Willamette Valley Guided Stillwater Fly Fishing

We now offer guided stillwater fly fishing trips. Guide Adison Rook has been exploring fly fishing opportunities in local reservoirs and lakes for several years now, and he is ready to share. Adison utilizes modern fly tactics to successfully target multiple species. These trips offer a diverse fishing experience for the angler, with the opportunity for both bass and trout in a single session. Some of these bodies of water offer “by catch”, from Bull trout to Crappie. Half, and full day trips are possible, depending on client availability and best fishing times. Full day trips include snacks, lunch, and drinks. Lunch on a full day can be a sandwich you munch in between casts or a shoreside BBQ. All flies and fishing gear are provided on these trips. Anglers only need to bring a fishing license, the clothes you are comfortable fishing in for the given conditions, and a pair of polarized sunglasses. These trips offer a variety of fishing techniques from dries to indicators, loch style fishing to anchored up with sinking lines, depending on the season and location. At the moment these trips are for one angler only.  

Book your trip today, and discover underutilized waters that have potential to put you on fish that you didn’t even know were on our radar! These trips are available from February-July depending on the year. Call the shop at 541-505-8061 to reserve your date.

Pricing: $450 Full Day $300 Half Day $50 Military Discount is available.

Areas we go for Stillwater trips include the following.

Lookout Point Reservoir – This body of water has poor trout fishing, but it can offer excellent smallmouth bass fishing with little fishing pressure. Smallmouth gravitate to indicator rigs, and sinking lines are utilized in this Reservoir. 20-50 fish days are possible with the right conditions. We catch the occasional long nose sucker, crappie, largemouth,  and walleye swim in these waters so it’s a real possibility that you can stick one on a fly!

Hills Creek Reservoir – Quite possibility our troutiest option of all. With a higher elevation than most of our local reservoirs, and a stocking program, this place holds up better than most other local stillwater trout fisheries. This Reservoir is a steep canyon reservoir,  sinking lines reign supreme.  Very limited shoal area means a limited opportunity to fish indicator rigs.  There are some areas of the lake to fish indicators, but plan on this trip being mostly sinking line oriented. “By catch” here includes landlocked Chinook salmon,  crappie, largemouth bass,  and we’ve even had Bull Trout eat our flies while pursuing these stocked trout.

Dorena Reservoir: A balanced option for trout and bass, both largemouth and smallmouth. This reservoir has the potential to fish a variety of techniques in a day as well pending on conditions. It can offer quality class fish. There is a variety of habitat to prospect, as this reservoir offers everything from bluff walls for smallmouth to some shoal area with trout and largemouth.

Cottage Grove Reservoir: We have an absolute sleeper in our backyard here in the Willamette valley.  A truly unique opportunity. Cottage Grove Reservoir was known for quality largemouth bass for years. And it still produces quality largemouth today. But these fish  have been displaced by the Spotted Bass. This is one of two reservoirs in the state you can pursue these fish. These fish are much more susceptible to eat small flies than largemouth, but their growth rate far surpasses that of a smallmouth.  These fish grow big! Fish to 5 pounds are pretty common,  with many fish 2-3 pounds the norm.  We catch the majority of these fish on indicator rigs, with some opportunities for poppers and sinking lines. This reservoir has trout, with largemouth along with some huge crappie as by catch. This fishery is a rare opportunity to catch a fish you’ve probably never even heard of before. 

Posted in Fly Fishing Travel, Oregon fly fishing links, Oregon Fly Fishing Tips, Oregon Warmwater Fly Fishing | 2 Comments

Summer Steelhead in the Willamette Basin

It’s been a few years since we have seen a hatchery summer steelhead run with any consequential numbers. 2024 looks to buck the trend with 7,000 and counting fin clipped, ready for the BBQ, summer fish.

If the counts on the chart above continue as they did 2000-2017, we could see a really good number of summer steelhead in both the McKenzie, and Willamette Rivers. Fish are currently spread out a bit, moving through the system with spring flows. We have found them in the “town run” on the Willamette near Eugene, the lower McKenzie, the upper ( above Leaburg) McKenzie, and in the Middle Fork of the Willamette from Dexter Dam down to Island Park in Springfield. These fish will take a swung fly nicely, and we have you covered with proven patterns like Sen’s Sylvenator, M.O.A.L Leeches, Marabou Tubes and more. A short sink tip will easily ply the buckets of the Willamette, as the water drops a floating line is just fine. 5-7wt two handers and 6-7wt single handed rods handle these fish. Fluoro tippet in 1x gets the job done, or you can use good old Maxima 12lbs and reef on them all you want.

The water is in perfect shape to fish the Willamette in town, and the rest of the basin’s rivers are steadily dropping and warming. May and beyond are a great time to get out there and catch a summer steelhead.

Happy Memorial Day

Posted in Fishing Reports, Lower Willamette, McKenzie River, Middle Fork Willamette River fishing, Summer Steelhead | Leave a comment

Winter Perdigon Fly Pattern

In this video, Greg ties a winter perdigon fly pattern that is small and heavy to get down to the fish that typically hold in the deeper pools during the cold winter months.

Inspired by Amy Hazel’s Super Woman fly pattern, this color combination is great for fall, winter, and spring trout in the Sierra and west coast rivers.

Use it with a strike indicator setup or Euro nymphing setup and let us know how they work for you.

Hook: Fulling Mills Jig Force Size 20
Bead: Tungstern 2.8mm Silver
Thread: Danville Fly Master Plus 6/0 Orange
Tail: CDL Brown
Body: Veevus Holographic Tinsel Med. Blue
Hot Spot: Solarez Black
Adhesive: Loon UV Flow

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“Skwopper” Skwala/Hopper: Dry Fly Tutorial

In this video, Simon ties a versatile dry fly which makes a great searching pattern in the Spring and Fall. Skwalas are spring stoneflies that, if you time it right, trout can go nuts for. The further East you go from out home in the Willammette Valley, the more relevant these insects become. The Yakima up North gets a significant hatch, along with the Owyhee and the Bitterroot out East. We do see some skwalas here in the valley each Spring, so having some can make for a great searching pattern with a dropper on a nice Spring day. The issue with some flies is that they are single use for one hatch. This fly aims to solve that issue and can double as a hopper in the fall. There is nothing worse than loading you box up with one type of insect which hatches for a short window, and then those flies take up space in your box until next year. During the fall any leftover Skwoppers make a great searching pattern during hopper season. The fly is suggestive of a hopper or skwala and is buoyant enough to run a hopper below. The hackle can also be trimmed when you want it to ride lower. Colors and sizes can be adjusted based on your fishery’s needs.


Hook- Ahrex 570 Dry Long: Size 8

Thread- Semperfli Olive Nanosilk: 50D

Eggsack- Hareline Senyo’s Fusion Dub: Midnight & Hareline Ice Dub: Peacock

Dubbing- Hareline Microfine Dry Dubbing: Sulphur Yellow & BWO Grey Olive

Foam- Hareline 2mm Hi-Float Foam: Hopper Tan

Legs- Montana Fly Company Small Barred Sexi-Floss: Olive

Hackle- Whiting Saddle: Grizzly Dyed Olive

Wing- Dyed Deer Body Hair: Olive

Resin- Solarez Bone Dry

Bobbin- Stonfo Steeltech Bobbin

Additional Tools/Materials- Dr Slick Hair Stacker & Hareline Overton’s Wonder Wax

Vise- Renzettti Traveler 2304

Posted in Fly Tying, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Molalla and Umpqua Bass Bashes June 2024

Join us on Saturday, June 22nd

on the Molalla or the Umpqua

for a bashing good time!

Join us for an exciting weekend of conservation and fishing fun! On Saturday, June 22nd, the Native Fish Society invites you to participate in either our third annual Umpqua Bass Bash, or our inaugural Molalla Bass Bash! Whether you’re in Southern or Northern Oregon, there’s bass to be caught by all. Umpqua Bass Bash Details:

After two fantastic years, we’re expanding the Umpqua Bass Bash to accommodate more participants for a weekend filled with fun. Hosted at Tyee Campground on the Umpqua River, this event will help remove smallmouth bass from the river while raising awareness about the impact of invasive species on native fish and the ecosystem.

  • What: Third Annual Umpqua Bass Bash
  • When: Saturday, June 22nd
  • Where: Tyee Campground, Umpqua River, OR

We’ve reserved 12 campsites at Tyee Campground for Friday, June 21st, and Saturday, June 22nd. Feel free to stay overnight and make the most of the weekend!

On June 22nd, participants will enjoy a day of fishing for smallmouth bass, informative presentations about native fish conservation, raffle prizes, and delicious food. Even if you can only join us for the day, we’d love to see you there. Please register to let us know you’re coming, so we can plan accordingly.

Molalla Bass Bash Details:

For the first time, we’re also bringing our bass bash event closer to Portland, specifically to the Molalla River. Starting from Canby Community Park, we’ll fish to remove smallmouth bass and raise awareness about their negative impact on native fish and the Molalla River.

Similar to the Umpqua event, the Molalla Bass Bash promises a day of fishing, informative presentations, raffle prizes, and tasty food. Register now to secure your spot and help us make a positive impact on the river.

Save the Date: Mark your calendars for June 22nd and get ready for a fun day of fishing and conservation. Stay tuned for more details coming soon!

If you have any questions or need more information about these events, don’t hesitate to reach out to NFS Northern Oregon Coordinator Liz Perkin at liz@nativefishsociety.org for Molalla details, or NFS Southern Oregon Coordinator Kirk Blaine at kirk@nativefishsociety.org for Umpqua details.

We hope you’ll join us!

Kirk Blaine

Southern Oregon Coordinator 


Dr. Liz Perkin

Northern Oregon Coordinator


Posted in Oregon Conservation News, Oregon Fly Fishing Clubs and Events, Oregon fly fishing links, Oregon Fly Fishing Tips, Oregon Warmwater Fly Fishing, Southern Oregon | Leave a comment

Hendricks Bridge Boat Ramp Closure

Hendricks Bridge Boat Ramp closure starting 05-13-24

From Lane County Parks

I’m reaching out to inform you about an urgent matter regarding debris cleanup at Hendricks Bridge. As you may know, it served as the staging area for debris collection after the recent ice storm. It’s imperative that we prioritize the removal of this debris before the onset of fire season.

I received notification this morning that Lane Forest Products will need to be in the park with a tub grinder starting Monday to assist with the cleanup efforts. Unfortunately, this means that the boat ramp will need to be closed during the week to accommodate their work. They have assured us that the ramp will be open during the weekends, but it will need to be closed again the following week.

I understand that this closure comes at an inconvenient time, especially during the fishing season, and I apologize for any inconvenience it may cause. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in this matter.

Posted in Fishing Reports, McKenzie River, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Local Waters on the Drop – Fishing Improving

Quite a few McKenzie Green Caddis out this afternoon. PMD’s, Brown Caddis and a few late March Browns were on the water after 2pm. The high cold water is beginning to dissipate, look for hungry fish to start looking up more. Dry fly fishing has been tough, but later in the day more fish are active on the surface. This trend is only going to improve! Have fun out there.

Posted in Fishing Reports, Lower Willamette, McKenzie River, Middle Fork Willamette River fishing | Leave a comment

Early May Fishing Report 2024

High water and cold water temps have been the norm of late. Fishing has still held up on the McKenzie River near Eugene. Blips of sunshine have shown what’s to come. Pale Morning Duns, Green McKenzie Caddis, stonefly adults, Little Yellow Stones and assorted caddis have been emerging. With the nice weather to come, we should see a lot more in terms of hatches in the near term.

Water temps have remained really cold. During the day water temps move up and fishing has been best between 1-6pm. Once the current “melt off” related to all the recent rains pushes through, we will see temps move up, and remain more stable. Temps in the 46-51 range give us more productive fishing the entire day.

Levels seem to have crested so look for lower water in the days ahead.

Nymphing remains the most productive method. Make sure you have black and brown stonefly nymphs, and get them near the bottom. It’s time to start thinking hopper dropper over pure strike indicator set-ups as fish will smash a big salmon or golden stonefly. Have fun out there!

Posted in Fishing Reports, Lower Willamette, McKenzie River, Middle Fork Willamette River fishing | Leave a comment

Local TU Chapter: The Redsides: News and Notes

Our next in-person meeting will be on Monday, May 20th at the PublicHouse in Springfield from 6 to 8 pm in The Study room (adjacent to the Beer Hall). In addition to the great food, drink, and company, we’ll have Trout Unlimited’s Oregon Policy Director James Fraser on hand. James will talk about recent and current TU efforts and projects in the state. Please join us!
Board Members & Chapter Officers Wanted! Are you interested in helping to plan future Redsides events and efforts? We’re looking for new Board Members and a chapter Treasurer to help us with chapter operations and our strategic planing, and would love to have you join us. Please reach out to Jesse Robbins, jesselancerobbins@gmail.com.
Links, News, Events & Media
Caddis Fly Shop’s McKenzie & Willamette Rivers Resource Guide

The next Snake River Dinner Hour, a monthly webinar series for folks to learn more about saving salmon, honoring treaty obligations, and creating solutions for Northwest communities, is on May 14th. Click here to learn more and register.

The TU Western Regional Rendezvous will be held in Idaho Falls, ID from May 17 – 19. Click here for more info.

Learn all about TU’s Priority Waters here.Wild steelhead news and updates on the Wild Steelheaders United Blog.

Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) recently concluded that decommissioning Leaburg Dam is the best scenario moving forward. Follow this link to learn more about the decision and here is a list of upcoming EWEB public meetings.

The largest dam removal effort in U.S. history is underway on the Klamath River in southern Oregon. The Reconnect Klamath website is a great resource to stay up-to-date on the removals.

In Eugene, the McKenzie River Trust has a number of upcoming events and volunteer opportunities. Check out their calendar here.

The Oregon Council of Trout Unlimited is another tremendous resource for updates on state-wide conservation news and activity. I highly recommend subscribing to their monthly newsletter for more information.The Instagram channels of the following are more great ways to stay up to date on news and events:
Trout Unlimited nationalTrout Unlimited Oregon
Posted in Oregon Conservation News, Oregon Fly Fishing Clubs and Events | Leave a comment

Mothership Salmon Fly: Dry Fly Tutorial

In this video, Simon ties a great extended body Salmonfly dry fly. Every spring some of the West’s largest aquatic insects make their emergence. The salmonfly often marks the beginning of trout season, and means summer is on the way. Here in Oregon, you may have plans to hit the Deschutes, Rogue, or Umpqua for their legendary Salmonfly hatches. Most of the Western United States sees these insects at some point in the spring. It can be a busy event on some rivers, especially during the height of the hatch. Although the Chubby Cheronobyl is a fantastic fly, during this hatch, these fish see countless Chubbies every day. This is where the Mothership Salmonfly makes a huge difference. The long, extended, and segmented body looks far more natural than other dries often thrown during the hatch. When fish are refusing everything else, a more realistic fly like this can save the day. Fish this fly aggressively near brush, trees, and grassy banks, slapping it on the water suggestive of a salmonfly that just fell in.

The fly features a long shank, wide gap Ahrex hook which is fantastic for this type of foam fly. Hareline Hi-Float Foam is new for 2024 and is ultra buoyant and more durable than past types. This fly is ultra buoyant and would make a great dry for a dry dropper setup. During the sun and heat in the middle of the day on the Lower Deschutes things can slow down. Consider running a dropper below the Mothership Salmonfly. A Small caddis nymph, or a frenchie would be a great choice during the salmonfly hatch. This general blueprint can be repurposed for other stonefly species as well: Gold Stones, Skwalas, Shortwing Stones, Nocturnal Stones, Etc. Tie some up, let us know on instagram how they turn out. Even better, tag us on instagram to show us some big redbands with the Mothership Salmonfly in their mouth on the Lower D this spring!

Mothership Salmonfly 

Hook- Ahrex 570 Dry Long: Size 4

Thread- Semperfli Nanosilk Black: 50D

Body- Hareline 2mm Hi Float Foam Orange, Antron Dub: Orange, Hareline 1mm Ultra Thin Fly Foam: Black, Hareline Webwing: Medium Dun, Copic Markers: Pale Sepia, Blue, Copper, Loctite Brush On

Wing- Montana Fly Company Widow’s Web: Grey, Hareline Krystal Flash: Rootbeer, and Hareline Mule Deer Hair

Legs- Montana Fly Company Medium Barred Sexi-Floss: Orange

Glue- Loctite Brush On

Additional Tools- Stonfo Extended Body Tool, Hareline Bobbin Threader, and Dr Slick Bodkin

Bobbin- Smhaen Tension Bobbin

Vise- Renzettti Traveler 2304

Posted in Central Oregon Fishing Report, Eastern Oregon, Fly Tying, Lower Willamette, McKenzie River, Middle Fork Willamette River fishing, Proven Spring Fly Patterns, Southern Oregon, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writers on the Fly – Saturday April 27th, 2024

WHEN: Saturday April 27th, 2024 6:30PM

WHERE: The Caddis Fly Angling Shop – 168 West 6th ave – Eugene 97401

TICKETS: syzygyflyfishing.com

Writers on the Fly (WOTF), the popular fly fishing reading series and pop-up art show, hits the road again this April with their 2024 West Coast Tour. The Spring tour brings WOTF’s unique mix of fly fishing literature and art to Northern California and Southern Oregon, kicking things off in San Francisco and finishing up in Eugene, OR, four days later.

WOTF began in 2015, establishing itself as one of the most unique, engaging and authentic in-person event series in the fly fishing community. Since its inception, the shows have cycled around the Pacific Northwest with the well-known Cascadia Tour—but this Spring the show expands down the West Coast. 

There’ll be fly fishing stories, local artwork, fisheries conservation, good beer, and great people! The shows feature adventure-holic, writing rambler, Patagonia Fly fish ambassador, and bass whisperer Riverhorse Nakadate andpoet, writer, guide, ski racer and black belt Anne Landfield as well as other, local writers. Featured artists include San Francisco-based artist and angler Sarah Landstrom(at the CA shows) and Grants Pass-based artist and fly fishing guide James Sampsel (at the OR shows).

With our raffles, we’ll be raising funds for CalTroutThe Steamboaters and McKenzie River Trust by raffling off great gear from Sage, RIO Products, and RepYourWater, including fly rods, reels, lines, hats, tees, and more!

Tickets available at the door and online at syzygyflyfishing.com

Posted in Oregon Fly Fishing Clubs and Events, Oregon fly fishing links | Leave a comment

Microflex Strong Arm Merkin: Permit/Trigger Fly Tutorial

In this video Simon ties a killer crab fly for permit, triggers, and all around flats use. It takes inspiration from various crab flies. This particular pattern is tied with heavy tungsten eyes which we chose to show off a new hareline product. The construction of this fly really caters to picky fish, especially in shallow water. For scenarios like this, consider using brass or bead chain eyes. The light body made of microflex lands more gently than other flies. This makes this fly a killer one for fishing places with pressured fish cruising shallow flats. A SL12S from Gamakatsu means this fly will hold up to the largest permit and is trigger safe. The new Microflex Soft Hackle Chenille comes in a variety of colors, so this blueprint can be adjusted to tie countless variations. This fly was taken down to the Bahamas earlier this year and tested and it is bonefish approved too! Tie some up, tag us in your photos on Instagram, and let us know how they fish.

Microflex Strong Arm Merkin 

Hook- Gamakatsu SL12S: Size 2

Thread- Danvilles 140D: Tan

Weight- Hareline Gold Tungsten Eyes: Small

Eyes- Stonfo Plastic Eyes “V” Type

Claws- Hareline Medium & Micro Ultra Chenille: Tan & Markers

Body- Hareline Large Microflex Soft Hackle Chenille: Tan & Solarez Bone Dry

Legs- Hareline Shrimpy Crabby Legs: Tan

Markers- Copic Sketch Markers: Copper & Red

UV Resin- Solarez Bone Dry

Bobbin- Rite Bobbin

Vise- Renzettti Traveler 2304

Posted in Flats Fly Fishing, Fly Tying, Saltwater Fly Fishing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Emergers and Why You Should Fish Them

The term “Emerger” is often heard when discussing fly fishing techniques, but is not always explained in depth. To the novice angler this term can cause more confusion and hindrance than help. The term emerger can refer to a variety of scenarios. They common theme is that this term refers to an insect on its way to the surface to hatch. The importance of this vulnerable state becomes very clear when thinking of feeding from a trout’s point of view.

Note the nymphal shuck this Baetis Dun is emerging out of. Its old “skin” can become a hindrance during hatching which makes it an easy meal for a trout.

Wild trout are subject to the harshness of nature which make them experts of mastering the delicate balance of calories consumed versus calories burnt that keeps them alive. Swimming to the surface to eat a fly burns calories. If that fish is surfacing to eat, they better catch that bug, otherwise it was a waste of their precious energy. This is even more important for trout living in rivers, where holding their feeding position costs more energy than one in a lake. Trout prefer to surface and eat insects which are vulnerable, which in turn, makes them an easier meal. It’s a game of odds, and surfacing to a emerging insect increases that trout’s odds of returning to the bottom with an insect in their mouth.

Here is a real Baetis Dun stuck in its nymphal shuck. As you scroll down you will see it emerge.

An emerger is a broad term that refers to an aquatic insect that is surfacing to shed its exoskeleton and turn into a winged adult. This can be in the center of the water column on their way up, just below the surface of the water, or in the surface film where the insect is shedding its skin. Generally, the two latter situations is what most people are talking about when referencing emergers. When insects are rising to the surface in the water column, I like to refer to them as an “ascending” nymph. This distinction is important because fly choice and your approach changes when imitating an ascending nymph.

As the Dun emerges, it leaves behind a shuck. The fish often see this and can single out an emerging insect. A good emerger fly pattern has a shuck towards the rear of the fly.

The surface tension can be incredibly taxing for an already exhausted nymph to penetrate, and the trout know this. When you see trout feeding directly below the surface this is often what these fish are feeding on. If fish are breaking the surface, but ignoring your dry fly they may be keyed in on insects which are struggling to break free from their old skin or “nymphal shuck” they are shedding. Due to the nymphs being exhausted, distracted, or stuck in their old skin, focusing on meals like this help trout increase their odds of successfully feeding.

This Dun is almost fully emerged, but it has kinked its wing on its way out. This is one of the many ways a failed emergence can happen. If the insect cannot get its wing dry/upright we would then consider it a stillborn or a cripple.

For insects just below the surface or in the surface film, there must be an element of buoyancy present to help suspend the fly in the film. Here are some of our favorite emerger patterns for targeting fish feeding closer to the surface: Film Critic, X2 Caddis, CDC Emerger, or a Poxyback Emerger. All of these flies contain a shuck or the rear is dropped into the water to imitate an insect shedding its old skin. For nymphs which are ascending to the surface from the riverbed, soft hackle type patterns are more appropriate. Here are some shop favorites: Simple Soft Hackle, Partridge and Pheasant, Soft Emerger, or a March Brown Emerger.

For the more buoyant emergers which I listed above, fish them like you would any other dry fly. Often mayflies, caddisflies, and midges do not emerge in rapids. Insects need more calm water to safely emerge without being splashed back under. You’ll often find trout feeding in the middle of runs or especially towards tailouts. This is a place where the freshly hatched insects are funneled to the feeding trout. . If they are too small to see, consider tagging them behind a larger, more visible fly like a Chubby Chernobyl, or Stimulator. Dead drifting these type of emergers, which mimic insects in the film, is the most appropriate way to present these flies.

The second set of emergers listed mimic ascending insects, and the most appropriate way to fish those is to fish them on the “swing”. Cast angled upstream and across with your emerger. A few upstream mends will allow the flies to sink, once they have made their way deeper let your fly line pull tight, and it will swing your flies towards the bank you are standing on. This technique will swing the flies from deep up to the surface, effectively imitating an ascending insect. You may also raise your rod tip during the swing if you spotted a fish feeding, this will exaggerate the ascension even further. You may want to fish this technique with a secondary beadhead nymph in front of your emerger, or some split shot to get your fly down.

Paying attention to the nuances of insect hatches is not essential to have a successful day on the water, some may say the advantages are only marginal. During large, consistent hatches fish have the luxury of being picky and choosing easier meals over others. During extremely large “blanket” hatches this is even more important as you must offer something that stands out as an easy meal. Fish also choose to feed on vulnerable prey, emerging aquatic insects are one of the many vulnerable states that trout key in on. For these reasons, fishing emergers can be advantageous when targeting trout. Most importantly, studying the intricacies of aquatic insect hatches will give you a deep sense of the interconnectedness of the ecosystems we choose to recreate in.


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Korkers River Ops Review

A quick look at the River Ops Lace, it also comes in a BOA model.

Korkers is a well known boot manufacturer which originated in our backyard here in the Northwest. They have made quite the name for themselves locally as a fantastic boot manufacturer. Their story started helping create footwear for loggers sending logs down rivers. They needed a solution which allowed the men to grip to the wet logs. Some old tires and carbide spikes is what started their legacy. Soon after they were making wading footwear for steelhead fishermen on the notoriously slippery Umpqua river and the rest is history. Now they are a force to be reckoned with in regards to quality, modular footwear of all types. Today we are focused on their wading footwear and accessories; to be specific their “River Ops” boot.

Korkers River Ops boot is their “guide” boot; meaning it is their toughest, most robust boot they offer. It would have to hold up to the use and abuse a guide would put them through season after season. The boots come in two distinct models: Lace up and one with a “BOA” lacing system. For this review, I am speaking on behalf of my experience with the lace up model. These boots feature a robust construction and despite their bombproof build, they are surprisingly light and comfortable. My favorite features of these boots are: The ability to swap soles, synthetic/non-absorbent construction, depressed stitching, and robust construction which provides exceptional ankle support. Below I will go into more depth on the features I love.

The “EVA” midsole contributes support and cushion making this boot a treat to hike in.

Exo-Tec: is Korker’s synthetic composite outer which wicks water away while still providing support. The synthetic feature of the construction allows for these boots to remain extremely light while they are wet, and dry off even faster after a day on the river. This feature also aids in being able to hike longer, as the boots do not absorb as much water and remain much lighter than others. Boots that stay soggier longer in your garage deteriorate quicker. I often find my boots are almost dry by the next day.

Notice the hexagon shape synthetic upper. This is what helps provide such good support for these boots while keeping them so light.

Protected Stitch: This is one of my favorite features of this boot. The River Ops feature depressed stitching on almost every seam of the boot. This means that abrasions from rocks, logs, etc. will not fray your stitching. The stitching of your boots is arguably the most important aspect and Korkers did a great job providing this feature on their higher end models like the River Ops, Devils Canyon, & Darkhorse.

Note the depressed stitching along the seams. Most of the seams on this boot are protected in this same fashion.

Internal Drain: This is a brilliant feature of Korkers wading boots which is made possible by their modular sole system. Excess water drains from the inside of the boot through ports where the soles meet the boot. This is especially apparent when stepping out of the water, you can see excess water exit the boot. This makes the hike to your next spot more enjoyable.

These boots have some seriously hydrophobic properties and shed water very fast.

Ankle Support: This boot provides excellent ankle support. This is why I originally chose these boots, and it is why I just replaced my original ones with another pair. I grew up skateboarding so my ankles need all the extra support they can get. I sometimes find myself exploring a new stream far out of cell service by myself and it makes me feel safe knowing my boots will properly support my ankles and I will not have a problem.

The Exo-Tec, hard heel cup, and ankle wrap integrated into the boot give it some of the best ankle support out there in a wading boot.

Soles: The feature everyone knows Korkers for is their modular soles. This is a wonderful feature that allows one pair of boots to do it all. Felt is a fantastic sole option here in the Northwest, but it also is great at harboring bacteria and other invasive species. Some states even outlaw felt, the nice thing about these boots is that you can constantly mix and match different soles without having to buy a different pair of boots all together. All boots come stock with two soles, and the River Ops is the only boot to come stock with Vibram soles. From the factory, you can either order Vibram and felt, or studded Vibram and standard Vibram soles. There are 9 sole options that are compatible between the Omnitrax Series and the Triple Threat Series of Soles. My favorite all around sole for local fishing is the studded felt sole.

Take your pick of the 9 sole options with Korkers wading boots. My favorite is their Studded Felt.

I cannot recommend these boots enough. Often when helping a customer pick what’s right for them, I go to the products that have served me well, that I have great experiences with. The River Ops checks all the boxes for me and I was so happy with my first pair, that when it was time for a fresh pair of boots, it was a no brainer on what I was getting. The boots start at $259 for the standard lace, and jump to $299 for the BOA version. Your boots are arguably your most important piece of gear next to your rod, fly line, and fly choice. Good boots are not necessarily essential to catch a fish, but they are an essential piece of gear needed to keep you upright and not floating down the river. They are the only piece of gear to carry you around that riverbend to the next hole.


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Cool Nights Slow Mornings on the McKenzie

There is no rush to get out there on these cold mornings. I kept close track of water temps yesterday with my new Fishpond Digital Thermometer and there was a swing from 45-50 degrees between 830 and 5pm. Once water temps moved to 47-48 degrees, Grannom Caddis, Blue Winged Olives, and March Browns were present. Needless to say fishing improved. Nymphing was the most productive method for us yesterday.

Water levels remain excellent, and the forecast is for cold nights to end in the next couple of days. Fishing should really ramp up when we see nighttime temps move into the 40s.

Best Fly Patterns to have on hand for the McKenzie and Willamette include: Jigged Girdle Bug, CDC Hot Spot Pheasant Tail, Croston’s Full Metal Jacket, Split Case BWO, Extended Body March Brown, Hi and Dry Western March Brown, Morrish’s May Day March Brown, Beadhead March Brown Emerger, March Brown Soft Hackle Spider, Klinkhammer March Brown, Possie Bugger, Antonio’s Superman Caddis, Black Caddis, Burkus Bearback Rider.

Posted in Fishing Reports, Lower Willamette, McKenzie River, Middle Fork Willamette River fishing | Leave a comment