Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fish Skull Shanks and Senyo's Intruder Wire

Fish Skull Shanks and Senyo’s Intruder Wire

            Every once in a while a product comes along in the fly tying world that just knocks your socks off.  That product has arrived, and actually it is two products: Fish skull shanks and Senyo’s Intruder Wire.  BOOM.
            Hareline and Greg Senyo have been busy in the past few years coming out with some really trick stuff.  Among my favorites is Senyo’s Lazer Dub, check it out.  This stuff is wacky.  But we’re here to talk about the new and the bold, and new and bold is Intruder Wire. 
            First of all, wire for your stinger flies is a no-brainer.  Show me a steelhead fisherman who likes to pause every few casts to check and make sure that the hook hasn’t swung around and tangled around his tippet.  I dare you.  No?  Didn’t think so.  That’s because tangles suck.  Actually they blow, really really bad.  Use wire for your trailer hooks and you will have less tangles.  That is a scientific fact.  Check it.  Also, using wire for your trailing hook prevents the hook from hanging down awkwardly below the fly during the swing, a condition that arguably leads to missed hook ups.  I can’t prove that having the hook hanging down below the fly hurts your hook up ratio, but it just looks stupid.  I don’t want to be fishing with a limp trailer, do you? 
            There are lots of wires you can use, but none of them come in eight colors.  Match them to your fly, that’s the point.  It also comes in two sizes.  Use the standard size for hooks over size 6, the thin size for smaller hooks.  Beautiful.
            Even better are the new articulated shanks.  Let’s face it, wire is just wire, but shanks,  shanks are something new.  Still tying on Waddingtons?  Dude.  No.  Get some shanks.
            There are several reasons why Fish Skull shanks are better than Waddingtons.  First off, they are lighter.  Waddingtons are unnecessarily thick and heavy.  They make a big heavy fly that casts like a brick.  Fish Skull Shanks are made of spinner wire, so no problem there.  Second, who the heck wants to tie all their flies sideways?  I hate it.  Always have.  Put a Fish Skull Shank in your vise.  Notice anything?  Tie your fly like it is meant to be tied.  Normally.  Thank you, Flymen.  You guys rock!  Third, there are tons of options on how you can use the shanks to articulate your flies.  Tie them stinger style with a wire trailer, or attach a straight eye hook directly to the shank using the wire loop and make a big hinging bug.  I have tied some big, brokeback intruders like this and it is awesome!  Bottom line: Waddingtons are so last year.  Get some shanks already.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Try This Fly for Early Winter Hatchery Steelhead

Mass Effect Egg Pattern

            Now let me preface this by saying that I love to swing flies for steelhead.  I log most of my river hours during the winter with a spey rod in hand, and spend even more hours back home at the vise dreaming up various big, wiggly steelhead bugs to throw in the ditch.  BUT, and it’s a BIG but… I also like to dead drift nymphs under indicators, and by nymphs I mean eggs, and by eggs a lot of times I mean beads.  BUT, fishing beads is boring and unimaginative, and I like to add a little personal touch to my sport, which DOES NOT, by the way mean painting the beads, although I’ve been known to do that too on occasion.  However, I do enjoy concocting a dirty looking egg pattern now and again, and this one is about as dirty as it gets, plus it really works good.  

Hook: Gamakatsu C14S #4
Rear Section: Equal parts orange, chartreuse and cerise egg yarn, in that order. Tied in Glo Bug    Style.
Mid Section: Medium UV Polar Chenille Fl. Fuschia.  Palmered around hook.
Veil: Champagne egg yarn tied in sparse and folded back so it encompasses 360 degrees around hook.

That’s it!  Pretty easy right?  Pretty deadly too!  Try it in other colors… you will like!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Steelheading in Eastern Washington? Bring These 5 Flies:

Steelheading in Eastern Washington?

Bring These 5 Flies:

Its steelhead time on Eastern Washington’s Methow, Wenatchee and Klickitat rivers.  If you’ve never ventured over the pass to fish for steelhead then you are missing out on some of the finest steelhead fishing that our state has to offer.  If you have, then you know that along with good numbers of steelhead, the fall can bring a variety of conditions to challenge you as a fisherman.  One day the temps could be in the mid-sixties and you could be skating a dry fly across glassy tailouts, the next maybe you’ll be swinging leech patterns through choppy deep runs.  Fall steelhead fishing can be a wonderful experience.  The beautiful fall colors combined with generally mild weather and (hopefully) good fishing can make for a very memorable time, however varying weather patterns, river flows, water and air temperatures can also make fall steelheading one of the more difficult fisheries to predict.  This article will help ensure that you are prepared with the right flies for the conditions, and you know how and when to use them.

    Ska-opper, Natural Size 4


The window of opportunity for skating flies in Eastern Washington is short, but if you hit it right it can make for some of the most enjoyable fishing a guy can have.  Clear water and consistent weather make for ideal conditions to skate the fly.  Savvy anglers choose low light conditions to wake their flies over fish looking up in smooth, calm runs and tailouts.  Areas where there is shallow holding water are ideal.  The shorter the distance the fish has to travel to get to your fly on the surface the more likely you will entice a take. 
      The Ska-opper is a great, high floating pattern that makes a commotion on the surface and catches fish.  Make sure you have a few of these in the box and you’ll be ready to wake ‘em up!

    Benett’s Halo, size 5


No box is complete without a few standard summer steelhead patterns, and while there are many to choose from, Benett’s Halo is a proven winner.  This fly can be riffle hitched and fished on a dry line or swung deeper on an intermediate or medium sink tip.  Cooler water, sunny days or as a follow up fly for a player, when conditions call for a small fly fished below the surface the Halo is a fine choice.

        Silvinator tube Leech, Black/Orange


There are times when summer steelheaders have to resort to winter methods in order to catch fish.  When the weather turns and temperatures plummet, when recent rains leave the rivers high and off colored, or even when the water is clear but the sun is high in the sky midday, the Silvinator is the fly for the job.  This fly is small and sparse, sinks well and packs a ton of action to drive steelhead bonkers.  If I had only one fly to fish in summer or winter, this would be it.  It is a go anywhere, get the job done type of fly.

    Extractor Mini, Purple/Pink size 6


Purple and pink are the official colors for Eastern Washington steelheading.  If you don’t believe me, try it sometime!  This color combination just plain works under a variety of different conditions.  The Extractor is the perfect fly when conditions call for a slightly larger fly with lots of movement.  It has a good profile and pushes lots of water so fish can track it in turbulent or off colored water, great for when the rivers are slightly off, or when temperatures begin to drop.

       Pink Headed Stone, Size 6


There are situations when swinging just doesn’t seem to get it done.  Tricky seams, pressured fish and bitter cold conditions are only a few of the more common ones we face in Eastern Washington.  When faced with these kind of conditions, nymph fishing under an indicator can be a trip saver, and Idylwilde’s Pink Headed Stone is as good a nymph as we’ve seen for this type of fishing.  It is only slightly weighted so it moves quite naturally with a couple of split shot ahead of it to get it down.  Trail it with a bead or some type of egg imitation and you have a deadly combination for when the bite is tough.
            So there you have it!  Five super picks to get you through any situation you might face while steelhead fishing on the Methow, Wenatchee or Klickitat this fall.  Now get out there and wet a line!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Fly Side of Cabo

These days the Baja peninsula is receiving a lot of hype from the fly fishing industry, and for good reason!  Baja is the ultimate playground for fly anglers who wish to test their tackle and skills against some of the most challenging and amazing fish species that swim in our oceans.  Fly fishers pay particularly close attention to the East Cape and Loreto regions of the Baja, where warmer waters and calmer, gentler seas make for an ideal environment to pursue saltwater fish with a fly.  Most of the online and magazine articles you read about fly fishing the Baja are centered around these areas, and the majority of shops and outfitters are directing their customers or hosting trips to hotels and guide services there. 

The East Cape and Loreto certainly offer spectacular fly fishing and some unique opportunities to catch "rockstar" species like roosterfish from the beach, but there is a lot more coastline on the Baja, and a ton more productive water to explore.  I have been fly fishing out of Cabo San Lucas for the past couple of years and I am surprised at how little information there is available about fly fishing this part of the peninsula.

Sure, if you are going to spend the money on an all inclusive fly fishing trip or you have your heart set on catching a rooster from the beach than Cabo is probably not the right destination, but out of all the places down there someone could go, Cabo certainly offers the widest variety of things to do and ways to entertain yourself!  We get a lot of customers here in the shop who are headed down to Baja for a week with the family and might only have one or two days to fish.  Guess where they are going?  A resort in Cabo!

The reality is, many of us either don't have the budget or can't take the time away from our lives, families and jobs to spend an entire week running around on a beach chasing big roosters.  It is much easier to justify a day or two of fishing when the wife and kids are relaxing on the beach, going snorkeling or bouncing around on waverunners while you indulge yourself in some reel screaming, drag stripping action.  This is where Cabo is king!

Is the fishing good?  Do you need to ask?  For decades Cabo San Lucas has been known as the sport fishing capitol of the world.  More marlin are landed by Cabo sport fleets every year than any other place in the world.  Not after Marlin?  Depending on the season, every fish that you can catch in Loreto or the East Cape is available in Cabo.  So far I have a short list going that includes jacks, roosterfish and yellowfin tuna, all on the fly, but there are many more.  Dorado are a popular target and in the late summer and fall they are plentiful.  In the winter and spring sierra mackerel, yellowtail and snapper are bending rods and busting tippets.  Of course for those who are after a real challenge, the bait and switch game for Marlin and Sailfish can be played here nearly year round.

I just returned from a family vacation in Cabo where I spent most of my time relaxing on the beach, playing in the waves, sipping various cocktails and enjoying the nightlife.  I was able to get away for some fishing out of a panga and it was some of the most phenominal action for roosters I have ever seen!  The moment we motored out of the harbor and turned the corner around lands end there were pelicans diving right off the tip of the peninsula and roosters crashing a big school of mullet.  By the time we got over there and made a few casts the action had diminished, but this was certainly a good start to the day. 

A trip up the Pacific side of the Baja yielded similar results all day, and despite windy conditions we saw squadrons of large roosterfish surfing in the backs of the waves and plenty of them turned to follow in our live mullet teaser or a hookless plug cast on spinning gear.  There was seldom more than a twenty minute stretch where we didn't have fish around the boat. All told, a well presented mullet imitation brought several roosters in the 15 to 25 pound class to the boat and we had shots at far larger fish. 

While I would certainly like to be able to take a week (or three) and fish to my hearts content all over the Baja, for now I am happy to go to Cabo and spend a couple of days fishing from a panga.  The weather is hot, the drinks are strong and the fish are biting year round!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Creekside on Christmas

March 12-19, 2013
 I've been getting pretty amped about our trip to Christmas Island in March of next year.  All the bonefish you can hope for and behemoth, rod busting giant trevally is a pretty sweet sounding proposition!  Miles of endless flats and reefs to explore and wade don't sound so bad either!  We still have spots open for this trip so if you have any interest give us a call at the shop and ask for Charlie, I'll be leading the trip.

For anyone who doesn't know about GT's, or if you do know but you just want to see some awesome fishing action, check out this video clip of guys fly fishing for trevally on Farquhar atoll.  If this doesn't make you want to go out and practice your double haul, you may want to check your pulse!

Feed Fish flies!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

5 Things to Do in High Water

5 Things to Do in High Water

Across the state of Washington rivers are open for trout and summer steelhead fishing and along with countless other weather worn fly fishermen you are aching to get out and wet a line.  Problem is, weeks of rain and a juicy snowpack have most of the area rivers either swollen with ice cold glacial melt or looking like Sunday morning after two Mickey's 40's and fifteen dollars worth of Jack In the Box tacos.  Your head hurts from last night, but you still want to fish, right?  Here are a few tips that will help you capture when things get a little nasty.

1 - Fish The Edges

This may seem like common knowledge to some, but it is surprising how many fishermen are baffled when the river comes up above its normal water levels.  How do you find the fish when all your favorite spots are under three feet of water?  Simple, find new spots!  When the water comes up, the fish move.  Remember the three basic requirements for good holding water?  Shelter, food and a place to rest.  The boulder garden you slay gagger 'bows in at 250cfs is likely to be either vacant or just unfishable at 700cfs.  Just saying...  As a general rule, when the water comes up, fish move to the slower portions of the river, often right along edges and inside seams, probably where you are used to standing.  Get out of the water and start hooking more fish!

2 - Go Big or Go Home
During the early season runoff, rivers are often high, cold, muddy or some combination of the three.  Cold water makes fish sluggish and less likely to move aggressively for a fly (we will touch more on this in a minute).  Muddy water makes it harder for fish to see your fly.  If you are using the same tactics you used last year in the middle of July, you may get a couple fish, but odds are you are missing out on more, and bigger fish.  Use large, dark flies that have bulky silhouettes like big stonefly nymphs and streamers.  Fish will be more likely to open their mouths for a substantial meal that they can see!  

3 - Deep and Slow

Fishing where the fish are doesn't just mean changing what part of the river you are fishing, it means changing your presentation to adapt to the current conditions.  In cold and/or muddy water fish are more likely to hold close to structure where they can rest and feel secure.  Often times that structure is associated with the river bottom.  Whether it be boulders, sunken logs or subtle variations in the bottom contour fish will relate to this structure and are unlikely to venture far from it, so you need to get your fly there and keep it there for as long as possible to get a strike.  Thoroughly nymphing a likely area with a set of nymphs under an indicator is one way to go.  Pounding away with a streamer on a sink tip line is another.  Just remember, whichever way you go, make it deep and slow...

4 - Embrace the Worm
 As ugly, ridiculous and (to some) offensive as they are, San Juan Worms have cemented themselves firmly in the serious fly angler's arsenal, particularly as a go-to fly during periods of heavy runoff.  There is much speculation about why it works so well.  Some say that when the river gets up and begins eroding the bank tons of little earthworms are displaced into the river and find their way into the stomachs of eager trout.  I can buy this theory.  I can also buy that a bright red, wormy looking thing is easy for fish to see in muddy water and probably a common enough food source for fish to make it enticing.  It doesn't really matter.  The worm works all the same, especially when fished as a dropper behind the equally hideous and ubiquitous Pat's stonefly.

5 - Get out and Fish
By far the most common mistake anglers make during runoff time is NOT FISHING!!!  You will most certainly not catch fish if you use adverse conditions as an excuse to not go fishing.  Most people would categorize rivers that are high and muddy as unfishable.  Now I'm not encouraging you to go out and fish when the river is at flood stage or to in any way put yourself in harms way to catch a few fish, but if you exercise good judgement and visit the river when the flow is outside your normal comfort zone you will likely find that it is in fact fishable and quite possibly fishing well.  High water can be one of my favorite times to fish.  Think about it; less people on the river, more water to yourself, fish concentrated easy to reach holding water along the rivers edge, all good things that should make you put down the remote or the laptop and pick up the fly rod.

Feed Fish Flies

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Latest Buzz on Pebble and Elwha

Saw a couple things from our friends on Moldy Chum that I thought I would pass along to get the word out.

First, the great conservationist Yvon Chouinard, speaks at the Elwha Science Symposium. Here's a video:

 Secondly, here is some Pro-Pebble donkey doo from a writer in the Washington Examiner.

Alaska Natives ask EPA to stop Threatening their economy.

And more from a Pro-Pebble Group called Resourceful Earth:

Resourceful Earth

This tasteful article colorfully blasts groups like Trout Unlimited and Earth Works for their "negative" propaganda campaign against Pebble. Good stuff.

Anyway, if you want to join the fight against Pebble here are some sites you can visit:

Trout Unlimited
Save Bristol Bay

Thanks again to Moldy Chum for spreading the word.

Until next time.

Feed Fish Flies, Not Toxins.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Elwha River Restoration Update

There has been a lawsuit filed to stop the Elwha River hatchery. Since this quite a hot topic, I will go the unbiased route and allow you to read the article and watch the video involving the lawsuit and an article from the Times that allows for both sides to voice opinions.

There is evidence that if left alone the wild fish would rebuild themselves (as seen on the Sandy River in Oregon). Anyway. Here ya go.

First the information on the lawsuit:
Wild Fish Conservancy Files Suit

An article from the Seattle Times that gives both sides a voice:
Elwha River Hatchery Proposal

The dam removal was only the first step. If you wish to support the groups behind the lawsuit there is information how in the press release.

Feed Fish Flies, Not Plastic.

Monday, February 6, 2012

New Catch Magazine

The new issue of Catch Magazine has been released. Fair warning, you may need to update your browser to make it work correctly, but trust me it is well worth it.

Same amazing photography and videos, new layout and quicker load times.

As always you can view it here,  Catch Magazine.

Look at that, two blog posts in one day! Hooray.

Feed Fish Flies, Not Plastic.

Fly Fishing Film Tour Tonight in Seattle!

Tonight is the 2012 Fly Fishing Film Tour in Seattle. It will be at the Siff Cinema at 511 Queen Anne Ave North.

The doors open at 6:30pm and the show starts at 7pm. We currently, as of this post, only have 3 tickets left at the shop.

There will be tickets at the door for $3 more so don't worry.

Enjoy the festivities and hunker down and watch some good fish porn.

Feed Fish Flies, Not Plastic.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Last Chance to Steelhead on the Snohomish System

I'm sure most of you have heard that there is some emergency closures on our local rivers starting the first of February, but in case you didn't I will post the complicated mess of rules they have issued down below. This will be the last weekend for most of us to get a shot at chrome within a decent reach of Seattle and it looks like the weather Gods may bless us with some decent enough weather to chase after them with.

Anyway, here are the links to the emergency closures. Last chance to get after it without have to drive to the sparkly vampire haven of Forks.

Snohomish System Closures

Skagit System Closures

Come on down, get some tips and any equipment you may need and get after it!

Until Next Time

Feed Fish Flies, Not Toxins.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bonefish Mania! Fly-Tying 101: #8 The Crazy Charlie

The months of tropical fishing have descended upon us here in the Pacific Northwest. And by that I mean, for those that don't steelhead in our lovely winter weather and can afford it, they trick their significant other into a tropical getaway, ditch them at the pool and go fish for Permit, Tarpon, Bonefish, etc. Or those of you that are lucky enough to have a fishing spouse then you can forget the ditching them at the pool part.

this usually entails loading up on leaders, tippet and of course, flies. Crabs, shrimp, and other scintillating patterns top the list, and most look like you need a PhD in physics to tie. We have a super simple fly that you can vary in color that will work, and work well. It also works up here for Salmon, steelhead and sea-run cutthroat in pink and chartreuse, so you got that going for you as well. Here we go with fly-tying victim #8, The Crazy Charlie.

Supply List
Hook: Daichi 2546 #6
Thread: UTC 140, match color to body
Eyes: Bead Chain Eyes, silver
Body: V-Rib, Match color to thread
Throat: Calftail, Same color as body/thread
Flash: Pearl Crystal Flash

Step 1:  Anchor thread onto hook shank. Cut bead chain eyes so that you have two beads connected. Place near eye of hook leaving enough space to build a head later. X thread over the center of the bead chain eyes 8-10 times tightening it down as you go making sure the eyes stay straight. If you feel they are still loose after this you can wrap thread until you feel it is tight enough.

Step 2: Wrap thread back towards the bend of the hook, tie in the v-rib (for this we are using chartreuse, which is the most popular color), wrap thread forward in front of the bead eyes. Wrap the v-rib forward keeping it tight and being sure to not overlap. Wrap to the back of the eyes, then pull it up and over the eyes between the space. Tie it down and trim excess.

Step 3: If you have a rotary vise, flip the fly over so it is upside down. If not, Pull the fly out and turn it upside down. Take a clump of calftail (You can also use bucktail if you so wish), tie it in base first. You want the calftail to be about 1.5-2 times as long as the hook shank. Tighten it down, trim the calftail bases at an angle from the hook eye backwards.

Step 4: Cut the crystal flash the same length as the calftail, tie it in over the calftail, tighten down, trim excess and tie over the calftail and crystal flash, building a nice even head. Whip Finish. I also recommend cementing the head.

Where It Fishes: Anyplace you can find bonefish or permit or tarpon. The Bahamas, Belize, Florida Keys, etc. The green and pink version also works very well in Washington on Chum salmon, steelhead and coho in the rivers. And sea-run cutthroat, pink salmon in the sound from the beaches.

Colors: Pink, tan. chartreuse, silver, orange, black and white. I've also seen a blue version not sure if it fishes or not. 

As usual, this and other fly-tying lessons can be found on our Fly-Tying Page.

Feed Fish Flies, Not Toxins.