Aug 21, 2014

John Garrett's Guide to Early Season Steelheading on the Klickitat

The scenery in the upper Klickitat Canyon is without a doubt stunning.
One only needs to experience its breathtaking beauty to agree.


In Washington State there’s a river that is somewhat unique in that it’s not open on a year round basis, it’s actually only open from June 1st until the end of November for steelhead fishing. Another unique thing about the Klickitat is that it’s a glacier fed river and what that means is that it will commonly run with color in it. When you have a string of days where the temperature is in the 90’s and it stays warm in the evenings, the river will cycle and if it continues for too long, blow out. These variables make it hard to “dial in” the Klickitat River. Keeping that in mind, often times folks will remark that the Klickitat is out of shape or unfishable. Well that’s true, but to a degree. In other words, until there is less than ten inches of visibility (and I have hooked steelhead on the swing with a Scandi line with only 10” of visibility) it is totally fishable.

Fishable? What’s that mean? We typically look down into the river and gauge “visibility” on how deep into the water we can see something, whether it’s a fly, the toe of you wading boots, or an actual measuring stick. Often times this is a great way to have an accurate measurement from our view point, but it’s totally inaccurate on the fishes viewpoint. We are looking down into the colored water and against the dark backdrop of the river bottom whereas the fish are looking upward into the light from the sun, which intensifies the silhouette of your fly. Their visibility (I would guess) is possibly double, if not more, of what ours would be. I can’t back that by science but I can back it by logic and underwater video footage. If you would like visual reference to this information, take a look at the DVD Skagit Master 3 if you haven’t already done so, if you need a copy you can pick one up from the Gorge Fly Shop. You can get a quick visual of what I’m talking about in the YouTube clip below. There’s lots of underwater footage of what flies look like under different river conditions. Not only will you learn about a fish’s point of view but you will also learn some valuable insight on fly selections under those conditions, helping to set your mind at ease when it comes to choosing which fly to swing and deciding on weather a river is fishable or not.


One thing I hate as a steelhead fisherman is fly anxiety. For those of you who have never heard of fly anxiety, it’s the condition (sickness, disease, affliction) of having too many flies to choose from and not being able to decide which one to use, therefor your stressed out about it and fish with no confidence. I get this similar feeling when my wife sends me to the medicine isle at Safeway and ask me to pick up some cough and fever medicine for one of the kids! I stand there like a deer in the head lights because I have too many choices. Why can’t we create one medicine to cover that?

Now we could debate lots of things, but I am for certain, that presentation combined with the right color fly choice under the current river conditions will greatly enhance your chances of success. Even more so than trying to choose the perfect fly pattern. Case in point, last fall on the Klickitat River I was swinging this run and I got to the sweet spot and as my fly swung right in front of this boulder, I got a tug. Dang it! I love the tug, but he didn’t turn on it and give me a chance to hook him. So, I walked back upstream a half a dozen steps, tied on a different fly, all the while never reeling any line in or letting anymore out. I made the same cast at the same distance, working my way down and right as the second fly swung right in front of that same boulder, yank, another tug, same outcome. I again walked back up stream and repeated the process all over again. When I swung that fly right in front of the boulder for the third time, HE YANKED ME AGAIN! I’m bummed to say, same results. At this point, as you’d expect, I am jacked up and shaking so bad I can barely tie on the fourth fly, determined not to give up until either I hook him or he quits playing cat and mouse with me.

To shorten this story a bit, I ended up repeating this process and changing my fly five times and finally he quit wanting to play. For nearly 45 minutes that steelhead and I engaged with each other, playing cat and mouse, even though I didn’t actually hook him, it was an awesome experience that I will never forget. It also confirmed what I already knew and that is that the fly pattern itself may not be that critical in coaxing a grab. I mean I changed my fly five times and each time the fish was interested. What was consistent during those 45 minutes? It wasn’t the fly; it was the distance and speed of my swing. Each time swinging my fly in front of that rock, I tried my best to mimic the speed and distance of the very first swing I got the tug on. So, I say all that to say, worry less about which particular pattern to choose and focus more on the water conditions, the colors to use and your presentation.

I want to talk about confidence for a second. Main reason is that it is SUPER IMPORTANT for success. Many things can contribute to confidence. Confidence in the fly you’ve chose under certain river conditions and confidence in your swinging or nymphing technique is CRUCIAL. If I have confidence in my choice of fly and swinging technique, I automatically fish better than if I don’t. Nothing builds confidence in either one of these choices more than the solid hook up from a steelhead. That’s obvious. Ask anyone what their favorite fly is and I’m 100% positive that it’s their favorite because they’ve had success with it and because of that success their confidence in that fly builds and builds.

But what do you do when you’re fishing a new river, especially a river like the Klickitat if you’ve never fished a glacier fed river and faced the challenges? You can focus on a few things to help in choosing the best possible fly for the current conditions. Number one thing to look at is river conditions. For this article I am going to focus mainly on just water clarity and not go into detail all of the other conditions that could influence success or failure. Such as water temperatures, and river levels to name a few.

Let me state this up front before diving into what I truly want to talk about. The Klickitat River was made for nymph fishing. You could be standing knee deep in a beautiful run, scratching your head and wondering why the heck you haven’t hooked a steelhead. There has to be a steelhead in this run. It’s too beautiful a run not to have fish in it. Trust me I’ve mentally said this to myself more times than I would like to admit. The Klickitat typically runs cold, colder than the average summer run river due to the glacial run off and because of this the fish sometimes (depending on water temps) the fish just won’t or don’t want to chase a fly down and grab it. This is why nymphing is such an effective technique on the Klick. Plus, in that beautiful run we just talked about, in reality there could be a number of “buckets” that will hold the fish and if you know where those buckets are, you’re ahead of the game. If your fishing the swing and you know where those buckets are, you can carry a loop in your hand and when you’re entering the bucket zone, drop the loop to cause your fly to flutter a bit in front of the bucket and then come swinging out of it and just that few seconds of having that fly in front of the fish can make a difference and entice a grab.

Klickitat River Guide Travis Wallace of Western Waters Guide Service is busy rowing
while I take in the upper canyon and all its glory!
So, how do you know where the buckets are? Well, my best advice is time on the water and or hiring a guide who knows the river well. If you really want to learn the Klickitat I recommend that you start keeping a journal. I mean a detailed journal with every possible bit of information you can log. I would take river temps, visibility measurements, cloud cover, no cloud cover, I mean every piece of info you can think of. Then after a while, you will start to see patterns of success. When I first started fishing the Klickitat in the late 70’s I did just that. For several years I kept a detailed log and eventually didn’t need to do it anymore. It became ingrained in my mind. Now, I enjoy swinging success on a consistent basis. I have become very comfortable fishing water that most fly fisherman would simply call unfishable. I have enjoyed success in as little as 8” of visibility. Now, that being said, it definitely helps when you know where the fish should be under this condition and can place the fly right in their face. I also want to state that I have had many days where I’ve fished in less than a foot of visibility and hooked nothing. But I’ve also had some days in this extreme condition that I have caught fish. Fish, that if I hadn't fished in those conditions I wouldn't have caught.

I’ve always said that if you can swing up steelhead on the Klickitat River, you can pretty much swing them up on any other river. I know there are folks out there who will debate that last statement. The Klickitat fine tunes you. It forces you to experiment, it forces you to have patience, and it forces you to think about what you’re doing. You can cast and swing and hope something happens. I mean you could get lucky every once in a while and that does happen. But to consistently hook fish on the Klick, you’re going to have to be ready to pay attention and think about what you are doing. You’re going to have to choose your fly with purpose, especially when you’ve only got 10” of visibility to work with.

I’m trying to build your confidence in swinging the Klickitat for steelhead. It can be a tough river, yes, will you work for them? Yes. Will it totally be worth it? Yes! The Klick will fine tune your swinging techniques. Two summers ago, I hooked up about 80 percent of the time I swung the Klickitat. Those are extraordinary odds, but then again, we had a better run that year and having guided it for 23 years, I know the Klick intimately and where the fish are in any given condition. The following fall my success rate dropped considerably and it wasn’t that I changed my choices of flies or needed to change my swinging techniques from the fall before, but because we had far less steelhead in the system. When you are chasing anadromous fish, it’s staggering how many variables can come into play when it comes to success and I don’t care which variable you want to dissect but the variable of having more fish than less fish always…I say always plays in your favor.

When it comes to fishing the Klickitat, you just gotta fish it. You can’t always wait for “perfect” conditions. The river is only open six months out of the year (June – Nov) and out of those six months I’ve seen years where 2 months were what I would call legitly un-fishable. The season goes by so fast. And just like becoming a better Spey caster you have to cast in all conditions. If you want to be a better caster in the wind, you gotta cast in the wind. If you want to be a better fisherman under tough conditions, you gotta fish in tough conditions. That’s a fact you can deposit in the bank. You will NEVER be a better caster in windy conditions if you never fish when its windy and you will NEVER be a better fisherman in touch conditions like the Klickitat can give you unless you fish in these conditions. What have you got to lose? What have you got to gain? Ok, enough of this…I hope you’re getting the idea.

Fly Selections:

Now, let’s talk about fly selection under a few conditions. I hope you will take my advice and check out the Skagit Master 3 DVD. When you see the underwater footage of what certain flies look like under different conditions, you’ll understand what I am trying to say. I am a visual guy and I can learn more by having someone show me something one time rather than reading a story about it. Before I dive into my favorite flies for the Klickitat let me give you a list of effective flies that put steelhead on the beach:
  • Hobo Spey
  • Foxee Dog
  • Larimer’s Purple Green Butt Skunk
  • Larimer’s Brazillion
  • Larimer’s Loop Leach (Black, Purple or Pink)
  • Larimer’s Dirty Socks (ok, that’s just a joke, but it would probably get a grab)
  • Larimer’s Reverse Marabou (ok, I’m not obsessed with Tom, he’s a friend of mine and you can’t argue with success…his flies work…period!)
  • Purple Muddler Minnow
  • Jeff Hickman’s Fish Taco
  • Lady Caroline
  • Silvey’s Pool Cleaner (I love that name for a fly…wish I would have thought of it)
  • Garrett’s Mojo (not available yet, but soon will be, pictures to follow, sorry for the self promotion)

DISCLAIMER: In no way is a complete list of flies that would take fish on the Klickitat River. They’re ones that I have come to use on more occasions than not, and I fish them with total confidence.

Look closely at the list. You will notice I basically have two styles of flies listed. Smaller wet flies for the right conditions and larger, bigger silhouetted, flies for their right conditions. I’ve been known to swing a purple Muddler Minnow on a Rio Mow T-8 or Airflo Flo T-7 Sink tips in low clear water, in late November. But when you only have a foot of visibility, I want a fly with some profile to it, I want a fly that is easy to cast, that will push some water and that can be seen by the fish when clarity is an issue. I’m talking flies that will range from 3 to sometimes 5 inches long. For Pete’s sakes, I have caught steelhead while fishing for Chinook with a K-16 Kwikfish. Have you guys seen how big a K-16 Kwikfish is? They are hurkin big, see photo below. So, I have no problem launching a 4 or 5 inch fly in “off colored” water for steelhead.
Hurkin big Kwikfish…Steelhead are not afraid of big!

I mean this is not Steelhead revelation kind of stuff here. My basic rule is this: The more colored the water, the darker my fly. I wouldn’t pick a pink Hobo Spey when I only have a foot of visibility or less, BUT I would definitely pick the Black and Blue Hobo Spey because in high off colored water the dark color will stand out better. Why do I like the Hobo so much? Well, it produces a big silhouette and I like the fact that it isn’t weighted. I can get the fly down with my sink tips and on the Klickitat for the most part, the Klick is not a very deep river and I don’t need a fly that is heavy. I want my fly to continue to swing all the way into the bank. Often times if you’re using a fly that has large dumbbell eyes and is too heavy, it will simply die in the swing when you run out of enough current to keep it up off the bottom.

There are runs on the Klick that next to the bank are almost like frog water, and incidentally that’s a perfect place for a high, off colored water steelhead to be, and I hate it when my fly dies when it gets there because it’s too heavy. The Hobo Spey will continue to swing and fish that slower almost slack water next to the bank if you simply lift and mend your line ever so slightly towards the bank. I have literally hooked steelhead a foot off the bank on the Klickitat.

There is one run that comes to mind as I type this scenario out. The run is about waist deep just a few feet off the bank. The head of the run is classic, small choppy water with the right speed. As your fly swings through this run it comes to the slack water about 15 feet from the bank and your fly just comes to a screeching halt. The main current seam and the slack water meet and it just grabs your line and stops it. Most anglers I’ve guided in this spot in the past, start to strip in as soon as that happens and they quickly hear me encouraging them not to strip. I have them pause their swing for a few seconds right where it stopped just in case a steelhead has followed their fly and might grab it on the hang down. If after a few seconds the grab doesn’t come, I will very gently lift my rod tip or have them lift their rod tip and begin to bring it in towards the bank and about 2 seconds after doing that something magical happens. The secondary current that is almost un-noticeable grabs your Spey line and begins to slowly swing it into the bank. It is within this last fifteen feet of water that your world will erupt. I can’t tell you how many fish I have taken over the years in this spot in this same manner. Almost always, every client or friend I have ever fished this spot with, comments on how they wouldn’t have let the fly continue to swing all the way into the bank, because they thought the swing was over fifteen feet ago. This is one of the buckets we were talking about earlier.

Another thing to think about when the water is off colored is the speed of your swing. I normally love the classic swing speed that mesmerizes the mind, causing anxiety attacks and builds the anticipation to the point I can hardly stand it. But when the visibility is less than desirable, let’s say it’s at ten inches or even a foot, I will tend to slow my swing down. It makes no sense to me to have my fly ripping across the run when visibility is limited. I want to give the fish a bit longer to look at it or to be able to follow it. This is the very reason I am choosing a bigger fly in the first place, so the fish can see it. I mean when I’m driving in foggy conditions, and visibility is low, I tend to slow down so I can see better. In my opinion if my swing is coming across too fast, a steelhead may not react to it because he can’t see it. I have had so many takes that are what I would call “Plucks” from steelhead in low visibility conditions. Even though trout and steelhead have excellent eye sight and can pick up even the smallest of nymphs in fast choppy water, history has taught me that in off colored water where visibility is questionable, I MUST slow down my fly for better success. That being said, the speed of my swing can be determined on how off colored the water is.

Remember, what I call ten inches or a foot of visibility, to the steelhead is more likely twenty inches to two feet of visibility. I think that if folks would log this little golden nugget of information in their minds and in their journals they would start fishing under these “challenging conditions” more. I also think that they would be pleasantly surprised. I honestly would rather fish colored water than gin clear water any day and I think most would agree with that. Now, there does come a point where rivers like the Klickitat are just unfishable. I kinda draw the line at what I would call 8” of visibility. In my experience, especially for the guy swinging a fly, success comes rarely between six inches to eight inches of visibility. But it’s amazing the difference between eight inches and ten inches of visibility. I have caught fish in six inches of visibility, but only a few and I would admit that some luck and strategy was involved. I have caught way more at ten inches or better. Here are a few shots of what the Klickitat can look like. (Photos by Rolf of the Klickitat Trader.)

[ Un-Fishable zero vis ] [ Un-Fishable 4” vis ] [ Un-Fishable 6” vis ] [ Fishable 1’ vis ] [  Fishable 2’ + ]
I just thought of a great example of fishing in off colored water where a bit of luck was involved. Working for the Gorge Fly Shop, we have manufacture reps that will come in and often will leave a rod or a reel for us to try out before sending it back to them. Well one of our reps left an 8wt switch rod that he wanted us to take a look at. Travis, the shop owner told me to take the rod down to the Hood River and play around with it and let him know what I think. I said…”Do I have to?!” with a smile on my face. So, I grab the rod, take it down to the river the next morning to get a feel for it and the visibility of the water by measuring the toes of my wading boots was about ten inches. So here I am with this 8 wt switch rod, lined up with a Rio Scandi head, ten feet of floating Airflo Polyleader, three feet of 10 pound tippet to my fly (which just happened to be a Larimer’s Bazillion) and I commence just having a big time casting this rod and getting a feel for it. Not even trying to catch a steelhead. I am just there to give Travis a report when I get back to the shop.

Seriously, about my twelfth or fourteenth cast I got spanked. Now would I typically choose a Scandi style line under these conditions to effectively fish for steelhead? NO! It doesn’t make sense to use a floating line, on the surface when there is only ten inches of visibility in the water. The point I want to make is the simple fact that the steelhead saw and chased that little wet fly and ate it in muddy water. You just gotta believe that they can see it. Had I seriously gone down there to try to catch a steelhead, I would have strung up my Skagit Head and a sink tip and tied on one of my Mojo’s or a Hobo Spey without even giving it a second thought. Again, in my opinion catching that fish, under those conditions, there was a bit of luck involved, especially with a floating line. But it proved to me that these magnificent fish can see better than we can or think they can in off colored water.
Mojo steelhead and salmon fly combinations
Shown here above are just a couple of color combinations of my Mojo steelhead and salmon fly. This fly is extremely effective not only in clearer water conditions but also in off colored water conditions that often come with fishing rivers like the Klickitat. My favorite color combos are the Orange, Red and Black, the Purple and Black, the Blue and Black, the Pink, Purple and Black for steelhead and for salmon the Blue, Chartreuse and Black. If you put a gun to my head and told me I could only choose one for all conditions it would be an easy choice for me! I would choose the Orange, Red and Black shown above in the left photo in a heartbeat.

So, my intention as I said before was to encourage you to fish the Klickitat when you might think it may not be fishable and to experiment with bigger darker fly patterns and to slow your swing down when needed. I will try to follow up with informative Klickitat articles targeting other variables that will help improve your odds. I know that there are a few of you that already know about all this information, you’ve maybe even talked with me in the shop and this all seems to be a repeat of what we talked about. But there are those out there that are still scratching their heads wondering why they struggle on the Klickitat and this could be the first time they have heard it.

Even after all the years and countless hours that I’ve spent guiding and fishing the Klick, I still have days or even a string of days where I never get a grab. That’s swinging for steelhead with a Spey rod. That’s a fish that continues to draw me in and fuels my addiction for more. To me, in freshwater, there is no equal. I think about them all the time. I’ve spent most of my adult life pursuing them and when I’m not swinging for them, I’m tying flies for them. I’ve always said that I can handle not catching a fish, but I can’t handle not fishing. In the future when faced with less than prime water conditions think about what you’ve read here today and take a steelheads point of view and after a while you will enjoy success. I hate to harp on the guiding part, but I had to make a living, I had to learn how to effectively catch fish in all but the most extreme conditions or my family would have gone hungry. Trust me, success breeds success and if you begin to apply these tips, you will begin to increase your confidence and in turn your success. Get out there, don’t wait for a fishing report…be a fishing report!

A bright Fall Chinook couldn’t resist the Orange, Red and Black Mojo!

Helpful Klickitat Information

Shuttle Services/Licenses/Fuel/Fishing Reports and more:
Klickitat Canyon Market, Carl Coolidge @ 509.369.4400 or 541.399.2470.

Klickitat Trader, Rolf @ 509.369.3601 . He has an awesome website with current river conditions and clarity that you can check out at: This is a great place to see what the river looks like that day.

Current Water Conditions:

Klickitat River Projection Levels

Places to Stay:

Klickitat Riverfront Inn in Klickitat, Washington
The Best Western in Hood River, Oregon 


Travis Wallace of Western Waters Guide Service @ 509.850.5125 or on the web at (He also has some lodging available.)

John Garrett
Gorge Fly Shop

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Aug 20, 2014

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Try it for 30 days and enjoy the experience of holding a rod designed by experts and handcrafted in Woodland, Washington. Test the feel in your hand, experience the balance, and get to know the lightweight blank. Let it become an extension of your arm; make a few casts, fight a few fish, and enjoy a few envious looks. That always seems to happen when you are hand in hand with the love of your life.

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Aug 18, 2014

Flyvines NW Spey Bracelets

Bracelets for the Steelheader!

Flyvines are an innovative and unique solution to fly fishing’s chief environmental hindrance: fly line. Based out of Missoula, Montana, we recycle used fly line to create lanyards, bracelets, keychains, retainers for sunglasses, and other fly fishing accessories. Each product is hand-braided, using a pattern they developed over long Montana winters and while enduring muddy run-offs. As such, each piece is one-of-a-kind. 

Now for the first time a bracelet for the Steelheader, Spey Angler, the NW Outdoorsman!
For a limited run, sold only at the Gorge Fly Shop while supplies last. Get your steelhead on.

Flyvines Spey Line Bracelets Sold only at the Gorge Fly Shop

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Order Today: 541.386.6977

Fishing Report (August 18th)

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Aug 16, 2014

Build your own "Custom Abel Reel"

Build your dream reel. 

We made it easy! O.K. Abel made it easy but the power is now in your hands. You now have the control (ability) to build your own custom, American Made Abel Reel. 

Build your own Abel Reel online with the Abel Build Your Own Reel Software in partnership with Gorge Fly Shop, by using this link. See it as you build it and order it direct from Abel exactly the way you want it. Just follow the link and start building!

Nearly every angler who has seen a custom Abel reel has imagined a custom reel of their own one time or another. If you haven't, maybe your color blind or really have an appreciation for bland food. Maybe it's time to spice things up and treat your self to something truly special.

The Build Your Own Reel System – Abel's advanced reel building program will help you design and visualize the custom reel you’ve previously been able to only imagine was possible. Utilize the program features to create your own personal masterpiece with optional drag knob, reel foot, and aluminum handle finishes.

CUSTOMIZE: One piece at a time.


Choose your base reel and start building.
From Standard BLACK or just about any other shade under the rainbow to fish graphics like Brown Trout, Atlantic Salmon or Chrome Steelhead to name a few. Abel has them all or reel close to it. 
Just a few options.
If you think you still need something with a little more flash you can bump up your custom reel with a little Artistic DeYoung finish.

DeYoung Finish



Having trouble deciding? Need a comparison to help narrow things down? Utilize Abels "Reel Comparisons" to compare things like weight, spool diameter, line and yards of backing. If you still need help drop us a line at the Gorge Fly Shop to help you decide the right package for you.

Abel Reels: From the Factory to the Field

100 years of reel technology has come down to this. Design control at your finger tips. The classic reel design are a perfect fit to Abels 25+ years of American Craftsmanship. Nearly infinitely customizable. Mechanically they are incredibly simple.

There is no other reel of this type that compares. The finish on these reels just might prompt you to move the family photo and build your own custom mantel and lighted reel box to put on display when not in use. Notice: Polish not included.

When purchased from The Gorge Fly Shop or built to order and shipped to us receive a FREE FLY LINE with purchase of any Build to Order Abel reel.

Gorge Fly Shop - Webmaster

Build your own Abel Reel: Custom made, Made in the U.S.A

* Reel photos are only a simulation. Actual product may vary in appearance and color.

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Aug 14, 2014

Fishing with Dogs

Hendrix the Fishing Dog

Fishermen love their dogs, and despite our passion for our fishing dogs, it’s not always the best idea to take them on the river with us.  The Deschutes River seems like a perfect place for a fisherman to take his/her dog fishing for a day or two of summer Steelheading.  The trail is easy to hike or bike, the river is generally not too fast or turbulent if your dog wants to take a little swim, but there are plenty of dangers that could make an unpleasant experience for you and your little buddy. 

In early August, I had the perfect opportunity to get an unexpected half day of fishing on the Deschutes.  

I grabbed my bike, my Winston TH 6126, and my dog Hendrix and drove on out to the mouth of the river.  It wasn't all that hot in Hood River, and didn't seem that bad out at the Deschutes when I got there.  Hendrix is not the word’s fastest or fittest dog, so it was not the quickest bike ride up the trail.  By the time we reached Ferry Springs, he was panting pretty heavily.  The temperatures were probably pushing 100 degrees at that point.  A quick soak in the springs and we moved on.  By mile 2, he was definitely struggling, so we moved down the river for a swim.  After a nice swim and a bite to eat, I thought that he would be ready to go another mile or two to the water I really wanted to fish. 

After returning to the trail, I quickly realized that Hendrix was not functioning at 100%.   He was panting and seemed to be having a little trouble walking.  I was oblivious to the heat and the effects it had on the pads of his feet.  I knew that asphalt could cause pad burns, but I did not realize how hot that basaltic gravel could be.  Well my dog revolted, pulled back against the leash, removing his collar and started slowly crawling down a big boulder field next to the trail despite my best effort to deter him. 

I was unable to follow him down the rock slide because it was steep and I did not want to cause a slide and crush him, so I rode back downstream, ditched my bike and ran down to the water.  I then ran back upstream to where he was coming down the boulder field, but he wasn't there.  I couldn't find him anywhere.  He wasn't in the boulders, he wasn't in the water, and he wasn't moving fast enough to have run off anywhere.  After an hour of looking, I was sure that he had either been bitten by a rattlesnake or had died of heat exhaustion in that boulder field.  I reluctantly spent the next several hours looking for his body. 

That was about 1:30 pm.  By 8:00, I was absolutely sure he was gone.  

I had looked everywhere in the vicinity several times over.  I had managed to get a few text messages out in desperation seeking solace and help.  John was coincidentally on his way to camp at the state park with his wife and volunteered to ride up and help me look.  He made it up to meet me just as darkness was setting in. 

Friends Helping Friends

To be anti-climactic, John found my dog lying in some reeds within ten minutes of reaching the area where I was looking.  He had to have crawled out near the trail when it got dark because I had looked in that spot several times earlier as I thought it was the most direct path from the boulders to the water. 

When he saw us, he couldn't even stand up.  His pads were burnt so bad that they were already peeling off.  I felt terrible.  I had no idea that the trail would be so hot.  John and I took turns carrying him until we got the idea to put him in my backpack.  It certainly made the journey out easier, and Hendrix was as happy as he could be in his condition. 
One bad move almost cost me my best friend

Fishing with Hendrix has been one of the great joys of my life.  

He is an amazing fishing partner.  He never low-holes me or shows up late.  He patiently waits on shore for me to finish the run and is always happy to check out the fish I catch.  The best part of fishing with him is that he never complains.  The down side of a dog never complaining is that his pads can be burning up and he would never let me know. Hendrix is such a good dog that he literally walked with me until he physically could not take another step.  He never whined and showed little to no sign of anything being seriously wrong until it was too late.

Hendrix Loves Adventure
I hope my experience on the river helps others be more aware of the needs of their dog out on the river.  I admit that I had Steelhead fever, a condition that affects many people in this area and it can certainly lead to bad decision-making.  I know that I am generally a good dog owner.  Hendrix never lacks love, exercise, food, water or adventure, but one bad move almost cost me my best friend and fishing partner.  Please be aware of your dog’s well-being when taking him/her out on the river with you. 

Andrew Perrault
Gorge Fly Shop

Aug 5, 2014

Greg's Top Picks at IFTD/I-CAST

2014 IFTD/I-CAST show came and went. I would have stayed longer if they would've let me but the convention center turns the A/C off at closing time so I'll take that as a hint to "please leave!" While many seem to be ready to go I on the other hand can't seem to get enough. Catching up with old friends, meeting new friends, casting some rods and getting to touch and feel some new stuff gets me thinking about possible new toys to add to my already over-inflated collection of fishing equipment. Too many goodies to list them all here but I would like to highlight a few standouts...

Fly Rods

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

Boron III TH-MS Microspey
Tom Larimer describes the Microspey
Trout junkies and warm water species chasers listen up! This is not a switch rod (whatever that really is) or a scaled down steelhead rod. Nope, not at all. The Microspey is just as the name implies, it is a small trout size spey rod designed to do everything a trout anglers does. Winston ambassador and two hand expert Tom Larimer worked side by side with Winston's guru rod designer Annette McLean to create a true spey trout rod. Microspey that is! Cast dry's, swing soft hackles, strip streamers and whatever you wish to do, do it with two hands!
Sizes 3105-4, 4110-4 and 5116-4. $830. Available Setptember-ish
Casting the New Winston Micro Spey
The first time you pick this rod up you notice the lightweight feel of a trout rod. Only the lower handle indicates that this is made for two hands. While casting it feels like a trout rod with its smooth loading and finesse feel but as if instinct just clicks in you naturally want to grab it with two hands. Start out with a simple roll cast and suddenly your mind begins to dream of cascading water with hungry trout. Set up a Snap-T and feel the effortless power of sink tip and fly as it launches across the stream in position to set up the perfect swing!

Winston Nexus 
Winston Nexus 890-4 - This all-Graphite stick has life!

While no particular order in place after the Microspey the New Winston Nexus could certainly hold its own. Winston has shown us with the Microspey to think outside the box and the Nexus backs that fact up even more so. Typically we don't use verbage of Winston and fast action rods in the same sentence but we just got it handed to us and impressed is an understatement. There is nothing wrong with a good fast action graphite rod without all the fancy resins and new technologies. The Nexus is proof of that! The Nexus was an absolute joy to cast and the smile on my face was proof. I liked it! With the price and finish of this USA built rod it will surely put a smile on many faces. Seriously, I see one of these in my very near future. 3 thru 12 weights. $475 - $495. Expected September-ish!

G. Loomis Pro4x SS (ShortStix)
Bass rod, Predator rod, or Mangrove it anything you want but SS doesn't stand for sissy stick. Equip this magnum with a short shooting head line like a RIO Outbound and cast rabbits and chickens with ease. We casted the prototype of this rod back in the winter and it was so impressive we could hardy detain ourselves. The finished version is a true hunter so watch out mangrove tarpon, shallow pike, coastal stripers and lily pad bass, this magnum is headed to the proving grounds and I'm quite confident we have a winner! The ShortStix is 7'6" 3 piece and comes in four sizes, 8/9, 9/10, 10/11 and 11/12. The 10/11 and 11/12 have integrated fighting grip. $400 - $425...Coming soon!


2014 IFTD Best of Show and Best Saltwater Rod Winner

Sage rod designer Jerry Siem talks about the new SALT
The first like I have about this rod is the name, SALT. I like the straight forward METHOD of how to name ONE series of rods. Ok, I'm having fun with names but seriously too many times anglers buy rods not knowing what the rod was intended for. I do realize that fly fishing by design is not supposed to be easy but enough already with lengthy overstated sometimes foreign and unusual rod names.
Get to the point and the Sage SALT does exactly that in its name and its action. Incorporating Konnectic technology into the SALT was a given but the surprise is SALT is not just a METHOD in disguise. The SALT has its very own unique action that can load short for accurate casts but yet progressively builds power the deeper it loads for long ranging double hauls. Sizes 590-4 to 1686-4, $850...Most sizes available now!

Notable Imports

Redington Vapen Black
This rod caught my eye from across the aisle. While the Vapen is not a new rod (introduced at IFTD 2013) it has a new stealthy member to the family. Still available is the Vapen Red and Standard (cork handle) Vapen. Meet the new Vapen Black. The Vapen Black has a cool matte black rod blank color and a black PowerGrip Winn Grip handle. The new look of this rod is stealthy but it's not all just for show. The Vapen rods are very lightweight fast action rods. Oh and the name (yeah it's one of the those we talked about earlier) Vapen means "weapon" in Japanese. Lifetime Warranty.
Sizes 490-4 to 1290-4, $349.95 Available Now!

Echo Glass Two Hand Spey and Switch rods
Echo Glass Two Hand

Glass is a blast! Reminds me of my first rod I fished when I was a kid. It loaded all the way to the handle and seemed impossible to break. Glass has made somewhat of a comeback especially in trout rods. They are so relaxed to fish and really do certain techniques superior to graphite like roll casting. While not for everyone or every fishing situation, Glass is back and many new anglers are discovering it for the first time. Echo has taken the next step and applied Glass to Two Hand Spey and Switch Rods. The rods have a classic look, cast silky smooth and won't break your bank. Expected around January 2015.
3106-4 to 8130-4 and everything in between. $279.99 - $299-99


Kristin Mustad of Nautilus shows off the Silver King to Travis Duddles of Gorge Fly Shop
Nautilus Silver King
Winner - Best of Show Fly Reel Saltwater
All Big game anglers pay attention! Nautilus CCF-X2 Silver King is for you. Following the CCF-X2 design the Silver King is a 5 inch diameter 10.9 ounce fully sealed reel and it's ready for battle with all things silver whether it be Tarpon on the flats to Kings in Alaska. We knew this reel was a winner and the IFTD show awards proved it a winner with Best of Show Fly Reel Saltwater award.
Will be available sometime this fall.
Capacity WF12 w/275yds #30. Price $685

Hatch Finatic 2 Plus

The Hatch Finatic has won our respect and I am glad to say that it doesn't change, (What?). That's right I said it! This is one reel that I wish to stick around awhile longer just like it is. Isn't that the ultimate compliment! So what's the news? Hatch is adding to the Finatic with a 2 plus size. Available mid August.

Trout anglers dream! You now have that perfect size Hatch reel for your 2 or 3 weight. 

Hatch Nomad Pliers
Function + Style = WINNER!
What I am really excited about (I'm talking I've been on the edge of my chair for months) is the new Hatch Nomad Pliers. I'm a huge fan of pliers that perform. Three functions is what I want: grip a hook, cut a line and open a bottle. They also need a sheath and lanyard. Hatch Nomad pliers have all of these features. One trouble I've had with other sheaths is my (normal size) wading belt buckle will not fit thru the loop of the sheath. Hatch has solved this issue with a snap open loop to allow the sheath to slip onto your wader belt. This is a big issue for me since I spend the majority of my time in waders and have another brand of great expensive pliers that I cannot use because of this issue. Attention to detail is what makes the difference. Oh and I need to mention the Nomad Pliers and Sheath look and feel awesome! $280
Word on the street available September 1st.

Abel Sealed Drag
Jeff Patterson presenting the New Abel Sealed Drag

While cork has been traditional drag material for many great reels over the years there comes a time when you want to fish more and maintain less.
Sealed drags are not new and most of the best salt reels have them perfected. Abel has joined the ranks of a sealed drag market with a new reel they simply call Abel Sealed Drag. Abel wanted to get it right so they enlisted the help of an expert Mr. Joe Saracione. With Joe's skills an all new design was created and tested for the new reel. Starting at $550 for a 4/5 size...a 5/6 and 7/8 sizes will come later this fall.

Other Abel news includes three new finishes: Satin Olive, Satin Blue III and Satin Slate.

Ross Animas
Ross Animas
I'm calling Ross Reels the "The one to watch". After many changes of ownership I believe Ross may have finally landed in a great place of ownership by The Mayfly Group and sister company to Abel Reels. The future is bright! The new partnership has already produced a limited run of highly sought after original Ross Gunnisons' and there is talk of a newly designed Gunnison reel for the future. Also happening is a release of a new reel called Animas. The Animas design is built around the long time trusted workings of the CLA (A true workhorse of a fly reel for many years and counting) with modern features including machined aluminum hardware and a first for Ross machined aluminum handle. Comes in two colors: Granite/Bronze hardware and Stealth Black/Moss hardware.  3/4 to 11/12 weights. Starting at $225. Coming Soon!


Simms Dry Creek Boat Bag
Magnetic Catch and Release

Boat bags have always had one major malfunction, The zipper! Hard to zip, lids don't want to fit right and who wants to struggle with gear when your next cast could be a fish of a lifetime. Simms impressed me with this new design they came up with. Save the zipper for when your done fishing for the day but make easy access all day long without worry of your gear flying out or getting wet. The new catch and release buckle is amazing. It's magnetic so all you have to do is get it close and it catches but its more technical than just magnets alone. The magnets are actually polar aligned to turn the latch into a lock position and the knob must be turned to release the lock. Innovations like this is what takes a product from same old status to forget the others, this is the only one you want. Sorry all other boat bag manufacturers but this is my top pick! Available Now! $199.95

Simms G4 Pro Jacket

IFTD Best of Show Winner Men's Outerwear

Eric Neufeld Shows the G4 Features
When I think of rain/wading jackets it's hard to look any further than Simms Jackets. If you have one or compared them to others you know it's hard to find anything that's even close to comparison. The only trouble you'll have is picking the one you want. Simms has just made that an even tougher decision with the all new G4 Pro Jacket. Simms took an already awesome jacket and somehow made it better! Its lighter, stronger and more user friendly. Available Now in colors Black and Wetstone. $549.95

Slick Jacket gets a new color for 2015...Loden - Available Now!

Simms Wading Staffs
Wade Better!

Two all new Wading Staffs arriving this month. Both operate on the same design with the main difference being aluminum or carbon fiber shafts. The Pro Wading Staff utilizes carbon fiber for its strength and light weight and also incorporates a contoured cork handle. Both staffs use an adjustable fast lock system to allow a customized length from 51" to 56". Neoprene Sheath comes standard with both staffs and has a nice new design of a wider opening making it much easier to stow the staff than previous models. One thing to note is that both new staffs DO NOT come with a retractor. Simms Wading Staff Retractors can be purchased seperately for $24.95. The Aluminum Wading Staff retails for $99.95 and the Pro Carbon Fiber Staff retails for $149.95. Available sometime in August 2014

Fly Lines

2014 IFTD Best of Show New Saltwater line RIO Permit Fly Line

Make that one cast count
When I saw the New RIO Permit line the thought I had was this is such an obviously needed line! We have Bonefish, Tarpon and Redfish lines, why not a line for one of the most sought after game fish. If you have pursued Permit then you know time is of the essence. Your Window of opportunity will most likely be counted in single digit seconds. The RIO Permit line is tapered for easy loading at short range but with enough body to engage your target at a distance with great accuracy.
WF8F - WF10F. $89.95 Available Now!

More New Stuff from RIO

RIO is storming ahead with InTouch
George Cook Explains the new lines
Once you have fished with Ultra-Low Stretch InTouch lines you'll wonder why it took so long to latch on to this technology. It's a simple yet extremely effective upgrade that not only helps your fishing but I believe it can improve your casting as well with the added benefit of a more direct feedback to your fly rod. Joining the InTouch series of lines this year is the addition of all your favorites from RIO including RIO Grand, RIO Gold and RIO Trout LT. Now your favorite lines are better than ever! An added feature with the these lines is what RIO calls Surefire. Surefire is a unique three-color system to help the caster recognize where he is in relation to casting distance to help ensure accurate distance control. Most sizes available now! $89.95
Many other new lines from RIO coming soon include RIO Skagit Max Long, RIO InTouch Extreme Indicator and RIO InTouch T-Series Sink Tip Material.

Airflo is on the move!

Switch Float
Starting off with Switch Float and Switch Streamer. I had the pleasure of fishing a couple prototypes of these lines and the excitement was hard to detain.

The struggle to line a switch rod for trout has gone on far too long. Your long awaited answer has arrived!
Switch Streamer
       Tom Larimer did the research and built the protos from his basement lab. The project goal was to develop lines for switch rods and small spey rods that will effectively trout fish with the emphasis on all techniques of trout angling with the added benefit of a two hand rod. A key element to making a trout switch line was to integrate the head and running line to have one loop-less line and eliminate the klunk of loop through rod guides, a necessary design since so often the trout angler is stripping in to the leader and/or making short cast. Also the front taper is designed to be used with Airflo 10' polyleaders and/or T-Series sink tips for versatility ranging from floating, intermediate and many different densities of sinking tips. This added benefit was a key advantage for swinging or stripping streamers in many different currents and conditions while fishing my home waters of New Mexico this past winter.
 Switch Float comes in WF3 to WF8 with grain weights of 175, 235, 310, 370, 430 and 490 and comes with a floating polyleader tip. Switch Streamer comes in WF4 to WF6 with grain weights of 300, 330, 360, 390 and 420 and comes with a fast sink polyleader tip. Both lines will retail each for $99.95. Availability...Can't get here soon enough!

Kelly Galloup joins the Airflo design staff

Kelly Galloup and Captain Bruce Chard Join the Airflo Design Consultant Staff and have already went to work on some cool new lines. Besides these new lines being designed with talented minds they will also feature all the best stuff from Airflow including Super-Dri, Power Core and Ridge Technology.

Captain Bruce Chard joins the Airflo design staff

The Airflo Kelly Galloup lines include a Nymph, Streamer float and Streamer Max Long. All these lines feature very powerful tapers for turning the big flies! $79.99 to $84.99. Coming Soon!

Airflo's Chard Tropical fly lines kicks off with an awesome new taper appropriately named Chard Tropical Punch. The secret to this line is its compact front taper and extended rear taper. WF8 to WF12...$84.99
Coming Soon!

S/A is going places

Sharkwave Siege - IFTD Winner Freshwater Fly line
Siege is an all new creation utilizing the best that Textured and Sharkskin have to offer. It's an aggressive line with a short powerful head designed to carry big flies with ease. A great feature of this line is the Tactile Reference Point which allows you to hear, feel or see the loading point right behind the head of the fly line. Available November 2014. $99.95

Sharkwave Saltwater Titan
Scientific Anglers took the already popular Textured Titan Taper and made a Saltwater Sharkwave version of it. The Titan already does a great job of carrying big flies and now it has the Sharkskin Tip for high float, Textured running line for long cast and a Tactile Reference point for determining where the best loading point in the line is. $99.95...Available in November 2014

Textured Titan Intermediate
I have been a fan of the Textured Titan since it was introduced. It has an aggressive head to carry large flies and a nice rear taper that actually helps it to carry line during your cast. Now available in a full intermediate version from 6 to 11 weight. $84.95...Available in November 2014

You can see why I like to go to this show. So much to see and so little time. Since the convergence of I-Cast with IFTD there is a whole other side to the show that we didn't get to spend much time with. Enjoy our preview and look for more to come!


Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist

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