Coming Up Caddis: Deschutes River Report

You may not know me. I’m new to the Caddis Fly Shop family. Chris hired me to help with writing product descriptions and general upkeep. I am extremely lucky and thankful to be able to blend my passion for fly fishing with work and still get paid for it!

Anyways, my dad and I had the good fortune of floating the Deschutes last week from Warms Springs to Trout Creek. The Caddis flies were out in force and since it was the middle of the week the river was practically empty save for a few rafters and guides.

Our first few stops saw my dad hooking into with a couple smaller redsides. He was using a small X-Caddis pattern, and the fish went after it with gusto.

Fishing below Luelling River Retreat with our pontoons!

At one point we were separated. I was further up, fishing in front of the Luelling property, and my dad was 200 yards downriver. I floated down to see how he was faring, and he immediately waved me over. He’d seen three large torpedoes cruising close to the bank. He had been nymphing but after one of them smashed a Caddis adult, he switched to a dry. After four or five casts I asked to grab some of his 5x tippet since I had run out. He turned to grab some and I saw a mammoth fish smash his size 16 X-Caddis.

“Woa!” I yelled and he set the hook without even looking.

We saw him jump once, and then the leviathan was off to the races. Directly downstream from us was a tree and it took all my dads skill to keep the rod between a two-foot gap in the branches. I ran downstream. If he continued to run or if he got caught in the tree, our only chance would be for me to maybe somehow grab the line and coax him into the net without breaking him off. It was a long shot, and I knew it.

My dad recovered some line and the fish was at my feet. I saw the line had caught on an underwater branch. It’s over, I thought. He’d brake off and return to the depths.

Miraculously, the fish decided to run upriver, which untangled him from the branch, but danger still threatened. Since the rod was between two sets of branches, my dad couldn’t lift it to get leverage.

“He’s coming up,” I yelled to him. He reeled like crazy.

This monster hit a #16 olive body X-Caddis!

I got right above my dad and held the net ready. Soon the fish slipped right in with his head and tail sticking out of the 18” long net. He measured longer than my elbow to fingertips with a beautiful purplish-red stripe down the side of his body. We snapped a picture and set him loose. Our hearts still thumping in our chest we watched him swim away, our faces plastered with idiot grins.

The next day dawned cloudy and threatened rain. It was humid and thunder seemed possible. We broke camp and I tried nymphing above Grassy Camp. Thankfully my luck had changed from the day before and I hooked into a few small ones and a nice sixteen incher. They all had taken a size 18 CDC Pheasant Tail.

I managed to get this guy to net thanks to a #18 CDC Pheasant Tail Nymph!

We stopped at Frog Creek where my dad proceeded to catch monster after monster all on an #16 olive body X-Caddis. I couldn’t get a fish to move even though I was using a size 16 olive body Elk Hair Caddis. However, just above Frog Creek a massive fish smashed my #16 Parachute Adams, but after a fight in strong current he got off. When I recovered the fly I saw he’d bent the hook almost straight!

We missed the brunt of the storm, and only had to sit through a minor shower and a tiny bit of thunder. All too soon it was time to take out. It’d been a great trip with beautiful weather and even better fishing! I can’t wait to go back next week!

Heading towards takeout at Trout Creek. Can't wait to go back!

Summary: Slim body Caddis patterns were the name of the game this trip. My dad killed it with a #16 olive body X-Caddis, but a similar sized Missing Link Caddis would work too. Best places were behind overhanging trees and the soft current next to fast moving water. I had some success with a similar sized Parachute Adams, but a more imitative Caddis pattern was much more successful. For nymphs #18 CDC Pheasant Tails worked well for me in tandem with a larger Sparkle Pupa. I didn’t get many bites on the Pupa, but it was good as an anchor fly to get the PT down farther under an indicator. Nymph patterns seemed to work best early in the day, and in shady spots in soft water.

Bryan Robinson

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