7 Ways to Piss off your Guide!

Wanna piss off your next hunting or fishing guide? Here’s a few tried and true tactics that work every time:

The Low-Holer

There are very few things that will piss of a fishing guide more thoroughly than a Low-Holer. A Low-Holer is the customer that plays stupid but their true intention is to learn a guide’s favorite fishing hole  and then low-hole them days or weeks later. A perfect example of this is spending a day on the water with a river guide and then launching early and beating the guide to their absolute can’t-miss spot the very next day. If you really want to be known as the ultimate douche bag on the river…do this!

Showing up at Camp out of Shape

I honestly don’t see how big game hunting guides can consistently get their guests into trophy game animals when most of them show up to camp so out of shape that they’re winded just getting out of the truck. There are so, so many people that really “want” a trophy class animal and truly think they deserve that animal because they shelled out thousands of dollars to hunt with the best guide on the planet. They’ve done their research, found the highest density of trophy game animals on earth, and booked the best guide in the area to help them fulfill their destiny. There’s only one problem…they haven’t set foot in the gym or on the mountainside in years and they think exercise is pushing a pen across the desk. Sorry pal, but you still have to hike your ass off and in some cases run your tail off to make it happen out there in the hills. If you book a trophy hunt do yourself, the guide, and the animal a favor and get yourself in a small modicum of shape long before the hunt starts. Most off all your guide will appreciated it.

Proficiency with Your Weapon

Here’s another conundrum that hunting guides have to deal with – the customer that arrives at camp with a rifle that’s never been sighted-in or a bow string they’ve only plucked but a few times. They’ve communicated to their guide countless times how proficient they are with their weapon. When the time comes to harvest the game animal of a lifetime, however, they’re all over the place.  Most hunting guides will have their guests sight their rifle in before a hunt begins to make sure the rifle is on target and also to see how the hunter reacts to their firearm. This can usually be achieved on the range in just a short time. Getting comfortable with a bow, however, takes many long hours of practice. Get the work done ahead of time and you won’t get “the look” from your hunting guide. The animal deserves this respect also.

Don’t Listen

There’s little worse than the customer that does the exact opposite of what their guide tells them to do and then wonders why they don’t have anything at the end of the day. If you’re guide has a good reputation for getting people into fish or tagging out animals there’s a darn good chance they know what they’re doing. This is generally why women catch more fish on guided trips than men…because they listen. Some men are more concerned with rattling their sabers and sparring with their guides to show them up while the wife is listening intently and catching all the fish.

Damn I’m great…Just Ask Me

They’ve got the perfect cast, the finest of gear, they can hit a gnats ass at 2,000 yards blindfolded, and they’ve harvested the largest specimen of every single living creature on the planet. The DIGJAM is the self-appointed ideal human being. There are some legit DIGJAM’s out there, but they are few and far between. A guide friend who happens to be an ex-Navy Seal took a guy fishing for a few days in search of a world record chum salmon. The guy had broken line class records, world records, casting records, and DIGJAM records all over the world. In the end the guide didn’t get paid and said DIGJAM artist probably shouldn’t set foot in that river valley again. This cat was the perfect combination of DIGJAM and Pay-You-Later. No bueno!

Pay You Later

Most guides that I know live month to month and certainly aren’t guiding because of the money.  They are “living the dream”, so to speak. The deposit you sent in for the trip covers most, but not all of the expenses it takes to run the trip and receiving the final portion of the trip payment barely put’s them into the black. If you leave them with “hey, I’ll get a check in the mail right away” at the end of the trip your guide’s brow will furl and you’ll probably get “the look”. Don’t get lumped in with DIGJAM and Low-Holer…pay the guide their due.

Showing Up Late

Believe it or not ten minutes can spell success or disaster on most hunting or fishing trips on America’s public lands and waterways. This is particularly true on coastal salmon and steelhead streams when the rivers are super low and gin clear and the fish are spooky. If you show up 30 or more minutes late on a day like this your guide will fake like everything is ok, but the little voices in their head are saying “Told you so!” when hole after hole produces nothing. If the guide is new to the business they’ll act like everything is hunky-dory and it was just a “tough day”. Fish with a guide that’s been around for years and I’m afraid those voices in their head will be voices in their mouth. Do yourself a favor and show up on time or even better, a little early. Your guide will appreciate and you’ll hook a few more fish.

These are just a few things you can do to throw your guide into a tail spin. There’s plenty of things that a guide can do to piss off their customers too, and I’ll crank out a short list of those things soon. In fact, you can take some of the items listed above and simply turn them around and they’d fit nicely in the “7 Ways to Piss off a Customer” list. I’ll get to work on that one right away!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Winter Steelhead: Sight vs. Smell

Steve with a winter steelhead caught on a yarnie. Photo by Rob EndsleyAn interesting question came up on my Facebook page the other day that’s often talked about amongst us steelhead fanatics. What’s the most important factor in getting a winter steelhead to strike…sight or smell?

I would say without a doubt that sight, and more importantly presentation, is the biggest factor in getting a winter steelhead to take a swipe at a lure.

Lets talk about presentation first. Whether your chucking spoons, pitching drift gear, floatfishing jigs, flyfishing, backtrolling plugs, hucking pink worms, or slinging bait most winter steelhead are going to want your offering brought in low-and-slow. Flyfishing guide Dennis Dickson has been preaching about this for years and after catching a couple of thousand steelhead myself I fully agree with him.

Now that you’ve got the presentation down the next step in the process of hammering winter steelhead is sight. Winter runs are attracted to brighter colors like pink, orange, peach, cerise, and red to name a few. If you only had a few colors in your vest I’d start with a combination of these colors and go from there. In certain water conditions purples and blacks have their place too, especially for the fly guys.

I guided the spring catch and release fishery for steelhead on the Skagit River system for around 18 years and I can tell you first hand that you don’t need bait or scent to catch steelhead. Don’t get me wrong…bait works great but it isn’t always necessary.That was an incredible fishery in it’s day and it forced me to be adept at catching steelhead using only artificials. If Washington ever went artificials-only for steelhead I wouldn’t miss a beat.

Having said that I will tell you that bait and scents are a great closer though. Steelhead are attracted to baits like sandshrimp, eggs, and coon shrimp at first because of their color. They have a color in their natural or cured state that sucks’em right in.

Once they get a mouthful of any one of these baits we all know what usually happens next…they eat them. It’s the sight of the bait that attracts them at first though and adding a little yarn or a colorful Corkie or Cheater makes this offering even more attractive to a steelhead. Bring’em in with the color and then close the deal with the bait.

Adding scents like sandshrimp, shrimp/anise, or krill to jigs, drift gear, and even plugs can have the same effect. The scent closes the deal once a winter steelhead swings by for a closer look. If I’m adding a gel type scent to a jig I’ll add it to the head only so as not to hamper the jigs movement in the water. Pro Cure has a great line of water-soluble scents that work great on jigs and they don’t matte down the jigs feathers.

If I’m adding scent to a plug, which is rare, I’ll add it to the bill only and not the body of the plug. Part of the plugs attractiveness to a steelhead is it’s metallic shine and scent can definitely diminish that and make the plug less effective. A perfectly clean plug backtrolled at just the right speed, in the right location, will draw just as many strikes as one with scent, however.

Skagit River wild steelhead caught on a swung fly. Photo by Rob EndsleyIf you’re swinging spoons or flyfishing stay away from the scents altogether. Spoons, like plugs, work because of the flash they create and they have a very large zone of attraction.

And, of course, adding scents to a fly isn’t cool at all…leave that one alone and pay your dues. Find the right water type and bring either one of these offerings in low-and-slow and you’ll catch steelhead.

There’s your order of importance for catching winter steelhead. Sight, presentation, and then scent, if need be, to close the dealio. At least that’s how I see it.

Thanks again for stopping by and don’t be afraid to share your steelheading stories over on the Outdoor Line forums. I fish for winter steelhead as much as I can over the course of the season, but on days I can’t fish I’m happy to live vicariously thru others. Good luck to you out there and I hope this was helpful!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

 

 

 

 

New Driftboat – Tricked to the Hilt

By Josiah Darr. When it comes to drift boats there are a fairly endless number of options and accessories available if you have the money and are willing to spend it.

Do you want a metal boat? Fiberglass? Maybe a classic wooden boat? Willie and Koffler make great aluminum boats and Ray’s River Dories makes a wooden boat like none other, but with friends already working for ClackaCraft Drift Boats, knowing how easy they were to row and maneuver, my decision to guide out of a Clack was a no-brainer.

Deciding the model was also a piece of cake. A ClackMax 18’ Sidedrifter with the flat floors and box seating is easily the most versatile and fishermen friendly boat I’ve ever been aboard.

Bill battles another while Ryan, his little brother Owen and their dad Brett look on.

Once the stickers were stuck and the rods were loaded I took to the water. Luckily the fall Chinook fishing here in the Tillamook area has been better than most people ever remember so it didn’t take long to get the boat bloody. And like my warm up trips with friends were supposed to do, they pointed out a few minor oversights in my options and design that I wanted corrected ASAP to dial the boat in even further and essentially create the ultimate river and tidewater killing machine.

Julieanne with her first ever chinook on her first ever trip into the Oregon Coast tidewater.

The first little add-on that was obviously was an oversight when ordering was the fact that there were going to be a lot of times when I needed a kicker besides just the sticks. With a little help from Rodger in shop at Clackacraft and a few minutes the drifter was ready for power.

The small plate Rodger installed not only gave me a place to put my kicker, but it did it in such a way that that I was able to leave the anchor centered. The plate kept the motor just high enough that is cleared the anchor are giving me full mobility. It also kept the motor tipped slightly more upright so the nose of the boat stayed down when I was cruising.

The motor mount easily supports a gas or electric motor.

With the elevated motor mount, the motor can turn freely.

The last little touch I needed just to make the motor mission complete was my prop guard, but not just any prop guard. We’re talking the mother of all prop guards made right here at Clackacraft. Not only is the guard made out of heavy duty galvanized steel right there in the shop, but it’s attached with a compression fitting so no holes need to be drilled in your new kicker. The guard with it’s oversized fin also helped keep the boat plained out when cruising along while deflecting any gravel bars or logs I might hit…..Okay, will hit.

The cage is ready for fish seeking navigation.

The compression fitting only take a few second to install. So easy even I can do it.

Another feature that I quickly realized I couldn’t live without with the bow drop front anchor. It’s so easy to use and when bobber fishing and especially backbouncing. I found out quickly precise boat placement is the difference between one fish and quick limits.

A simple tug on the front anchor rope and the boat settles right into position.

After a trip I realized when I’m running my motor I don’t need the anchor hanging in the way so one more call to the shop and 3-5 business days later the anchor holder was installed and the problem was solved. The anchor is in the water when needed, out of the water and securely stored when it’s not.

The anchor next keep the anchor when fishing or trailering.

Most the extra boat features like a walk-around rowers bench, upgraded Lamiglas oars and the holes drilled for the ability to place and secure the seat boxes depending on the type of fishing and type of fishermen were all already taken care of, but a few more little tweaks to the boat once it was out and fishing took the brand new Clackacraft from a really nice boat to one of the most functional boats on any river, anywhere.

The counterbalanced Lamiglas oars were an easy decision.

When it all comes together, it’s a beautiful thing!

Nate with his first ever backbounced chinook.

It doesn’t get much better than big chinook on the coast in the sun!

World Class boats for world class rivers….

If you’re interested in fishing the Tillamook area rivers for either salmon or steelhead out of my new Clackacraft give me a shout at (206) 660-1490. Fish On!

Josiah Darr – Outdoor Line “Young Gun”
JDarr’s Guided Fishing
Tillamook, Oregon
(206) 660-1490

Storm Introduces Self-Tuning Crank Bait

All I can say is…Finally!

Storm’s new Arashi crank bait could definitely be a game changer. The Arashi comes with a self-tuning eye that eliminates the need to gently bend the eye to the right or left to achieve the proper action. If you’ve ever done this you know how finite the bend needs to be to get some plugs to run true. With the new Arashi plug all the fine tuning has been eliminated.

A friend in the industry tells me that they’ve tested the same technology on deep diving bluewater plugs and they are achieving speeds of up to 15 miles per hour without any rollover. That’s a game changer my friends!

Here’s a look at the self tuning eye of the new Arashi plug.

Crank baits are an essential item in any smallmouth anglers arsenal here in the Northwest and with any luck we’ll start seeing some steelhead and salmon colors in theses plugs soon. For backtrolling in heavy and fast current for both salmon and steelhead the new Arashi plug could be just the ticket.

There’s a complete color chart for the Arashi crank baits on the Storm website…Arashi Crank Baits.

I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a couple of these to test out on fall kings and coho here real soon!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

 

 

Fly Fishing Bears

By Dennis Dickson

Fly fishing BC steelhead rivers is so magical. Sure, we have had our rain outs, wash-outs, busted boats, and broken vehicles. Somehow, these memories all jumble up in a warm and fuzzy place, and I can enjoy them time and time again. As I get older, I find myself pulling out these drawers of memories, for a taste of the good old days.

It would be easy if not tempting, to reduce these fishing stories to, “how many, how big” but that would simply never reveal the whole experience. In the many years of being out in a marvelous land, would you like to know what I most often reflect back on? The people. It simply wouldn’t have been the intriguing experience without the people, and for that, I am forever grateful.

I remember an invitation I accepted to fly fish the fabled waters of the North. Mick was heading North every year now. Frank was going up, too. I became  fishing buddies with both and subsequently jumped at the invitation.

It was there I met Plutonius. His  name was actually Pluto, but Frank dubbed him Plutonius, and somehow the name had stuck.
Plutonius was an artist by trade, and a full blown philanthropist at heart. His life was reduced to generating just enough money painting to spend the remainder of the year fly fishing for steelhead. A true fly fishing bum. A badge which he wore proudly.

Pluto wasn’t what you might call a great fisherman. Mick could cast farther, and Frank consistently brought more steelhead to hand, but Pluto loved his sport and loved the one Bulkley River pool he was successful in. We dubbed this drift the Maple Tree pool and it consistently held steelhead for Pluto each fall.

Instinctively, the other boys in camp seemed to know this. The rest of us fly fishers might jockey with each other to get first water on pools like “Blow Down,” or “Easy Money”, but nobody fished through “Maple Tree.” That was Pluto’s.

Maple Tree was an interesting piece of water. It was actually made up of two pools. Upper Maple had a good head, where the water would enter the pool strong enough that migrating steelhead would often hold before negotiating up through the rapids. The river currents spread beautifully, then scurried into a deep hole that was tucked in delicately close to the river bank.

A wading angler was left with no choice at the deep water but to leave the river and hike around to the downstream side of an ancient maple tree before he could wade back into the stream to fish the lower run. Hence, the Maple Tree pool. On a good day, Pluto could catch steelhead in both the upper and lower pools.

For all his many days in the wilderness, Pluto had his phobia: bears. For some reason, Pluto was deathly afraid of bears.
He bought and carried a magnum .45 pistol. Every day that he was out on the water, this gun came with him. I shudder to think what would have happened if he had ever had to use it. I almost witnessed it once.

Mick and Frank would often engage in drinking games at the end of a long day of fly fishing steelhead. These guys could get pretty soused on occasion before stumbling off to bed, of which I didn’t particularly mind. These both were expert anglers in my opinion, and a hard night of drinking meant a late morning to the water. I never drink so if I happened to fish down the river first, I naturally swam more fish. Pragmatic really. I liked it when they drank.

So this one night Mick and Frank got to drinking and playing. They came up with an idea! They should pretend they have a bear in camp! Now Frank was a big guy and stronger than a bull. Pluto was camped out in the back of his little Ford Courier pickup. Drunken Frank staggered over to Pluto’s truck and leaned his shoulder into it’s canopy.

Drunker than drunk, Frank starts rocking Pluto’s truck back and forth, while growling the most unearthly guttural bear sounds. Awakened by the noise, Pluto launches out of his bed, still in his skivvies, (not a pretty sight) and onto the cold hard ground. It took tipsy Frank all of a New York second to realize ……Pluto is not alone! He has his gun out and, though still half asleep, waving it around, ready to kill anything that moved! Right now that anything was Frank.

Do you know how long it takes to go from sloppy drunk to stone cold sober? I had no idea the human metabolic processes could move so quickly, but one look at that long barrel .45, and Frank fairly dove out into the pitch black Canadian wilderness, with un-clad, gun-waving Pluto in hot pursuit.

All we could hear was, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot! It’s me, Plutonius! It’s me!” Somewhere before dawn, Frank wandered back into camp, and, Pluto went back to bed. Eventually Mick and I stopped laughing, but that might have taken a couple days.

Somewhere in all of this, Frank came up with the idea that the whole thing must have been Pluto’s fault. He must be taught a lesson.
A couple of days later, Mick, Frank, and I spent the day fishing together. I so much enjoyed our time. Somewhere in the course of the day, the subject of Pluto and bears came up.

Now we all knew that in the daily report of who caught what, Plutonius would always innocuously ask, “So, did anybody see any bears?”  Today we thought we would be ready.

The day on the river finished up in fine fashion. I think Mick swam the most steelhead (which was very common), Frank caught the largest, and I had a good time with my friends.

Plutonius always joined in the fishing report ritual, and sure enough he piped in, “So’d, anybody see a bear today?”
Frank in his most straight-faced way answered, ”Yeah, actually Mick ran into one.”

Mick just nodded.

Although we just went on in the conversation as if nothing had happened, Pluto’s mind was smoking.

“So tell me about the bear,” he asked simply.

Mick turned to him and said, “Wow, I am not sure if you are going to believe this but you know how we saw those bear prints down at Home Run Pool the other day?”

Everyone in camp knew Pluto wouldn’t fish any pool that had had any bear activity. It’s just the way it was.

“Yeah…” Pluto hesitates.

“Well this time I stopped in to fish it, and there on the shore was a great big pile of bear pucky and it was like this!” (He is holding his hands out the size of an elephant swat). Frank and I almost lose it right there.

Pluto eyes get big and he says, “NO WAY!”
Heck, he is hooked into this story, already.

“Yup,” Mick continues, “ and guess what? It was still steaming!”

“NO WAY!” Pluto exclaims.

Now Mick is really getting into this. He leans forward as he lies.
He says emphatically, “TOTALLY WAY.”

Plutonius urges, “So what did you do?”

“I did what I came to do,” Mick answered, “I got out and fished.”

“So then what happened?” begged Plutonius.

“At first, I am thinking nothing, and then I hear something in the brush behind me!” Mick says.

“NO WAY!” Pluto yelled. You didn’t stay!”

I swear I thought this poor man was going to have a heart attack right there in camp!

Mick continues, “Absolutely. I see this really big steelhead just roll, right out in front of me. I mean, how could I pass that up? Right?”

“So what did you do?” Pluto kind of whimpered.

“I did what I always do,” Mick stated matter-of-factly, “I went back to fishing, until…..”

“I thought I hung up my fly on the brush in my backcast.” He continued.  “I turn to look, and I hear a huge ‘Woof!’” “Suddenly my fly line is peeling off my reel! Next thing I know, all my fly line, all my backing, is gone….!” Mick leaned back, sucking on his teeth.

“So did you get back in your boat?” Plutonius asks weakly. He is about spent just listening to this tale.

“Heck no. That’s an expensive fly line!” Mick proclaims.  “I went back into that brush to find my fly line, by darn!”

I interrupted, “Did you find it?”  Okay, even I was getting into the fabrication by this time, but it was a great story!

Mick turns from Pluto to me, and says “Yes. I did!  But guess what?”

Everyone in the group says, “What!?”

Mark leans closer to his audience and says really quietly, “When I bent over to pick up the line… it moved.”

Pluto all but screams, “NO WAY!”

Mick can’t hold it anymore, he busts up laughing! Pretty soon everyone is howling with laughter…..everyone but Plutonius. He is still wondering how much of the story is true. We all head off to bed.

Now Pluto was never known as an early riser, partly because he knew that nobody was going to fish Maple Tree before he got there. I really don’t think Pluto’s  gun slinging had anything to do with it, but I may be wrong.

Anyway, so next morning Frank heads his little pontoon raft off down the river like it is just another Bulkley River fishing day. What Plutonius doesn’t realize is that Frank is headed straight for the Maple Tree pool.

Knowing he is at least ten minutes ahead of Pluto, Frank rows his little boat into the shore at the lower end of the pool, pulls in, and stows his little boat and gear in the brush. He hides behind the Maple Tree. It isn’t long before he can see Pluto rowing his own little craft downstream. Pluto is headed directly for Maple Tree.

When you fish a piece of water, day after day, you kind of get it down to a routine. Pluto’s ritual was to park his craft at the head of the pool, wade and fish his way downstream, wade out and around the maple tree, then wade back into the river and fish through to the lower end of the pool. He wouldn’t hike back up to his boat until he finished. He went through this same drill, day after day.

The wading here could get a little deep, especially as one neared the water adjacent to the maple tree, so this was the one and only pool Pluto would unbuckle his gun and holster and leave them on the seat of his raft.

After fishing his way down through the upper run, Pluto did what he always did. He hiked out around the big tree and back into the water. Unbeknownst to him, he had walked within ten feet of the hiding Frank, lurking in the bushes.

Plutonius was still cursing his fishing luck. Although he had had a good grab in the upper pool, the steelhead hadn’t stuck. He recalled that he was contemplating fishing through the pool again.

As the events unfolded, Plutonius began reeling in, and walking back up along the shoreline as he finished the pool. He was about to enter back into the woods near the tree on his way to his raft.

Within his hiding place, Frank held a tree branch in his hands. He waited until Pluto got close. Frank broke it with a loud “snap!” Plutonius, not 20 feet away, froze in his tracks. He looked around. Instinctively, he reached for his gun. It was not there! He realized it was still lying on the seat of his raft…

Plutonius took a tentative step forward. Frank let out a low growl. Pluto had to get to his gun! Safety was only and all about getting back to the raft and his gun! He stepped forward again.

The woods rang louder, “Grrrowl”. Pluto simply could not go back through the woods, and the water here was too deep to wade. Poor Plutonius had another secret that only he and he alone knew…. he couldn’t swim.

Plutonius never made a big deal of this. Ever since Cabela’sTM came out with their water activated SOS CO2 Inflatable Life Jacket, he felt he could take on his worse-than-bear fear – - water!  As rivers may be the epitome of water, with his Cabela vest on, he felt he had conquered life in it’s most rudimentary form; rivers actually made him feel alive.

So how did life take such a cruel twist of fate? Bears and water at the same time?!  Plutonius looked around checking his options. He began cursing his late start. As all the other anglers from camp were already fishing downstream, there was simply no one left to rescue him in his predicament. Plutonius took a small feeble step towards the sound in the woods. Frank immediately let out his loudest growl, and rattled the brush, to boot.

Pluto later confessed he was ready to wet himself. Was he to die from drowning, or simply become B.C. bear fodder?  Which would be the least painful? With the despair of complete hopelessness, he waded back into the river.

Frank later confessed he didn’t actually make Plutonius swim. Starting with a snicker, he exploded into laughter so hard he couldn’t stand it.

It took Pluto a moment to realize what had just happened. To be honest, his first thought was his good friend Frank had somehow magically appeared, scaring away the monster bear in the process. He was saved!

When he realized he was nothing more than the butt of a most sadistically practical joke, Pluto became incensed.

“You are really sick,” he muttered.  Casting his eyes in the distance, he headed towards his boat.

Frank caught up with me while I was fishing the home run pool later that afternoon. He told me everything. We ran into some fish that kept us busy until evening. Neither noticed that Pluto had floated on down to the take-out. As we arrived at the boat launch, Pluto’s little truck was gone. He had left.

“Jeez,” Frank said, What happens if Pluto takes the prank poorly?” “A guys B.C. experience is kind of a sacred thing.

We shouldn’t have worried.

As we rolled into camp there was quite a gathering of anglers huddled around Plutonius. As we neared the group we could hear him say, “Yup, it was all I could do to make it back to my raft and gun, before that bear was all over me!” Frank and I decided, all is well. Pluto is just fine.

Such is life in the Canadian wilderness.

Dennis Dickson
Dickson’s Flyfishing
www.flyfishsteelhead.com

Steelhead Flies – Fact and Fiction

By Dennis Dickson

I would venture to guess, one of my most asked questions, the most misunderstood answers in steelhead flyfishing is; “So what is the hot fly?”

Steelhead has an allure as an illegitimate son. His noble cousin Salmo Salar, the Atlantic Salmon has a rich and traditional past, fished by kings and nobleman. Steelhead was almost found by accident and early flyfishers knew very little of this great fish’s behavior and life history.

When we approach the topic of “Fly Effectiveness”, I always think of the words of the great steelhead flyfishing pioneer, Roderick Haig-Brown.

He said ” It is good to remember there will be a lot more steelhead caught on a piece of yarn, than all the fanciest flies ever fished”.

This is sage advice, for the angler that comes to me is looking to catch a steelhead, which means he is looking for a fly that will be successful and assumes that some flies, like lures, are more effective than others. He may even be hopefully assuming that the reason for his lack success to this point was, he is simply fishing with the wrong fly. Let me explain something. Flies don’t catch fish…people do. You see, steelhead have a disposition just this side of a large mouth bass. If a lure or fly is presented well, and Mr. Steelhead is in the mood, he will hit just about anything!

Does such a thing as a magic fly exist? Sorry, generally no. Can he prefer types and colors? Sometimes. My point here is not to lead you farther down the path of finding a “Mystery” fly, but rather to teach you to recognize a better constructed fly, coupled with better presentation and more confidence.

I am reminded of an incidence that happened to me up on the North Fork Stilly. I was standing up on a high bank watching a pair of anglers fishing their way down through a popular run at Boulder Creek. The dozen or so steelhead holding here, looked absolutely mesmerized, literally frozen in place. These poor anglers apparently had thrown everything but the kitchen sink at these fish to no avail. A small alder leaf happened to fall to the surface and tumbled in the current. A very nice hen just lifted to the surface, ate the leaf and coasted back down into her holding position. Now I am not advocating fishing with Alder leaves, but rather to make the point, its not the fly.

My guide flies tend to reflect the parameters of the waters I fish. Seasons, water temperature, sexual maturity, (the fish silly, not me), lighting, water clarity, fishing pressure and presentation are but a few parameters that may dictate the fly I choose. Now, before you become overwhelmed trying to compute all these variables into a logical decision let me simplify.

For each river I fish, in a particular water condition, I will fish maybe two or three different fly patterns. Here is a general overview, but before we go there let me re-emphasize….its not the fly.

Early Season Native winter steelhead.

The steelhead that swim our northwest waters in late winter are the large, wild, sexually maturing steelhead (even though he may be rock hard and nickel bright). He is a big brawley, aggressive steelhead. He enters when the rivers are generally running full, and the water is cold. A larger fly will not scare him. Number 2’s and 1/0 are about right. I like to fish flies that swim well. I tell my anglers that if they ever loose confidence in the fly just bring in next to them and watch it play in the currents. A well balanced fly should look alive in the water. Unless I am fishing really dirty water I believe that less is more. The greatest knock that I see with the guys that meet me on the river is the flies they have bought or tied are so overdressed the thing looks more like a lure than a fly. Easy on the flash.

I tend to fish subtle colors like purple, cherise, and blue when the water is clear and bright and black colors when the water is off color. Stiff patterns like the General Practitioner, Poacher, Skunks, and other hair wings are good in the streamy currents that provide lots of action and a good silhouette of the bug. Marabou, bunny leeches, and spey patterns are excellent in the softer flows.

I pay particular attention to fly construction and I will admit, some of my ties are a little unorthodox. Why? Because many flies on the market today are tied to please the angler. The fly I hand to a client, well, it better please the steelhead. Different tying materials will react differently in the river currents and it’s good to know, what does what. For example, marabou plays seductively in mild currents but tends to collapse to strong flows. Hair wing patterns show very little action in soft water, but maintain a great profile and a lively action in streamy flows. Fly construction then is important to fly action, and fly action triggers fish.

I am reminded of an experience on the Skykomish River some ten years ago. I used to spend my March guiding anglers there. It was catch and release and the Sky steelhead enter early. I was fishing a couple gentlemen along this popular gravel bar pool when I happened to look down and find a fly that had fallen off someone’s vest. (I personally think these fly patches are a flyshop conspiracy because there is a lot more flies lost falling off the drying patch than from the river, itself).

I am always curious of other angler ties and I picked it up. I could tell immediately this fly was from a serious flyfisher. This fly was tied on a 2/0 iron, traditional upturned eye hook. (I don’t particularly like these hooks because the angle of attack is wrong at the eye, and the diameter of the metal is too fat) This cagey guy answered both these problems by breaking off the eye and tying in his own braided loop eye. He had also filed his hook point down to a long taper edged on three sides. This angler was good. I then began to examine the fly for color and action. I noticed it was tied fairly sparsely and instead of the long webby marabou that is so popular, but fouls in the hook so easily, he used the shorter chickabou.

The number one knock in materials like spey feathers and marabou is it fouls easily around the hook in the water. This kills the action of the fly. Any time you have a feather that extends beyond the bend of the hook, you risk fouling your material. Some of the most artsy twenty-hour flies are poor fish producers because they foul when fishing.

What should you do? Get to know your fly material. Different fly materials react differently in river flows. I mentioned a couple characteristics of marabou. Bunny fur tends to pooch out, shlappen feathers breath nicely but can also foul. I have swam many a fly (to my patient wife’s chagrin), in the bath tub while the water is turned on. It works really well. If the fly is going to foul it will do it here.

I like to think of the fly in two parts. Any material tied at the rear end of the hook is not going to foul. That’s why most tarpon patterns are tied in this fashion. Epoxy bait fish flies carry a good silhouette but are anti fouling because of the material – it’s hard to the bend of the hook. You should realize that any free flowing material ahead of the hook bend can and will foul if it extends past the rear of the hook. Try the bathtub test. You can see what your flies are actually doing as you nose it up to the turbulent flow.

Another Guide Trick:

“Show them something different.” The popular Blue/Purple marabou that you see in the shops today, is a fly I developed in the early days of the Sauk River, C&R. There was at that time, a goodly number of gear fisherman throwing the tradition bright colors of orange and florescent green in those days. Flyfishing winter fish was new. Even the most ardent flyfishers would often choose their gear rods over their fly rods at this time of year.I noticed that when the water was clear a guide buddy of mine was doing very well with a blue/purple Hot Shot plug. Now that was different. I simply copied the color combination in a marabou pattern. You talk about work. Those clear water fish went nuts for it. To this day, if I don’t mention what fly to start with, many of my long time clients will fish the blue/purple. Why? Shows the steelhead something a bit different from all that color everybody else is chucking.

Here are a few of my pet winter steelhead fly patterns:

Cop Car

Intruder

Articulated Flies

General Practitioner

Popsicle

Will steelhead ever show preferences in color and construction? Occasionally, but even for all these trick fly patterns you are generally better off to simply look for a fly that swims well for the waters you are fishing. Have just enough color to get his attention, fish it well, and let Mr. Steelhead do the rest.

Please feel free to check out more of our steelhead flies at Streamsideflyshop.com

Best of fishing!

Dennis Dickson
Dickson Flyfishing Steelhead Guides
www.flyfishsteelhead.com

Beau Mac Floats, More Options Then Ever

I have been a big fan of Beau Mac Floats for years. For me, I’m sold on the quality and the variety of floats now offered by Beau Mac.

I look for several things when I am looking for a quality float. First and foremost is durability. I don’t like fishing floats that can’t take a little abuse and stay intact over the course of a tough day of fishing.

When you take a lot of buddies fishing your float’s get abused because, well, that’s what your buddies do to your gear. This wouldn’t happen if they were simply cast into the water. It’s the amount of time my floats spend in trees, banged against rocks and the shoreline that tends to beat’em up a bit. And no, I’m not talking about me…

Another key point that I like about Beau Mac floats is the color or the color contrast that they have. The vibrant colors at the top end of their floats not only make it possible for you to see your float, but it’s also an indicator as to how deep your float should be floating on top of the water. This indicates that you have your float weighted properly.

With so many styles of floats and weight ratings on floats how do I decide which float to use and when? One thing is for certain, not all floats are created equal. Several floats may perhaps be marked 5/8ths oz. but they actually perform completely different when rigged exactly the same in your presentation.

Let’s take a look at some of the floats Beau Mac now offers and I’ll identify some practical applications for each type or style of float.

One of the more popular styles of float and one of my favorites for my go-to technique of float-doggin with a stick lead is an in-line sliding float. For a majority of the season, for both salmon and steelhead, I match a 5/8 ounce float with my stick lead which weighs on average about .42 ounce.

As a comparison this is very close in weight to a four bead slinky. Keep in mind that with this presentation we are dragging the weight. That is why you have a float that is rated much higher then the weight you are actually matching to the float.  At times for summer steelhead I have cut the stick lead in half and then I’ll match it with a smaller 3/8 ounce float. Beau Mac’s In-Line Slider float has a wide range of weights starting at 1/4 ounce going up in 1/4 oz. increments to 1 oz.

The new Beau Mac wood floats are an extremely nice float too. If you’re looking for durability, this is the one. The wood is extremely tough and it does not crack easily. The brass inserts on both the top and bottom prevent line from cutting into the float. The brass inserts also ensure that the float slides extremely well.

My ideal conditions for this float application is fishing any presentation vertically. The wood float works very well for jigs, but it also is well suited for fishing bait suspended. The torpedo design makes for a float that goes down on a fish take with little to no resistance and the weight of the float aids in cast-ability when fishing small jigs.

As with all floats match your float, jig and in-line weight so that the float rides correctly in the water. With a 5/8 ounce float fishing a 3/8 oz. jig you should use a 1/4 ounce Beau Mac in-line sinker to get the proper presentation.

Even though this is a 5/8 ounce float it’s not what I will use for float dogging. It’s labeled 5/8 ounce as is the foam 5/8 ounce that I use. However, the difference in buoyancy is just enough that the wood float will not stay up where I like them to be in the water column while dragging weight.

The new Beau Mac clear floats are a very good choice for multiple steelhead fishing applications. One thing to keep in mind is that these floats are marked in grams (gms). Here is a simple conversion to memorize: 20g = 0.70oz, 25g = 0.88oz, 30g = 1.05oz.

The clear floats come in several sizes. I have had great success using the 25 gram float for float doggin and the 20 gram is great for fishing jigs. I will definitely use the 30 gram for fall salmon, fishing bait suspended under a float.

These clear floats are a great choice for low clear conditions or even moderately clear conditions anytime. They are extremely tough and I haven’t had any issues with the floats separating and filling with water. I think if you check these out you’ll also be impressed with the retail price.

Beau Mac also offers a great selection in their torpedo float design. There are several sizes and weights to choose from. I have used the torpedo floats for both float doggin and fishing jigs. I find the in-line slider to be a much more durable float for float doggin and really like the torpedo design for jigs or fishing bait suspended. The narrow taper allows for even the lightest biters to take your offering without feeling the resistance of the float. They are also extremely easy to retrieve as they do not create a lot of drag on the water. The shorter  and more round taper style is also a good choice on lakes for trout or spiny-ray fisheries.

Beau Mac offers the complete system for float fishing. You have a couple of options when it comes to Beau Mac bobber stops. The dacron thread stoppers work great on braid and they also work well as a line marker on your plug rods for knowing the distance of line you have out. Simply measure an equal distance of line on your reels for your plug rods and slide on and secure a bobber stop. You can even use multiple colors perhaps marking with a bright green stopper at 30 feet and a bright pink at 40 feet.

When I rig up my rods with a top shot of mono for float doggin, I will always run my bobber stops on the monofilament. This is where the rubber stoppers come in and work very well. You only need to remember a couple things when choosing which stopper to use. The dacron stops don’t work well on mono, so use the rubber stops if your using monofilament or flourocarbon. The rubber stops don’t work well on braid, so use the dacron stops on braid.

There ya go…..Hopefully some of this info helps you decide on which style of float to use specific to the application or technique you are trying to master.

Beau Mac is a great local tackle company that’s been around for decades and best of all they make gear specific to our fishing needs here in the Pacific Northwest. Their floats work for me and I’m sure you’ll find them to your satisfaction too.

See ya on the water!

Duane Inglin
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
Theoutdoorline.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flyfishing Leaders – The Steelhead Connection

By Dennis Dickson

I would like to think my success in helping anglers find and catch steelhead has improved over time. I will openly admit, as a biologist I study  “cause and effect”, “stimulus and response”. I don’t mind adhering to tradition as long as my personal experience concludes that it is the most effective way to fish. My assignment as a flyfishing guide is quite simple, attach angler to fish.

There are elements of flyfishing equipment I am fairly flexible on. For example, I was a G Loomis pro staff and so are some of my rods. I personally don’t care if the rods you fish are Sage, Scott, Loomis, or whatever. Single-handed, double, it doesn’t really matter. Waders: You should be comfortable, and they shouldn’t leak.

I do get fussy about items that can determine the outcome in hooking and or landing steelhead. These components are; hooks, leaders, flylines, and reels.

Today I will talk specifically about the leaders for sink-tip lines.The sink-tip leader has several functions but the three critical parameters for steelhead are; abrasion, tinsel strength, and camouflage.

Let me preface these remarks by saying I am going to speak speak from personal experience of teaching fly fishing hundreds of days a year. Ever want to find out how good you really are? Spend one week taking a new angler out each day, try and coach them into a steelhead. You will find out real quick, what you know, and what you think you know. I don’t say, what I teach is the only way to approach steelhead, but these techniques must be effective, because we do find the fish.

Leaders are broken down into two categories: Those on floating lines, for fishing in or on the surface and leaders attached to a sinktip. Today, I am only going to address sink-tip leaders.

Sinktip Leaders: Tradition in steelhead fly fishing says that to fish close to the river bottom, leaders must be short. (Less than 5 feet in length). Tradition also says steelhead are not leader shy and you can fish leaders as thick as you want.

On the other hand, experience has taught me to adapt to the river conditions I fish. If fishing during spring runoff with less than 3 feet visibility, I know I could probably tie the fly on the end of the fly-line and these new fish  wouldn’t care. My dirty water leaders are usually less than 4 feet long.

Do steelhead ever find conditions where they do care? Yep. A good example may be the time was fishing the Sauk river a few years ago. Conditions found the water that day both low and clear. Fish were skittish at best.

You see, steelhead didn’t grow to maturity by being stupid, they know when conditions are such where they feel secure. They also catch on fast and know when they feel “exposed”.

Low lighting such as found at daylight and dusk find steelhead holding and moving through soft and or shallow waters. They know predators can’t see them. Dirty water does the same thing. Why do I enjoy fishing off colored water for native steelhead? Because that’s when the really big boys feel comfortable about lying in close to shore. Why can the Dawn Patrol fish with light sinktips and thick dark leaders? Because at first light, the unmolested steelhead are lying in soft shallows and these fish can’t see the leaders.

As conditions in the day change to bright and sunny, the water clears and angling pressure increases, steelhead naturally move to waters that are deeper and faster. Line shadow and boat shadow can both produce hide and seek conditions.

I grew up fishing the Stilly North Fork. This little river becomes gin clear through the summer and angling pressure can really wise these fish up. That same leader that did just fine in the security conditions can send these mid day gin clear fish a scurrying. (My low lighting summer time sink-tip leader is generally about 6 feet.) So what does Joe angler think when sun gets high and his short leaders won’t work?  “Fish won’t bite”.

Solution: You can extend your fishing day significantly by changing your leader length and material. How long will I go? Out to nine feet. I can almost hear you now. “A nine foot sink-tip leader? You must be nuts! you can’t get a fly down on a 9 foot leader.”

It used to be a trade secret, but I learned long ago, these longer leaders accomplish depths simply by using compact weighted flies. By the by, that new fluorocarbon mono leader material that was originally built for lakes, and saltwater flats is awesome camouflage in clear water conditions. Same principle.

Now here is the rub:

These same leader materials that have smaller diameter and camo so well are not what I prefer to use in sink-tips conditions. Many tend to be brittle and have little abrasion tolerance. – not good for fishing your flies in and around the rocks. But if and when the water goes to clear that new fluorocarbon that has revolutionized gill netting is getting the bite, I will take my chances on a broken leader.

What leader gives me good abrasion factor and camouflages well? For sinktips I fish Maxima Ultra Green, until the water goes to 15 feet visibility, then I go to Max. Clear. Max. The camouflage is hopefully fine under normal “feel secure” conditions.

If you are having trouble hooking steelhead in “exposed conditions”, instead of telling yourself “they just aren’t biting”, try changing your leader up a little. What do you have to lose?

Here is a summary of my favorite knots for steelhead sink-tipping:

Knots

Nail Knot:  

This description shows tying directly into the fly line end. For steelhead & tarpon, I prefer doubling the fly line end into a loop and whip finishing it with the nail knot thus making this fly line/leader connection twice as strong.  Its only down-side is that the connection is also twice as bulky going thru the rod tip guide, while landing a fish. A solution: If you find yourself pulling the fly line/leader connection into the rod while your big fish is in close and he decides to make that one last run, try rolling your rod over (reel up) thus inverting the guides, and the connection should pass easily through the rod tip. “Knot Sense” or better yet, “Aquaseal” over the knot will both protect the knot and build a smooth line/leader transition.

Butt Leader Knot: Instead of tying a round perfection loop on the leader butt, try the double surgeon loop. It’s faster and easier to tie, especially with cold hands. Makes a nice loop-to-loop connection with the fly line in my opinion.

Leader/leader connection: Double Surgeon Knot

I know, I know. There is a myriad of leader to leader connections. The blood knot being the most popular. It’s not the knot I use and this is why. My son Mike and I teach some 300-500 new anglers the sport of flyfishing each year. Couple that with a full guiding itinerary and you are talking some busy guys. Sorry, I digress. Anyway, when you spend this much time teaching, you have to break it down. …Keep it simple. The only leader to leader knot we teach is the double (and triple) surgeon. Why? Its simple, strong and anglers pick it right up. Blood knots are nice, maybe a little straighter, but not stronger, and not easier to tie.

Leader/fly connections:

Duncan Loop [Uni-Knot]:

Ok, for all you clinch knot people, listen up, I am about to show you a knot that has not failed me in the past 30 years. (all the clinch knots have) fly-boys call it the “Duncan Loop’  everybody else calls it the “Uni-knot”.

I use this connection on all my steelhead sink-tipping, but I do it with a modification. Tie the knot as normal, but instead of cinching it all the way to the fly, pinch the leader with thumb and finger, right in front of the fly. pull the knot down to your thumbnail and you have a n open loop. Fly will swim more naturally until the fish grabs it, loop closes, and knot holds. I don’t bother to fish this open loop with an articulated or marabou streamer because the back end the fly is wiggling independently, anyway.

Non Slip Loop Knot:

I like the loop knot anytime I am fishing a nymph or wet fly that isn’t imparting action to the fly. Sometimes I want a weighted wet to have a certain “hang”. It is not as easy to tie as the Duncan Loop, but it is never a bad idea, if you want to take the time to tie it.

No doubt you will come up with your own favorite knots, but until then, feel free to use these, I do.

Best of fishing,
Dennis Dickson
www.flyfishsteelhead.com

River Etiquette 101

By Dennis Dickson

I was floating a popular run on the Sauk River one spring day. The April morning found the river in prime shape and I knew the flyboys were going to be out in numbers. As we rounded the corner of a long bar, there near the bottom of the half mile run, was another fly guide boat I hadn’t seen for a while. There is a nice slot in the tailout, so I figured they probably had already fished the upper drift, and were about to fish the lower. The day was still young and there could be new fish moving in so why not give this upper pool a go anyway? The guide and his client were just chatting in their boat. Couldn’t really tell if they were climbing in or getting out, and as they were not within shouting distance, I thought I would drop down and talk, after I got the boys fishing.

My guys had been fishing for a few minutes, and the guide heads up the gravel bar towards me so I waded out of the river to talk.

“How come you stole my water!” He demanded.

Gee, I am sorry,” I apologized. ” I saw you parked down in the lower run so I assumed you had either passed on this water to fish the lower pool, or had already fished it.”

“Everybody knows I always park my boat at the bottom of this run” He said. ” You should have asked.”

“No,” I said, “Obviously I didn’t know, (I had been on the water every day for the last month) and its not river etiquette to have ask permission, to fish the water behind someone, particularly, when they are not even in the river. Now, if it’s a really big deal, you take the pool, and we will slip on down the next pool.”

He declined.

Contrast this episode with an experience a few weeks before.

I was fishing some new water in early season, and we passed another guide with a couple clients. They were pulling plugs so I gave them a wide berth so not to disturb their water.

“Good morning Dennis!” Rod yelled. ” Swam anything this morning?”

Not yet,” I answered. “You?”

“Lost one in the upper run” He said. “Say, have you fished that new fly water down in the tailout?” “We hit two in here yesterday.”

I had to admit, it looked fishy. I shook my head, No.

“Tell you what,” He continued, ” Why don’t you fish it today, and tell me how you do?”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

I wanted it bad but it was his water.

“Yeah, What the hell.” He answered.

We hooked three steelhead that morning……all from that pool. I made it a point to thank Rod the next morning. As more and more anglers hit the rivers, it seems this fishing pressure brings out the aggressiveness in some anglers. It’s a little like driving in freeway traffic. We are all trying to get somewhere, but we sometimes forget we are All trying to get somewhere. The rules of the road get forgotten.

Here is a rundown on some of fishing rules on our local rivers.

Rule # One: First Comes First:
Anglers know that a steelhead undisturbed is probably going to hit the first thing that is presented reasonably. The Dawn Patrol is the angler that gets on the water in the wee hours of the morning to take advantage of “new fish”. The rule is ” If you are first on the water, you get to fish down through first, provided, you are on the pool ready to fish, and you are stepping downstream in a reasonable manner, so the next angler also has a chance to fish.” Standing at the head of a run and fiddling with your gear, in hopes that the angler who showed up, a few minutes after you, will finally get frustrated and go away, is not good etiquette. Neither is any reason that hinders or prevents an upstream angler from fishing down through the run.

My assistant Jackson said he was following a fellow down through the Buck Island Pool, on the Skykomish, when this downstream angler sees another fly boy walk up. By the number of patches on each of their vests, you would think they were in the armed services. This fishing angler wades out of the pool and begins a conversation with the new arrival.

Jackson continues to step down. The boys keep talking and Jackson keeps
stepping down.  When Jack gets even with these boys, the guy that was fishing, yells out, ” Don’t you be fishing down through my water, buddy!”

Fortunately for him, he caught Jackson in a good mood. He breaks people. The rule implies that, if he begins fishing upstream of you, he has every right to be there. If you get out of the water long enough to slow the progress of the upstream angler, let him fish through. The key, be reasonable.

Rule # Two: Don’t Crowd;
Just as you do not appreciate it when you have someone come up and tailgate you, when your driving, try to maintain a reasonable distance between you and your downstream buddy. Downstream buddy – read rule # one.

Rule # Three: Be reasonable about your concept of the pool. Little rivers tend to have little pools. Sometimes when I am fishing even two anglers, I will space them, allowing each to fish his own pool, if the waters are strategically close.

By contrast, a river the size of the Skagit may have pools a half-mile long, if you were to fish the whole thing. The Mixer on the Skagit comes to mind….but the taking water may be only about one hundred yards in length. If you know you won’t be fishing the lower waters for a least a half hour, and a guy walks up to ask if he can fish, let him. If you are looking forward to fishing that water yourself, and you know you are fishing iffy water, you should reel up and go down and fish the prime stuff yourself, but do not hoard the whole pool, simply because you happen to get there first. IT’S NOT YOUR POOL! You just have the right to fish it first.

Don’t pull this crap about ” We consider this to be two pools”, which is your excuse to step down in front of someone into prime water. If there is a question about what the fishing anglers intentions are, ASK, but permission is only necessary, if they are downstream of where you want to fish.

Rule # Four: Hooked fish goes to the back of the line.
You really see this get abused on the popular waters. The idea here is, If you are lucky enough to play a fish and you are in front of somebody fishing through, give him a chance at the next fish. I once saw an angler get on a Grande Ronde pool and proceed to play and release five steelhead, always going back to the front of a long line of anglers after each fish! What was he thinking?

Rule # five When in Rome…..
Different rules apply to different waters. All these rules don’t mean jack to a combat fishery like Hoodsport ,or around a bunch of gear guys, or even a crowded morning at Fortson Hole. If you go waltzing in and start in on the locals as to where and how they can fish…You Are Out Of Line. Not only that, but you are probably going to get thumped.

Rule # Six No Sponging or Bragging
I was just pulling into the Ben Howard boat launch. It was the same two guys I had seen the day before, and the day before that. The conversation would start off innocuous enough with a “So how was fishing today?” and then they would launch into the twenty questions, about where, when, how many, which fly and yada yada…….. As soon as they would sponge as much information from one boat, they wouldn’t even say thank you, they were off to the next boat. I actually witnessed one guy sponge the new arrivals and walk back up and get on his cell phone to pass on the information, like he was doing the flyfishing kingdom this great service! I finally got so irritated by the third day, (didn’t these guys have a life?) that as sponge # one came up while I am pulling my raft up, before he could even open his mouth, I said, “look, I don’t mean to be rude, but I will make you a deal. If you don’t ask me the questions, I won’t lie about them.”

At first he was shocked, then he just laughed, and ambled over to the next boat. Some fellows want desperately for everyone to know, just what a wonderful fisherman they are, they can’t wait to tell everybody about it. Young guide want-a-be’s are bad for this. They will start by asking how the day is going, and before you can hardly answer the question, they will start in about all the amazing fishing they have had that day. If they are really feeling their oats, they will hang around the takeout and drill the guide boats as they come in. Kind of their way of saying ” Boy, now if you were in my boat today, you could have had thissss much fun. You could term this as “Reverse Sponging”. Very annoying.

You see, the problem with all the rule breakers are, they simply don’t care about anyone but themselves. The problem is, even if they read this, they won’t get it. Nothing tries my patience more than some flyboy that will scream bloody murder when they think someone else steps out of line, but will do the same thing, given the opportunity, and never even think twice.

The Golden Rule is still the best rule:
Simply treat others the way you would want to be treated, and we can all get along.

Best of fishing
Dennis Dickson
www.flyfishsteelhead.com

“There are only two types of anglers in this part of the world, those that catch steelhead on a fly and those that want to.”

Fishing Pink Rubber Worms for Steelhead

The 2012-2013 Steelhead season has, as we’ve discussed on “The Outdoor Line”, shaped up to be a big fish year. Both hatchery fish and natives alike have made more than one fisherman perform a double take because of their eye-poppin’ size.

Check out some of the mondo steelhead we’ve taken time to post up in our “Heavy Metal 2013” photo album over in the Outdoor Line fishing forums. These are just some of the big fish we’ve been exposed to via friends and followers of show.

Without a doubt, it’s been impressive thus far. The exciting thing is we are actually now on the door-step the time when a good number of our large, and I mean LARGE, native steelhead enter our rivers.

On some of our favorite rivers some sections are regulated “artificial lure” only, which means no bait. On other rivers it just makes sense to use certain artificial lures because they flat out work.

One choice that many anglers seem to be drawn to is the well-respected “Pink Worm”, or Count Wormula as Endsley likes to call it. The rubber worm for steelhead has been proven time and time again and for good reason.Big steelhead love the worm!

When most anglers think about fishing a soft plastic worm the first thing they try to figure out is how? “How do I rig it or even more-so, how do I fish it”?  Well, here are a few simple options to give you some things to think about.

The first thing to understand is that “not all worms are created equal”. To be more specific, some float, some do not. Some are actually considered neutrally buoyant. They also come in several sizes lke 3 inch, 4 inch, 5 inch, and even 6″ worms are common. Also, pick a color, any color or even multiple colors. Lastly, what kind of tail do you prefer? Straight, paddle, curly…I think you get the point. As you stand in the isle at your favorite tackle distributor take some time, read the package, and if all else fails ask for help.

Now that you have your worms selected lets take a look at “How-to-Rig”. One of the easiest ways to present a worm is to simply drift fish it. You have a choice, worms that float or at a minimum are neutrally buoyant. You’ll definitely want to run a neutrally bouyant worm with a corky or cheater on your leader to give it some floatation. You can also put one on with your buoyant worms as well for more color, but it’s not necessary for buoyancy.

You’ll want to use a long needle or a worm/bait threader to pull your pre-tied leader  through the worm. You want to start a few inches from the tail and thread the worm onto the needle all the way through to the top. Placing a good plastic or glass bead down the leader on top of the hook, helps prevent the hook from being pulled into the worm and tearing it. You can also use something called a sequin. Sequins are those reflective do-dads used in costumes and found at most craft stores. These are actually a great choice as well.

This rig works great for drift fishing; however my favorite method for my worms rigged in this manner is “float dogging”. Of course I’ll run it with my stick lead and the only change I am making is to use an artificial lure vs. bait like I normally do. One thing to keep in mind, you’ll want to run an 18″ to 20″ leader so as to keep your buoyant worm down in the strike zone.

Here is another option and in my opinion the easiest way to rig a worm. If you can tie a leader on under a float, then you are 3/4ths of the way there.

I usually go with a 2 foot or 3 foot leader tied to a size 1 hook. This presentation works best with 3 inch worms and usually no larger than 4 inch. Place just a few split-shot on your leader to get it down under the float a bit faster and your leader is ready. Simply hang the worm on the hook at about the mid-way point, and your set. This is known as “whacky style”.

It can be flat-out deadly and I’ll fish this in most areas where I would also fish a jig. It’s a great way to present a worm suspended and creep it along structure, such as wood. I also like the fact that if I want to change out to a different color or style, it doesn’t get much easier. Remember that a buoyant worm isn’t necessary, as we want to make sure the worm is suspended under the float.

Similar to the wacky style and also fished under a float, is an inverted presentation. You have a couple options. Buoyant worms can be fished with a bullet sinker on a bead on top of the hook. Using the bait threader, this time you slide the worm on from the top first and only go about 1/3 of the way through. At this point you want to push the needle out through the side. As you thread this worm onto the leader, the leader will come out the side, allowing the worm to bend over and create a lot of movement when hanging upside-down.

If you use a non-buoyant or neutral buoyant worm, you can add a few split shot to the leader, again to get it down under the float. These also fish very well in water ideal for jigs.

“Got jig heads”? Yep, just that simple…. put a 2 inch or 3 inch worm on a jig head, suspend it under a float, and you are fishing a pink worm. Don’t be afraid to use these little guys to dress up some of your big steelhead jigs, as well. If you are looking for a big profile with a lot of action this just might be your ticket.

As my buddy “William” has been quoted in saying, many, many times…..”What isn’t tried won’t work”.

All I know is that several years ago I rigged a pink worm on a leader, with a series of beads and a Spin-n-Glo. My intention was to fish it on a bait diver. The first time I did this I was in a buddy’s boat. He put out a plug, I put out my worm and bait diver. In about 3 or 4 minutes we had a violent take down, and it wasn’t on the plug. I grabbed the rod, put a little pressure to it and POW….. the fish was gone. I reeled in and brought back my bait diver and half of the 5′ to 6′ leader. I could tell I must of had a nick or a knot or some defect that caused the leader to break.

The bottom line is that it worked and it worked well. I will use it on occasion when the conditions are right. You fish it as you would a plug. I rig the worm so as to increase the action. Again, using the bait threader I start a few inches from the bottom. Threading up towards the top and pop the needle out about an inch from the end. This little end of worm pointing slightly down below the beads and Spin-n-Glo actually act like a bit of a rudder in the water and creates additional movement on the worm. You are basically backing this crazy moving worm down right at the fish on a 5 foot to 6 foot leader. This particular rig is a little more involved but it can work very well.

There ya go, a number of choices and options on how to rig and fish a pink rubber worm in hopes of banging a huge wild steelhead this spring. There is still plenty of winter-run season left. Go get yourself some worms, get them rigged up, and go out a catch a big chrome nate. Just make sure you send us a picture of that “Heavy Metal Monster” here on our FORUMS page, under “Fish Reports“. Or feel free to post it up on the Outdoor Line Facebook  page.

Good steelhead fishing to you!

Duane Inglin
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com