Feb 26, 2021

European Style Nymphing (ESN), Why Do It

Why nymph fish at all? The truth is the overwhelming majority of trout feeding behavior happens below the water’s surface. In fact most feeding activity happens around twelve inches off the river bottom. The answer is to catch fish when they are not feeding on the surface, i.e., most of the time. Let’s be honest, if you fish western rivers for trout you nymph fish a lot. Now I know nymph fishing isn’t for everyone, this article is for everyone else. Recently the European style of nymphing has gained in popularity and here’s why.

Before we step into the whole “euro” nymph deal, let’s just back-up a bit and talk about standard nymph rigs. This is the standard western nymph rig; it’s worked for a long time. This system is out of date, and if you are still using it, you are losing too many flies, spending too much time re-rigging, and most importantly, not making good drift and not seeing most strikes. I know this is offensive, I though the same thing…at first. The first problem with this set up is the strike indicator, often large and cumbersome, designed to float heavy flies and split shots. Here’s the problem; this thing is a mess from the get-go. The bobber is big – it creates drag because water on the surface is faster than water near the bottom (where we want our flies). So, even though we are now fishing heavy rods and heavy lines so we can chuck massive payloads in order to get our flies down on bottom, the strike indicator is pulling our flies off the bottom. How do we fix this? For starters we cast faster upstream, stack mend the bobber above the flies and and continue mending. The weight sinks fast and creates a hinge point and hopefully the flies follow the flies to the bottom, but mostly we create slack. There is no doubt our flies get eaten and we catch some fish doing this but it’s inefficient. The flies are rarely in the strike zone and on a tight line, that is why this is the least effective style of nymph fishing. This style of fishing is best suited to boat fishing and it sucks at that as well.

This system has worked for many years and a lot of fish have been caught doing this. this system still has it’s place but it should be modified and replaced with “drop” shot nymphing.

Drop shot nymphing; Simply put, drop shot nymphing is just that. See the diagram above, “standard”. Typically the spilt shot are placed above the flies in a standard nymph rig. In a drop shot rig the weight is dropped below the flies. Often times anglers will high stick drift a drop shot rig with out a bobber type strike indicator. This is very simian to European nymphing but not quite. This is a very effective style of nymph fishing for trout. The current on the surface even when using a strike indicator is negated by the lead dragging and bouncing off the bottom, creating the angle needed to put the flies in the strike zone. Frankly speaking, short line high sticking with this method is effective but I like it best for fishing indicators at distance and for extended drifts. Anglers use very few flies fishing this technique due to the drop shot being on the bottom and the flies above.

European Nymphing is a catch all term for Czech Nymphing, every European country has basically adapted their own style to the Czech style, it’s easier to just call it all “euro nymphing”. Euro nymphing is done with a longer lighter rod and a very long leader, a sighter, and up to three weighted flies and no split shot. For people familiar with “drift fishing” terminal tackle, this technique is similar.

The Euro Rig is extremely simple and effective for catching trout. Typically the fly line is very thin. The leaders are long and thin in diameter. Flies are weighted in accordance to the water the angler is fishing. Fly patterns are simple, very simple, presentation always trumps the pattern. The ideas is that the flies tumble along the bottom on a thigh line where the trout live. Strike detection is via a “sighter”, usually chartreuse and fluorescent orange in color with a blood knot at the junction and the knot tags in tact. Straight 5x for the length of the leader is typical so 10 to 10.5′ 3 weights is the norm. The only weakness to this technique is at distance. The farther away this rig is from the rod tip the more “sag” is created between the leader and the rod tip, thereby dragging the flies. Sag can be defeated with lighter lines and tippets two things which make casting harder and harder.

So lets talk about casting. Traditional nymphing rods lend themselves the best to overhead casting as well as roll casting. Typically 5-7 weight rods, way weight forward nymphing lines and flies in line heavier ones up top make this the go to set up for casting at distance. Drop shot its are built to fish not to cast but the way weight forward fly lines and the heavier rods can still be you friend and if you’re careful you can still cast this rig. Heavy emphasis on mending this without moving the strike indicator it needs to drag the flies. The “Euro Nymph” rig does not cast, it’s not built to cast it’s built to cut the resistance of the upper current speed. Fishing the Euro Rig is best done from 20-30′ max, the closer the better. The flies are extremely heavy and the tippet is extremely thin so tension casting is best. The flies can be cast further by shooting some line, the weight of the flies can carry the cast a long ways but remember with the rod tip up at distance you create sag, reducing your effectiveness dramatically.

Tackle. There are several European Style Nymphing rods available today, typically 10-11′, 2-4 weight rods. A soft tip is required to protect light tippets and to cast light rigs. Fly lines are very thin with very small to no loops at the end. The ends go through the guides while fighting fish and remember we are typically fishing 5x. Very small 3 or 4 turn nail knots are recommended. 20,15,12# Maxima Chameleon, a sighter material too tone, or amnesia if you have it or can find it, tippet rings or micro swivels. The reel needs to be heavy. Holding a rod tip up all day is hard on the shoulder muscles, the easier to keep that rod tip up the better. The flies make this style of fishing so you will need to tie your own or go to a shop than carries them.

Flies. The bottom fly is the “point” fly or the anchor fly. The point fly is normally the heaviest fly. The dropper fly is 16-20″above the point fly (see diagram). I like a variety of sizes of tungsten beachhead flies wrapped with lead for this style of fishing. Like I said before, presentation trumps pattern. Anglers need a variety of weighted flies to fish a variety of water speeds ad depths.

Dirty Euro Nymphing. In some instances, say you’ve lost all you’re heavy flies on the bottom but fishing is good and you wanna keep going. Don’t be afraid to rig your euro nymph rod with a drop shot rig. That’s right, try a drop shot rig on your ESN rod.

I started nymph fishing in 1992, and have been fishing a long time since. Playing with straight leaders, heavier flies, better strike indicators, etc. can’t fix the real problem, fighting two speeds of current and keeping a tight line. Euro nymphing, or modern nymphing techniques are becoming mainstream and for good reason, they minimize current speeds and keep the flies in the bite zone on a tight line making strikes not only easy to detect…you can actually feel them most of the time. If you enjoy catching fish and you enjoy nymphing, it’s time to modernize.

If you would like to learn more we offer on the water modern nymphing instruction as well as guided trips for trout on the lower Deschutes year round.

To book a trip or schedule instruction please contact me;

Sam Sickles | Steelhead Outfitters



Feb 25, 2021

Deschutes Trout Season 2021 - Steelhead outfitters

Trout season will be here before you know it. 

  • April- Blue Wing Olives/March Browns 
  • May- Salmonflies, Golden Stones, Little Sallies 
  • June- Little Sallies, Caddis, and a mess of may flies 

Deschutes River Trout (Jetboat) 

We launch at Heritage Landing in a jet boat. Heritage Landing is a straight shot from Portland down I84. You meet me at the boat ramp and we get into the sled. There's no shuttle and no long gravel roads. 

We start fishing in mid April during the pre-stonefly, March Brown timeframe, which offers some of the best fishing of the year. There will be adult stoneflies and salmon flies the first week of May and we'll fish dry flies well into June. We do trout spey and euro nymphing as well as traditional fly fishing. 

Fishing the “lower lower” is a chance to experience dynamic dry fly fishing in solitude unimaginable around Warm Springs. Many days we see no other boaters and lots of hungry trout! 

Get ahold of me soon for open dates! Please text or email me for availability. 

Sam Sickles 
Steelhead Outfitters 
(541) 400-0855 

Thanks again to everyone who supported us in 2020, we look forward to seeing you soon! 


"The Gorge"

Gorge Fly Shop Team - 541.386.6977

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Feb 24, 2021

Sage Trout Spey HD - New

George Cook gives the rundown on the new Sage Trout Spey HD

1109-4 10’9” 4pc 1wt:

Historically, 2wt Trout Spey was the lightest available but Little guy Little has arrived. The smallest of the small Trout Spey rods is now available and ready for action. Be it East or West baby spey is here to stay. Fly selection and use will dictate the boundaries for this light tackle specialty rod. Swinging soft hackles is assured but classic streamer patterns along with carefully designed micro intruders will see action as well.
  • Line Match: RIO Trout Spey #1 (Scandi Style Line at 190gr), Skagit Trout Spey 200gr
  • Sink Tips: 10’ conventional (Replacement) Tips, Floating, Intermediate, Type 3 & 6 in 55 grains, Scandi Light Versi-Leaders 7’ all types.
  • Reel Match: Sage Trout Spey Reel 1/2/3

2109-4 10’ 9” 4pc 2wt:

Today the 2wt Trout Spey rod represents ultralight versatility based on specialized lines coupled with well thought out fly patterns. The angler’s ability to harness fun and effectiveness is found here.
  • Line Match: Skagit Trout Spey Integrated 225gr, (Head 250gr), Trout Spey #2 (Scandi) 230gr
  • Sink Tips: 10’ Floating, Intermediate, Type 3&6 in 55 grains, Scandi Light Versi-Leaders 7’ all types.
  • MOW Match: MOW Light through 10’ sink tip.
  • Reel Match: Sage Spey Reel 1/2/3

3103-4 10’ 3” 4pc 3wt AND the 3110-4 11’ 4pc 3wt:

The 3wt Trout Spey represents the step right in and get after it Trout Spey rod. For the spey caster the transition from conventional spey rods is found with ease here. While there are two 3wts listed here, it should be noted that the shorter of the two (3103-4) is targeted toward smaller water, and a versatile offering, the 3110-4 sits in the historical length of a 3wt Trout Spey. Destined to become a favorite of the trout chasing crowd, be it east, west, north (Alaska Trout, Dollies, and Grayling) and south (South American and New Zealand trout). Sweet swinging is on the way.
  • Line Match: Skagit Trout Spey #3 275, Trout Spey #3 (Scandi) 265gr
  • Sink Tips: Scandi Light VersiLeaders 7’ all types.
  • MOW Match: MOW Light through 10’ Sink Tip, MOW Medium through 10’ Sink Tip
  • Reel Match: Sage Trout Spey 3/4/5

4113-4 11’ 3” 4pc 4wt:

The biggest of the SAGE Trout Spey offering, the 4113-4 is also the Work Horse of the Trout Spey Kingdom. This rod will see a myriad of angling opportunities throughout the west along with Alaska adventures as well as favorite haunts of both South America and New Zealand. The beauty of a 4wt
Trout Spey is your fly selection, and use expands greatly along with casting expectations (distance). Northern California and Southern Oregon ½ Pounders will indeed find themselves posing for photos as well. Come cast this gem and see how little plays BIG.
  • Line Match: Skagit Max Power 350, Trout Spey #4 (Scandi) 305gr, Skagit Trout Spey (integrated) 325gr, Skagit Trout Spey (HEAD) 350gr
  • Sink Tips: 10’ Spey Versi-Leaders, all type (Scandi 300). 15’ 109 grain sinktips in type 3, 6 & 8. (Skagit Max Power 350) 
  • MOW Match: Light/T-8, Medium/T-11
  • Reel Match: Sage Trout Spey 3/4/5, Spectrum LT 7/8

Undeniably Trout Focused, Undeniably Fun.

Featuring KonneticHD technology and a new fast action, the TROUT SPEY HD series of rods bring ease to lightweight spey techniques. Five rods from 10'3" to 11'3" excel with a variety of spey lines that are currently offered in 200-350gr sizes. The TROUT SPEY HD rods are primarily designed for spey casting as opposed to Switch rod style actions previously captured within Trout Spey category and features an action designed for skagit and scandi style casting techniques with trout appropriate sized flies.
The TROUT SPEY HD action will improve upon the application with a more stable tip (a balance between stability and tippet protection) and a power adjustment to better handle Trout Spey specific lines currently on the market and the trend toward heavier lines. The added models in the series will give anglers more options to select appropriate sizes for their fishery (fly size, fish size, and environment), with a smaller 10'3" 3wt model designed to work well with the shorter spey heads that are extremely popular today. The two handed short-rod, short-head combination allows anglers to retrieve and fish flies much closer, opening up possibilities in tighter quarters and the ability to cover water more effectively.
  • Swinging flies for trout
  • Tailored to the latest developments in Trout Spey lines
  • Ease of casting streamers
  • KonneticHD Technology
  • Conifer blank color
  • Dijon primary thread wraps with Tan trim wraps
  • Tangle Free Fuji ceramic stripper guides
  • Hard chromed snake guides and tip-top
  • Vera wood insert with down-locking reel seat
  • Super Plus full-wells cork handle with decorative composite accent rings
  • Cork composite fighting butt
  • Tan rod bag with Brown logo and model tag
  • Tactical Green aluminum rod tube with Sage Medallion
  • 1109-4: (Grains: 150 - 200gr) - Soft hackles, small streamers <1 li="" unweighted="">
  • 2109-4: (Grains: 200 - 250gr) - Soft hackles, small to medium streamers 1- 2"
  • 3103-4: (Grains: 250 - 300gr) - Soft hackles, moderately weighted steamers 1 - 2"
  • 3110-4: (Grains: 250 - 300gr) - Soft hackles, moderately weighted steamers 1 - 2"
  • 4113-4: (Grains: 300 - 350gr) - Large streamers 3"


"The Gorge"

Gorge Fly Shop Team - 541.386.6977

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Feb 23, 2021

Redington Claymore Trout Spey

Claymore Trout Spey Rods 2021

Info the work of 
George Cook/ Erik Johnson

2110-4 11’ 4pc 2 wt: 
The little guy trout spey is upon us. Bringing performance and value to center
stage the 2wt Claymore brings true trout spey to the west, be it an easy-going soft hackle swing session,
or select streamers swung mid-current the delightful ultra-lightweight toy has arrived.
  • Line Match: RIO Skagit Trout Spey (Head) #2/3 250gr, RIO Trout Spey (Scandi) #2 230gr, Single Hand Spey WF5F
  • Sink Tips: 10’ MOW Light Sink Tip, 10’ Scandi Light Scandi Versi-leader’s All Types
  • MOW match: MOW Light Series (all types)
  • Reel Match: Rise 7/8, Spectrum LT 7/8, Spectrum C 7/8

3113-4 11’ 3” 4pc 3 wt: 
Trout Spey in a 3wt provides versatility across a wide range of angling pursuits.
From mid-current salmon fly endeavors, to Sculpzilla (size 8) sneaky swims, the 3wt Trout Spey is
destined to become a western favorite. Be it Trout, Southern Oregon, Northern California half pounders
the 3113 Claymore will find its place in haunts both near and far.
  • Line Match: Trout Spey (Scandi) #3 265gr, Skagit Trout Spey (Head) #3/4 300gr, Single Hand Spey WF6F
  • Sink Tips: 10’ Standard Sink Tips (55gr) Matches with Trout Spey (Scandi/Skagit), 10’ MOW Light Sink Tip, 10’ Scandi Light Scandi Versi-leader’s All Types
  • MOW match: MOW Light Series (all types)
  • Reel Match: Rise 7/8, Spectrum LT 7/8, Spectrum C 7/8

4116-4 11’ 6” 4pc 4wt: 
Small plays big here. 4wt in trout spey takes the angler straight to the men’s
tees for trout, West Coast half Pounders along with sea-run Cuts and Dollies. Summer time swings for
aggressive smallmouth makes the menu as well. In the 4wt. theater fly use size takes a jump up
providing a list of targets and success stories for the taking… start the truck, Launch the boat.
  • Line Match: Skagit Trout Spey (Head) #4/5 350gr, Trout Spey (Scandi) #4 305gr, Single Hand Spey WF7F, Skagit Max Power 325
  • Sink Tips: 10’ Standard Sink Tips (65gr) Matches with Trout Spey (Scandi/Skagit), 10, 12.5’ MOW Light and Medium Tips, and Scandi Versi-Leader’s All Types.
  • MOW Match: Light and Medium MOW Series
  • Reel Match: Rise 7/8, Spectrum 7/8, Spectrum LT 7/8


The CLAYMORE Trout Spey Fly Rod is designed to handle any trout river. This fast action rod was built using a smooth yet powerful blank that progressively increases as you move up in line weight. This progression allows for intuitive casting while providing the perfect combination of power and feel. With features that include a down locking reel seat for balanced and Polymer Pinch Grips for increased line control, the CLAYMORE makes casting a two-hander more enjoyable and less like you’re swinging a medieval weapon around. So go ahead, grab on with two hands and enjoy a day swinging your favorite run.

Whether you’re in the pursuit of wild steelhead or just enjoy swinging soft hackles on your local trout stream, the CLAYMORE Two-Handed Rod was designed to handle the needs of any battlefield. This fast action rod family is built using a smooth yet powerful blank, making for intuitive touch-and-go style casts when fishing classic style patterns early season as well as turning over the heaviest of sink tips during the colder months of winter. Offered in everything from a lightweight 2wt Trout Spey to 13 ½ foot 8wt Spey, the CLAYMORE rod family will cover any run you might find yourself in. With features that include a down locking reel seat for improved balanced and Polymer Pinch Grips for increased line control, the CLAYMORE makes casting a two-hander more enjoyable and less like you’re swinging a medieval weapon around. So go ahead, grab on with two hands and enjoy a day swinging your favorite run.


  • Fast action
  • Premium grade cork handles
  • Polymer Pinch Grip sections on top and bottom handles for increased line control
  • Anodized aluminum down locking reel seat for improved balance
  • Section tips epoxy coated to prevent sticking
  • Spey, Switch, and Trout Spey rod models
  • Fully protective cordura rod tube with dividers
  • Lifetime warranty


"The Gorge"

Gorge Fly Shop Team - 541.386.6977

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Feb 19, 2021

Columbia Gorge Fishing Report - 2.19.2021

Yesterday on the coast with Harris Anglers
Like so much of Oregon, the North Coast experienced substantial precipitation in the last week. Most rivers are currently high, but on the drop. A couple became fishable in the last few days. The good news is that peak fish numbers are yet to come. Another bright light of the season thus far is that the fish have been running on the larger side. It’s shaping up to be a great winter to catch the steelhead of a lifetime! 

If you’d like to spend some time on the coast this winter, reach out to Charlie Piette of Harris Anglers. Current available dates are: March 2-4, 29-31, April 1-3 
Charlie Piette 

Trout - Deschutes River:

Trout fishing has remained pretty decent all winter long. As long as the clarity is good, the trout are responding to well presented flies. The river is a little high from the snowstorm but is fishable. Around Maupin the fishing has been fair to good the past week. Trout are stacked in their normal winter holding water and will feed on nymphs throughout the day. Their metabolism slows down in the winter so they may not be gorging like they do during the summer, but they will take advantage of a nicely presented rubber legs that floats by them. 

Standard two fly nymph rigs are working for folks, as well as European style nymphing techniques. I’ve had some of my best trout days on the Deschutes in February believe it or not. Way less crowded and fish that are not as heavily pressured can make for some good days with lots of hookups. I generally run 4x fluorocarbon tippet to my lead fly and 5x fluro to my smaller dropper fly and that seems to work great.
Shop Trout Flies

Lake Fishing:

Pretty snowy and cold up at the lakes. Until the spring...

Summer Steelhead - Deschutes River:

Deschutes steelhead will be going into spawning mode here pretty soon. You should not be targeting them now even though it is not technically illegal to. Leave them alone now so they can spawn and make future generations of steelhead. Besides, chrome winter fish are swimming to their home tribs on the coast and valley area as I write this report.

Winter Steelhead - North Oregon Coast + Portland Metro area 

This weekend is shaping up to be a good one in terms of river levels. Fish are consistently being caught throughout many systems on the coast as well as inland rivers that get a winter run. This year, fish numbers do not seem to be as high as they were last year. We are really having to work for them this year, so enjoy them a little more if you are lucky enough to bring one to hand. 

Both swung fly techniques as well as dead drifting beads are working well. The key to swinging winter steelhead is to be persistent and keep going to the spots you know they like to hold in and keep that fly in the zone swinging as much as you can throughout the day. It will happen eventually. People fishing under indicators will hook more fish but the thrill of getting a winter on the swing is unbeatable. 
Good luck out there!

Winter Steelhead - Hood River: 

Slow start, but I have heard of a handful of winter fish caught. The Hood River generally see’s the bulk of its winter steelhead arriving a bit later than other rivers with the peak arriving in late Feb through the whole month of March and into April.

Smallmouth Bass / Carp:

Smallmouth fishing has remained pretty tough recently. Fish are still fairly spread out making them tough to find. Sinking lines with streamers and crayfish patterns are getting it done down there. People gear fishing have a better advantage of getting their presentation down in their face quicker.

-Zach Parker


"The Gorge"

Gorge Fly Shop Team - 541.386.6977

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Feb 16, 2021

Simms Classic Guide Wading Jacket

Your dependable, wet-weather workhorse, GORE-TEX Guide Classic Jacket provides relentless rain protection, ample storage for fishing gear and features a timeless waist-length hemline for compatibility with waders and deep wading endeavors.


  • 3-point adjustable storm hood with high collar and bonded brim to shed rain
  • Hook and loop front patch to store drying flies and center back D-ring to attach landing net
  • Two large chest pockets designed to carry fly boxes and an interior zippered chest pocket for essentials
  • Two slash hand warmer pockets are placed high behind chest pockets and backed with brush tricot for deep wading warmth
  • Waist-high hemline secures with stretch drawcord to pair up perfectly with waders
  • FABRIC TECH: 3-layer GORE-TEX - 70D 100% nylon with DWR/100% nylon tricot backer
  • ITEM #: PG-13155

Shop Outerwear


"The Gorge"

Gorge Fly Shop Team - 541.386.6977

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Feb 15, 2021

Sale and Closeouts - New Items

Check out our Sale | Closeouts category of the Gorge Fly Shop Store for great deals everyday on famous brands such as Simms, Sage, RIO, Airflo, Scientific Angler, Hatch and many more. New items show up all the time! Bookmark page for watch. 


"The Gorge"

Gorge Fly Shop Team - 541.386.6977

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

Feb 10, 2021

Simms Dry Creek Z Fishing Backpack - Riparian Camo

Simms Dry Creek Z Fishing Backpack features TruZip. The first sliding, toothless, and TRUly waterproof zipper system on the market.


  • 35L
  • TruZip waterproof self-healing zipper for 100% waterproof-submersible protection
  • Roomy water-resistant exterior pocket for quick access to key items
  • Internal Pocket for in-transit water bladder/laptop storage
  • Centered net holster
  • External patch/hook & loop field for flies and accessories
  • Cam-strap lash points secure bag to boats, or more rods to bag
  • FABRIC TECH: 300D polyester ripstop with an outside PU coating and inside TPU lamination
  • Accessories not included


"The Gorge"

Gorge Fly Shop Team - 541.386.6977

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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