Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics (OPST) is a recent addition within the Fly Fishing Military Industrial Complex (referenced in the Fly Fishing Book of Revelation) but this small company merits a close look from anglers and fly tiers who devote themselves to swinging flies. In short, this company limits its product offerings to a very narrow field: stuff that is most useful to anglers swinging flies using a “sustained anchor” form of Spey casting. The “About Us” tab on the OPST site notes that Ed Ward and Jerry French are the heart of the Expertise that stokes OPST’s innovative fire, but doesn’t quite say that these two men are principals of the company. Initially, I wondered if Jerry and Ed were hostages of some cabal of entrepreneurs who have them chained to a park bench somewhere in the Olympic Peninsula. My contacts within the Department of Homeland and Spey Fishing Security indicate (privately) that Ed and Jerry are indeed partner-owners, perhaps only occasional recipients of hypnosis or truth drugs administered to extract their Spey knowledge.
Post Script: after drafting this post yesterday, I went fishing up the Nestucca, swinging flies on an ECHO GLASS 8 wt and a DEC HOGAN II 7 wt. I fished from about 1 PM until dark, hooking one fish briefly (pulled ten feet of line off my reel) at about 6 PM and then hooked a big buck about 7 PM that ran me across the river, jumped, ran back at my feet, ran back across the river and spit the hook.
Anyway, throughout the day, I noticed occasional glints of light reflecting off glass in the brush along the river. This seemed odd, but I’m now quite sure that these were spotting scopes. Several times I was surprised to see one of those creepy red laser dots planted dead center in the middle of my chest. I even spotted a portable satellite dish rising up out of the brush then retracting after a few minutes. These are telltale indications that someone from OPST was checking me out and deciding my fate.
Strange but true. On my porch this morning is a hand written note signed by Ed Ward and Jerry French assuring me that they are well and are principals and product design controllers for OPST and if I really care about them and the future of Skagit casting and wild fish I had best get on with my review or else they might tell the world that I’ve been seen with an ECHO PIN rod in my boat on a few occasions this winter. OK. I yield. Ed and Jerry are big honchos in OPST. This of course makes me feel like a worm because those guys have such amazing history tying and fishing Intruders and here I’m the newbie in the riffle.
End Post Script ______________________________
Several OPST products are high on my list of good gear, so I’ll share my thoughts on these, mention the ones I have not used yet, and let the reader take it from there.
OPST Steelhead Shanks. These are the basic up/down eye straight shanks, available in 1″, 2″ and 3″ lengths. These are great to tie on if you want to rig your flies (Intruders or other styles) with leader strung through the hook eye and junction tubing at the rear of the fly. This style allows one to tie on a shank but rig like a tube and these OPST shanks come with smoothly rounded ends saving me the time it takes to round the ends of a hook cut off with wire cutters. I have used these shanks extensively for about 3 months now and am pleased with the results. Oh yes, I should note that these shanks are perfect for use with beads and cone heads – but can also be used with barbell/dumbell eyes too.
OPST Dumbell Eye Shanks. While These are specifically intended for use with dumbbell eyes, I find that I like to use these on unweighted flies also, simply because I like the large size of the looped eye. These also work with beads and cones if the ID of the bead/cone is sufficient to accommodate the return of the eye, and many are. Overall, I find that these are my preferred shanks.
OPST Swing Hooks. In short, these are FANTASTIC HOOKS. The points are sticky sharp, the points are slightly in-turned and offset, and the hooks are already barbless. The steel is stout but not overly stout. These are almost but not quite straight eye hooks so they are best suited to attachment with a clinch or non slip loop knot and junction tubing. Overall, these are the best new hooks I’ve seen on the Intruder scene; so my opinion aside, I urge you to take a look and see what you think.
I like the sizes too, and I’ll be using the 1/0 hooks for Chinook this season. So far, I LOVE these hooks! I’ll be tying Clousers on these in 2015, no doubt about it.
OPST Lazar Running Line. This is very good running line (shooting line if you insist) for use behind all of our Spey fly line heads. The mono is as memory free as any I’ve ever used, does a decent job of floating (not perfect just good), and I like the wide range of sizes available. I have used the sizes between #25 and #50 lbs depending on the Skagit head, and like them all. I suggest the #40 and #50 if you are fishing heavy tippets, just to be sure you save your head if you get hung on a mid river rock. Very nice stuff and worth a closer look.
OPST Dubbing Spinner. At first glance, this seemed just an ordinary dubbing spinner and I have used many, including a Sheppard’s hook and the Stonefo Elite Dubbing Spinner that I recently reviewed. A closer look at the OPST spinner gave me pause. First thing I noticed was that it didn’t roll off my fly bench like many spinners with round weighted bodies do. That’s nice. Second thing I noticed was that it is heavier than the various dubbing spinners I’ve been using. I found that this extra weight has been a distinct asset when I’m spinning a lot of materials in a single loop. For these “composite” loops, I use Danvilles 210D waxed thread because it is strong and tacky. I’ll include Marble Fox, Ostrich, Lady Amherst Pheasant tail, and flashabou with Ice Dub and twirl up an amazing concoction. The added weight and easy to insert hook on the OPST Dubbing Spinner – together – made my spinning more certain and less likely to fumble in the middle of the process. Oh well, we fly tiers do live for specialty tools for specialized applications, and this is a fun little discovery.
OPST Barred Ostrich Drabs (Plumes). Excellent pair of plumes with one larger and one smaller plume per pack. I have not found a better fluffy Ostrich with as nice a set of black bars as these.
Hands down, I want these plumes on my bench when I’m tying Intruders. The practice of bundling a larger feather with a smaller feather is standard in the fly materials industry (as you will see when you purchase a pair of Peacock eyed tail feathers). I’ve been through many packs of the OPST Ostrich plumes and always get one great plume, sometimes get two great plumes, and sometimes one plume is considerably smaller than the other. I have found that that smaller plume in the pack is usually perfect for dressing butts on my Intruders, so there is no waste if I’m smart about using the proper length herl on the proper size fly. The smaller plumes are also perfect for my Micro Intruders.
Other OPST Products. These include trailer hook wire, Junction Tubing, Dotted Ostrich Drabs, Skagit lines, and a variety of SIMMS gear with the OPST logo imprinted on it. I have not used any of these but judging by the quality of the products I have first hand experience with assure me that these will be first rate gear as well.
The Caddis Fly Shop makes regular orders from OPST, so if you want some of their products as part of your regular order, please call or shoot us a note or comment on your ask if we can fill your OPST shopping list. We appreciate people like Ed Ward, and Jerry French (and Benjamin Paull ha ha!) who are supporting our fly tying and fishing passion, striving to keep our product line current and innovative, recognizing that there are many existing as well as new gizmos that are fun and effective to tie with.
Jay Nicholas – May 2015