part and worth a lot of tying. Selection of hackle and style of body are the two key considerations. Sparse patterns for almost dry fly presentations have/had their place. But, buggier dubbing and softer hackling offer a great deal of animation and life. A flymph can fish from the bottom up to the top with the correct presentations: Leisenring Lift.

A couple presentation considerations: study spey (two hander) casts and research their applicability to a single hander. Jean Paul from Roughfisher mentioned this the other day and it true. Line handling with bigger flies or more staged presentations can be easier by moving line, dumping it and then rolling it out into a zone. Research this. Also, for the stream fishing angler chasing primarily trout there is a tendency toward only using a floating line and rarely a sink tip. I use five lines for stillwater but severely limit myself on rivers when chasing trout. (I carry multiple spey line heads). But, a readers comment about using sinking lines and manipulating the fly up through pools and rapids reminded me of watching an old timer fish streamers with a clear, intermediate line to fish streamers on a river (something I would normally only use on a lake). 


Fly Fishing’s Wisdom at Water’s Edge

Now, I am saying the following knowing there are exceptions, but in my life time not many that I can recall: almost every true learning experience for fly fishing came standing beside a man older than me. I have watched younger anglers and studied their ways, but to actually stand at the water’s edge and receive advice, suggestions, see into a fly box at a suggested pattern….that has, for me, for the most part come from men older than me.

Just an observation from my life. So, if you are an older beginning fly fisher, you are going to have to work harder (humor intended) to find that elder fly fisher. Now, as it were, the other day I encountered such a fine gentleman. I was exploring the access points to suitable fly waters around Eugene/Springfield, Oregon. Killing time, wasting time probably, while on a business trip. As I attempted to look at the river and not run over a jogger, I saw a silhouette out in the river. I thought pull over and go watch. I couldn’t fish at that moment, but at least I could spend/waste a few minutes watching someone else. I parked by the only rig in the area (his) and donned my coat. It was still brisk out. I walked a trail until I came in line with him, then made my way down to the river. Now, what did I learn by eyes and ears:

The man was fishing a spey rod, running line and a smaller head. He effortlessly cast out against a rock outcropping that plopped the smaller, darker fly into a quiet slot, which then took it swinging downstream into a seam and the nicest, chattering riffle. He let the fly hang after the swing and twitched the rod tip. Then he would strip in the running line, gather the loops into his bottom, steering hand on the butt and start over.

He was using a wading staff that he managed to use and then secure out of his way. He was fishing some 40′ out from shore, and the current was hitting him right above the knees. The pressure of the water against the back of his legs suggested the current was faster than it appeared and he moved with caution while using the wading staff.

He soon reeled in and tethered the dark fly and put a neoprene reel cover over his Sarcione (spendy) reel.  Once the reel was protected he turned the rod around with the tip to the rear, secured his wading staff and started a slow wade toward me.

As he arrived to land, I could see he had all the accoutrements of a more seasoned fly angler that been used and broken in. We exchanged all the pleasantries and he chuckled as he maybe felt obligated to answer what I had thought, but really didn’t know the current status: he explained why he was out steelheading alone  in April for Summer fish. He explained what site he went to in order to check numbers of fish over the falls below; he told me how many had come over and statistically how many fish he thought likely had made their probable way to the area. Then he again chuckled that he was trying to find just one of those maybe one hundred fish. Just a low probability gamble on a low probability pursuit.

He was happy, bubbling, vital. Just into his 70’s he had that energy. Probably why he proudly had that SB decal on his rig. So, now we talked and it was an easy going conversation. He talked about the oversized turbo disc on his smaller dark fly for agitation/animation; he talked about his travels (impressive bona fides), he remarked about the river being about a foot to high, hence the slower wading; and how it taxed him (would probably me too then). And, the explained contours, and buckets and tubs and ledges and skating flies with riffling hitches. He did all this in the softest voice. No brashness. No arrogance. He had no clue what I knew or didn’t know, but out of all this observation and hearing I learned several knew things for this spot and the area. It was an easy going encounter of the perfect order. 

This is the type of encounters I have had over the years. I can picture the old gents on the Wilson, Trask, Deschutes, Crooked, Minam, East, Tunkwa….I met and who shared their subtlest of tips that changed my success and enjoyment of the sport.

As I made my way back to my rig, I felt lucky to have met that man. I hope I have that vitality and twinkle when I am his age in the not too distant future. And, I hope I continue to share with reckless abondon (no, no I won’t give up the spot…that’s just understood).  

Grog’s Knots     Turle Knot      Riffling Hitch     Sarcione Reels (Oregon Made)


Fly Fishing: Tying for Chrome

Accomplished fly fisher, Larry Tamiyasu of Portland, Oregon, travels far and wide fly fishing for a variety of fish species. He is an accomplished tier and like most of us, anticipates success with his own creations.

Preparing by Larry Tamiyasu (SwittersB)

And, more often than not, he and his fishing partners are successful where ever they wet at line.

Successful Fly Pattern by Larry Tamiyasu (SwittersB)

Thanks Larry for sharing. He and his buds have already booked their digs for next October. Anticipation……………….



Spey Tying & Fishing: The Under Employed Rebels


Fisheads Flies 'n Lore

Via Spey Heads (FB) for Fish Heads Flies and Lore

Indulgent individualism? Rebels without a care? Whatever, they help tweak the realm, even if you hate them, envy them, support them. Sometimes fish bums are akin to foodies, the well traveled, the spoiled few….you want to just slap the shit out of them. Then again, you like knowing them too.



Spey Casting: Followup Homework

I spent the better part of the day on the Sandy River fishing for steelhead. No pulls, but I had a good day. I found a very nice drift. I fished reasonably well and had the luxury of no one pushing me downstream. I got to practice, visualize (remember the post re Mike Kinney and his excellent word pictures?) and correct. At the end of the day, maybe two thirds of the casts really laid out nicely, but my attitude was such that there was no pressure, just a relaxed time on the water with beautiful conditions.

Snap T, or was it a Snap C?

But, I decided to do some followup studying when I got home and try to figure out why my Snap T’s or Z’ C’s petered out and caused my fly to unerringly wrap around the end of my rod. I need visuals. I came across a site by Alastair Gowans @ LetsFlyFish. It has some nice basic visuals re some of the Skagit casts as well as other types of fly fishing casts. I also need to pull out Ed Wards Skagit Master DVD and review while today’s fishing is fresh on the mind. I am building the imprint. Got home for last half of the Super Bowl and then it started pouring outside. The day was perfect. (Ok, upon further review, I am not bringing my rod back down river after the snap, but rather stopping as shown in pic, which leaves it open to tangles)

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