Saturday Shoutout / Kharlovka

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If you’ve ever dreamed of skating a fly for Atlantic Salmon, this film will make your heart pound.

Almost a mythical beast, the Atlantic Salmon excites anglers like no other species. With runs dwindling and the future of this fish in doubt, it’s wonderful to see steps being taken to preserve them and their habitat.

Take a trip to the Kharlovka Atlantic Salmon Preserve, with film maker jako Lucas, and get a gleams of the past, and if we are all very lucky, maybe the future.


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Tim Rajeff’s Double Haul Master Class

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This video can teach you to fly cast and double haul like a pro.

When I asked Tim Rajeff for some tips on the double haul, I got way more than I expected. In just under 4 minutes Tim gave the best presentation I’ve ever seen on fly casting. If you want to improve your fly casting, get more distance and control and cast like a rockstar, take a few minutes to watch this video.


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Winter Steelhead, Consistency Is King

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Let’s be honest, winter steelheading is a pretty tough game.

Summer runs can get downright giddy in comparison to the cold, dark days of winter. Swinging flies in tough conditions, for migrating fish whose numbers are small, when they are there at all, is just not for the faint of heart. Although the odds are slim, the rewards are great. There’s nothing like the feel of a heavy winter fish on the line.

In every fishing challenge, we try to stack the odds in our favor. To do that effectively, we must first understand why the fishing is challenging. In the case of winter steelhead, there are a couple of factors in play, which make or job harder than normal.

Winter fish are on a mission. All steelhead spawn at the same time. The timing of the runs is just when the fish enter the river. Summer fish come in early and hang out in the river, becoming more like trout in their habits. They have nothing to do but hang out and grab flies. Winter fish come in hot to spawn. Fish entering the river in March may only be in the river for a week or two. They have a sense of purpose and that purpose does not include eating flies.

All fish are less aggressive in cold water. Hanging out in 40 degree water doesn’t put any of us in the best mood. It’s the same for steelhead. You will simply get fewer eats from any given fish in cold water than in warmer water.

Of course the biggest reason that winter steelhead are so tough to catch is there are just fewer of them. Fewer every day, it seems. The fish who do make the winter run are covering a lot of water quickly, so any time you are swinging the fly in winter you have to wonder if there are even fish to see it. Well, don’t give up. The fish are there and I’m going to give you a tip on how to catch them.


Swinging flies for winter steelhead is all about covering water effectively. It’s not just a matter of

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4 Tips to Get You Roll Casting Like a Pro

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You’ve just spotted a big head break the surface on the far bank, gulping down a struggling mayfly drifting in the foam. The excitement of discovering the trophy trout feeding triggers your body’s adrenaline glands, and almost instantly, you feel your heart begin to pound, thump thump….thump thump. With the confined quarters and lacking room for a back cast, you realize your only viable option to reach the fish is going to be with an accurate roll cast. As you quickly try to present your mayfly imitation in the feeding lane, hoping that the big fish will mistake it for a natural, your fly shoots left of your intended target and lands in an overhanging branch above the fish’s lie, immediately putting down the big fish. With the fishing opportunity blown and the disappointment setting in, you find yourself asking, “What did I do wrong?”

As an avid small stream trout fisherman, I’ve lived out this exact situation many times, and felt the disappointment followed by a poorly executed roll cast. It wasn’t until I took the time to understand and learn the mechanics of proper roll casting, that I began finding myself capitalizing on fishing situations that called for precise roll casting. Looking back now on my past roll casting insufficiency, it’s clear I wasn’t at all, alone. There’s many anglers that struggle with roll casting, and that’s why I’ve decided to provide a short list of tips that’s intended to get anglers roll casting like pros.

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Get the Most Out Of Your Fly Reel

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Odds are, you paid good money for that fly reel, don’t let it go to waste.

One of the most common fish-fighting mistakes anglers make is not making good use of the reel. I see this most commonly in anglers who are making the transition from freshwater to salt, but it exists in all types of fly fishing. Well, maybe not tenkara.

Most modern fly reels have drag systems, which are both powerful and precise. In the old days, fly reel drag did little more than help prevent backlash, but today’s reels are effective fish-fighting machines designed to land fish efficiently. Once you have a feel for using a fly reel, you’ll find that you land more fish and land them quicker.

There are basically two things you need to know about fighting fish with a fly reel: how tight to set the drag and how to fight a fish with the given drag setting. Before I dive into the technical stuff, I will touch on a few basics for those who are completely new to the sport. If you are an advanced angler, skim over the next three paragraphs.

Unlike spinning reels, fly reels are direct drive reels. This means that in order for the spool to spin under drag, your winding hand must let go of the reel. I know, that’s dead obvious, but getting the winding hand off the reel quickly when a fish starts to run is a skill new anglers struggle with.

Your fly reel should have two types of line. Your fly line, the weight of which is matched to your rod. This is the line you cast to deliver the fly. The reel should also have backing. Usually Dacron, the backing is attached to the spool and then to the back end of the fly line. This line is there for fighting big fish which make long runs. It is not as strong as your fly line, so be careful not to put too much pressure on a fish when the backing is out or you may lose your fly line. This is important with large species like tarpon. Backing will also cut like a knife when under tension, so don’t touch it during the fight.

Once the reel is mounted to the rod, the line should come off the front of the reel and make a straight line to the first guide, without touching the frame. When you strip line off the reel in preparation for casting, always pull the line out along the rod. Never strip it off the reel with the line in contact with the frame of the reel. This will damage your line and cause it to twist and tangle.

Setting the drag

There are a couple of important things to consider when setting your drag. The most important is

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The Deschutes River Steelhead Camp, Sept 11-20, 2017

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The Deschutes Steelhead Camp, operated by Jeff Hickman’s Fish The Swing, is one of our most popular trips and many anglers return year after year.

In order to accommodate more anglers we are excited to be extending this year’s trip with an additional group. The trip is broken into 3 groups fishing Sept 11-14, Sept 14-17 & Sept 17-20. You could choose to join us for 3, 6 or all 9 days. The cost for each 3 day session is $2200 and includes guided fishing, instruction, lodging and chef-prepared meals.

The Deschutes steelhead camp is a blast. Jeff’s operations, both here in the states and at his lodge in BC, have a fun mellow vibe. Just good times and good fishing, no attitude or pressure. The Deschutes is a beautiful river and has a fantastic steelhead run. We fish the lower river. The Deschutes is a major cold water tributary of the mid-Columbia, so steelhead bound for all of the rivers of the upper system stray into the lower Deschutes to take advantage of the cool oxygen rich water. You have a chance to catch steelhead that are headed for Idaho there.

The Deschutes is one of the best rivers anywhere to catch a steelhead on a floating line. Casting a dry line is a real pleasure, but when a big steelhead rockets up through eight feet of fast water to eat a small traditional fly, it’s anything but relaxing. The steep canyon walls offer us plenty of shaded water through the day to take advantage of the dry line bite, and even wake dry flies. It’s super fun fishing!

We run up river in jet boats to the campsite and use that as our base. There are only a few outfitters licensed to run jet boats on the river. The jets give us the ability to access fresh water any time we like, which is huge. After we get settled in at camp and have a bite to eat, we hit the river and fish until dark. The next two days we start fishing before first light and fish until lunch. We return to camp for a hot lunch and a big nap, then head back out in the afternoon as the shadows fall on the river and fish until dark. Then we have a big dinner (the food is awesome) maybe a drink or two, and hit the sack. The last day we fish until lunch and head back to the boat ramp.

Jeff and his crew set the camp in advance. You arrive to a big stand-up tent with cots and sleeping pads. All you need to bring is a sleeping bag and pillow. There is a screened dining tent, a tent with a camp toilet and a shower tent. There is electricity from a bank of solar cells and batteries. It’s ridiculously nice. There are also ample public composting toilets along the river if you prefer those.

The river is beautiful and the stars at night are amazing. You can see the milky way clear as a bell. The water is beautiful. There are great steelhead runs everywhere you look and dramatic rapids. It’s fishing

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Sunday Classic / Gary Merriman Ties The Tarpon Toad

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Watch the Video!


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Saturday Shoutout / Simon Says Streamers

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Watch the Video!

Here’s an excellent streamer tutorial from Simon Gawesworth.

This video, part of RIO’s “How To” series, features two of my favorite people. Simon Gawesworth and Rob “Silent Bob” Parkins throw streamers on the South Fork and Simon does an excellent job imparting serious wisdom.

Simon covers virtually every technique you need to be a successful meat chucker. If you’re looking to up your streamer game, this is a great place to start.


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Shea Gunkel’s Radiation Baetis

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By Bob Reece

The creation of some fly patterns results purely from the need to fill a niche.

Others however, result from a blending of emotions and experience. This latter path of development leads signature Umpqua tyer Shea Gunkel to the creation of his Radiation Baetis.

Moms are in integral part in many of our lives. A couple years ago, Shea received news that his mom had been diagnosed with cancer. His heartfelt emotion drove him to create a new pattern, the original highlighted with pink, in an effort to raise awareness for cancer and show support for his mom.

The earlier versions of this bug were often pinned in hats and sweaters, where they made frequent trips to chemotherapy treatments. As time passed, Shea began to see the pattern in an additional light. After fishing it heavily and sharing samples with guides around Colorado, on the water success stories began to flow in. Shea then

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Steelhead Flies, Half As Much

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By Louis Cahill


Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but we all do it. I spent an evening like this with a group of friends recently. One of the guys had just started tying his own steelhead flies and they were pretty nice. Beautifully tapered, undulating forms with ostrich hurl and marabou and jungle cock eyes. They looked pretty deadly.

He would sort carefully through the box, selecting the perfect specimen, and passing it to Barrett, our guide. Barrett would give each fly a brief glance and toss it carelessly back across the table.

“Half as much,” he’d say and go back to his drink.

“They’re great flies,” he went on, “and they’ll catch fish, just not as many fish.” The reason is pretty simple. Bulky flies with lots of materials look great, but they don’t sink as quickly or as deep as sparse flies do. That’s one of the reasons simple flies often catch the most fish.

This is never more true than when swinging flies for steelhead. A fly with just enough material to create a

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