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 I knew only one thing 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
Bobo!

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



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!

LATE SEASON STEELHEADING ON THE KLICKITAT RIVER:

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.

Late season on the Klickitat (Oct & Nov) is by far my favorite months of the six month season that it’s open. The crowds start to calm down because the salmon are spawning and will soon die, and the deer and elk hunters are chasing deer and elk and the river’s painted with fall colors. I love fishing for Chinook but if I had to choose between Chinook or Steelhead, the steelhead would win every time, hands down. I just love the acrobatics of a steelhead more than the tug a war of a Chinook. And the steelhead that have been nervous and in hiding the past six weeks start to come out to play.

Our Drift boat takes a break as we swing this beautiful long run that is shaded from the heat of the day…
WEATHER WISE – DRESS WARM/DRESS COOL:
October: Klickitat River Fall weather can be challenging. Folks need to be prepared for 45 degree mornings and 85 degree afternoons. Just this past Monday I was on the river with good Friends Don Hull and his son Jeremy and it was seriously chilly at daylight and we were talking about how nice it would be when the sun pops out and we could warm up. Eventually the sun did wake up and it quickly heated up to 87 degrees, and we found ourselves talking about how nice some shade would feel. Never satisfied are we? There was a point where Jeremy even reached over the side of the boat to cup some cool Klickitat water and put it on his head and neck. We literally went from shivering to sweating in a matter of a few hours. I’ve been in very few places where warm clothes and sunscreen are a must in the same day.

Before heading to the river check the weather report the night before and dress accordingly. I know weather can change but it’s better to be prepared than not. As far as I’m concerned what you wear this time of year is as important to what you do while on the water. You will want to layer with warm clothes under your waders. If you’re wading and swinging flies for most of the day it can get pretty chilly with the cool water temps and shade. Remember the temperatures are always cooler when you are on the water.

November: Can be brutal. I have seen air temperatures in the low teens and water temps at 31 degrees. Again, stating the obvious you want to be prepared. If you’re boat fishing bring a propane heater to take the edge off when needed. Even if you’re bank fishing put a propane heater in your truck or trunk and do the same. It can make a world of difference in how long you stay out and fish. Have you ever heard of a Jet Boil? If you have one great, bring it, use it. Fresh hot coffee or a hot bowl of soup will revive you like nothing else. If you don’t have one…get one! I don’t personally have one yet, but a buddy of mine does and it is a lifesaver. I have one on my Christmas wish list. Okay, enough on the weather, moving on. Oh wait, one more thing related to weather, when the leaves start to fall you will want to avoid any days that call for windy conditions, especially at the beginning of the leaves falling. The river will absolutely become choked full of the leaves and I’m not just talking about on the surface, leaves will be in every column of the river and it makes it almost impossible to swing a fly without snagging them. The initial few days of the leaves falling make it very tough. Even nymph fishing can be challenging. I believe the fish are so bombarded by the leaves that it distracts them. After that few first days, most of the leaves will be gone.

Wet fly selection (left photo) – Don’t be afraid to fish on a sink tip if low and clear: from top to bottom: Jack O Lantern, Purple GP Spey, Euphoria, Skating Caddis, Boss, Mack’s Canyon, Purple Peril, Purple Green Butt Skunk, Come Back Caddis


A great selection of flies (right photo) to attach to your sink tips when water temperatures drop: MoreJohn’s Bantam, Silvey’s Sylvinator, Hobo Spey in Purple, Blue and Black, Pink & Orange, Mini Pick Yer Pocket, Mini Intruder and the orange GP Spey.

TECHNIQUES AND TACTICS:
If you’re a dry line junkie and love to swing a skater or a subsurface wet fly (and who isn’t or doesn’t), your days are numbered. With the air temperatures dropping expect the water temps to do the same. Now I’m not saying that you won’t be able to catch a steelhead on a dry line or even with a skater in November…but if you do…you might want to stop at the nearest convenience store on your way home and buy yourself a lottery ticket, the odds could forever be in your favor.

NYMPH FISHING: will remain productive and you may experience that the fish will turn “0ff” of the bead, the trout bead that is. They have gotten to the point that they are sick of em. This is the time to try Copper John’s or Brassie’s with a strong enough hook that you won’t bend them out on a decent steelhead. We all know that the bead is “Money” most of the time, but there can be a time when it just isn’t paying off. Don’t be afraid to get trouty with the steelhead.

STORY TIME: I was sight fishing a bucket once where I could physically see six steelhead in it and I couldn’t get them to take a bead to save my life. I tried different sizes and colors but got no love. Finally out of frustration I just opened my fly box and tied on a couple different sizes of Copper John’s. Needless to say, I proceeded to hook 4 of the steelhead in a short period of time. Unfortunately these were smaller Copper John’s which you would use for trout and the hooks easily bent out. What did I do next? I went home, sat down at my vise and whipped out a couple hundred of them with a heavier hook to finish out my guiding season with.

These were fish that had seen beads to the point they were no longer interested. They had become numb to them. These were fish that had been in the system for a while. And to be honest with you, this was before there were as many folks bead fishing the Klick as there are nowadays. I mean believe it or not, if I ate rib eye steak every day I’d get tired of it. I encourage you to try something creative if and when the bead won’t work. What did I learn? When you know there are fish where you’re fishing and you can’t get them to bite what you’ve been using, try to mix it up and show them something different. Don’t just walk away with your head down.

Sometimes it’s just adjusting the depth of your offering. Now I am a big time believer that if there are just a few fish in the system and you don’t know for sure if there are fish in the run, stick with what you know works, but if there are fish there and you can’t get them to bite try mixing it up. It often pays off. I’m not just addressing nymph fishing here, I do the same if I am swinging. I will adjust sink tips, flies or the angles that I’m presenting the fly. I guess what I’m saying is don’t just wade out, cast and hope something happens. I like to walk away from a run knowing that I gave it my very best shot and if I didn’t hook a fish, I’m okay. Ask anyone in the shop if they have ever heard me say…”Man, I didn’t hook any this morning, but I fished it the best I could”. What more could you ask for. Sometimes the fish, with a brain the size of a green pea wins. That’s just how it is. BOTTOM LINE: NEVER LEAVE FISH TO FIND FISH!

A special fish and a special moment: Past client with his first Swung steelhead and she was a dandy!
ON THE SWING: If swinging is your thing and a tug is your drug, you can continue to have success on the Klickitat even if the water temperatures drop and become cold. Steelhead are like us in that when water temps are cold they can become lethargic, just like I am when I am cold, my hands don’t work very well and they don’t want to move very far to chase a fly, same on the other end of the spectrum, when it is too warm I become lethargic and all I want to do is cool off. What does this mean? It means you can improve your odds by the water you choose to focus on when the river temps drop.

When it is cold and the water temps drop, steelhead will concentrate is the slower sometimes deeper runs. This is where they can conserve energy. I have swung up steelhead when the water temperature was 32 degrees. I had to literally get the fly within inches of the fish with a sink tip and a slow swing. That’s the coldest water temp that I have swung up a steelhead personally. If you are nymph fishing, this can be a golden nugget for you, write this down on your fly box. If you have water temps 38-40 degrees or less, spend more time in the deeper, slower runs. It will pay off huge.

STORY TIME: (This can be confirmed by Travis Duddles, the Gorge Fly Shop Owner and a past client of mine, Ken Rogers, who is a wicked centerpin fisherman)! Sorry, this will read more like another nymphing story but take the info and principles and apply it to swinging and it will work. Two days in a row, the first while fishing my client Ken Rogers and his buddy and the second while fishing Travis and his friend from White Salmon we hooked a mixture of 21 steelhead and Coho in one run on the first day and 17 in the same run on the second day.

I hate to even tell you this because it seems pretty unrealistic, but I promise you it’s true. This run is a deep run, about 12 feet deep and the fish were stacked in there. Now in this situation I approach fishing the run differently than most would. Because I knew the water was cold and that the fish would likely be stacked in this spot and knowing how deep the run was, I set the indicators/bobbers at 9 feet to 10 feet deep. We know that historically steelhead will tend to hug the bottom of the river bed, so it’s a great place to start to see if there are fish there. After fishing at this depth and hooking a number of fish, the bite went off. I know that when I can hook multiple fish in one spot at a certain depth that the chances of more fish being “suspended” in the same run are pretty good.

So, I adjusted the indicators/bobbers a foot shallower. Immediately we began to hook multiple fish, until the bite went off at this depth. Again, we adjusted the indicators/bobbers another foot shallower and again immediately started hooking multiple fish. We did this until our depth was about 4 feet deep. So we went from an indicator depth of about 10’ to start down to 4’ deep. That’s a six foot difference and we hooked fish at every depth. Now imagine how many fish were stacked in that run.

You might ask if they were stacked why start so deep? Why not start shallow and work your way deeper? Well, because I know historically that if there are only a few fish in there that they will be hugging the bottom and I don’t want to waste time getting to the fish going from shallow to deep. But as I said, if I am hooking lots of fish, I know they are stacked and will work my way up until they quit biting. Again, I never leave fish to find fish and if a run has a bunch of fish in it and they are willing to bite, I’m not leaving them. I would rather run to the take out after fishing that run hard and catching fish than fish every run the last three miles of a float to hopefully find a fish.

The second part of this story is on the second day where I took Travis and his buddy and we hooked 17 fish in that very same run. Some of those where no doubt caught the day before. I also want to note that multiple boats were ahead of me, and this is what I meant about a golden nugget. Most guys and guides that I have witnessed fishing the Klick will set their depth and go. They may change the flies but rarely the depth. Another little nugget, when fishing these deep spots and you have determined that the depth is say twelve feet deep, set your indicator/bobber at 10’ to 10 ½’ deep and if the indicator/bobber goes down, I don’t care how slow…it’s a fish! In those deep slow runs the bobber typically is not going to bury like a rocket. These fish are cold and don’t want to move. They simply open their mouth and close it and the line comes into tension under the slow current causing the indicator/bobber to casually dip under the surface. Set the hook, even if it seems like the strike is in slow motion. Again, you can swing fish runs like this just as well. You can adjust your sink tips and systematically cover the water. This is an excellent place to put on your intermediate head because of the speed and depth of some of the runs the intermediate head works very well to get you in the zone. If needed to still get down deeper, you can put on a heavy fly to help get it down. There are spots where the current is slow but the run isn’t deep. This is a place to use your lighter tips and a non-weighted fly. In general, evaluate how deep the run is then adjust your set up accordingly.

Not only do leaves change in colors this time of year, look at this: stunning!
LAST CAST: As I am typing this out, I’m thinking of how little time is left in the season. It’s easy for me to say sweet, we still have a couple of months left before she closes. But in reality, as fast as the rest of the year has gone by, the end of November is like next week. Get out when you can, be prepared, be versatile, and make the most of it. Try a few of these tricks and see if success is your reward. Stop by the Gorge Fly Shop on your way to the water and we will help you with anything you may need. We carry a huge selection of inventory to serve you. If you can’t find it at the Gorge Fly Shop, you don’t need it…


See you out on the river and if you recognize me say hello!



The GFS Team
John Garrett


Be sure to also read - Chapter One:
John Garrett's Guide to Early Season Steelheading on the Klickitat




541.386.6977

"Fly Fish the World with Us"



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.

Anchor

 I think this might be my problem 85% of the time. And frequently, I try to fix everything else first without realizing where the problem really lies. Unfortunately, if the anchor is incorrect then we try to compensate with altering the remainder of the cast. If you don't feel the normal load on the rod from the formation of the "D" loop then you automatically correct by going forward faster. Make sure that your anchor is far enough away from you with the line/leader junction right in front of you. As long as your fly does not end up on the same side as your rod tip at the end of placing your anchor, then you aren't in danger of impaling yourself assuming the rest of your cast is normal.  I commonly place the line much too close to my body. Remember that you want to have your setup perfect prior to going into your "D" loop when you want no Skagit head on the water, or a few feet of Scandi line. If your anchor is well placed, then the sweep to the "D" loop and forward cast can be effortless and powerful. And remember, rarely, very rarely is the answer to speed up or apply more power to any portion of your cast. Instead, examine that anchor like a subtle clue in a Jack Reacher novel.

Don't Stop in the "D" loop

I think in some way, learning to speycast after having experience with a single handed fly rod can be a more difficult process. 

Though aspects of both have some overlap, a few techniques that are vital in single handed casting are a "death blow" if used with a spey rod. When sweeping the rod back to form the "D" loop, I have a natural tendency to want to pause before going forward with my cast. This tendency stems from allowing my back cast to straighten out when overhead single handed casting. That pause when spey casting causes your "D" loop to lose the energy that has already been built up with your sweep to form that "D" loop. Instead, I try to make sure that I go immediately forward once I've swept back to my "D" loop. Don't overcompensate by accelerating forward but merely change the direction of your cast without losing any energy in your "D" loop.

Adjust to Changing Conditions

Very common for my casting to be consistent and decent to where I start to suffer delusions of grandeur. I think about what it will be like to accept the trophy for longest cast ever recorded. Then reality slaps me in the face like a fish flipping me the fin instead of eating the skater. Frequently, the conditions have changed and I have not appropriately adjusted. When you make these adjustments, make small fine tuning changes. Two things that commonly "rock my world" of casting is water velocity and wind. Commonly, we wade into the top of the riffle where velocity is highest and the tension on the anchor is greatest. But, as we wade down, the velocity decreases and becomes easy to rip our line off the water and "blow" the anchor. Instead slow down and make sure that you do not dip the rod tip back when forming the loop. Don't pause but go forward smoothly and not in a hurry. Remember, save the anchor!!

Wind is another demon that can "cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war". In my mind, I don't think about changing my cast. I believe that wind merely reveals any preexisting flaws in my technique. During your sweep to form a loop, slow down. Otherwise, that wind blows your line well away from you if you are trying to speed up. And instead of speeding up the forward cast and finishing lower to the water like you are trying to throw the line, think instead of exaggerating a high finish with an abrupt stop. Remember this will give you the tightest, most aerodynamic loop. To help myself keep that high stop, I imagine trying to throw my fly at a target high above the opposite river bank, like a tree top, cliff edge, or hillside. Hearing the wind, and feeling the wind ignites an instinct to go faster and throw the line, resist that urge. Okay to throw caution to the wind but not the fly. Cast it instead.





Charlie Chambers
Gorge Fly Shop Contributor 



"Fly Fish the World with Us"




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. 


Tibor Signature Fly Reels are one example of this with six available reel color finishes and now an extra added touch of a six custom Signature Hub finishes. Mix and match these choices and for many possible combinations. 


If you are buying a New Tibor Signature reel you have your choice of hub color at no additional charge. 


Check out these custom reels
Jet Black w/ Lime Hub

Satin Gold w/ Aqua Hub


Jet Black w/ Violet 3D Hub

Jet Black w/ Crimson Hub

Graphite Gray w/ Violet 3D hub

Satin Gold w/ Crimson Hub

Moss Green w/ Lime Hub

Graphite Grey w/ Lime Hub

Crimson w/ Graphite Hub
Jet Black w/ Aqua Hub
If you already own a Signature reel you can purchase the color hub of your choice to fit your reel. It's easy to change yourself and the only tool required is a penny. 


All Signature Hub Assemblies include the following parts:
• Main Gear
• Drag Seal
• Machined Hub
• Thrust Washer Seat
• Drag Spring
• Draw Bar
• Spool Retainer Insert






Engraving Available

Gamefish Engravings

So many ways to customize Tibor Fly Reels. Reel colors and Hub Choices are all available options in our online store. Contact us for more information regarding custom engravings. 

George Cook and Greg Darling at the 2014 IFTD Booth.


BassProGreg



Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist


"Fly Fish the World with Us"


Oct 6, 2014

Fishing Reports (October 6th)

Gorge Fly Shop October 6th Fishing Report

Check out the Gorge Fly Shop's Weekly Fishing Reports Page for local and surrounding lakes and rivers including the Deschutes, Klickitat the Hood, Lost Lake and surrounding bodies of water.

Fall Focus

Autumn in the Gorge is remarkably beautiful. A step out of doors and we are swept away into a world of soft colors and crisp air. It is a time to rejoice in the welcoming transition to winter. As anglers, we goose step through streams that are full of Steelhead. Most of us head a little further east, to catch up to the hordes of fresh Steel as they tuck into various tributaries of the Columbia. Fabled waters such as The Deschutes, The Grande Ronde, The Snake and The Clearwater beckon our flies. It is a time for Spey, a time to swing flies in hopes of piscatorial connections…

But here at the Gorge Fly Shop, we take care of customers from around the world. The falling of the leaves in Oregon, means new buds in New Zealand. While the frost settles into our fields, ice drip, drips away in Chile. Folks don their sticks, and driven by a deep curiosity for water and their inhabitants, they set out to discover. Whether it’s for tailing bones on the shoals of Easter Island, giant, spotted browns in the crystalline waters of New Zealand, cruising Roosters off the coast of Mexico, fishing brings us to a place where time disappears. Our shop is here to help you on the path of discovery. Give us a call (541.386.6977) or shoot us an email (info@gorgeflyshop.com) at any time if you have questions on how to best fill out your gear bag. There are lots of new products available to align with your interests and endeavors. We wish you all a wonderful fall season…

"Fly Fish the World with Us"


Sep 24, 2014

EXPLORATION

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?

gorge fly shop: fly fish the world with us
Get Bent!
I moved here a few years ago and hadn’t really expected anyone to show me anything. The very first thing I did (yes, before checking into my hotel or stopping at my new job I was to start a few days later) was drove up the Klickitat as far as I could with the light I had left. I mentally noted some good looking water and fished a promising run, and caught my first couple of Fall Chinook on a fly. The process of exploring a river, finding runs and access points is just as exciting to me as the actual time fishing.

gorge fly shop: fly fish the world with us
Kodiak Horses
I spend a lot of time looking at Google Earth, often more than is healthy. In the past year, I have fished 14 new (to me) rivers and about 15 new lakes. Each time I went to explore a new river, I spent hours looking at my computer finding trails, logging roads, access points and good looking water. Sometimes, it doesn’t pan out, but often times my preparation leads to an easier time getting to find places to fish and coordinating a plan for the day.

gorge fly shop: fly fish the world with us
Bugg'in Out
I love finding a new piece of water. There are some secrets left out there and web forums are usually not going to be any help at all. The only thing you can do is go out there and check it out. The biggest steelhead I have hooked in ten years was on a tiny little creek that just “looked good” on Google Earth. There are no roads across it and it only flows for a couple of miles. There is not one mention of it on any fishing forum anywhere (I checked). We spent an evening scouring through maps, cracking beers, creating a game plan, and then we made it happen. Ryan and I followed a couple of logging roads for what seemed like hours to a clear cut and then starting hiking downhill until we found some water. Then we found one little tiny pool that was holding (to our surprise) exactly two 15-18# steelhead. We each hooked and lost one, but it was one of the most rewarding experiences fishing that I have ever had.

Exploration meets Adventure
When arriving at a river that is new to you, there are a few things that I have always found very helpful. The most important thing you can do is to drive as far up the river as possible. Drive up to the boundary where the river is closed. Too many of us just fish the first place that we come across that looks decent, but there could be an amazing run just up around the corner that would be much more worth fishing. Take note of any and all pull-offs, access points, possible trails, etc… Some rivers are easier than others. For example, just about anywhere on the Klickitat that has more than enough room to pull a truck off the road usually has some fishy water near it. It’s almost all next to the main highway, so its not too difficult to figure out.

On the coastal streams, that is not always the case, as the vegetation can be so dense that seeing the water from the car is often a problem. I print off sections of river from Google Earth and stop the car and make notes of interesting areas and label them. I try to highlight good looking water on my maps and then figure out how to get there. “Must explore this area” “trucks parked here” and “possible access to sweet run” are common markings found on printed maps loosely organized (more like scattered across my tying bench and truck). Possibly the most helpful thing you can do when exploring a new river is to find where other fishermen are parked and take notes on that. Luckily for us, most dedicated fishermen cover their trucks in stickers advertising their passion, and also advertising the best places to fish.

gorge fly shop: fly fish the world with us
Campfire Fly Tying Session
I never expect to catch anything the first time I go to any river. The one thing that I can expect to do is to learn the topography and geography of the river. I hope to identify good looking spots and I am willing to hike for quite a while just to look at a run. I hiked about three miles last spring on the advice of an old man I met at a diner in Nehalem only to figure out that the run he was talking about would have been awesome at a much higher water level. My dog was happy for the walk and now I know what lays down that stretch of river. I will no longer wonder what the water looks like down there.

In the late spring, I turn my attention to lakes. That is even more fun for me because some of the lakes I find have no fish in them, but some of them have some mighty big fish. It takes dedication to hike into a lake that quite possibly has nothing in it. John T and I did quite a bit of bushwhacking this spring in order to find some off-trail lakes. It was one of my favorite explorations because these lakes had no sign of people. No fire rings, no cigarette butts, no beer cans, no trails. It’s pretty rare these days to find that type of place. There were definitely fish in the three lakes we hit. The fish weren’t huge, but they were eager and had never seen a fly.


Sometimes it just requires getting a little lost before finding oneself. There are hundreds of lakes in this area and many of them are not to be found in any fishing book or internet forum. It takes some time scouring Google Earth finding water that has good depth, yet is far enough from a road or trail to not see any pressure.

So next time you want to fish somewhere new, just go. Don’t worry about what the internet (or your favorite fly shop) has to say about it. You can learn by listening or you can learn a whole lot more by doing. Fly fishing has always been about exploring just about as much as it is catching fish. There are the people that figure it out and those that wait for others to figure it out.






Andrew Perrault
Gorge Fly Shop
541.386.6977








"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Sep 23, 2014

Simms Vapor Wading Boot Review

The first time I put my hands on this wading boot I knew it was different than anything I've seen before from Simms. Sure it has the Simms' name on it, the familiar Simms Orange trimmings and the jumping trout logo but the boot was something way different. As soon as I handled it I understood the name Vapor

Simms Vapor Boots and Bass Bugs

While Simms has manufactured some of the best boots in the industry they are not known for being light. The Vapor is now the exception. As I looked them over closely visions came of rambling down shoreline trails and skipping boulders to reach that special bucket in my favorite run. Lightening the load is liberating. It's like the feeling you get when you drop your overstuffed daypack on the shoreline after a three mile hike. Ahhh! Now it's time to play.


But look and feel doesn't mean a thing until you test it. Will my dream be realized or forgotten?


My first opportunity to get these new boots wet came on a little warm water stream. Not the most demanding river to wade but it still has the ability to fully submerge you. It proved that on the first evening when I walked in with only some wet sandals on. I just made one wrong step and I quickly got a baptism. With warm water and no harm done I found myself laughing out loud as I crawled my way back up on a boulder. I could have waded the remaining trip in sandals like my fishing partner did but instead I chose to put some protection under me.
Alumibite Cleats

Over the last couple years I have become quite fond of rubber soled boots over felt. 

Wading boots are like boats in that there is no one perfect vessel for every situation. Some western rivers you need every once of traction you can achieve but I find that properly studded rubber soles have many advantages over felt. I often hike good distances, fish in freezing temperatures and might jump in and out of the truck often on my quest for fish. All of the above favors rubber sole boots. Gone are the days of packing felt full of mud, freezing into blocks of ice and leaving giant mud puddles on the floor of my truck.
Brr! Time to turn my thoughts back to the warm water trip
First off yes I studded them right out of the box.
While rubber soles have improved greatly in recent times I still don't believe we can ever be fully confident in the traction without some help. Just as the soles have improve so has the studs today. Simms Hardbite Studs are my immediate "go to" for general purpose use and most the time they are all I need. If your wading situations exceed these studs than go all out for the Alumibite Cleats. I have yet to find anything that sticks better than aluminum. The boots soles are specially configured to accept Alumibite cleats and/or Hardbite studs.



Simms Guards Socks
Since my first use involved wading without waders I purchase a pair of Simms Guard Socks. These proved to be awesome. They are anatomically correct 3.5mm neoprene complete with built in gravel guards and boot hook tab that lines up perfect with the D-ring that is permanently fixed to the wading boot. Everything fit like a glove. The first day I also wore the Simms Wet Wading Socks but the second day I just went barefoot inside the guard sock. Both methods worked great.

Last week I got out on a little coldwater trout stream. My first chance to try the Vapor boots out in a pair of Simms G3 Guide Waders. I found the same smile on my face. Like many streams to reach the good fishing it takes some trekking. The Simms Vapor boots were ready for the challenge.

Wrap it up! I'll take em!

This is my kind of boot for 90% of the fishing I do. Why 90%? Like I said earlier boots are like boats, there is no one perfect vessel that does everything great. If your wading is extreme, basalt rock, ankle breaking stuff (i.e. Oregon's Deschutes River) than the Simms G3 Guide or G4 BOA boots would be a better foot protection option. From wet wading warm water rivers or hiking miles of freestone streams, I couldn't be happier with what I experienced in the lightweight, comfortable and great traction of the Simms Vapor Boot.

My feet feel liberated!


BassProGreg



Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist


"Fly Fish the World with Us"


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