Fly Tying: September, 2019

Mitch Moyer’s Unbalanced Leech

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Mitch Moyer is a local fly tyer and flyfisherman, having grown up in the Milwaukie area. In his early years he spent countless hours catching all kinds of fish on the Willamette River and he’s got to be the only person I know who caught his first steelhead on Johnson Creek. 

He started fly tying when he was nine years of age and sold his first flies at age 10.  Like most of us Mitch spent lots of years honing his craft by duplicating the designs of other well-known tyers.  Today he is focused on creating original fly patterns and says he now fishes his own patterns 100% of the time. Mitch spends lots of time testing out his patterns and tweaking the designs.  He recently got back from a two-week trip to the waters of the Cascade Lakes area of Central Oregon field testing his patterns.  And, as of this writing, he is scheduled for another two week trip to the same area for a repeat.  It’s hard work, but somebody’s got to do it!

You can find some examples of Mitch’s flies and the fish he has caught with them on his Instagram account  https://www.instagram.com/headless_flyfisherman7/?hl=en .  You really should check out this link because he catches a lot of fish… a lot of big fish.

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Mitch goes by the business name “The Headless Flyfisherman”.  The name apparently originates back to his childhood when his brother, either by design or through lack of good photography skills, often cut off Mitch’s head in photos of him holding fish. The tradition continues today because, philosophically, Mitch says the photos are not about him but about the fish and about the flies.  So you won’t find any of his photos showing his face, hence “The Headless Flyfisherman”.

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I was sitting in at a Tyer’s Table session on a Saturday morning at The Royal Treatment watching Mitch Moyer work his magic at the vise.  He showed everyone a fly that he said had been very productive for him the past season, including on the Owyhee River.  When I mentioned that I would be traveling to the Owyhee on an annual outing with other Clackamas Flyfishers, he tossed me one of his “Unbalanced Leech” flies and told me to give it a try.  So I did and it turned out to be a winner. The area had recently experienced a major weather event that really put the fish down. All of the impressive insect hatches that we had seen in previous years were nonexistent. After a day and a half of not touching a fish I remembered the Unbalanced Leech and thought what the heck I might as well give it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised when I quickly landed a 22+” brown and followed it up the next day with a 19” brown.  I went back to camp and tied up some more Unbalanced Leeches to share with other members of our group. On a trip where we all really struggled, four members of our group ended up having success with the fly.

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The Unbalanced Leech is what could be called a “minimalist” design.  Lots of streamers are large and often quite flashy.  Mitch says that sometimes “less is more” in designing fly patterns.  The Unbalanced Leech is relatively unimpressive looking and easy to tie by streamer standards.  But it has a lot of movement and Mitch says that is the key to successful streamer patterns. All I know is the fly catches fish. Besides having success on the Owyhee, I have also caught rainbows and browns on East Lake and Wickiup Reservoir on various colors of the Unbalanced Leech pattern this season, so I can honestly say the fly is effective on both rivers and still waters. 

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Join us at The Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn on Wednesday, Sept. 25th for our next Fly Tying Night. It will be a great opportunity to learn from the master as Mitch Moyer has volunteered to lead us during an evening of tying up his Unbalanced Leech. We’ll try to tie the pattern in more than one color so bring a variety of colors of thread like black, olive, and tan.  As always we will be starting at 6:00 pm.  Hope you can join us!

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Garth Wyatt Sept 17th Speaker

Garth Wyatt is a fish biologist for PGE and is going to discuss fish population response to improved fish passage infrastructure in the Clackamas basin. It will be a very informative presentation you won’t want to miss!

Meeting details: https://clackamasflyfishers.org/meetings-events/

Reminder: please remember to bring in your 2019 Fly Fishing Challenge cards to the Sept meeting. Also, we will also be asking members for their thoughts about the FF Challenge for 2020.

September 21st Fish-a-long Coffenbury Lake

Coffenbury Lake, located in Fort Stevens State Park by Warrenton, will be the location for the September 21st Fish-a-long. The lake contains rainbow & cutthroat trout along with warm water fish. Coffenbury was recommended by CFF speaker Jeff Morgan plus it’s due to be stocked with 500 trophy rainbow trout right before the fish-a-long.

This is a new location for us. Given the number of new float tubes at the Round Lake fish-a-long this summer, I wanted to schedule one more lake trip this year.

Those planning to attend, please RSVP to Dave@kbi-ins.com by Sept 17th so we know how much food to bring.

What: Cutthroat & Rainbow Trout and Warmwater Fish.

Were:  North Boat Ramp at Coffenbury Lake in Fort Stevens State Park

When:  Saturday, September 21. Meet at the boat ramp area between 8am and 9am. I will probably be there a little earlier to catch the first light bite.

Equipment: There are two fishing docks but the lake is best fished from a float tube or small boat & 4-6wt rods . The lake is not deep so a floating line is all you’ll need but if you prefer an intermediate line that will work too. The weather should be OK but rain is always a possibility.

Flies: Standard lake patterns.

Food Provided: Coffee & donuts for breakfast and CFF executive chef Cheryl will make us something good for lunch.

Directions: It’s an easy 2hr drive from Portland with paved roads the whole way. Drive to Ft Stevens Park then stay on Peter Iredale Rd to the boat ramp. There is a $5 day use fee.

August 2019 CFF Fishing Reports

From Darryl Huff: I have fished a single hand fly rod for years but had never tried the spey rod. Being a part of the Clackamas FlyFishers gave me the bump I needed to give it a try. My casting needs a lot of work but after a few trips to the Deschutes I was catching fish!

From Carson Taylor: Motivated by an internet article by Chester Allen (who spoke at a club meeting several years ago), I fished for bass on the Willamette close to downtown Portland off Macadam Avenue. Chester is working in downtown Portland and fishes for bass during his noon hour.

Fishing was not red hot, but I caught five bass in three two-hour early morning trips, mostly on leech and woolly bugger flies. It’s nice to fish 10 minutes from home instead of driving for 2–3 hours.

From Dave Kilhefner: In mid August I fished with guide Drake Radditz at Bouy 10 and caught a nice 25lb Chinook.

From Phil Hager: Spent 8 days in central Oregon with mixed results.

Link and Hand lakes, up by Suttle Lake, were slow, with just a few catches of smaller fish. Both East and Lava were suffering the “August doldrums” with only 1 caught on Lava and not even a bump on East.

Hosmer, however, was a different story. Fished the upper lake and it was like I could do nothing wrong! Using my intermediate line I lost count on catches in the first hour both times. My “Brick Leech” and black and grey TMC nymph were getting fish almost immediately with Rainbows, Cutts, and Brookies ranging in size from 12″ to about 24″ and fat and healthy. Right shoulder was tired in about 3 hours and it wasn’t from casting.

If anybody wants to go along I’m heading back up the 9/15 to camp at Lava and fish Hosmer and Lava, then over to Fall River the 19th for 4 nights (TU outing), and will hit Crane the 22nd. From there I plan on going over to the Crooked the 23rd & 24th and down to the Le Page, on the John Day, the 25th & 26th, to see how they are doing.

From Adrian Choate: Spent a week fishing SW Montana. Hit Rock Creek, the “Mighty Missouri “ and the Madison. The fish weren’t easy but managed to raise some big Bows and browns. Am considering a month in Ennis next summer!