After a month of wild weather and high water, this weekend is finally shaping up to be a classic. Rivers are dropping and fish are moving. The weak tides ahead may not bring a lot of fresh steel from the salt, but there are solid numbers of fish already navigating and staging in Oregon’s coastal rivers. Focusing on the upper reaches of your favorite river(s) will probably bring the biggest payoff–expect fish to be accumulating in the deeper pools where waters are clearing. That’s where the bobbicator boys will be hunting, and rightfully so. I’m going to stay down low, swinging the greenest water I can find for one of those monster, hump-backed, gator-mouthed bruisers that tend to show up from now through early February. There is NOTHING like the rip-the-rod-out-of-your-hands grabs that a swung fly will bring this time of year.
If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to dive into Skagit-style steelheading, this is it. Time to shelf the old Windcutters and Deltas. Give your arms and joints a break, and get the most out of your Spey rod. Your favorite fly shop can help you pick the right grain-weight for your rod, and get you hooked up with the right sink-tips. Most of your old tips will probably work fine with the new head. This is no sales job, folks. I’m trying to help you, because I know what it’s like fighting gear that isn’t dialed in. I was a late-adopter of short heads, in spite of plenty of expert advice.
If you’ve been cranking out Intruders at the vise, now is the time to employ them. They may be fun to play with in the bathtub, but they’re made to be thrashed and ripped to pieces by pissed off salmonids (or hung from tree limbs that are just out of reach). On-the-water testing is the only way to work out the kinks in your fly designs.
It’s quite ironic that I’m advocating the swung fly, considering that I’m a jig-a-holic. And a plug-a-holic. All the methods are good fun. But there is only one way to have your arm ripped out of its socket, or to hyper-extend your elbow on a grab, and that’s with a swung fly. Sure, there’ll be days, weeks and months without a yank. That’s why you need to start now.
See you on the water…