Steelhead Reports

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Tail Gunner Flies
Rio VersiLeaders
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Steelhead Reports

Guy Tarvin on the Dean River, B.C.
Guy Tarvin on a recent trip to the Dean River in British Columbia. George Cook photo.
Summer Steelhead Fishing is a key part of the activity around The Fly Fishing Shop. We keep our ears to the ground (water) and our fingers on the pulse of steelhead fishing in the Pacific Northwest. Phone calls and fishing forays are made weekly to keep us up-to-date with first hand proprietary information. This year's steelhead returns are strong in many rivers from Northern British Columbia to Southern Oregon. This could be a great time to limber up the old fly rod.
Randy Loftesness on The Deschutes in Oregon
Randy Loftesness with a steelhead caught last week from the Deschutes River.  Mark Bachmann photo.

Summer Steelhead/Salmon Run Predictions and Up-dates, by River!

Clackamas River Water conditions are good.  Still fair numbers of fairly bright summer steelhead.  An occasional bright Chinook is still available.  Fishing has been good for skilled anglers.  A few Coho are available. Because of recent rains the river is 70% higher than normal, which is excellent.
Clear Water River Steelhead are already there in good numbers.  The river is still running at 18,000cfs, which makes it pretty tough for fly fishing.  Best period for fly fishing October 1-15.  
Dean River B.C. Reports from the Dean have been outstanding.
Deschutes River Steelhead are in the river in good numbers.  The best concentration of fish are from Shearars Falls to the mouth of the river.  Seasonal water conditions are favorable.  White River glacial run-off is always the wild card.  Steelhead run is expected to exceed last ten year average.
Grand Rhonde River Steelhead are starting to show in good numbers.  The run appears to be early and strong.
Hood River There are still good numbers of fairly bright steelhead stacked up in the mile below Power Dale Dam.  Cool weather at high elevations on Mt. Hood has cleared the water. This can be a good bet for small stream steelhead fishing.
John Day River Not much steelhead activity yet.  A few fish are at the mouth of the river. Predictions of run size and water conditions are favorable for fall fishing.  Best period for fly fishing October & November. 
Klickitat River There are fair numbers of very bright steelhead.  The run will continue to build through the summer.  The problem is the Klick is in and out with glacial turbidity.  When it's clear it can be great.  Most predictable period for fly fishing is October. 
North Santiam River Water conditions are good.  Still good numbers of bright summer steelhead.  Fishing has been good for anglers willing to cover a lot of water.  Fishes well through October.
North Umpqua River Good numbers of bright fish are scattered in the fly-only water now.  This run will build throughout the summer. Seasonal water conditions should be favorable.  Steelhead run is expected to exceed last ten year average.  Best fishing period is August through October.
Rogue River Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife reports: The lower Rogue River is currently experiencing the largest run of steelhead half-pounders since 2000. As of Aug. 15, 179,364 fish have entered the river. Half-pounders are young steelhead returning to the river in the late summer of their first year in the ocean. So-named because of their size, they stay in the Rogue through the winter, providing a popular fishery before returning to the ocean in spring. The run is especially popular with fly anglers.
Sandy River Last weeks rain raised the river and brought fresh steelhead, Cohos and Chinooks. Cold weather at high elevations on Mt. Hood has cleared the water. Fishing could be excellent.
Skeena River B.C. Steelhead runs appear to be really strong in main stem Skeena, bodes well for tributaries such as the Bulkley, Kispiox & Babine.

The Fly Fishing Shop has one of the most divers and extensive collections 
of steelhead flies to be found anywhere!

Ken Sawada, May 2007
Warehouse Date: January 14, 2008
Subject Category: Fly Tying
Binding Type: Hardcover with slip jacket
Retail Price: $79.95  
ISBN: 0-KS-04482

 For this book Ken Sawada dressed 300 patterns of tube flies, including new styles, new arrangements & his new original dressings, from small trout flies to big salmon & taimen flies. This book will appeal to Northwest steelhead anglers as well and salmon fishermen. Many tying techniques are photo illustrated. Individual flies are illustrated in large photo format. This is a beautiful book full of beautiful, practical flies. A must have book for any tyer wishing to perfect the fly crafters art. 500+ full color photos, 160 pgs.

This book is full of beautifully tied, unique tube fly patterns...
Aquamarine Squid Long Tail
Item Title Price To Top
0-KS-04482 Book, The Tube Fly, by Ken Sawada $79.95


Simms Windstopper Softshell Hoody

Like two layers in one - windproof and water-resistant. The Simms WINDSTOPPER® Hooded Softshell Jacket performs on the water and out on the town.

  • This softshell blocks wind and rain while offering the pliable comfort and warmth
    of mid-weight fleece

  • Soft yet rugged stretch nylon shell with
    soft and very warm microcheck interior

  • High, fleece-lined collar for additional protection from the elements

  • Large zippered chest pockets

  • Zippered, polyester mesh-lined hand warmer pockets

  • Adjustable cuffs

  • Adjustable shock cord hem

Simms WindStopper Softshell Hoody
Item Description Size Price To Top
048597 Windstopper Softshell Hoody, Color Coal Medium $219.95 SALE ENDED
048603 Windstopper Softshell Hoody, Color Coal Large $219.95 SALE ENDED
048610 Windstopper Softshell Hoody, Color Coal X-Large $219.95 SALE ENDED
048627 Windstopper Softshell Hoody, Color Coal XX-Large $219.95 SALE ENDED

Tail Gunner Steelhead Flies
Black Beauty     Green Butt     Purple Angel

We have proven to ourselves that two flies on a cast will hook more Deschutes steelhead than fishing with only one fly.  The reasons are obvious.  There are twice as many flies to see and twice the chance that one of them will come to the fish in exactly the right place.  If two different patterns or two different sizes are used, there is twice the chance of having the right one.  The two most common ways of attaching the second fly to a leader is with a dropper, or simply tying a leader to the second fly onto the bend of the hook of the first fly. Our favorite dropper is made

from the tag end of #12 Maxima Clear which is the section that is blood-knotted to the #10 Maxima tippet.  We have also used the "in-line" method  where the tippet section is tied to the hook bend of a fly and then a second fly is attached to the other end. Both ways have been proven with steelhead on the beach, but both methods have their flaws.  Droppers tend to tangle on bad casting days.  Certain kinds of casts such as the single spey will tangle the dropper around the leader with regularity.  The in-line method will often make the upper fly roll on its side or make it ride upside down.  This appears to be caused when the knot attached to the bend works its way down low on the hook bend.  The tippet to the point fly provides lift from the currents and flips the fly over. We have gotten more strikes and solid hooks up with the dropper method and we always figured it was because the upper fly on the in-line method wasn't riding right.  However, the flies tangle less when casting while using the "in-line" method. Three years ago I found a solution. A loop of braided monofilament was attached to the hook and a fly was tied over the top of it.  This produced an in-line fly with an attachment that allowed the fly to remain hydrodynamically stable.  Tests and refinements have lead to the three fly series shown here.  The flies won't appear to be very innovative at first glance.  They shouldn't be.  Night Dancers, Green Butt Skunk and Purple Angels have landed hundreds of steelhead. These three new "dropper-fly" patterns are called tail gunners. Each has a loop where the tail should be so you can attach your tippet.  You can attach your skinny, artsy flies to the end of your tippet and rest assured that you already have one proven winner in the water with it.  To our knowledge this is the first series of flies that have been produced specifically to be used as "second" flies.  They will of course fish as well as a "point" fly.  They can also be use as second and "third" flies where three flies are presented with each cast. 
Each extra fly might increase your chances by 30%.

Tail Gunner, Black Beauty
This fly is pattered after the idea of Frank Amato's famous Night Dancer.  It provides a very dark silhouette that shows up against the water surface as the light fades in the evening.  The Black Beauty is dressed with long flowing webby hackle to add movement.  A mixture of silver Flashabou and pearl Krystal Flash privides contrast.

Item Description Size Price To Top
06576-04 Tail Gunner, Black Beauty 4 3 for $5.95 SALE ENDED

Tail Gunner, Green Butt
The Green Butt Skunk is no doubt on of the most successful steelhead patterns of all time.  It has produced strikes in nearly every water color and light condition.  It only seems reasonable that it is also our favorite "dropper" fly pattern.
Item Description Size Price To Top
06577-04 Tail Gunner, Green Butt 4 3 for $5.95 SALE ENDED

Tail Gunner, Purple Angel
White wing flies that are mostly purple with a bright colored butt are extremely popular east of the Cascade Mountains.
Item Description Size Price To Top
06578-04 Tail Gunner, Purple Angel 4 3 for $5.95 SALE ENDED

Tail Gunner Flies, Complete Set,
(9) flies in all, (3) each of Black Beauty, Green Butt, Purple Angel
Item Description Price To Top
0657SET Tail Gunner Flies, Complete Set, 9-flies in all, 3-each of Black Beauty, Green Butt, Purple Angel $17.85 SALE ENDED

Rio Spey VersiLeaders
As you might remember, air temperatures last weekend were very high. Our camp thermometer registered 108-degrees in the bottom of the Deschutes Canyon. The water warmed accordingly and the steelhead went into the doldrums. My resourceful guest, Bruce Hampton added a 15' sinking VersiLeader to the end of his floating spey line and managed to turn the tables on a couple of steelies who hadn't the energy to rise all the way to the surface for the same fly (his new improved version of the Fly du Jour). Determination and little tricks like this can often add to your catch. Mark Bachmann photo.
Bruce Hampton added a VersiLeader to his line to get the fly down to the fish...

New for 2008 
10 ft (3 m) and 15 ft (4.6 m) leaders with a high tenacity nylon core coated with a super low modulus polymer mixture. VersiLeaders feature an ultra smooth welded loop in the butt end making it easy to connect to the fly line.
The floating Spey VersiLeader is perfect for forming the anchor when spey casting Scandinavian style.
These leaders are ideal additions to all Spey lines and in particular RIO's new AFS heads and AFS OutBound lines. They come in a full range of sink rates to customize your presentations.

Densities: Floating, 1.5 ips (3.7 cm/s), 2.6 ips (6.6cm/s), 3.9 ips (9.9cm/s), 5.6 ips (14.2cm/s), 7.0 ips (17.8cm/s)

Strength: 24lb

Rio Spey VersiLeader Full Set
All six densities are organize in individual zip-locks in a beautiful Cordura pouch.  That way you can easily carry the full selection and always have what you need.  These VersiLeaders are adaptable to all kinds of fly lines above size-6.  They are most comfortable with lines 7-8-9 sizes.  They will work well with all spey lines & saltwater lines. 
Item Description Sink Rate Price To Top
24224 Rio 10' Spey VersiLeader Full Set $65.95 SALE ENDED
24225 Rio 10' Spey VersiLeader Floating Leader Floating $9.95 SALE ENDED
24226 Rio 10' Spey VersiLeader Sinking Leader 1.5 ips $9.95 SALE ENDED
24227 Rio 10' Spey VersiLeader Sinking Leader 2.6 ips $9.95 SALE ENDED
24228 Rio 10' Spey VersiLeader Sinking Leader 3.9 ips $9.95 SALE ENDED
24229 Rio 10' Spey VersiLeader Sinking Leader 5.6 ips $9.95 SALE ENDED
24230 Rio 15' Spey VersiLeader Sinking Leader 7.0 ips $9.95 SALE ENDED
24237 Rio 15' Spey VersiLeader Sinking Leader Full Set $85.95 SALE ENDED
24231 Rio 15' Spey VersiLeader Sinking Leader Floating $14.95 SALE ENDED
24232 Rio 15' Spey VersiLeader Sinking Leader 1.5 ips $14.95 SALE ENDED
24233 Rio 15' Spey VersiLeader Sinking Leader 2.6 ips $14.95 SALE ENDED
24234 Rio 15' Spey VersiLeader Sinking Leader 3.9 ips $14.95 SALE ENDED
24235 Rio 15' Spey VersiLeader Sinking Leader 5.6 ips $14.95 SALE ENDED
24236 Rio 15' Spey VersiLeader Sinking Leader 7.0 ips $14.95 SALE ENDED

The Fly Fishing Shop HOME. The Fly Fishing Shop, Welches, OR

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Fish long & prosper,
Mark & Patty


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