OPST Brown & Red “Almost-Intruder”

Here is another fly I will call a “Semi-Intruder,” and it will help a relatively inexperienced Intruder tyer to practice skills and increase familiarity with different materials and tying technique.

The Intruder fly style is as specific or as general as the tyer and angler may wish to make it. This is an example of a fly that includes the basic concept of the Intruder and will catch salmon, steelhead, and trout.

Overall, I give this fly a “C” grade in terms of its ability to maintain the distinctive butt and thorax sections of the fly style. The fly looks good, fishes well, but the materials all flow together.

As my Intruder tying and fishing progressed over a period of a full winter season, I made the personal decision that I wanted my Intruders to fish with a clear distinction between butt and thorax sections of the fly.

Intruder Essentials Cover

Intruder Essentials Cover

I published Intruder Essentials with a foreword by Trey Combs, to show 24 flies I consider that meet my strict definition of a fly that will maintain relatively distinct butt and thorax segments even when swimming. The book may be purchased from your local fly shop, from the Caddis Fly Shop, or on Amazon.

Eyes: Balzleyes, large
Shank: OPST Intruder Shank
Wire: Senyo’s Intruder Wire
Hook: Gamakatsu Octopus
Butt: EP Minnow Head Brush, Red
Butt topping: Red Ostrich
Butt topping: Montana Fly Co. Barred Olive Ostrich
Butt Flash: Mirage lateral Scale
Body: Pearl Diamond Braid, Root beer
Thorax Base: EP Sommerlatte’s Brush, 3” Chart & Tan
Thorax: Extra Select Brown Marabou
Thorax enhancer: Grizzly Flutter Legs, black & white
Thorax enhancer: Mirage lateral Flash
Wings: Blue grizzly saddle feathers (email or call shop for availability)
Thorax finish: brown ex select marabou
Head finish: EP Minnow Head brush, Root beer

Have fun tying these flies and deciding for yourself what you mean by the term “Intruder.”

Jay Nicholas

Posted in Fly Tying, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spey TV Episode One and Two

George Cook has been instructing Spey Casting in the Pacific Northwest for nearly 20 years. In his new series of videos, “Spey TV” he discusses the specifics of line to rod match and techniques to help you cast and fish better on the water.

Posted in Classes and Instruction, Fly Fishing Gear Review | Leave a comment

Echo Boost & Hatch Professional Fluorocarbon Leader Review

Booomer at work testing ECHO "NAP" device.

Booomer at work testing ECHO “NAP” device.

We all have our burdens in life, and one of mine is to occasionally document my reaction to various elements of fly fishing gear I have “tested.”

I have often been surprised to find hundred buck rods that seemed (to me) to cast the way I would expect a 600 buck rod – and I’m not afeared to say as much.

There is a certain amount of randomness in my reviews, and an element of personal relationships as well.  I have a long term friendship and professional relationship with Tim Rajeff and the crew in Vancouver, just as I do with Kerry Burkheimer in Camas.  Two rod companies, very different price points and history, but both represented by the finest people and offering really excellent products.

Jack Harrell at the vise at his shop in Pacific City.

Jack Harrell at the vise at his shop in Pacific City.

So I’m an ECHO Burkheimer guy.  Who also fishes Scott and SAGE and Loomis rods too.

Confused?  Don’t be.  It’s just fishing tackle, and I only write about gear that really pleases me, no matter what the “Brand” happens to be.  The fact that 90% of my fishing clothing and waders happen to be SIMMS doesn’t keep me from sliding into my Patagonia fishing pants and sun hoody.

Where was this going?




Got my BOOST 8 wt a few weeks ago.  About darn time I might add.  I’m not one to just go off and wave a rod around for a few hours and rush back to write about it.  I want time on the water, seeing how the gear really performs.  So far I have five days in the ocean fishing from Dory boats and four days on the estuary fishing with the 8 wt BOOST.  First few days were in the ocean, casting fast sinking shooting head lines like the AIRFLO Custom Cut T-14, RIO STRiper Line, and RIO Custom Cut T-14 Outbound fly lines.

The 8 wt ECHO BOOST fly rod handles over-lining like a champ, and it was a delight to catch black rockfish on Clousers and Poppers, plus being quite capable of hauling decent (30″) lingcod up from the depths.

ECHO Boost at sea

ECHO Boost at sea

Jay Nicholas Lingcod Dental Detail

Fresh Lingcod fillets, thanks to the ECHO BOOST, certainly the ONLY fly rod capable of catching these fish ha ha ha ha.

Fresh Lingcod fillets, thanks to the ECHO BOOST, certainly the ONLY fly rod capable of catching these fish ha ha ha ha.

So then I fished the BOOST rod in the estuary for springers too.  Four days fishing and two grabs, yielded one very fine hatchery spring chinook that went home with me after dark.

ECHO BOOST & Hatch fly reels

ECHO BOOST & Hatch fly reels

Clousers and Hatch Professional Leader

Clousers and Hatch Professional Leader

Oregon Hatchery spring chinook on ECHO BOOST 8 wt.

Oregon Hatchery spring chinook on ECHO BOOST 8 wt.

After Dark at the Cabin.

After Dark at the Cabin.

Honest 21.

Honest 21.

No fish today, still a smile.

No fish today, still a smile.

On the topic of the Hatch leader:  I fished 12 lb leader and landed the 21 pound springer, putting plenty of pressure on the fish.  I found a wind knot (imagine that) in my leader, and was grateful that I did not break the fish off.  I have been and remain a staunch supporter of Maxima Ultragreen for my leaders. But I started fishing the Hatch Professional series leader last summer in the ocean for Albacore, and then for silvers on buck tails, and then for chinook in the river and then winter steelhead and now for springers.  I still think a person can not go wrong with Maxima Ultragreen, but if you can afford the Hatch leader, it offers smaller diameter and I have found it to be absolutely 100% reliable, and the only other Leader I have felt this affection for previously is the Ultragreen.

Wind Knot in Hatch Leader that I used to land 21 pound springer (12 Lb. leader)

Wind Knot in Hatch Leader that I used to land 21 pound springer (12 Lb. leader)

On the BOOST fly rod series:  I will be adding a 7 wt to fish silvers and a 12 wt to fish Albacore very soon.  The rod has a powerful butt section needed to pressure strong fish, but has a moderate tip that really seems to allow me to load the rod.  I find that I prefer to “over-line” the BOOST, and when doing so the line seems to spring from the guides.

If your normal line doesn’t get the job done, add a line wt and let fly.

The handle is right, finally, with a more pronounced center diameter on the grip and composite tip to the handle to enhance durability. The reel seat rings are also sufficient to allow me to over-reel my rod.  I often fish a hatch 11 on the 8 wt because Im expecting to catch a two hundred pound springer one of these days.

Ok, I’m exhausted from writing this post and need to get out on the water so please, allow me to conclude by saying thanks to Tim Rajeff for bringing out the Boost, but honestly, I do not know how I feel now about my ECHO PRIME rods that formerly held my greatest affection and I sure would not want to be thought fickle but now I’ll have to check out the BOOST versus the PRIME fish for fish through the springer season and into albacore season and see if i have a favorite or not.

Best fortune to all.

Jay Nicholas, May 15, 2015

New: ECHO Boost with Tim Rajeff from Rajeff Sports on Vimeo.

NEW: ECHO Boost Saltwater Series with Tim Rajeff from Rajeff Sports on Vimeo.

Posted in Fly Fishing Gear Review | Leave a comment

Sorting Out Sink Tips in the Modern Era

George Cook our Rio Fly Line representative has been a leader in design and explanation of everything spey in the Pacific Northwest for years. If you have ever attended a class or “clave” with George you most likely will remember it. His unique nomenclature is memorable and enjoyable. Below you will find George’s latest explanations of sink tips and their uses. Thanks George great stuff as usual!

For a good decade (1993 thru the early 2000 period) the conventional (Now Traditional) 15’ sink tip was the “Tip Of The day” so to speak. Here the angler was typically armed with an array of 15’ Sink Tips in Type 3, 6, 8 and even a clear version Intermediate. Both Single Hand as well as Spey Anglers employed their use plying waters from Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego. Such tips, particularly in the Type 6 and 8 sink rates were extremely common in the Pacific Northwest. Such popularity was well deserved and fully earned as these sink Tips (The Brainchild of RIO Founder Jim Vincent) were simply indispensable be it winter or summer assignment. The beauty of these 15’ tips was that they cast extremely well and play wonderfully throughout the Steelhead range of the west coast. In this, the classic and beautiful gliding runs from the Rogue to the Babine and all points in between were covered by single hand (Versi Tip Line sets) and spey anglers alike, (Windcutter and Skagit lines of era). The selection of these tips by the Steelhead and at times the King enthusiast, was well thought out on any given run. The study of a given run (Head/Body/Tail out) closely coincided with just how these tips would play out in such waters and the education/selection/use understanding was well under way. Available in various Grain weights from 95-190 with the #9 (129 Grain) and 150 grain (#10 Weight) leading the way these tips while not as popular today these still have their place in every anglers shooting head wallet.

15’ Intermediate Tip

Use: The sleeper tip in your wallet. The intermediate has a reputation as a “Slicer/Wind Cutter” that can and will serve the summer angler well from dawn to mid-morning even during the day as it provides what I like to call slicer line speed that often makes the difference on a turned over fly on such haunts as Oregon’s Deschutes or Idaho’s Clearwater (Same goes for an Intermediate Spey-Freshwater Versi-leader used on a Scandi style line).

15’ Type 3

Often overlooked but has a distinctive place in the Steelheaders wallet with Silver Salmon use as well. The obvious use is classic tail out scenarios both winter, and summer; unobvious use is for what we lovingly call “Frog water” which many of these Pacific Northwest Rivers have and Big Ol’ Late winter Runs have a penchant for hanging in. These often “Given Up On” portions of bottom end runs can hold Big Nasty Steelie Bucks that can only be swung up with lesser sink tip or MOW type animal. Anything beyond a Type 3 (3.0 ips /inches per second sink rate) sink tip is simply too much, dragging bottom and out of the game.

15’ Type 6

A Longtime, prime time sink tip player. To be sure, loads of Steelhead and Kings have been subdued with these 6.0 ips tips. When in doubt upon arriving courtside on a classic northwest Steelhead run string up a 150 grain (#10) 15’ type 6 sink tip and proceed with CONFIDENCE. Truly a tip to not be missed as it will serve one well in the global spey theater.

15’ Type 8

7.0 ips provides for high line speed charged cast coupled with a sink rate that has become the new standard in historical 15’ tips. #9 @129 Grain along with the vaunted 150 Grain (#10) are the go to players here. Long classic glide runs are possibly the foremost targets with these tips.

The Genius of RIO’s Skagit MOW and iMOW Tips

Originally brought forth by the “3 Speyketeers” as I call them, Mike McCune/Scott O’Donnell and Ed Ward (Hence the name MOW…McCune-O’Donnell-Ward). The MOW System is nothing short of brilliant!

Available in Light (T-8 format 7.0 ips), Medium (T-11, 8.0 ips), Heavy (T-14 format @9.0 ips) and Extra Heavy (T-17, 10.0 ips) .

Each MOW Family (Series) has 6 “Family Members” consisting of the following:
10’ Floating Tip
10’ Sinking Tip
12.5” Sinking Tip
THEN….the 3 MOW’s…..7.5 x 2.5 (7.5 Floating integrated into 2.5 of given make up say medium as an example in T-11). 2nd MOW is a 5 x 5 (5’ of Floating integrated into 5’ on sinking).MOW #3 is a 2.5 x 7.5 (2.5 of Floating Integrated into 7.5 of sinking).

There are two ways to get these 6 family members, either individually or in a MOW Kit (Say, a MOW Medium Kit as an example).

Practical Usages as prescribed below….

10’ Floating Tip : The MOW system is built for use with Skagit Style Spey Lines . Regardless of Skagit “Type” (RIO formula’s include Max Short/Max & Max Long) the MOW’s are formulated to play in the Skagit line theater. The 10’ Floating Tip is a quick way to “Ala Carte” your Skagit Line into a Full Floating use line.

10’ and 12.5’ Sink Tips: Available throughout the MOW Range (Light/Medium/Heavy/EX Heavy), these practical length sink tips play incredibly well with a wide range of Spey and switch rods making them a wonderful addition to the standard “Traditional” 15’ sink tips (Intermediate/Type 3, 6 and Type 8). These 2 sink tips will provide the Angler with sink rates from 7.0 ips (Light T-8) all the way to 10.0 ips (EX Heavy T-17)that will cover a wide range of use from Alaskan Kings to Tierra Del Fuego Sea Run Browns as well as the full gamut of Steelhead application.

The 3 True MOW’s

Here is where the absolute Genius of the MOW boys shines brightest ! Given that any “Cut” sink tip under 9’ is likely going to basically become a boomerang/tumbler within the cast that will prove to be ugly at best and ultra frustrating at worst. The “Integration Format” that McCune/Scotty O and Ed brought to the table from their “Chop Shop” artistry days providing the stability/cast-ability of a 10’ common denominator in overall length coupled with the desirable “Baby Tips” making for one of the all time great innovations.

7.5 x 2.5 (2.5 being the Sinking Portion): True “Rock Garden/Tail Out Probe Tool”. One could think of a 15’ Type 3 in this instance but the beauty of the MOW idea/format is that the mere 2.5 sinking portion is simply unrivaled when it comes to sliding around and thru such haunts. The traditional 15’ sink tip or even the 10’ and 12.5” MOW Sink Tip family members are all prone to “Swing Drag Thru” often catching/hanging up and killing any real chance at a follow and/or GRAB.

5 x5 (5’ Floating with 5’ Sinking): Again, another Rock Garden probe but long enough to provide quick drop for given slots particularly in ledge rock environments found in many Steelhead streams. The 5 x 5 MOW Heavy (T-14 Format) is a great one for such a task where the angler needs a quick drop into a slot where he’ll need to engage quickly in order to be in that zone/slot target area. Lots of Pacific Northwest watersheds feature just such places making the 5 x 5 MOW a handy tool.

2.5 x 7.5 (7.5 being the sinking portion): My personal favorite in both the standard MOW as well as IMOW (See Below). This “Baby Tip” if you will has tons of application for a host of fisheries most certainly including the trout game. Given water depth and speed considerations often play perfectly into the hands of the 2.5 x 7.5 MOW quite often in the MOW Medium (T-11) format. Incredibly versatile sliding thru the boulders and swinging “All The way In” giving both “The Long Followers and The Down Below You” Critters time and opportunity to run down or run into your swung offering.

iMOW Family

The innovation of the Intermediate style Skagit Heads necessitated the invention of the iMOW sink tip in order to accommodate MOW usage with such an Intermediate format head (Substituting Integrated Intermediate VS Floating as found in the original MOW format), this is the obvious use of an iMOW but certainly not limited to an iFlight/IMAX format line. I personally love the iMOW’s, as a general MOW use tool as they can, and do have their place covering a host of angling waters particularly where you know going in, that the bottom format is relatively clean but needing “Less” of a given sink tip. iMOW’s come in LIGHT/Medium and Heavy. Kits have 6 family members with the previously mentioned 10’ floating Tip subbed out for a 10’ Intermediate tip.

iMOW Family:
10’ Intermediate Tip
10’ Sink Tip
12.5” Sinking Tip
The 3 iMOW’s
7.5 x 2.5 (7.5 is intermediate integrated to 2.5 of given sink tip say iMOW Heavy T-14 as an example)
5 x 5 IMOW
2.5 x 7.5 IMOW

Al in all, the MOW Families have a lot to offer the Spey and Switch Rod enthusiast. I can tell you with absolute confidence that every angler out there has/knows places that are “Made To Order” for MOW use, in particular the 3 True MOW tips. The Spey community owes a lot to the genius of the “3 Speyketeers “ Mike Mc Cune, Scott O’Donnell and Ed Ward.

George Cook

Posted in Classes and Instruction, Fly Fishing Gear Review, Oregon Fly Fishing Tips | 2 Comments

North Umpqua River Lodging

north umpqua retreat

The North Umpqua River Retreat offers everything the traveling steelhead angler is looking for; large parking area for boats, doorstep swing water, and spacious clean living arrangements to name a few. This was our second year in a row at the rental and my brother and I have already booked our stay for next year.

north umpqua fishing cabin

Located on Highway 138, about three miles west of the famous “flywater”, puts the rental in a very fishy location for the wading steelhead angler. Whether you are fishing on your own, hiring a guide for the flywater, or booking a boat trip you will not be further than thirty minutes away from the front door. I chose to sleep in one day and wade the water right out front which is about a seventy yard run of boulder strewn steelhead water. I could have easily stayed in the house all day, just watching the tail out from the three large windows in the living room. It is the best river view of any house I have been in.

north umpqua steelhead fly fishing

Although we have mainly utilized the house in the Winter it is also a great bet for the summer steelheader. Peak season for summer fishing is coming up quick especially with the low water conditions. Book your stay now!

check it out at http://www.northumpquaretreat.com/ and book your stay.

Phone 541 496 4580


Posted in Fly Fishing Travel, North Umpqua River Fishing Reports | Leave a comment

McKenzie River Fishing Well Spring 2015


Cloudy cool conditions are the perfect recipe for hatches on the McKenzie River. Anglers can expect Pale Morning Duns, Green McKenzie Caddis, March Browns and a few darker brown caddis hatching on lower McKenzie below Leaburg Dam. On the upper river Green Drakes, Caddis, little yellow stones and Pale Evening Duns are the key adult insects to watch for. Nymphing remains very successful with Jigged Prince Nymphs, Possie Buggers, Golden Stonefly nymphs, and Jigged Pheasant Tails.


wild trout mckenzie river

Current water conditions remain extremely low. Wading opportunities abound! Fishing is very good!

mckenzie river bull trout

Posted in Fishing Reports, McKenzie River | Leave a comment

Loon Live Fly Tying Demo Reminder – May 14th 5:30-7:30PM

loon post

Matt Callies from Loon Outdoors will be in the shop on Thursday, May 14th from 5:30 to 7:30 tying a variety of patterns from steelhead to trout to salt water to warm water, all using cutting edge materials including Loon’s UV resins and fly tying pigments. Matt is great at coming up with creative new patterns and new twists on old ones; regardless of where and how you fish, you’ll take home some new tricks for the vise.

If you can’t make it into the store, then you can still join us by streaming the event live online. You can join us online by clicking here to register and then tuning back in on the 14th at 5:30.

An example of some of the really cool patterns Matt will be demonstrating is below.

For the in store event no need to register, simply come by the shop for any or all of the session. Hope to see you there.


Posted in Fly Tying Materials and Supplies | Leave a comment

Take Action this AM: Support Senate Bill 247

IMPORTANT: Make Your Voice Heard for Oregon’s Rivers & Fish by this Morning!


From Water Watch of Oregon:

Dear River Lovers,

Please ask our leaders in Salem to protect our rivers and fish by supporting Senate Bill 247!

SB 247 asks for nominal fee increases in fishing and hunting licenses.

IMPORTANTLY, if SB 247 does not pass, ODFW is slated to cut the Water Program and a number of Assistant District Biologists statewide. These positions are absolutely critical to the protection and restoration of Oregon’s rivers and streams. They are also key to ensuring sustainable water development into the future in the face of drought, climate change, population pressures and endangered species considerations. ODFW staff are involved in virtually every water allocation and reallocation decision in the state.

As long as fish need water, Oregon will need these critical ODFW programs and staff. Without these positions, the water needs of fish and wildlife will no longer be part of many water decisions in Oregon.

SB 247 will be up for a key subcommittee vote tomorrow morning (Wednesday, May 13), so please send your comments to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources before 8AM tomorrow. Please let them know that you want your comments placed in the OLIS record. (If the link above does not automatically open in your default email program, please use the email address below to create your own email.)

Read the full text of the bill here.

See ODFW’s proposed cut list here.

See ODFW’s proposed fee increases here.

Suggested Message:


Dear Joint Ways and Means Committee Members,

Please support SB 247 and the nominal fee increases it contains.

Please do not cut ODFW’s Fish Water Program or assistant district biologists.

As long as fish need water, Oregon will need these critical ODFW programs and staff. ODFW staff are involved in virtually every water allocation and reallocation decision in the state.

These are essential capacities that must be maintained regardless of the budget climate at ODFW and regardless of whether fee increases or increased general fund appropriations occur.

This is simply NOT the time to be divesting of expertise and capacity in water at any level of state government.

Please place my comments in the OLIS record.

Thank you for your consideration.

Posted in Oregon Conservation News | Leave a comment

New study: Fish and rivers recover quickly after dam removal

From OPB: A new study sums up what scientists now know about the environmental effects of removing dams from rivers.

It concludes that rivers and fish respond quickly after a dam is removed, and the results are mostly positive.

Before dam removal had been studied, Grant said, scientists thought it might take decades for rivers to disperse the accumulated sediment. But that was not the case in almost all the documented cases. In most cases, it was only a matter of weeks or months.

Photo by Brian Cluer of NOAA Fisheries

Photo by Brian Cluer of NOAA Fisheries

Find more awesome photos of the Glines Canyon Dam removal here.

Posted in Oregon Conservation News | Leave a comment

Mercer’s Missing Link Fly Tying Video

The Missing Link is a great all around caddis pattern that has proven effective year round. In larger sizes it is also a nice green or gray drake pattern.


Mercer’s Missing Link

Thread: Ultra Thread 70, Olive
Hook: TMC 2487
Rib: Veevus Pearl Mylar
Body: Ultra Thread 70, Olive
Thorax: Hareline Ice Dub, Olive-Brown
Wing: Light Dun Antron Yarn
Wing #2: Nature’s Spirit Comparadun Deer Hair
Hackle: Dun or Dun Grizzly Dry Fly

Posted in Fly Tying, Fly Tying Materials and Supplies | 1 Comment

Loon Live Fly Tying Demo at the Shop May 14th 2015

loon post

Matt Callies from Loon Outdoors will be in the shop on Thursday, May 14th from 5:30 to 7:30 tying a variety of patterns from steelhead to trout to salt water to warm water, all using cutting edge materials including Loon’s UV resins and fly tying pigments. Matt is great at coming up with creative new patterns and new twists on old ones; regardless of where and how you fish, you’ll take home some new tricks for the vise.

If you can’t make it into the store, then you can still join us by streaming the event live online. You can join us online by clicking here to register and then tuning back in on the 14th at 5:30.

An example of some of the really cool patterns Matt will be demonstrating is below.

For the in store event no need to register, simply come by the shop for any or all of the session. Hope to see you there.


Posted in Fly Tying, Oregon Fly Fishing Tips, Shop Sales and Specials | Leave a comment

Deschutes River Fishing Report Spring 2015

2015-05-02 09.57.06

Headed down the Deschutes last week for a four day trip.   The Deschutes flow gauge at Madras was 3750 cfs when we launched.  Seemed a bit low from my experiences on the D.  But hey, we had not fished the D early in the season for a least a decade or more.  With it being spring, and the stories about stoneflies coming out early due to “the tower”, we decided to check it out for ourselves.

2015-05-01 13.01.31

Did I mention the flow rate was low?  Here is a pic of Ken C. out in a place where we normally do not wade!  It became very obvious low water meant we could wade to places we have not seen for some period of time.  We saw a number of sections where a strong angler could  wade across the entire river.

Deschutes boaters should bring  their “A game” while running Whitehorse.  The rapid is very low at these levels and the infamous entrance or key,  the two waves at top, should be scouted.   On Saturday, we cut our fishing short as we saw boat debris float past.  No one seriously injured and no pics to “dog pile” on a tough day for a group of anglers.   Mark Angel showed up on Sunday and removed the boat.
2015-05-01 12.57.03

The fishing overall?  Good!  Above is a small Bull Trout caught on my Nexus 6 weight.  It fell prey to a dry stone.   Easily excited, I figured, hey, they are going to get going on the surface!   I was greatly disappointed.

2015-05-03 13.30.23There is not much better scenery than wildlife in the canyon.  The bighorns were out, they seemed to have adapted quite well.  We had three sightings on the trip. Our last sighting was near Nena.

2015-05-03 11.14.30

While I was creating surface foam and catching zip with a dry fly….Ken C. was using his “bomber” technique and crushing the Redsides below the surface.

2015-05-01 08.48.28

“Oh, look…. an Osprey!”   Repeat this phrase,  50 times, and you will come close to how many of these mighty feathered anglers we saw….the reason….SMOLTS!  Unaware to us,  our beloved ODFW had released the steelhead smolts…the good news…its gonna be a hell of steelhead season down the road…..the bad…Osprey are feasting!

2015-05-01 09.28.23

The signs of spring were abundant…wild flowers blooming etc…however…the signs of a dry winter were ever more present.
I think we will see lower flows, and we all had better be sure we just use good angling and boater sense while we enjoy one of Oregon’s finest blue ribbon streams.

Check later this week for another post on…. “flies that worked”  on our trip.


Posted in Central Oregon Fishing Report, Eastern Oregon, Fishing Porn, Fishing Reports | 1 Comment

Redhorse available now

As a lot of you already know, Matt Stansberry who writes for the blog had moved to the Rust Belt a couple years ago. Since moving back to Cleveland, Matt has been writing a monthly nature column for a publication called Belt Magazine. The columns are about the native flora and fauna of the Great Lakes. Belt recently published a journal collecting the first six months of articles, and artwork from David Wilson, who has done work for us on the site.

Redhorse Cover

These are stories of warblers migrating from the tropics to Toledo, the tiny joys living in the creeks of Lake County, the diversity and abundance of fish swimming through Cleveland, and a fungus killing our hibernating bats. They are stories about bugs and the people who love them, and the last wild places in Ohio and the misguided fools who would ruin them.

The essays and images in Redhorse present the wildlife of Lake Erie as it exists today. These are the shockingly wild inhabitants of our landscape.

We have copies in the shop. Stop by and pick one up. Or order online here.

Posted in Fly Fishing Profiles | Leave a comment

Mondays Can Be Brutal, Even at a Your Local Fly Shop


Fortunately no one was hurt and we have some good friends that helped us clean up and get ready for business on Tuesday. We will be open the entire time while we reconstruct the shop. No change in our seven day a week open for business schedule.




Posted in Oregon fly fishing links, Oregon Fly Fishing Tips, Shop Sales and Specials | 8 Comments

ECHO Dec Hogan II & Glass Spey Rod Review

Echo Glass Two Hand and Dec Hogan II Spey rods on the Nestucca River.

Echo Glass Two Hand and Dec Hogan II Spey rods on the Nestucca River.

Just when you thought you were safe from the continual onslaught by the Fly Fishing Military Industrial complex and blatant commercialism  – here we go again.

Seriously, ha ha, I do enjoy sharing my thoughts on gear when I take on the self imposed challenge of fishing new rods, reels, fly lines, leaders, hooks, fly tying materials, and associated gear.  Like the saying goes, it’s tough work but someone’s got to do it.

Unlike some reviewers, I tend to lean in my temperament and comentary towards the average consumer/angler/caster/tyer in the sense that I am not impressed with overly technical details and am especially loath to use trendy sales terms that have been concocted to hypnotize (see Fly Fishing Book of Revelation) us into buying more stuff. I’m going to resist providing concrete examples here because I don’t want to unnecessarily single out and offend any of my friends in the FFI (Fly Fishing Industry) but you probably have a few terms in mind, made up words and descriptive phrases created out of thin air and designed to spur sales.

What I do like to do is fish new tackle and then share my delight when something goes right.  Same deal with apparel, fly tying materials, tools and such forth. By the way, I’m quite aware that writing “what I do like to do” is stupid, and should be replaced by something literate like “I prefer to”, but – see – I have the freedom to use sub-par english in my writing just as I apply illogic to my fly selection and most aspects of my life as well.

If I really honestly understood some of the finer points of the gear I’ve used I would probably feel more comfortable using techno babble in these reviews.  Fact is, however, that I’m not smart enough or don’t have the interest in most of the technical details like ball bearing counts, the ratio of boron to titanium, to graphite, to fiberglass in our rods, and how many little bubbles of floatation per cubic inch there may be in our fly lines.

What I do care about, and have fun reporting, is when a new fish pole and string feel good in my hand and allow me to “huck” my fly way out onto the river/lake/estuary to lure a fish.  I like a fly reel that feels good, spins nicely, has a “decent” drag system, and holds up under my low maintenance philosophy of “fish it and forget it.” I do not throw perfect tight loops.  I fish.  I fish hard and long and cover the water, so any gear that allows me to fish more effectively, or with less effort – is a winner.

Another factor that distinguishes me as a reviewer is that most of what I write is based on long term use of a product, not just a quick run to the field and back to the keyboard.  Take these here ECHO GLASSS and Dec Hogan rods, for example.  I probably have forty days with the former and twenty five of so with the latter fishing this season.  Then add in a solid thirty to forty days with the GLASS Switch rods in hand and I’ve had opportunity to get down and dirty with these rods.

OK, on with the review at hand.

In addition to the rods that are focus of this review, I also fished an ECHO GLASS 7 wt Switch Rod a lot this winter, companion to my Burkheimer 7115-4 and an ECHO PIN.  That’s right, I fish a wide range of gear and techniques, depending on my mood, the fish’s mood, the place, water conditions, and circumstances.  As the season progressed, I transitioned into fishing the longer ECHO GLASS Two Hand rods: the 7 wt FG 7129-4 and the 8 wt FG 8130-4.  I had a wonderful time fishing upriver with these rods swinging flies on FLO and iMOW tips.

My lines included the Airflo Skagit Switch Compact, the Skagit Intermediate Compact, and most recently, the Scandi Compact.

I’ll add a special note here that the Skagit Intermediate compact is an amazing line that will allow your un-weighted Micro Intruder (see Intruder Essentials) to swing a little deeper and swim beneath fast surface currents.

Why these two spey rods, the GLASS and the Dec Hogan II?

The GLASS rods are new and I wanted to see what they are like.  If these rods had not delivered something remarkable, like a smile and a giggle, I would have remained silent on the subject.  Well the new ECHO GLASS long rods did more than just making me smile and so here we are.

The DH-2 was a last moment, oh yeah, I ought to see if I like the new Dec rods as much as I liked the first gen versions years ago.  My how time flies!

First, on the topic of the GLASS Spey Rods - I can not imagine anyone who would find these rods anything but pleasant. Pleasant to cast and darn fun to fight fish on.  These rods take me back to when I was a teenager, when fast had not been invented for fly rods, and the casting stroke was quite different from what we have come to use with fast, ultra fast, and light-speed graphite blend action rods.

I fished the 3, 4, and 7 switch rods with WF floaters and light sink tips all winter, in still waters, tidewater, and rivers plus the GLASS Two Hand 8 and 8 wt long rods.  My flies were bit by more steelhead this winter than ever and for those of you who know me this is not only referring to the lake-bound summer steelhead, but also to fresh run winter fish plus a fair number of kelts.

ECHO GLASS Two Hand and Dec Hogan II spey rods, with Hardy Marquis reels.

ECHO GLASS Two Hand and Dec Hogan II spey rods, with Hardy Marquis reels.

So these reviews are NOT just heading out to the river, making a few casts, and dong the barf it up on the internet report.  Nope, this is based on four months of 3-5 days each week on the water somewhere, rain and shine, low and high water, slugging out the casts and swings and strips and drifts, sliding down muddy banks, falling down in the boat, getting holes in my waders that still need patching, leaving early, getting home late, soaking wet rain gear, need more flies and leaders, and the usual fare of day to day fishing challenges.

If I fished the GLASS 7 yesterday, I’ll fish the 8 today.  Swing one run with a GLASS 2H 7  and Skagit Switch ; then grab the DH2 with a Skagit Intermediate for the next tailout. Fish FLOS and MOWS and iMOW tips.  Big flies and small flies.  Fall in, get wet, assess the damages and get on with it. Real world trials.

Here is what I found, bottom line.

ECHO GLASS two hand reel seat.

ECHO GLASS two hand reel seat.

The ECHO GLASS long rod series is rated wonderful. Sorry, I know I overuse that rating, but I don’t waste time writing about gear that isn’t anyway.

My preconceptions about the rods were that the action would be very slow, very deep  into the cork, and that the casting range would be less than with faster action graphite rods.  While this might be true for champion class casters, for me, on a practical basis, I was able to achieve every measure of distance with the long GLASS rods that I achieve with my usual Two Hand graphite rods. In practical terms, I’m not on the Dean or the Skeena, and I’m able to cover every inch of our coastal rivers with ease.

That said, the graphite rods I fish tend to the slower action, like the DH series and my Burkheimer rods that are well known for their ability to flex down into the butt section and enhance the caster’s sense of rod load feeling. I do on occasion fish faster action graphite two hand rods, including the ECHO TR, the SAGE ONE, and the SAGE METHOD.  These are all faster rods and frankly, I have not devoted sufficient time to any of them to be able to do more than state my confidence that each and every model is a fine rod, designed and refined by people who know a whole lot more than me about such things. When it comes to faster action Spey rods, I tend to need to use lines higher in the grain window of each rod and then take time to get the feel of each rod/line/tip combination.

Not so withe the GLASS and DH series rods, like my Burhheimers.  With these rods, I seem better able to just pick one up, line it with a head on the low end of the grain window, and let fly – with entirely satisfactory results.  This I like.

I think (remember I’m not the expert certified casting instructor) that I tended to overpower the GLASS rods at first.  I didn’t realize just how well they would transfer energy from me through the line.  When I slowed down a little, eased up a little, my casting was fluid and effortless.  I think that a beginning two hand caster could learn to Spey cast more easily on the GLASS (and the DH2) than they would on a relatively stiffer, fast acton graphite rod. I watched Tim Rajeff’s video on the Glass two hand rods some three months into my trials, and guess what?  He explained it!  He said that the upper 3 seceions of the GLASS Spey & Switch rods are indeed “soft” (not a bad thing when we are talking about fly rod performance), but the lower section (the butt) is much more powerful.  In my case, I assumed that the deep flex of the rod would be similar throughout and so I was overpowering the cast at the last instant, not realizing that there was so much reserve power in the butt section.  Ah ha!  That is why my casting improved when I relaxed, eased off the throttle a little, and let that butt do its work for me with a lighter pull on the lower hand.

ECHO GLASS Two Hand Spey Rod.

ECHO GLASS Two Hand Spey Rod.

At a price point under three hundred bucks, any new spey caster would be very pleased learning to cast on any of the long GLASS rods.  Why choose this option over the ECHO CLASSIC?  Good question.  Both are good options and very reasonably priced.  The GLASS is slower than the Classic and I think it would be a more intuitive process to feel the load and execute the cast with the GLASS compared to the faster action Classic – but the economics of both are admirable.



I’m going to shift gears and make a few remarks about the Dec Hogan 2 spey rods now.

I fished the first generation DH spey rods years ago, back when  was fishing the valley streams for summer steelhead, and principally fished the DH6 and DH5 Spey rods.  I loved them.  Intuitive to cast, fun to play fish on, no complaints whatsoever.

When I received my new DH2 rods, I decided to fish the 6.5 and 7 wts, and expected to be as comfortable with the new Dec rods as I was with the originals.  Well, I was surprised indeed.  I started out fishing the DH2 7130-4 with a 510 gr Skagit Intermediate head. I then fished this same rod with a 480 gr Skagit Intermediate and found that I liked it even better. Finally, and this was really fun, I fished unweighted flies on the DH26.5129 with a 450 gr. Scandi Compact.


ECHO Dec Hogan II Spey Rod (Reel Seat).

ECHO Dec Hogan II Spey Rod (Reel Seat).

It seemed impossible to do anything but execute great cast after great cast.  I didn’t need to think, I seemed able to compensate for inexpertly composed casting stroke anywhere throughout.  That last sentence may not make sense to anyone but me, so let me try to explain.  My casting tends to include a wide variety of open loops and up or downstream angled curves as my tip lays out, plus a few tips that fall to the water in piles.  I just let it fish, see if I get grabbed, and make a better cast the next time.  This is true when I fish my Burkies and SAGEs too.  I’m just an average caster who puts my time in and works on making a higher percentage of good casts while I’m actually fishing.

But I thought, think, and still do, that the DH2 upped my game at least two notches, whatever that means.  I guess it means I think the DH2 allows my casting to shine.  I hear that some people are saying that the DH series is too slow.  Well it seems faster than the GLASS to me, and I fish the GLASS just fine thank you very much, and the DH2 seems like a rocketship to me, so what else can I say?

ECHO DH II Rod Alignment Dots, a very nice touch.

ECHO DH II Rod Alignment Dots, a very nice touch.

In mid April, I ventured upriver on the Nestucca with an old friend, Steve.  Yes he is old, and yes we have been friends many years, so old qualifies in more than one way.  We were only planning on some spey casting lessons for Steve, who fished an ECHO TR7 rod with a mis-matched line.  He is the stubborn type, a manly man who didn’t want to try a different line, so he struggled with what he had, and failed to adopt most of my most helpful suggestions.  Never the less, he got the fly out there and hooked a beautiful wild hen – proving once again that one need not be a pretty caster to catch fish.  I also connected with a fresh run winter steelhead that afternoon in the sun, on a smoothly executed cast I should add, and we were both thrilled to have time together with fish pulling at the end of our lines.

Steve with April Chrome.

Steve with April Chrome.

Jay with April Chrome.

Jay with April Chrome.

Let’s close.

ECHO GLASS and Dec Hogan II long rods are personal favorites, both intuitive to cast, and both tremendous fun to play fish on.  I’m convinced that any Spey fishers pursuing steelhead, salmon, and trout will enjoy these rods and experts will find them respectable additions to whatever tackle collection they be amassing.

I fished days on days on end with AIRFLO Skagit Compact, Skagit Switch, Skagit Intermedite, and Scandi Compact lines.  The latter was swinging Gurglers, and the only line I have not yet fished on these two rod series is the RAGE, but I will soon.

And no, I did not mention components and finish because all these rods are very nicely outfitted and finished.  This isn’t 1964 when rod manufacturers had a tough time gluing on guides and making parts fit.  With ECHO, as with any of the big names like SAGE, WINSTON, SCOTT, BAUER, ORVIS, Burkheimer, I have come to expect high quality components and finish, and I have not been disappointed of late.

One thing I will add concerns the handle on ECHO long rods.  I like these handle shapes.  I find them comfortable and pleasant to hold all day long.

Hope this helps tip you over the edge.  If you are thinking about an ECHO GLASS or DH II long rod, you will be glad you pulled the trigger the very first time you are on the water.  The line recommendations from ECHO are spot-on too.

Jay Nicholas April 2015  (this is a link to my books on Amazon)






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