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I've been missing from the forums - which generally means its archery season! And, to make matters worse, there are very few fish in my home river system. I'm so excited to see this Dry Fly thread still alive - it gets the juices flowing. October is here. The woods are filled with rifle hunters and I have the river all to myself. It's my favorite time of year to fish and it's a perfect time to fish a dry!
 

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Summer dry fly season

This summer has been pretty epic for dry fly steelhead. I usually fish Little Wang flies and muddler type flies (Grease Liners, Muddlers, and Thompson River Caddis). This summer I fished Wangs almost exclusively because they were working so well. They seem to bring out the most aggressive angry attacks. Here are a couple shots of some memorable fish.

Nate who likes to skate
 

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Chasing the rainbow

My daughter, Fishergirl, and I fished the other day and had a great time despite cooler weather and us both discovering that our waders were leaking. Here are a couple shots of Trillium still trying to get her first adult steelhead. I think this may be her season. Her casting is improving and she really wants to connect with some chrome!

Chasing the rainbow,
Nate and Trilli-bug
 

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Discussion Starter #286
This summer has been pretty epic for dry fly steelhead. I usually fish Little Wang flies and muddler type flies (Grease Liners, Muddlers, and Thompson River Caddis). This summer I fished Wangs almost exclusively because they were working so well. They seem to bring out the most aggressive angry attacks. Here are a couple shots of some memorable fish.

Nate who likes to skate
Awesome Nate! Great to see that you are having a great dry fly steelhead season. I got a message from a fellow down south who met you on the river and had a great time with you.

What a blessing to share the sport with your daughter!

Wishing all a great fall season- may the surface attacks keep coming...

Todd
 

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Nate, you are such a good father !!! I'm sure Trillium will look back and see how much you have given her ... and she will grow up and do great things :):)

I was hoping that my Celeste would be coming with me this year on my fall salar hunt. She has some important school commitments and feels she needs to ensure they are fulfilled ... I am proud of her, but will miss her.

My fall salar hunt has come, 1 more sleep and it's off to the Valley of Dreams !!! I have heard conditions may be perfect for surface salar and I have never been more excited to wake a fly !! I know these beasts are known to take a dead drifted bomber with such elegance, but I know these fall fish can be very aggressive too. The last trip proved they were interested in a waking fly with salmon rising just behind a Celestial Waker that Todd gifted me. I'm hoping this is the year of a waked salar !!!


Mike
 

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Awesome Nate! Great to see that you are having a great dry fly steelhead season. I got a message from a fellow down south who met you on the river and had a great time with you.

What a blessing to share the sport with your daughter!

Wishing all a great fall season- may the surface attacks keep coming...

Todd
Thanks Todd. Sounds like the guy you are referring to is Luis. He gifted me this muddler. I thought that was really cool. Happy fishing.

Nate
 

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Nate, you are such a good father !!! I'm sure Trillium will look back and see how much you have given her ... and she will grow up and do great things :):)

I was hoping that my Celeste would be coming with me this year on my fall salar hunt. She has some important school commitments and feels she needs to ensure they are fulfilled ... I am proud of her, but will miss her.

My fall salar hunt has come, 1 more sleep and it's off to the Valley of Dreams !!! I have heard conditions may be perfect for surface salar and I have never been more excited to wake a fly !! I know these beasts are known to take a dead drifted bomber with such elegance, but I know these fall fish can be very aggressive too. The last trip proved they were interested in a waking fly with salmon rising just behind a Celestial Waker that Todd gifted me. I'm hoping this is the year of a waked salar !!!


Mike
Thanks for the kind sentiments Mike. I appreciate that. Being a dad is epic but also challenging, as you know. Anyone who says it is easy is full of it! That is great that Celeste is so responsible. I am sure you will miss her on the trip though. I hope you have an amazing time. That river looks phenomenal!

Nate
 

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Discussion Starter #290
Awesome Nate! Great to see that you are having a great dry fly steelhead season. I got a message from a fellow down south who met you on the river and had a great time with you.

What a blessing to share the sport with your daughter!

Wishing all a great fall season- may the surface attacks keep coming...

Todd
Thanks Todd. Sounds like the guy you are referring to is Luis. He gifted me this muddler. I thought that was really cool. Happy fishing.

Nate
Yes it was Luis, great guy and talented tyer. I gotta get down and fish with him.

T
 

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Had a great evening Friday. Driving up the river road saw a buddy so I flipped a U turn and we grabbed the next pull out. After a brief chat we decided to just stay parked there and walk into a run we hadn't fished yet this season. Got down to a nice section and caught up over a cold Rainier. After a bit of prodding I finally convinced my buddy to go through first. He had an intermediate poly leader and tied on a fly I had given him earlier this year. Didn't take long and he was into a nice wild fish. Quickly to hand and off with a kick and it was time to crack another beer! We mostly fish solo so its always great to see a buddy get one. This river rarely puts out multiple fish in a run but he had just started into the juicy part and there was a lot of run left so I tied on a dry I had built earlier this week and was anxious to fish.
https://www.speypages.com/speyclave/attachment.php?attachmentid=349940&thumb=1



I didn't make it more than 15' past where he was and I a large fish smashed my offering. Fish was a leaper and did several cartwheels, finally coming unbuttoned right at my feet. Perfect!

https://www.speypages.com/speyclave/attachment.php?attachmentid=349942&thumb=1


With the light starting to fade my buddy put in and started double stepping his way down. I started right behind him but worked a bit slower. About half way down I got picked up again! With the low light I didn't see the take but it was right next to my buddy and he heard the flush. Another hot jumper and this one too came unbuttoned when I got it close but thats the way I like it. At that point I was done and watched him finish out the run. He got a sharp tug in the tailout but the hook didn't stick.

Just an unreal evening sharing a pod of fish with a good friend. Doesn't get much better than that!
 

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what a great evening Yardsale, really like the fly, is that moose? cameron
Thanks Cameron.

Yeah, it's a standard bomber with a loop of moose thrown in for some extra spice. I left room for a hitch but it stayed up top with just the turle knot. That orange calf tail is super easy to spot too.
 

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Thanks Cameron.

Yeah, it's a standard bomber with a loop of moose thrown in for some extra spice. I left room for a hitch but it stayed up top with just the turle knot. That orange calf tail is super easy to spot too.
great looking pattern
 

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Dry Fly Steelhead Club

This is a story. A story about steelhead, and the rivers that we walk into with the hope of shaking hands with one of these amazing creatures. I would like to say it has the grandest of all endings. You know the one where the steelhead rises to your fly and nibbles seven times before you switch flies, and then it disappears from the surface in an explosion of water on your next swing. Well it doesn’t. So unfortunately if that was what you are looking for I cannot give that to you. But what I can give is a story of passion. Or maybe stupidity but you can decide for yourself. The passion that drives two guys, one who’s closest steelhead river is 1,018 miles away and the other a mere 2,263 miles, to stand waist deep in a river in the dark, tired, slightly hungover (or maybe slightly drunk depending on the time of day) asking themselves, why do we do this? Hopefully, by the end of the story you will see, or more likely, you already know and this can just help console you through those hard long days in search of steelhead on the surface.

Day 1
Flights are leaving on time. The plan has been well thought out for weeks.....no months actually. I get into PDX earlier then Adam so I get the rental car and come back and park, get coffees and wait for him to emerge from the gates. A brief hello and I hand him the coffee and we go. No time for food in the airport, there will be a drive thru on the way. If we get out quick enough we may still get a line wet before dark. Three stops needed. Hit Eugene for groceries, hazy beers, and one fly shop just to look for anything remotely cool that we don’t need, but buy anyway because it is a fishing trip. One new over-priced Patagucci fishing shirt and four and a half hours later we are driving up the North Umpqua. We are getting giddy like school girls. After all these years we are finally at the holy grail, the place where we have been reading about in books and magazines, and fishing in our dreams.
We check into the Dogwood which is even cooler than expected. Actually we had no idea what to expect but the 1960s decor, including sliding glass cabinet hanging in the wall with coffee cups in it, is perfect. It just reeks of fishing. How many steelheaders before us have slept in these beds and had the same excitement we are having right now? If the walls could talk.....

Days 2-4
Are we really getting shown around by Todd? Aka “808Steelheader”. Aka “Little Wang creator”. Aka “surface fly master”. Aka, or as I would like to call him, “Todd the Man Hirano”. I don’t know how it happened exactly but the offer was too good to be true. Hit the North Umpqua for the first time ever for 2.5 days with Todd? Yes please! (Side note: the hospitality of fellow dry fly steelheaders blows me away! More to follow later).
We meet Todd early, the sky is still in night mode. We go through pleasantries quickly as we all want to be on the water for first light. We were excited, nervous, expecting nothing. Well except for maybe an accidental swim we keep reading about. What followed was 2.5 days I will cherish for the rest of my life. Following this little purple Geo Tracker up and down perhaps the most beautiful Steelhead river ever, period. I have to admit I have only fished the Deschutes before this trip so not much comparison. However, the sheer beauty and history in this valley is enough for me.
We hit hole after hole and honestly can’t even remember most of the swings. I was mesmerized by the turning leaves, the glass tailouts you see in videos everywhere, and the bedrock outcrops. I was more excited just to spend time on the river with Todd and talk all day about anything and everything steelhead.
Sorry back to the fishing, in summary, I can say I got two touches, one which Todd said was a steelhead so it’s must be true (ha), but nothing on. And you know what? It doesn’t matter. Not in the least. I learned so much, but two things standout. 1) Do not get stinging nettle stuck in your shirt collar on your neck, it results in welts that sting all day and a rash that itches for a week after (not too mention the look on your buddies faces when they see it and the paranoia that then creeps into your mind that you may go into anaphylactic shock at any minute), and finally 2) confidence. It all comes down to confidence. Confidence in the fly. Confidence in the water. Confidence in your abilities. I have one steelhead to my name from my first trip last year. 9 days, one touch, one to hand. I feel like I am doing things right but day after day of nothing can break the strongest of men. What Todd gave me was the confidence that I was doing everything that needed to be done to have a steelhead rise. Sure maybe my casts and swing need some work but I covered the water good enough to have had something, as evidenced by the two touches that for now we will call steelhead. One of which was a large wake in a glass tailout heading right at my fly and then the slightest of touches....it amazes me how these fish can be so delicate at times. And no he did not come back to any of my subsequent offers.
So in conclusion, what I love most about these days spent on the North Umpqua was three grown men exploring a new hole or two together and seeing the excitement in all of us as we were awe struck by the beauty. No, we didn’t catch anything but that was the last thing on my mind....okay maybe second or third to last, but still friendships based on surface steelhead are strong and spending time with the people you look up to is amazing for the soul. Thank you Todd the Man Hirano.

Days 4 and 5
We watch as the little purple Geo Tracker drives off down the canyon and we begin our journey over to the Deschutes. No time for stops except Wendy’s for food and a pee break and then gas up and go. Would we like to see what Bend looks like? Of course! But no time we got a river to fish later in the day. We get into Maupin and drop our gear at the apartment. Wader up and wait by the Riverside for our next fellow surface steelheader to show. A car pulls up with a fly fishing collaborative sticker and out steps our next tour guide. Donning some sweet tweed 3/4 pants (that Adam and I were envious of), a matching newsboy cap, and ponytail coming to greet us with a huge smile was “Adrian the Man Cortes”. Wait I used that already, okay, okay, “Adrian he can tie better in hand than you can with a vise Cortes”. That works, and is fact. So again Adam and I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to be fishing yet another river with another dry fly extraordinare. We followed Adrian down the dusty, bone-jarring road and met up with Coalbe, aka “Caddis Cowboy”, which was a great surprise! That guy fishes more than any of us and he doesn’t know it but I live vicariously through his Instagram posts during the long time between my steelhead trips.
What followed was a couple sunny warm days of being shown some amazing new holes and being given first swings through the prime water. Again the generosity is unbelievable out here! Adrian and Coalbe would excitedly talk about which hole to take us to and drink beers while Adam and I swung. I think they may have had more fun than we did doing all the hard work...

We were swinging our way through nice water when Adrian saw a big steelhead rise up just behind me and a little off towards the middle. We thought maybe he was taking a look like Lee Spencer talks about in his book. I do another snap T and Adrian notices my anchor point is where the fish rose. Which reminds me of my first and only steelhead rising slightly behind and towards mid channel from me. Maybe we are on to something. Adrian and Coalbe talk about just snap T’ing your way downstream as a possible new
strategy (insert sarcastic emoji here). It was getting dark and we hit a nice run Coalbe got one out of the day before and Adrian low holes Adam and I (just kidding!) and gets his hardy reel singing. It was a brief tussle before the fish comes off. Adam and I were already off the river at that point (stupid out-of-staters) so we missed the action. We all head back into town to get some good food and beer. Conversation roams from hand-tying, hazy beers, steelhead, classic salmon fly tyers, and fishing B.C. It was great night and one that will stay with me for a long time.

We get another day with Adrian and Coalbe on the water and Adrian rises one as the rest of us were getting good casting practice in. There is something about Adrian that is just fishy. I think it might be the tweed pants....gonna have to find some. We say good bye to Adrian and Coalbe and thank them for there willingness to come show some out-of-staters around. We had a great time with some really good fisherman. I am smiling about it now as I am thinking of Adrian’s story of how he caught one of his first steelhead. Ask him to tell you sometime.

Days 6-8
Adam and I are left to our own devices. We spend the next days hitting the Deschutes’s beautiful long runs. We hit the same hole as the fish that rose to my snap T. We single step it through the run as we feel this has been the most promising water so far. We pass where the fish was and feel a little disheartened as we continue to swing our way down through the rest of the tailout. I am trying hard to stay focused on my fly but a Kloan Caddis is just so small some times your mind begins to wander. The fly begins its swing and a large steelhead rises to it, his whole body porpoising out....nothing. I had chills. It was one of those holy **** moments we have as steelheaders where you are on autopilot working your way down a run and BLAM there’s a steelhead. I put three more swings through. Nothing. I think should I do one more? Should I change flies? WWTD (what would Todd do)? I put a Thompson River Caddis on as Todd says he goes smaller usually on a follow up fly. (As we all know there are no rules to steelhead, but we have to do whatever we have confidence in.) I also remember Adrian posting something about the TRC being a great follow up fly. I had never swung one so was excited to see would it actually float? As it does not look like it would. I cast out. It swings and I see a really nice subtle wake behind the fly. I gain confidence. I see why this is a good follow up fly. I cast over five times. Nothing. I fish out the rest of the tailout.
I spend the last few days fishing just feeding off of that adrenaline rush from that one steelhead rise. It is enough to get me through what has been a long and hard trip. Minus at the end of one day, where despite my knowing I only had a few hours remaining on the trip to catch a steelhead, I decided to finally work on my single spey with both hands. And you know what? It was fun and exactly what I needed. I think sometimes because I have one long trip a year it is easy to beat myself into swinging every waking minute of the day as I know I will regret not doing it when I get home. I think this is the moment I realized to stop that and just make sure I am enjoying it. After all, if it ain’t fun then why do it? Steelheading is hard. Surface steelheading when the water temps are not in that sweet spot can be harder. But I would not catch them any other way.

As for this trip, we met some amazing people, ones I consider friends and allies in this crazy thing we do. We laughed a lot, explored some new water, and shared some old memory-filled runs. Most importantly sharing water with these folks has given me the confidence needed and a renewed patience. I will spend my next year reading about steelhead, seeing steelhead being caught by you all, and coming up with surface flies for the next trip. This trip may not have brought a fish to hand, or to line for that matter, but I would not have changed a thing....except for the stinging nettle. I definitely would have changed that.
 

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