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.
Sorry I didn’t get the December 2021 reports out last month. We have some really good stuff and will start with January and work back to December. As always, pictures first with the reports below.
January 2022 CFF Fishing Reports
From David Doble: I have been after steelhead on the fly for three years. Had a bump or two over the past three years but either pulled the fly out of their mouths or lost them. Went fishing with a friend yesterday with Steelhead Outfitters (Sam Sickles) who we’ve fished with many times. We floated from Dodge Park to Oxbow on what was a very, very cold day. It was 23 degrees when we launched and did not improve much through the day. Ice in the guides continually hindered my spey casting which was entertaining as I already have hindered spey abilities.
About mid morning I started short at the top of a run, increased distance and worked my way down. About half way down, I hooked into my first steelhead on a fly rod. A beautiful wild buck! We tailed it, took pics, and sent him on his way.
I went back to the top and made my way back through the run, near the bottom I hooked a second wild fish, a hen. She was a bit feisty and took me into the backing a couple of times. We tailed her and I gave her a big kiss before sending her off to make more babies.
My feet are still cold! (Editor’s Note: Congrats David, this is huge! Great Job!!!)
From Chris Brehm: Spent a lot of time chasing winters. Had one good day on the Wilson with 2 fish on beads. Spent a day with my brother Steve on Lake Billy Chinook chasing Bull Trout. Cold in the morning but very pleasant later on. This little guy came on one of “Dave’s Devils” on a sink tip. Steve did a little better on an Olive Leech pattern. We caught about 20 fish between 10 and 22 inches. Some small Browns in the mix as well. Had a great day on the ocean out of Newport with limits of Lingcod and some Black Bass as well. No pics but a beautiful day on a nice ocean.
From Dennis Murphy: It was a rough month for fishing. I fished the Sandy at least three times per week and didn’t find any fish. I drove to California and fished the Klamath and found nothing but a good time with the folks at the Ashland Fly Shop (definitely worth it). Finally I decided I needed to remember what catching a fish was like and went to the Deschutes for my birthday. I got one nice redside on a stonefly nymph I tied (I was finding stoneflys crawling around in camp) then a windy rainstorm came in and ended the trip early.
From Tim McSweeney: I’ve been mostly fishing the Lower Deschutes for redsides. It’s been really, really good on glo bugs in the morning and if you can find yourself in the right spot at 1pm–a killer BWO hatch!
From Dave Kilhefner: Caught two small but fiesty steelhead on gear and missed a third due to tangled line on the takedown!
From George Krumm: Got a nice one bobber-dogging on the Sandy.
From Mike Shiiki: Here’s my son Nathaniel with a nice one at Macks Canyon on the Deschutes last weekend. The fuzzy egg bite was on and also had some eats on perdigons too. They were hugging the slower water close to the banks.
From Greg O’Brien: I travelled to Southern Oregon to fish some different water and managed to find a couple of hatchery steelhead. Swung flies, hard takes and long runs made for a fun day. The next day I got shut out of course!
December 2021 CFF Reports
From Ed Rabinowe: We found some big ones in Louisiana this year. Pushing those 10 wts to the limit!
From Lane Hoffman: Ken Baker and I went to Venice, La. Lots of big reds this year!
From Greg O’Brien: Fishing this month was limited to a trip down to the Klamath River near I-5 in CA with another club member. We hired a guide for 2 days of fishing, ideally using Spey rods and swinging flies for late summer and Fall run steelhead. Steelhead in the Klamath seem generally a fair bit smaller than the Columbia River tributary fish. We hooked a couple Spey casting, but got quite a few more while fishing stonefly nymphs under an indicator while drifting between swing runs. While it was very cold, we got lucky and fished in between a couple pretty bad snow storms.
From Tim McSweeney: I had one good day on the Deschutes (right after our December Club meeting). Right before my kid brough covid home from school.
I tied on two glo bugs on at 8am and didnt change or take them off till the end of the day. Was on a fish about every 15 minutes for the majority of the day. Can’t beat that! It was probably 50/50 between redsides and short fin graylings.
I started the day euro nymphing but once the wind picked up I had to put a bobber on or it was pointless. For what it’s worth I started euro nymphing because I hated bobber fishing. But today I learned something. It’s not that I hated bobber fishing, it’s that I hated the classic Thingamabobbers. For me personally, they were a pain to get on and adjust the depth of my fly as I went from spot to spot. Hence euro nymphing. I can adjust depth more or less by how much line I have out or how high i hold my rod. Well I got some airlocks and it made bobber fishing totally enjoyable for which was great! I’m oddly kind of excited I had fun bobbering it up. Just another fun way to fish.
From Rich Domingue: I hooked and lost my first winter steelhead on the lower Clack on Dec. 9 and I landed two yesterday (Dec 29). Pressure is high, making it hard to find room to swing, but also indicating others are catching fish as well. Given this early success, I am hopeful that this winter’s run will be considerably stronger than last years.
From Chris Brehm: I only got out once in very early December. This little brat was caught on a bead below a float near a popular North Coast Hatchery. Saw quite a few larger fish that day including several by a fly rodder fishing a bead under an indicator. He had to wade out quite a ways in fast water to cast, then chase them downstream to land them. Was fun to watch. I hope to get into some Winter Steelhead on my fly rod this year. Happy New Year !