Tag Archives: central oregon fly fishing

Rod Memory: What’s In and With a Rod

B&W Fly Rods

What’s in a fly rod? Sure, some are rolled from graphite, some crafted from split Tonkin bamboo, others are poured fiberglass gel, there’s guides, reel seats, cork grips (sometimes composite) and such. But I’m not looking to go into a “how to make” or a “how it’s made” dissertation on rods. I’m asking what’s “in” a fly rod? What is it that draws us towards one rod over another? To claim one better than another? To choose one from the quiver over another for the day’s fishing? This is not about a general rod company being better than another general rod company. I have my certain dislikes and likes towards companies. It’s a question of what draws us to a particular rod regardless of the company sticker on it. When I’m getting things ready to head out to the water I take a moment to decide which rod is going with me. I’ve thought on this a handful of times and I always go back to one instance where this metaphysical pondering was brought to the forefront.

Me and my wife (girlfriend at the time) were in Central Idaho, about to float a nice stretch of river. As we were getting into the boat the guide looked at my rod I chose to use for the day; it was an old Cabela’s 2 peace, 9 foot 6 weight graphite rod I’ve had for years. After a short snarky smirk the guide commented, “You should really upgrade and get into something better than that rod.” I didn’t really say anything in return, just “Hmm… Maybe.” The thing is, I had other rods, mostly ranging in the mid-price range category, but that’s not the thing. I chose this rod for a reason, it had a purpose to be on that water.

Early in life my folks got a divorce and my mother remarried to a man who became that great father figure, a Dad really. He showed me what true honest work is, responsibility, how to treat women with the respect they unequivocally deserve, and got me into the one thing that obsoletely changed my life – fishing. I remember pawing through those thick Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s catalogs dreaming of my own impressive collection of obviously magical gear; my Dad caught more than me and had far more tackle boxes filled with interesting gummy things and sparkly jingling jigs. The mass collection was my speculation for his success. I didn’t have much money to afford collecting my own mass. I had to work for everything I did and wanted, and pulling chickens and detasseling corn didn’t pay much. Garage sales where my catalogs. And it was at one of those I happened upon a fly rod.

B&W Fly RodsI whipped the water for a good long season with that garage sale rod, wet noodle really. It was the rod I took every time my Dad took me fishing. I would listen to his advice. Sometimes a friend of his would be with us, I would take their advice. I could feel their sideways glances looking at my cast, their cringes with every pile cast, flitches with tailing loops and forward casts. They where patient and kept giving advice, but more importantly they kept telling me – “you’ll get it.” Slowly I learned more about the fundamentals of fly fishing and casting and began to get the hang of it. It must have been the diligence I showed towards the sport that gave my Dad the idea to gift me a rod and reel setup. I imagine he thought it would serve better than the random no-name $10 garage sale purchase I made and was frothing the Michigan water with, or perhaps he thought it was my due. Either way, it was a much better, and greatly appreciated addition to my meager arsenal. Casting came easier with it. I explored many rivers of Southwest Michigan and took it with me when we did our summer long vacations visiting family in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was my every day rod, it was my only real rod.

I fished with my Dad as much as I could, but I got older and began fishing with my own buddies. The times me and my Dad fished together became less and less. I started swinging a hammer and earning better money than on the farms, allowing to expand my rod collection a little and shelving the gifted rod more and more.

I moved West in my early twenties creating an even bigger gap and less of a possibility to fish with my Dad. Shortly after I moved he developed small cell lung cancer, suspected from Agent Orange during his service in the Vietnam War, and passed far too early in life. He never got the chance to visit me out West where he encouraged me to move and always thought I belonged. He missed me graduating from college. He never met my wife and never met his grandson. He never got the chance to fish any of the rivers he dreamt about.

That rod I chose for that float in Central Idaho with my future wife, that rod that I should think about upgrading to “…something better…” was the rod my Dad gave me as a gift years ago. It fished rivers on my move West. It has fished many of the rivers I fished when I was in college in Portland, Oregon. It fished my favorite rivers when I lived in Montana. Since living in Bend, Oregon it has seen my go to spots. My son has wiggled it in the yard while I try to teach him how to cast. It’s not my every day rod, it’s my special occasion rod.

So, what’s “in” a fly rod? Memories. When we where in Central Idaho, about to fish that beautiful river, I thought it appropriate to share that memory with my Dad and show him that river. Do I need to upgrade, no. It’s already the best rod anyone can have.


This stems from a short version I posted on the Bend Casting Club website – here

Down South on the West end of East Lake

There’s a nice little lake just south of Bend Oregon, two awesome lakes actually, East Lake and Paulina Lake. They are both crater lakes in the Newberry Caldera within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Paulina Lake is at just over 6,300 feet elevation while East Lake is slightly higher at just under 6,400 feet. Give or take on each of those measurements. Not trying to Wiki it here, just trying to give the general idea. The caldera was formed by an eruption over 500,000 years ago. The main inflow for the lakes are rain, snow and some hot springs. The hot springs are what gives the cautionary warning on consuming too many fish from them – natural occurring mercury. I’m not for fishing stillwater fisheries all that much, so no worries on over exposure and consumption and turning into some sort of mutant super fisher with a fly rod for an arm and a net for a sac. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful place to hike, camp and sometimes fish.

Newberry LakesI prefer East Lake myself, it covers slightly less area and is much smaller in depth and volume, which gives a feeling of intimacy with the water and fish. It’s not too massive and deep where you loose yourself or targets, i.e. fish. Not to mention the weed bed that pretty much encompasses the lake allowing for copious amounts of said targets. One of the big reasons to head there is the Callibeatis hatch. Massive amounts of bugs and fish feeding on them. Another good reason is the lakes elevation.

We’ve been getting some unusual, or maybe it’s the new norm – global warming and what not, high temps for this time of year around here. Just last weekend it got near a 100, they’re still hovering around that gnarly three digit number. That’s above 15 more degrees than the years past averages. So when a buddy offered to take his canoe up there for us to fish it I said… “Sure why not. I guess we could.” Like I said before, I’m not much of a stillwater fly fisher which is why my enthusiasm for the proposition seemed less than optimal.

However, the more I thought about it as I readied my gear for the next day the more I thought about the predicted temps and the elevation of East Lake. Temps up above would be cooler than down below. Fishing this stillwater started sounding better. Especially when compared to my original plan of battling the massive swarms of black blood sucking clouds of mosquitoes in the heat on the Upper Deschutes for brookies. The next morning we loaded his boat and were off to slightly lower temps and swarms of friendly grayish Callibeatis. Upon arrival my mood swung around again – “Holy crowded ramp / lake / bank / campground Batman!” People everywhere. With motors going and diesel and gas smoke rolling. Dang! I knew it would be crowed but… dang.

Nevertheless, we put in and started paddling. Another friend met us at the lake and was going to join us with his float tube. We where heading towards his “spot” as he called it. He was up at East the weekend before and said he did really well/ I noticed there where fewer people over in “the spot” which made me sort of skeptical. Given this crowd, and If it was a sweet spot, why wouldn’t there be a line and a ticket dispenser to fish it? But I shrugged off the skepticism in hopes of shaving the cynicism. At least we were paddling away from everyone.

As we paddled over some deeper water I looked down into clear glacier blue water. I felt bad for the fish’s volubility from overhead predators but took great joy in the ability to view such a beautiful underwater world. The crowd was dwindling in view, sound and mind. We were engulfed by swarms of delicately fluttering Callibeatis. I spotted a riser, then another. I heard a take behind me. I looked down and spot fish cruising. I started taking line off my reel and wondered if I’ll be able to connect to the electricity of my current surroundings.

East Lake - TomI missed a handful of takes. Remembering stillwater ain’t my game. I had a talk with myself and actually listened. Setting the hook stillwater fishing has a subtle difference to it than doing so river fishing. Everything has a slightly slower rhythmic feel. The fish are methodically cruising in search of food, rather than a rushing trough of water conveying food to them. You have to give a split second more for the fish to take the fly. Their lurking towards it not darting out of a lie to nab it. Hook up!

I might try to fish stillwater a bit more, but it would take a more comfortable flotation device. Like a drift boat. Not that there’s anything wrong with a canoe.


Great Short From OBP

Here’s a great short from Outside Bend Productions. There is an additional level of greatness to this short other than the awesome videography. It’s vol. I, meaning there’s more to come. Which is great, cause after viewing this, I’m in need of more.

I am eagerly awaiting vol. II and hearing more incorporation of The Stones. Make sure to check out OBP’s other great works by clicking above link or – here


Whooo Dang, Look at the Time

It has been awhile. Have I been fishing? Yeah, but I’m not much for fishing reports per se. There will be some thrown in here and there but that is about it. This blog is for a more hodgepodge approach to things related to fly fishing. Speaking of which, I have a couple things forthcoming. Until then, I’ll just make some service announcements that may or may not actually do any service for the public.

Redside IRALocal brewery GoodLife has brewed a new India Red Ale (IRA). What does this have to do with fly fishing or anything you might suspect this blog would be about? Well, it’s named Redside. And yes, I have a self-interest in it. I was talking with a friend who brews at GoodLife and he mentioned they were working on a new red. I mentioned that they should name it Redside after the world renowned Deschutes River redband trout locally known as redside. A couple more conversations, and there you have it; Redside IRA. GoodLife was kind enough to donate a percentage of the proceeds from the release party to the local Trout Unlimited chapter. The public service part, keep an eye out for events with this brew. There might be more proceed donation potential if you’re looking to chip in.

It seems like I just attended a two day film festival. But hey, why not attend another? The IF4 will be here in Bend Oregon next week, April 3rd and 4th. For the most part I’ll be at the Deschutes Trout Unlimited and Bend Casting Club table again, but am likely to be enjoying a beer and conversation with friends somewhere near it. Head down, doors open at 6pm show starts at 7pm on both nights. Check out some of the trailers over at the IF4 film fest website.

IF4 banner

Let’s see… what else? There’s been some conservational issues of interest and concern but I’ve been sharing those on the FB page, so I’ll leave it at that. Oh, right! The Salmon fly hatch is getting near! Time to get to the vise and tie up some flies. My favorite for the Deschutes Salmon fly hatch is the Stimulator. There’s others I occasionally like to utilize during the hatch, but the Stimulator has served well and is easy to tie.

These service announcements have been focused on the Central Oregon area, because, well, that’s were I’m at. That is all for now.


Straight Line on the Crooked

I got the chance to get out and fish over the weekend. Actually, that’s not really a good indication of my fishing opportunities. With my location and my awesome, understanding better-half I could fish just about every weekend; it’s not about chance. It’s really a matter of me thinking I can’t or worse, being too lazy. Whenever laziness rears its ugly head I tell myself “you used to ride city buses to the outskirts then hike a handful of miles to fish, just get out and fish.” I worry a little when I answer myself, but that’s an issue to discuss with a therapist I suppose.

Speaking of lazy, I really need to finish the second half of that story. One of the reasons for having this blog is to not be lazy about writing. Wait a minute, wasn’t I just talking to a friend the other night about my thoughts on trip reports and how….? Wow, no wonder my son has little focus, his Papa can’t focus for more than a paragraph. Back to my point. Right, Fishing, I went fishing.

I got up, had my standard french press coffee, did some quick random errands, and headed down the road to the Crooked river. The sky was blue, the temp was steadily rising and the Mist Covered Mountain program was playing on 88.1 KLBR (89.7 KLCC sister). Somewhere around the community of Alfalfa my thoughts wandered towards my approach to fishing for the day. For some reason I got it in my head to get em’ on dries. It was going to be a “wait and see and enjoy the day” approach. No real plan just work an area of the river, wait until I see some risers, look at what they’re taking, and cast to some fish.

Big Bend

Got to the river and had two great surprises, hardly anyone around and very little wind. I was expecting a grip of people given the mild temperature and I’m always ready to battle wind in the canyon. After gearing up I headed to one of my normal spots. With the sun on my face and the warm thought of a possible Blue Winged Olive day instead of a Midge day floating in my head, I was downright giddy. Yes, I said giddy.

The water was a little lower than I expected, a quick check once I got home confirmed 72 cfs, kind of low. After getting over the flow rate, I started scouting the water. There were no signs of risers but it was still a little early. I decided to hike along the river bank and keep an eye open. I was going to hike down river until I hit the next campground. If no signs of top action by the time I got there then I would have to change my game plan and expectations for the day. One of the first things I learned about fly fishing is having a planned approach doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll utilize that plan.

Down River from Big Bend

The next campground was quickly impending but I realized, on the river I control time. So I stopped, found a rock, sat down and had a snack. Next thing I knew the next campground wasn’t as imminent. It was just sitting there waiting, patiently. While sitting there two things happened, a great blue heron took flight just twenty-five feet down river from me and a few rises formed directly in front of me. I started to notice some BWO’s coming off. I finished my snack with a gaping grin, tied on a size 16 parachute BWO and tossed in a feeding lane of a trout. I got a bump but no grab.One of many for the day. Quickly changed to a size 18… Fish!

I stayed in that spot and fished until my fly was beyond anything resembling a parachute BWO. I was content with the amount of fish I caught because, well, I lost count. Although most of the fish I caught were in the typical Crooked river nine to ten inch range, I managed a couple around twelve inches; perhaps slightly on the heavy side of twelve even. But you’ll have to take my word on that. The photo above is the only one I took of a fish. It was the first fish. After that it was just to hot to stop for a photo op.