After a pretty slow winter fishing really picked up in April and our members had some great fishing. As always, pictures first with the reports below.
From Joshua Marsh: Had a great trip to Xcalak, fishing out of Casa Paraiso. We had two slams in our group (tarpon, permit, and bonefish in a single day) and lots of action throughout. It was amazing fishing in a fantastic place with bones and permit caught right off the dock. I’m sorry to say no permit for me, but next time!
From Keaton Andreas: I don’t have a fishing report, but I’ve been working on tying a pattern that I plan to target cutthroat trout with. My plan is to test them on resident fish at the opener on 5/22 at the Wilson River weather permitting.
From Tim McSweeney: All I’ve been thinking about all winter is figuring out fisheries that are closer to home. Between work, and family life I don’t get out nearly as much as I’d like and when I do, it’s always been LONG day trips or weekend trips.
So what did I do? Went after smallmouth; never caught one and didn’t know anything about them. Drove 3 hours to a river that was way too cold, dirty and high to be fishing for them. I had a couple friends that casually fish and wanted to get out this weekend before our Spring’s got to busy. I threw out a couple ideas and they clung to this river and spot even though I knew it wasn’t the right time of year. In two solid days of fishing all we got was 1 eat & one lethargic smallie around 10″. Regardless, it was absolutely gorgeous, and was able to catch up and relax around the fire.
On our way home we stopped for 1.5 hrs at a popular state park on a much lower stretch of this river where the water was warmer but much dirtier. In the end we landed two good, thick fish and 3 dinks. Including my fish smallie that really doubled over my 6wt. I can’t wait to start fishing for these more, especially, you know, actually closer to home.
From Chris Brehm: Started the month fishing the Lower Sacramento near Redding. Got some beauties fishing Bubble Back Caddis and Peaches and Cream nymphs under indicators. Went to Crane Prairie for the opener and got our son into some nice Cranebows inspite of rather slow fishing. Action on Balanced Leeches and Rootbeer colored Chironomids.
From Dave Kilhefner: I’ve really taken my lumps this winter steelhead season. Finally some showed up in the upper Sandy for a few weeks. It was fun while it lasted!
From Greg O’Brien: Another club member and I hit the lower Deschutes to swing flies with trout spey gear. It wasn’t lights out, but we got a few decent fish on sculpin patterns.
From Darryl Huff: I was able to squeeze in three trips to Warm Springs in the first week after the opener. Fishing was definitely good with perdigons leading the way as the most productive fly. Perdigons tied with Glo Brite Floss in Fl Highlander Green #13 consistently outperform all other colors for me. Water temps reaching 50 degrees seems the magic number to stimulate fish movement into faster water and increased feeding activity. My size 14 nymphs were for the most part completely ignored. The magic combination in most water was a size 16 with a 3.5 bead on the point, and a size 16 or 18 as the upper fly with a 3.0 bead. Fish were also caught on Walt’s Worm, Golden Stone, Jimmy Leg Stone, Rainbow Warrior, and Frenchies.
From Ed Rabinowe: This beauty took a wooley bugger at tide change 😉
From Bob Beswich: Just a quick D report, no Stone flies in the Maupin area yet. I managed to land a few nice trout in the riffles with a nymph dropper; while it rained Saturday.
From Richard Harvey: The OFC properties have been good all month with warm water fish starting to get active.
From George Krumm: Spring Chinook gear fishing has been great in the places that are open above Bonneville.
Great job everyone and thanks for sending in your reports!
Frankly, fishing last month was on the tough side. The crazy weather unsettled the local lakes and had the river levels bouncing up and down like a pogo stick. Still, I got out fishing when I could and had a few surprisingly good days for steelhead, and these days any good day for steelhead is a big surprise! As I’m writing this the sun is shining, all the trees have leaves and the nice spring weather raises my hopes for good fishing to come; May is one of my personal favorite fishing months!
When we had that one nice day last month luck was with me I ended up being part of a future episode of Angler West TV & a Salmon Trout Steelheader YouTube video, which is online now. I’m on from 5:40 to 8:30, click the link above if you want to check it out. I’m talking about swinging beads for steelhead, which was taught to my by master angler Phil Senatra, plus you can see my crazy boat.
We don’t have a speaker for our May 17th meeting as High Rocks had a big group book the meeting room and more power to them during these tough times! We can still have an informal & fun “flies and lies” meeting down by the fireplace. The “first beer free” rule will still apply.
Our May 21st Fish A Long will be at Clear Lake on Mt Hood. The last couple years its fished very well in May and by the time we have our fish a long it will have been stocked with thousands of trout varying from standard planters to brood stock hogs. While it’s possible to catch fish from shore, its best fished from a float tube and this time of year the best patterns are chironomids & callibaetis fished slow or small leeches stripped & trolled.
Good fishing reports are startig to roll in from the Deschutes. No big bug action yet but nymph fishing has been fair to good. Darryl reports a #16 green Perdigon has been best. Rich reports the OFC lakes are starting to fish very well and besides trout, the warmwater fish are getting active. Eric & Jack at NWFFO have been getting some nice bass pre-spawn largemouths recently. Being a steelhead nut, I have foolish hopes that summer steelhead will be cruising in the Clackamas. Early summer steelhead are the best fish of the year and since most folks are either chasing spring chinook or heading to the Deschutes it’s common to have the river to yourself.
For several years now we have been posting monthly fishing reports. Looking back on them is a fun way to get ideas for local fly fishing opportunities currently happening or coming up. Type “May” or “June” and you’ll get all the past reports for that month.
We’ve fixed the search funcion on the Fly Tying articles so if you type “fly tying” in the search box you’ll get all the old articles. There’s good stuff in there. Here’s a link to the Shad Fly: you’ll want a couple dozen of these for the June 11th Fish A Long at Bonneville.
Please remember our sponsors, they are the lifeblood of the club. Stop by their shops and let them know your appreciate their support. Better yet buy something or book a trip.
We had wonderful weather for our April 23rd Fish A Long at Schmadeke Pond and it was very well attended. However, the fishing was a little slow and this was forshadowed by a report from Vickie Loftus, who guided CFF member Peter Lymm to his first stillwater trout the day before. Vickie reported the recent rains and cold fronts have chilled the water to 51 degrees and put the fish down for a while. Bites were slow in coming and when they did happen, short takes were common. This was our experience too.
On the good side, most of the trout were pretty big, everyone had some action plus not everyone struggled to catch fish. So the silver lining on this slow bite day was we learned some valuable new stuff as Mike Shiiki & son Nathaniel tube-trolled a small black leech on intermediate line and consistently hooked fish all day long. Mike says this is a really good technique on Timothy Lake as well.
I tried to imitate Mike & Nathaniel’s tube-trolling approach after lunch but couldn’t quite pull it off as I got a cramp in my leg. But I did find something that worked OK, slow trolling a white leech 10 feet under an indicator (much of Schmadeke Pond is 12 feet deep). I have seen this technique in the past and decided to give it a try today & started getting bites with some consistency. FYI, it’s also supposed to be a good tactic for bass when they are not very active; it’s called the “float n fly” technique.
It was a little strange that leeches were the only fly that was working well as I stomach pumped a couple trout and the only thing in their stomaches were Chironomids. Mysteries are part of fly fishing!
Around 3:30 fish started rising pretty good in the shaded area along the far side of the lake and I was able to get a nice one on top with a Shipman Buzzer. While different looking, it’s easy to tie and very effective, imitating a hatching chironomid. Plus it floats very well, making it an excellent dry fly for suspending a pupa pattern on a dropper.
Thanks to everyone for coming and making this Fish A Long a success. Next months Fish A Long will be at Clear Lake on Mt Hood. Hope to see you there!
We didn’t have many February Fishing Reports so February and March are combined, but somehow we managed to put together some really good stuff. As always, pictures first with the reports below.
From Ian Porteous: I don’t think I’ve ever tried harder for a fish! I’ve been fishing for weeks and missed one at the run before and thought that was it. Then I got this one!
From Dave Doble: No fly fishing for me in March. In March I change over to springer fishing. Just for bragging purposes, here is my first springer of the year! (Congrats Dave!)
From Chris Brehm: I started the month fishing the Owens River near Bishop California and managed a few small Browns on Zebra Midges. Fishing for Bull Trout in Lake Billy Chinook is always fun in March. This beauty took a stonefly nymph at the Deschutes Fishalong. Back to Lake Billy Chinook to celebrate friend Neil’s 15th Birthday. Can’t get the smile off his face!
From George Krumm: Fishing was pretty good at Lake Billy Chinook; I fished it 5 times in March. Large baitfish flies fished on fast-sinking lines like the 300-grain RIO Striper on 8-weight rods worked. All fish were released, and I encourage everyone to release those fish, even though it isn’t required by law.
From Ed Rabinowe: I wanted to see and fish the San Juan. Did that with lots of other folks. Fishing was great; catching not so good!
From Dave Kilhefner: I’d been on a major steelhead dry spell, so I’ve been fishing with gear. Then after work on St Patricks day got 2. I’ve had regular success since then (with spoons).
From Trux Dole: The only Fishing I got in was that guided day with Dave Johnson on the Wilson steelheading bobber & jigs. The only fish of the day was caught by my buddy caught on a blue hot shot litterally within sight of the takeout!
From Chris Brehm: Caught and released one Steelhead on the Sandy, one on the Umpqua, and two on the Clackamas including this one on a jig under a float. My friend got this one on the Umpqua. First cast with a Thomas lure. Had a few non eventful fly fishing trips and finished the month watching others catch fish on a quick stop at Pyramid Lake Nevada.
From Darryl Huff: Found a large colorful steelhead on the upper Sandy. It’s been pretty slow on the lower River.
From Rhona Dallison: got my first steelhead nymph fishing on Eagle Creek! Sorry no pics !
From Jim Bennett: I built a fly tying vice. Now I need to remember how to use it!
Great job everyyone and thanks for submitting a report!
Earlier this month I got some bad news that my friend Paul Deunk from Cleveland passed away. I met Paul on a fishing trip in Alaska and we remained friends. He battled some serious health issues over the years, including cancer, but always bounced back and kept living life the best he could. He was an inspiration. On the fly fishing side, he was a feature tyer at midwest fly fishing shows, a member of his local steelhead fishing club and managed to go fishing to Alaska most years. We kept in touch, mostly by texting, and we regularly sent each other pictures of our various interests & endeavors. I think my latest mountain biking adventure would have made him laugh, but I didn’t get to send him that one! Our last text exchange was about a Duck decoy he was carving; Paul was always doing something cool and different.
As I’m writing this Presidents Message it’s a very a nice spring day and after imaging trout rising at my favorite local lake for the umpteenth time, I decided to just go fishing, think of my friend Paul and catch a few trout in his honor. That mission was accomplished.
Over the last couple weeks I’ve (finally!) had some good success on steelhead…but with spoons. It’s been a busy month and I haven’t had time to get the spey rod going. Maybe next week! Locally Winter Steelhead are still available thru most of April plus Summer Steelhead start to show. Spring Chinook are coming too, but that’s a whole new level of fly fishing insanity. I did hook one on the spey last year but it ran way downstream then the hook pulled out. Still, it’s a great fly fishing memory.
We’ll have a regular meeting April 19th at High Rocks. I’ll be talking & answering questions about spring fly fishing opportunities on our local Pay to Play lakes like Oregon Fishing Club, Justesen Ranch and Rocky Ridge. We’ve had some great Fish A Longs at all these places but they’ve gone thru some changes. We’ll bring you up to date.
Speaking of Fish A Longs, we’ll be going to an Oregon Fishing Club lake and I’ll get an announcement out next week. With the warmer weather they are starting to fish very well.
In April trout fishing starts to heat up. Locally, the OFC lakes are fishing well. Further away the Deschutes and Crooked rivers are good too. Remember that good fishing on these rivers will depend on consistent water flows and irrigation season is just getting ready to start, so check the water flows before you head out.
For several years now we have been posting monthly fishing reports. Looking back on them is a fun way to get ideas for local fly fishing opportunities currently happening or coming up. Type “April” or “May” and you’ll get all the past reports for those months.
We’ve fixed the search funcion on the Fly Tying articles so if you type “fly tying” in the search box you’ll get all the old articles. There’s good stuff in there. Thanks to Jim Adams for bringing this to my attention.
Please remember our sponsors, they are the lifeblood of the club. Stop by their shops and let them know your appreciate their support. Better yet buy something or book a trip.
The V-Rib Chironomid— If you do some searching on the internet you will find all kinds of chironomid pupa patterns. And, surely, they all will work. But, as always, simple is a good place to start for a fly tyer. You will find using V-Rib (also known as D-Rib) for a body material will make your fly tying quick and fun. Winding V-Rib around the hook shank is quick and easy and gives the body of the fly a nice segmented look.
So what exactly is V-Rib? It is a translucent plastic material that comes spooled or packaged in ziplock bags. The “V” in V-Rib stands for “Vinyl” while the “D” in D-Rib describes the D-shape, or half-circle shape, the material has if you were to look at its cross-section. V-Rib comes in a number of sizes and colors. Hareline carries 16 colors in four different sizes from midge up to large while Ultra makes 11 colors. In general, the V-Rib (D-Rib) sizes are recommended to be matched up with the following hook sizes:
V-Rib Size/Hook Size Midge / 16-20 Nymph / 12-16 Medium / 8-12 Large / 1-8
V-Rib Chironomid Recipe: (one of many variations) Hook: 1X short scud hook; size of choice (usually 12-18) Thread: 6/0 or smaller; color of choice Gills: white antron Head: Bead (optional) metal or glass; color of choice Underbody: thread or flashabou; color of choice Body: V-Rib; color of choice; Thorax/Collar: peacock (optional)
Tying and Materials Tip: V-Rib comes in many colors, most of them translucent. By varying the V-rib color, and also the color of the thread or flash under the V-rib, you have an almost unlimited variety of shades of chironomids that you can tie. But don’t go too crazy and buy all of the available V-rib colors; red, black, olive, and brown are the ones most commonly used for chironomids.
The body of the V-Rib chironomids are sometimes first wrapped with a flash material like flashabou, followed by the V-Rib. The resulting shine in the body helps to simulate the gas that builds up in the pupa as it slowly rises through the water column. Examples of this are shown in the following photo:
Chironomid Tactics and Strategies: In stillwaters you can fish chironomid patterns under an indicator or let them sink near the bottom and then patiently simulate the pupa slowly rising to the surface by using a slower than slow hand-twist retrieve. When fish appear to be feeding just sub-surface, club member Lane Hoffman likes to grease all of his leader except the last six inches or so, thus leaving the chironomid pupa pattern suspended just under the surface. And don’t forget to try midge pupa patterns in streams, too. Dead drifting them tied off the bend of a larger nymph can be deadly. When the trout are feeding near the surface of streams, fishing them in a dry-dropper combination can be lots of fun.
If you are fishing your chironomids at depths greater than the length of your rod, landing your fish will be made a lot easier by using a “slip strike indicator”. Here is a helpful short video from In The Riffle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2cbPXxvxRI Brian Chan and Phil Rowley, both noted stilllwater fishing gurus, have written extensively on chironomid strategies. Check out the following links for some great advice about fishing chironomids in lakes and ponds— Brian Chan: Chironomid Fly Fishing Strategies (11 minutes; condensed basics) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXSEyvkqORQ Phil Rowley: Advanced Chironomid Tactics Class (1 hour 25 minutes; excellent info; technical glitches and less than perfect audio in places) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cj8kV2P9RvQ
Some different examples of V Rib Chironomid Patterns. They are easy to tie and very effective!
The March 2022 Deschutes River fish a long was not steelhead focused, but it started off that way for me with several CFF members exchanging steelhead photos by text message. When steelhead are being caught, you naturally assume catching trout will be easy…but it wasn’t. Even with trout fishing a little on the tough side, it was great to enjoy dry weather on the east side.
The roads were clear and it was a fast easy drive over the mountain to Maupin. I hit the Deschutes Angler to replace a water thermometer that lost a battle with the tailgate of my pickup and checked out some flies. I noticed most of their patterns featured oversized tungsten beads, or at least way bigger than mine, and this was for good reason as I’d soon find out.
Friday afternoon saw me fishing up by Nena and no trout or whitefish were harmed…or even seen. Still it was a very pleasant afternoon to be on the water. At 6:30 I received a text that The Riverside was packed and I better get down there if I wanted a seat. I arrived just in time to get the last stool at the bar. Several of us enjoyed the lively atmosphere plus tasty food and beverages. It was my plan to camp at Harpham Flats that night but Paul said his room had two queen beds and he didn’t have to ask twice. I spent the night in comfort then coffee’d up the next morning and made the short drive to Harpham Flats. Darryl texted and said he was on the water at first light and got a couple redsides on beads. Several members were already at the campground before 9am and we got a fire going and enjoyed more coffee and conversation for about an hour, then it was time to hit the water.
Several of us drove up to the locked gate and walked upstream. The weather was a little cloudy, cool and windy. The wind made Euro nymphing difficult but indicator nymphing was working OK. Most of us got a couple trout but the consensus was you had to work for them!
By early afternoon Eric and I had migrated pretty far upstream, reaching the water 2 miles past the gate by “the House Hole.” The clouds mostly burned off, the wind died down a little and it was nice. I hadn’t had a single bite in several hours when I saw some nice fish rising, but they ignored what I threw at them, which was pretty much everything; I really gave my new magnetic fly threader gadget a workout this weekend. If you haven’t used one, I can say they work great but like everything else, they cause cancer in California.
With the slow bite in the morning my strategy was to find a promising stretch of water and hit it hard between 1 and 3pm. This approach has worked well in the late winter/early spring when the water is still cold and fish are not very active. While methodically beating through the brush and pounding pockets my indicator went down and I set the hook on… a snag… or so I thought. It was most likely an old steelhead; I never did see it because it didn’t jump but did peel off about half my fly line a couple of times. I thought I had a chance until it got behind a rock and sawed through the 5x tippet. While I would have preferred to land it fighting a big fish is always a thrill.
While continuing to work upstream I ran into Eric who caught his personal best whitefish, specimen at least 3 pounds.
We leapfrogged our way back down to the locked gate and ran into Chris, who echoed our experience; he got a few but had to work for every bite! Also the trout didn’t seem to care what fly you used, they disliked them all equally; there was no “hot fly” today.
By now it was 5 PM and time for folks to decide if they are going to stay another night or head home. As near as I can tell everyone left but me and Eric. We opted not to stay at Harpham Flat because it has no wind protection, so we drove upstream to Long Bend, built a fire and enjoyed some adult beverages and chili dogs for dinner.
The sky was clear when the sun went down and we decided to stay up and watch the moon rise as it was a 98% full (and 100% full on Friday). This may have had something to do with the slow bite during the day and actually, anytime fishing is poor you can dependably blame it on a full moon.
The night was clear and cold but we both slept well. We rose early, made some hot coffee, broke camp and were fishing by 9:30. The water temperature had dropped to 47° overnight and there was very little fish activity. We fished hard all day with very little to show for it, Eric hooked and lost it whitefish around noon. Other than that we didn’t get a single bite.
A little after two when our hope was waning Eric magically hooked into a nice trout that put up strong battle. If you’re only going to hook one fish all day you want it to be a fighter like this one! By now I was tired, having hiked far upstream two days in a row. I was mentally preparing myself for a skunking when I forced myself to walk off the road and down the hill to the water’s edge one more time. The wind wasn’t too bad and I was making some good casts in spite of a pretty nasty overhanging tree that looked to have eaten more than a few flies. Suddenly indicator plunged down and I was fast into a leaping trout. As he slid into the net I decided it’s really okay to work hard for one or two trout. It had been another fun fish long weekend with good friends.
This month marks two years as your club President. It’s been both interesting and challenging as fishing and everyday life is pretty much in a constant state of change. It’s more important than ever to be flexible.
Being flexible and adaptable to changing conditions has become “the new normal” these days. You’ll notice most of our Fish A Longs have “option 1 and option 2” these days so we can enjoy better fishing opportunities. For example, option 1 for the March 19th fish a long is to go back to the Crooked River, but if the water remains low and cold like last month we’ll shift gears and go to the Deschutes around Maupin. Both locations have good camping & restaurants nearby. I’ll get an email survey out the week before to see what everyone wants to do.
March signals the beginning of spring and many local fisheries begin to wake up and turn on. Trout in our local lakes will begin to get active as water temperatures rise from the low 40’s to the high 40’s. Central Oregon waters like the Deschutes & Crooked will have good fishing if water levels are stable & warming. Last but not least, March is the best month for trophy steelhead so don’t hang up your spey rod. Once the rivers drop back into shape it will be game on!
This months Fly Tying article will feature the V-rib Chironomid. This pattern is easy to tie in both regular & euro nymph styles plus it’s very effective in both lakes and streams.
For several years now we have been posting monthly fishing reports. Looking back on them is a fun way to get ideas for local fly-fishing opportunities currently happening or coming up. Type “March” or “April” and you’ll get all the past reports for that month.
Please remember our sponsors this, they are the lifeblood of the club. Stop by their shops and let them know your appreciate their support. Better yet buy something or book a trip. Good fishing!
The original plan for this months Fish A Long was to go Steelhead Spey Fishing somewhere, but the second wave of steelhead in our local rivers has been late, so when Lane suggested the Crooked I put out an email survey and we had overwhelming response in favor of going to there. This Fish A Long was very well attended and a lot of fun, and while fishing was a little on the tough side we got fish.
Clear roads and sunny weather made for a nice drive over to Prineville on Friday. I got to the river about 3pm, a little later than I wanted so I geared up fast and walked to the deadline below the dam. There were 3 otters working the big pool; both a good and bad sign if you’re a fisherman but you can’t deny they are impressive creatures plus a lot of fun to watch.
The water was very low with the flow out of Prineville Reservoir a trickle at 49cfs and quite turbid…as well as very cold at only 37 degrees. With these water conditions the fish were hunkered down and fishing was slow. I really thought I was going to get skunked but managed to pull a couple small rainbows out of the camp pool late in the day euro nymphing.
Friday Evening we had a nice dinner at Mazatlan Restaurant. Some stayed at a Motel in town, others at the Big Bend Campground. I don’t know why camping out in February sounded so good, but it did and not just to me either. We had a good showing at Big Bend Campground of both Tent and Trailer campers. The weather was clear & cold plus the stars are much better here than what the Portland sky can offer.
Saturday morning we got to watch the Otters in the campground pool. When it’s this cold there’s no point in starting early so most stayed in camp enjoying coffee and conversation past 9am. Overall the morning fishing was very slow but Lane got a nice one on a black Mayer’s Mini Leech Jig. It’s a great pattern.
Saturday afternoon Tim, Kevin and I tried something different and did some casting off the bank up in Prineville Reservoir. It was amazing how low the water was. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch or see any fish. The water temperature was 39 degrees.
Rich Harvey had a great afternoon at the lower end of Big Bend, landing 18 fish in a couple hours including an 18” rainbow, all on a peachy colored euro nymph he tied. With the water as cold as it was, the good bite period was only a couple hours during the warmest part of the day. Being in a good spot when the fish turned on was one, and maybe the only, key to success.
Just like the day before, I thought I was going to get skunked but managed to pull a couple rainbows out of the camp pool euro nymphing late in the day.
With snow forecast in the mountain passes most everyone packed up and left Saturday evening. Tim and I stuck it out and made a big fire, big enough to both keep us warm and cook dinner over.
Sunday morning we woke to a light snowfall and Otters back in the Campground Pool; we watched them get about 4 trout before making the call to head to the Deschutes River at Maupin. Michael Longacre stuck it out on the Crooked and had the river to himself, catching a couple rainbows on his new bamboo rod (his pictures are at the top of this report). That rod is lucky!
The Deschutes was running clear with the water temperature at 44 degrees. Plus, it was windy so we put away our Euro rods and fished indicators, which is a more “wind friendly” technique. Still, the fishing was tough. We all managed to get a few fish and I took a lesson from the day before, found some good water with slower current to hit hard from 1 to 3pm. A decent hatch of Blue Wing Olive Mayflies started coming off and a few fish were feeding. Pounding the water paid of with 5 fish hooked, all of them decent sized good fighters. I only managed to land 2 of them.
The drive home over Mt Hood was a little dicy with lots of snow coming down but I made it OK. Some members opted to drive to the Dalles & then down I-84 to Portland and when it was a white-out between Trillium Lake and Government Camp this seemed like the smarter route for sure!
At this time the plan for the March Fish A Long is to go back to the Crooked. The water will be warmer and hopefully the flows will be better too. However, we like choices so the Deschutes at Maupin is an option too; it has good camping and restaurants nearby. I’ll get an email survey out early next month to see what everyone prefers.
Thanks to everyone that attended and made this Fish A Long a fun and successful event!
Euro Nymphing…you shouldn’t put it off any longer. It seems that the whole fly fishing world is going euro nymphing. It is not a matter of just getting on the bandwagon of the newest fad, because in fact, euro nymphing is not really all that new. You should at least consider going in open minded about trying this technique , although new to many of us, that has proven to be very effective since the 1980’s. (Some flyfishing historians will argue that european nymphing is simply another step in the evolution of high-stick nymphing techniques that have been going on for the past 150 years!)
When people heard that the highly competitive USA fly fishing team had added euro nymphing to its arsenal of methods, people began to sit up and notice. A little closer to home, when Josh Linn, the “Fly Czar” at The Royal Treatment Fly Shop, told me back in 2019 that he recently had a 20-fish day on the Metolius I really started paying attention! That is no easy feat on that river. And then Josh put emphasis on his endorsement of euro nymphing by adding that he landed two fish at once, also on the Metolius.
So, what is euro nymphing? In its simplest description, it is a way to fish subsurface flies without using a strike indicator or adding extra weight onto your line. It is a method of maintaining a tight connection with your fly, a method to dead drift your fly and to eliminate slack in your line, and a method to maintain control over the depth and speed of your drifting fly. Some people call this Czech nymphing, some call it European nymphing, and some call it tight-line nymphing. You can call it whatever you want.
There are a number of variations of euro nymphing styles (Polish, Czech, Spanish, French, etc), each employing both similarities and differences to the other methods. If you study them all and overthink too much, all of the information will soon put your brain on overload. Before you blow a fuse and get discouraged, it is important to educate yourself in the basics of this style with just enough information to get you started so you feel confident enough to try it out on the water. If you decide you like euro nymphing feel free to investigate it further.
Brad Jonasson Interview
Fellow CFF club member Brad Jonasson has really taken to euro nymphing, easily more so than anyone else that I personally know. In Texas Hold ‘Em poker language, you could say that Brad has gone “All In” regarding euro-nymphing. Brad agreed to answer a few questions designed to help folks that are unfamiliar with euro nymphing to decide whether or not to venture forward. Question: How long have you been euro nymphing? What made you decide to try this method? Brad: One day in June, 2018, while fly fishing on the Owyhee River with a small CFF group, Ron Bouchard appeared to outfish us all by euro nymphing. Question: What percent of your time nymph fishing do you now spend euro nymphing compared to standard indicator nymphing? Brad: I fish exclusively for trout, and since late 2018, I have focused solely on euro nymphing. Question: Did you have immediate success euro nymphing? Brad: At the outset, I enjoyed immediate, but modest, success, which inspired me to continue striving to improve, though the learning curve has been gradual. Right now I believe that I am an intermediate euro nympher, ready to move to an advanced level. Question: If I have never done any euro nymphing do I need to buy a new rod, reel, and line? Brad: Because euronymphing is a different animal, an inquisitive beginner should probably try some tightline nymphing with standard equipment (like a 9’ 5-wt rod) to see if he/she even likes it. Your current 4/5-weight reel will probably work fine. (For all of the reasons adequately spelled out in the literature, further pursuit of euro nymphing will eventually demand an investment in a 10-11’ rod built especially for that purpose.) Question: What else would I need to get started for my first time out euro nymphing? Brad: You would need a euro nymphing leader made of a hand-built mono leader that includes a twotoned sighter material (Rio), along with fluorocarbon tippets and a selection of tungsten beaded nymphs. Question: Where do you like to go to do your euro nymphing and what kind of water do you look for? Brad: Much of my fishing time is spent on the Deschutes which is ideal for euro nymphing. Look for riffles and runs where fish lay feeding because they are oxygenated and buggy. The Crooked River is also excellent if the water is not too low, although I caught a 20” rainbow at 70 cfs. Question: Do you tie your own euro nymph flies? Brad: If you are a fly tyer, euro nymphs are easy, and fun, to tie. You will need UV resin and a UV light for some of the patterns. You probably already have many of the necessary materials.Beginners – once you have learned the basic skills of fly tying, head to Youtube to create and tie your own euro nymphs. Question: Do you have any other tips for the beginning euro nympher? Brad: It is not just the acquisition of the equipment and flies that guarantees success, but an understanding and implementation of the “tight line” presentation and drag-free drift that is of greater importance. So study up with books and videos as I did. Question: Can you recommend any resources for the beginner euro nympher? Brad: I would recommend reading books (CFF library) and viewing videos (youtube) by George Daniel, Devin Olsen, and Lance Egan. Right now, to become an advanced euro nympher, I am digesting Troutbitten’s “Nine Essential Skills for Tight Line and Euro Nymphing”, the best treatise on advanced euro nymphing I have run across. ( This can be found at troutbitten.com)
Euro Nymphing Flies: The types of flies for euro-nymphing will differ from many of the nymph patterns that you are accustomed to using. They nearly all are heavily weighted for their size, usually employing tungsten beads to get them down to the desired depth. Along with the tungsten beads tyers often add wraps of lead wire for additional weight. You will notice that many of the euro-nymph flies are also sparsely tied and have a smooth and streamlined appearance. This aids in getting the flies down quickly to the fish zone. Many of our standard nymphs have a bushy or rough look to them, which causes them to drop more slowly due to added friction as they sink through the water column. Many patterns employ a bright hot spot near the head or tail, or both. The appearance of many of the flies can best be described as “attractor” patterns since they do not seem to closely resemble any life forms in the river. Suffice to say we using “impressionistic” flies and are not trying to closely “match the hatch” when tying up many of the euro-nymph patterns.
The number of different euro-nymphing patterns on the internet has certainly exploded. It is easy to come up with your own variations of existing patterns by changing colors and materials. Here are a number of patterns to get you started (Many thanks to Josh Linn for the fly tying recipes):
The Perdigon This fly was first developed by the Spanish competitive fly fishing team but really was made popular by the French team. Wraps of lead wire are often added behind the tungsten bead head. The tail is generally coq de leon. Using different materials, for wrapping the body accounts for the numerous variations of this fly. It generally is tied with a very smooth and streamlined look, and needs to be coated with UV resin or clear fingernail polish. It is interesting to note that the name Perdigon comes from the Spanish word “perdigones” which translates as “pellet” or “shot” as in bird shot. It is literally “a weighted pellet with a tail”.
Perdigon Recipe Hook: Jig hook #14,16 Bead: 3.3mm or 2.8mm slotted tungsten Lead: 3-5 wraps .015 Thread: Orange Veevus 10/0 Tail: Coq De Leon Body: krystal flash, mylar, floss, thread Hot Spot: Fl Orange Veevus 10/0 thread Wing Case: Black Loon Hard Head (or black nail polish) Finish: Coat the body with UV resin Perdigon Tying Tutorials There are many opinions about what a good perdigon should look like. You will notice that some are quite thin while others seem quite bulky. The materials can vary and the end results are seemingly endless. Here are some online tutorials to check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-tuKpwbrX0 (Tyer: Devin Olsen) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LChpgNouQkg (easy segmented body technique) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXL42hqWJBw (tyer likes them thin!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmTs1NME8Uc (Tyer: George Daniel)
The Frenchie Most of the credit for this fly seems to go to Lance Egan, a member of the USA fly fishing team. He actually says his version is a variation of a previous pattern (perhaps borrowed from the French team, hence the name). It is sometimes described as a pheasant tail with a hot spot..
Frenchie Recipe Hook: Jig hook #14, 16 Bead: Copper or Gold slotted tungsten; 3.3mm or 2.8mm Lead: 3-4 wraps .015 Thread: Red or Orange Veevus Tail: Coq De Leon Body: Natural pheasant tail Rib: gold or copper wire Collar: shrimp pink ice dub Frenchie Tying Tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMnx_Hz-oG8 (Tyer: Lance Egan)
This is a dressed up euro nymph version of a fly called Walt’s Worm, which was created back in 1984 by Walt Young. Sexy Walt Recipe Hook: Jig hook #14 Bead: Silver slotted tungsten , 3.8mm Lead: 10 wraps .015 Thread: Orange Body: Hare’s Ear Dubbin Rib: Small mylar Sexy Walt Tying Tutorial: (Tyer: Josh Linn, Royal Treatment Flyfishing) https://www.royaltreatmentflyfishing.com/blogs/everything-fly-fishing/the-sexy-walt/
Euro Nymphing Leaders There seems to be an infinite number of euro nymphing leader formulas out there and it can be confusing if you overthink it. So to simplify things, here is a nice video from Josh Linn at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop with instructions on tying up a euro nymphing leader that he says is perfect for all aspects of Euro Nymphing…
The Clackamas Fly Fishers normally try to schedule a fish-a-long on the Crooked River in March or April. Of course this will depend on the usual things like weather and water level. But whenever it happens, this would be a great time to practice your euro nymphing skills. If you are lucky, Brad Jonasson will be there and he will be happy to share his knowledge with you. And as always, Dave Kilhefner is is a great instructor of all things related to fly fishing, including euro nymphing.