Mar 20, 2014

G.Loomis Pro4x Swings the Sandy River Skagit Style

Sandy River, Oregon
Wet, cold, foggy and high water are all indicators that it's time to swing the fly for native winter chrome! No one would say it is easy but the possible reward exceeds anything in freshwater and rivals many salt species. It's a demanding pursuit where your patience and faith are tested continuously and your equipment will reveal its every flaw.

Almost ready.
Quickly into the day your body thrives high on the oxygen rich environment of towering fir trees all adorned with old man's beard as the river winds its way through the basalt canyon formed from the lava flows of Mt. Hood. We are on the Sandy River in the Cascade mountain range in Oregon.

The Sandy River was originally named the Quick Sand River by Lewis and Clark. The loose sediment has been deposited by the many lahar flows from eruptions of Mt. Hood with the most recent being just over a couple centuries ago. Many of the river's banks are revealing the buried tree trunks from the last eruption all of which are cropped at the same height.
Buried tree trunks from the last eruption.

Josh Linn (Fly Fishing Sales Manager for G. Loomis) invited us to join him on this journey. Equipped with an arsenal of G.Loomis rods we set out on our pursuit. Fast water made for a quick drift boat ride downstream for a couple miles through a series of whitewater rapids. Few will  dare run the bony swift waters of the Sandy in a drift boat but Josh has many years of guide experience on this river and enjoys the challenge. We rounded a bend to reveal a classic long perfect run to swing flies for steelhead.

Feels good in hand
As I finish my last sip of coffee Josh hands me one of his Pro4x rods and with a quick setup chat he sends me on my way. The rod is a Pro4x 7130 spey rod and this would be the first time I have cast this rod. From the moment I set up into a double spey I could feel the rod loading deep and smooth. I kept to that cadence as I came around and locked it into casting position and with a firm pull I let her rip. The 550gr Rio Skagit Max head shot forth with authority carrying its load of 12.5' of T-11 MOW tip and heavy weighted fly. A few more casts and I was starting to tune in to the relaxed but powerful swing of this rod.

Slow down, take your time and relax. Swinging flies for steelhead is not a sprint but more of a marathon instead. You need to keep doing what you're doing all day. Getting in a hurry is just going to wear you down and ultimately your patience with a good swing on your fly is diminished. The Pro4x loads deep in fact all the way down into the handle you can feel the rod blank flex. Fast action rods tend to cast off the tip and it feels good but if you're even a little off on timing they can respond a bit clunky especially with skagit heads. Never the case with the Pro4x. Every cast is a smooth transaction even when you know you hit it early or late. Slow doesn't equate to lack of power. Because it loads so deep into the blank it utilizes all that stored energy to launch the heavy skagit head, sink tip and weighted fly on its course.

Zero to 100 in .02 Seconds
Getting into the rhythm and working my way into the bucket of the run was an absolute pleasure with this rod. So relaxed I was completely taken by surprise when a hot winter Steelhead decided to blast my fly. Zero to 100 in .02 seconds is the best way I know how to describe the experience.

I'm not sure how to continue with this article...do I tell the truth about what happened or make up a lame story of the one that got away? I've never been one to make up stories.

I've never cared for these traditional style reels that many guys fish with. They all say "but they are so simple what can go wrong". Anything can go wrong and the extremes of steelheading will extract any weak link. The simple "nothing can go wrong" reel failed and seized causing an instant break off. I watched helplessly while a chrome bright winter steelhead jumped in midstream trying to shake the intrusion fixed to his lip. With one last jump I'm pretty sure he "flipped me the fin" as he rocketed upstream. Disappointed, yeah big time but I also know that any number of things can keep a fish from coming to hand. Sometimes you never know what happened. They just come unpinned and that can be the most frustrating. You'll lie awake at night wondering what went wrong. At least I know what failed although that provides little comfort at that moment.

Re-rigged we finished out the run and couldn't bring another fish to the fly. Water was on the rise so fast that I noticed the difference as I step through the same run on a second pass. Back in the boat we headed downstream and fished quite a few more runs only getting a couple non-committed pulls on our flies. We caught up with John Garrett and Sam Sickles who also were doing the same float from Dodge to Dabney. John had a couple grabs but nothing hooked up.

Wet, cold, foggy...Perfect!
After swinging the next run with no success we decided it was time to take turns casting the arsenal of equipment Josh had brought along. First an NRX 13' 8/9, what a cannon! Powerful fast rod that craves great timing but can give staggering results. I really liked the feel of the NRX 12' 5/6 Switch rod. Although called a switch rod I really view this as your compact summer spey rod capable of going from Scandi dry morning/evening work to skagit sink tip for mid day deeper runs. The 14' 6/7 NRX is a scandi dream rod with its fast taper and progressive loading.

Hopes of another chance at Winter Chrome
At the end of the day the Pro4x 13' 7 weight was my rod of choice for the slower, deeper loading of winter skagit sink tip work. The rod did all the work for me and was never tiring. Even when my cast was less than perfect the forgiving action made up for this enabling me to set up swing after swing for the hopes of another chance at Winter Chrome.

Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist



Sandy River Drift Boat Run
"Fly Fish the World with Us"


No comments :

Post a Comment

Stay up to date: Free Newsletter Sign Up

  © 'and' Steelhead.com Mike Prine 2009-2014

Back to TOP