March 23, 1:00pm to 5:00pm
Freezing weather is usually over by March and mid-day air temperature can exceed sixty degrees. Water temperatures are still cold and melting snows in the Cascades can make water levels raise and turn off-color. These water fluctuations can cause much catastrophic drift of nymphs and create under water feeding frenzies. In the Deschutes River, water levels can stay over 6,000 cfs for a couple of weeks some years. The winter stone hatches are over. Beatis hatches become more and more sporadic. Several species of caddis start to appear along the river with Hydropsyche and Glossosoma most prevalent. Lower reaches of the river below Maupin produce fairly dependable hatches of several sub-species of Rhithrogena May flies. These hatches progress up river and can be found in the Warm Springs area in April.
Behavioral drift cycles of May fly, caddis, and stone fly nymphs continue and nymph fishing continues to be productive. Whitefish are through spawning by the first week in March but Steelhead continue to spawn through April and scattered spawning Redsides produce some egg drift. More Information
The six nymph patterns below are good bets on the Deschutes in March.
|Bead Head Stone Nymph, Black|
|9061-04||Bead Head Stone Nymph, Black||4||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|9061-06||Bead Head Stone Nymph, Black||6||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|9061-08||Bead Head Stone Nymph, Black||8||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|9061-10||Bead Head Stone Nymph, Black||10||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|Bead Head Micro Cable Stone, Brown|
|00502-16||Bead Head Micro Cable Stone, Brown||16||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|Bead Head Prince Nymph|
|9055-08||Bead Head Prince Nymph||8||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|9055-10||Bead Head Prince Nymph||10||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|9055-12||Bead Head Prince Nymph||12||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|9055-14||Bead Head Prince Nymph||14||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|9055-16||Bead Head Prince Nymph||16||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
Head Green Caddis Larva
The B.H. Green Caddis Larva is a killer Deschutes fly during late winter and early spring.
|9022-12||Bead Head Green Caddis Larva||12||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|9022-14||Bead Head Green Caddis Larva||14||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|Bead Head Hares Ear, Natural|
|9040-12||Bead Head Hares Ear, Natural||12||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|9040-14||Bead Head Hares Ear, Natural||14||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|9040-14||Bead Head Hares Ear, Natural||16||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|Bead Head Thin Skin Nymph, Brown|
|01132-14||Bead Head Thin Skin Nymph, Brown||14||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|01132-16||Bead Head Thin Skin Nymph, Brown||16||3 for $5.25||-->SALE ENDED|
|Fly Tying Materials
By: John Gierach
As usual, I've just started tying the trout flies I should have been working on all winter. And, also as usual, getting my hands on all the right material has been a minor struggle. Not a big struggle, you understand. In fact, fly tying has come a long way in the last 20 or 30 years and quality fly tying material, though it's more expensive than it once was, is also a lot easier to find. When I first started tying my own flies in the early 1970s, your typical amateur tier worked with odd scraps of hair and feathers from game birds and animals large and small, and most of our dry fly hackle came from imported Indian game cock capes. This was decent hackle, but there weren't very many feathers on a skin and hackles in sizes under about a #16 were rare. Of course, back then hooks smaller than a size 16 were also rare, so it didn't seem like that much of a problem. The few material suppliers around constituted an industry, but it was a tiny one, and tiers spent a lot of time sniffing around tanneries, furriers, taxidermists' shops and barnyards looking for good fur and feathers. It wasn't all bad. It made you inventive - if not downright conniving - and you learned how to skin and cure the hides of birds and game animals. It took time, but there was a nice feeling of self-reliance about it all. Now, fly fishing in general and fly tying in particular are big businesses and tiers can get most of what they need from well stocked fly shops and suppliers with glossy color catalogs, but you can still find yourself hunting for the things you need. Probably the biggest single advance in fly tying in the last three decades has been the development of genetic dry fly hackle. Domestic roosters had been raised for their dry fly hackle on a small scale, but it wasn't until 1972 that Metz started doing it commercially. For those of us who came up on Indian game cock, this stuff was amazing. The feathers were long, thin, stiff, shiny, they came in a good range of colors and, most importantly, the best quality necks had feathers small enough to hackle the tiniest dry flies: sizes 22 down to 26 or even 28. Metz necks were later followed by genetic rooster capes from Hoffman, Whiting and Herbert, which by now are as good or maybe even better, but somewhere along the line spade hackle was bred out of these birds. Spade hackle comes from the short, wide, very stiff and shiny hackle feathers that were once found along the edges of the widest part of rooster capes. They were too long for collar hackles, but they were the best and in many cases the only material for the tails on dry flies. But, as I said, in the rush to breed skinny little dry fly hackles - the ones all tiers of dry flies dearly love - the spade hackles just vanished and finding good feathers for tails on dry flies became the current struggle. I had some precious spade hackle left over on old necks that were otherwise all but picked clean, and I had taken to buying third rate domestic necks that were all but useless except that they had some short, wide, stiff hackle on them. Somewhere in there John Betts started marketing plastic artist's brush fibers for tailing and some tiers took to that, but some of us - more or us than you might think - just can't bring ourselves to tie dry flies with plastic tails. But then just as things were starting to look really grim, Whiting Farms started selling capes and saddle patches from Coq de Leon roosters. The neck hackle from these birds is uninteresting at best, but the spade hackles on the necks are as good as I've seen anywhere and the saddle patches are virtually all spade hackle. I've only just started tying with this stuff, but it more than fills the gap. Of course you now have to buy two necks where you once only had to buy one, but I guess that's progress. The only colors I've seen so far are a sort of medium ginger and a rusty dun, but the lighter necks can be dyed to the other colors you'll need and someone will surely pick up on that and start dying them commercially. That's what happened years ago when wood duck flank feathers became scarce. Dozens of tiers and suppliers simultaneously discovered that you could dye mallard flank a sort of light lemony brown and get a an almost indistinguishable substitute. So for the time being at least, one small fly tying catastrophe has been avoided. It's a relief, but in an odd, nostalgic sort of way, I was already gearing up for those long drives I used to take on country roads, looking at barnyard roosters and trying to buy the ones with the best hackles. It would have been fun - except that there aren't as many barnyards as there used to be. End
Casting for Steelhead and Salmon:
Unlike lines for single–hand casting, there are few widely accepted standards when it comes to Spey lines. Traditional standards of line weight are largely irrelevant, and with the multitude of taper designs available today, conventional standards based on the weight of the first 30 feet line do not realistically apply to Spey lines. The advanced Spey caster will seldom use an out–of–the–box double taper line, and most expert Spey casters hand–splice their own lines for maximum performance. Specially designed weight–forward long belly lines are widely available, although most premium mass manufactured Spey lines demonstrate significant limitations in performance in one way or another. The most common criticism is that the belly of these weight forward lines is generally too short (<80 feet), necessitating shooting of line for longer casts, ultimately compromising two of the great advantages of fishing with a Spey rod: mending and line control.
the beginner or intermediate, however, the use of specialty
weight–forward lines may be encouraged.
These lines are readily available by mail order and from many
local shops. A
commercially manufactured specialty line is much less costly than a
hand–made custom taper line. Most commercially made lines are
constructed of extruded PVC or drawn polyurethane, and for those
interested in the ultimate casting experience, hand made silk lines
are still available. The
beginning Spey caster should look for a weight forward design with a
total belly length of 75-85 feet.
Spey lines take up a lot of room on a reel. This isn’t a necessarily a bad thing, because the long lever arm of a Spey rod requires a heavier (larger) reel to balance the rod. Many reel manufacturers make a large “Spey” reel, designed to hold long Spey lines with plenty of backing to spare. Like single handed reels, Spey reels run the gamut from drab utilitarian devices to finely crafted works of art machined out of solid stocks of rare metals. Since the fish you will likely be fishing for with a Spey rod will put up a bit more fight than corn–fed hatchery rainbows, plan your purchase accordingly. Critical elements of a good Spey reel include a smooth drag system with no backlash and minimal start-up inertia. The drag should function equally well when wet or dry, and have no “hot spots”. The reel should be easy to maintain on the river, and be able to tolerate a certain amount of abuse. Large arbor spools are not generally necessary with a Spey reel, as the traditional smaller arbor designs allow an adequate amount of backing (and functional ballast) to be held in reserve for that epic steelhead or salmon battle. Because a long Spey rod actually puts less pressure on the fish (due to the physics of a second order lever), a good disc drag may help beach more fish for the novice. An exposed rim for “palming” the spool is essential.
Ideally, with line and backing, the reel should balance your Spey rod at the spot where the upper hand will hold the grip. Too light a reel will cause top hand wrist fatigue, and may contribute to the development of carpal tunnel symptoms over time. Too heavy a reel will unbalance the rod during casting, decreasing feel for the butt of the rod loading during the back–cast.
Any number of reels meet these criteria, and with the large number of high quality products available, your local shop will be able to steer the first time buyer in the right direction.In the next section, we will begin with the basic fundamentals of Spey casting, and move on to troubleshooting some common casting errors. In the final section of this series, we will cover a variety of useful Spey casts and drills, which will allow you to cast for fish under virtually any situation.
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Mark & Patty