Fly Fishing For Trout

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Fly Fishing For Trout
Trout Rod Review
New Simms Vests
Midge Larvae
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Fly Fishing For Trout In The Pacific Northwest

Sunlight + nutrients = life.  The Pacific Northwest has had an extraordinary amount of sunshine this winter.  Southern California got our rain and we got their sunshine.  On top of that, our mountains got very little snow.  Our rivers were very stable all winter and there won't be any spring run-off.  Because of these unusual climatic factors bringing earlier plant growth and less insect mortality, there are denser than usual aquatic insect populations in many of our rivers this spring.  Certain species have prospered more than others.  Continuing hatches of March Browns and Baetis Mayfies and low, clear, warming water  has got the dry fly

season started very early on both sides of the Cascades.  From screenings on local rivers there will be a better than usual Salmon Fly hatch.  Also look for dense hatches of Green Drakes on the Deschutes, Metolius, Sandy and many other rivers.  Many species of caddis have also prospered this winter.  There is a good possibility that some hatches will start earlier than usual this spring.  In some cases hatches might be as much as 2-3 weeks early.  Unique strategies for early, On the kick screen.
mid-season and late-season might be in order.  Since we have such low flows and unusually warm air temperatures, all of our rivers could be very warm by mid-season.  You might want to consider doing all of your trout fishing before August first.  Then maybe plan on several of weeks of Albacore Tuna fishing off our coast through August and September.  Many irrigation and hydro electric reservoirs are very low now and will be very low through the summer. However, Rock Creek and Pine Hollow Reservoirs are full and fishing well right now.  Local rivers are already at June/July levels. Who can predict what steelhead fishing is going to be like this summer on the west side, or how Spring Chinook runs will cope with the low flows. Winter steelhead runs have been sporadic. All indicators are for going trout fishing now.  If the weather turns cool and rainy some bets are off, but you won't regret having started early. You might get some of the best trout fishing you've ever experienced. 

  The Fly Shop Guy’s Trout Rod Review  To Top
   J. Morgan Jones

John Jones on the job: testing.

          Last winter (what there was of it) we came up with the idea of doing a lightweight rod review. A few phone calls to the best manufacturers of fly rods got us a chance to play with a selection of six of the best rods in the world. My interest was in 4 wt rods (with two exceptions) and a cross section of types of actions. All of the technical specifications a person could want are available from the manufacturer’s themselves, so we really felt there was no need to get into that aspect of the rods.( A rod made with a modulus of, say, 47 million sounds impressive, but I don’t believe that most of us really know what that means, and I do not know anyone who has actually counted them.) In my opinion, IMX, IM6, IM7 graphite and so on, has some bearing on a finished product, but it’s not nearly as important as many of us have thought. How the materials are actually used is the single most important factor in how that rod works. The rest of it (in my opinion) is marketing.

          The underlying concept of this review was to put this selection of rods into a number of fly fishers hands, with different levels of experience, in varying conditions with nine different fly lines and then ask the obvious question, “what do you think?” Believe it or not, getting people to spend a day with six of the best fly rods made today, and then extracting an opinion from them, was not as difficult as one might think.

          This is not a good/bad review, so there was no winner here. If you are in the market for a new rod, I am not going to tell you which rod you want. I am hoping to give you useful information about what type of rod you might be looking for. We think your opinion is the only one that really matters to you. What I have here is the collective opinion of a group of fly fishers about their individual opinions regarding six top-level rods in a spectrum of rod actions, from traditional to quite fast. The fit and finish of all the rods are excellent, as you would imagine top-level rods to be. All are supplied with tubes and socks and all have a lifetime warrantee.

Here are the rods that we used:
Winston LT 8’9”  3 wt
Winston LT 8’9”  4 wt
Winston BIIx (boron) 9’ 4 wt.
Sage XP 9’ 4 wt
Sage TXL 7’10” 4 wt
Thomas & Thomas H2 9’ 4 wt
G. Loomis HLS 9’ 4wt

(The Winston 3 wt was included as a “reference point” rod as most of the casters were familiar with its action)

Fly line weights vary, as do their profiles. Rods of this quality are quite sensitive to different line weights. In many cases, simply changing the line changes the rod action. All of the lines were weighed (the first 30’) and recorded. Once again, this is just a cross section of available lines. The lines that were used is as follows:

Cortland 444 SL WF4F  120 grains
Cortland SYLK WF4F  120 grains
Cortland DynaTip WF4F 120 grains
Cortland Precision Taper WF4F 120 grains
Sage Quiet Taper DT4F  128 grains
Rio Selective Trout WF4F 134 grains
Rio Grand WF4F  122 grains
Rio Selective Trout DT3F  106 grains
Scientific Anglers GPX DT3F  120 grains 

All of the manufacturers make different actions of these weights of fly rods, but testing them all would require over 20 rods (in 4 wts alone), and we really were looking for a cross section of rods. As a credit to the manufacturers, none of them asked any “qualifying” questions, or insisted on any conditions at all. Every one of them believes in their own product, for good reason.

Winston LT

Winston LT 3 wt 5 piece. This is a medium action rod with a soft tip. The action itself is best described as that “classic Winston action”. Small loops almost seem to form on their own (sic). The handle is comfortable and fits the action of the rod well. Casts very well at most fishing distances. This is a rod that excels in many areas. About the worst thing you can say about the LT series of Winston’s is that they could ruin your taste for other rods. If you don’t think so, ask another Winston owner.

Winston LT
Winston LT 4 wt 5 piece. This one is easy to speak about. The 4 wt version is exactly like the 3 wt, with just a bit more range, actual weight and capacity. Really. The entire line of LT’s are that way.  These rods seem to require very little casting effort, but, on the other hand, are difficult to overpower. The people at Winston know what they are doing.
          The Winston LT 3 and 4 wt rods both are able to cast a variety of fly lines, but seem to perform best with the heavier lines for average distances. I have been fishing both of these rods for quite some time and I must say that the rods both seem to like most lines, double taper or weight forward. There was one line that just did not seem to match up well with any of the tested rods, except the Winston LT’s.

Winston BIIX

          Winston BIIx 9’ 4 wt - 4 piece (BIIx 490). This is a new offering from Winston, involving Boron technology. This is a rod that casts well at almost any given distance. If you are prone to showing off by making long casts with light rods, this is one you should look at. This rod will throw a whole fly line easier that you might think. If you are like most people, you will keep looking at the weight rating on the rod because it feels like many 2-3 wt rods. It is that light in your hand. Really!  It is an extremely accurate rod at all distances. Casts one or two weighted nymphs as well as it casts a dry fly. This rod casts the heavier lines better.
         In addition, the BIIx rewards those who are able to make rod stops smoothly, rather than the accepted method of a more abrupt stop. Doesn’t really like a great deal of power on the final stroke. This is fast action rod, but it is so smooth you might fail to notice this at first.

Sage XP

          Sage XP 9’ 4 wt - 4 piece (XP490-4). This is a rod that you need if you are in a hurry. It’s fast! It will cast and shoot line as well as any rod made. This is not a delicate, sensitive spring creek tool for flicking size 24 dry flies around 18’. 70’ might be better. The XP likes heavy lines (difficult to overload) and will cast large heavy flies as well as many larger rods. Sage makes some of the finest fly rods around, and this is one of them.

Sage TXL

           Sage TXL 7’10” 4 wt - 3 piece (TXL 4710-3). This is a new rod from Sage for 2005. As I said earlier, there is no winner or loser in this review. But the fact of the matter is that I am really struggling with finding a good description of this rod. I do not think it is a rod for everybody, but everybody that cast this rod kept looking at it. I cast this rod last year (before they were available) and was not really impressed. I think that I was using a weight forward line that we had spooled up on one of our “parking lot” reels. This rod felt like a nice little dry fly rod (but, we have a good number of “dry fly rods” in the shop already). Late last year I had a good customer (only knew him through our internet site) call and ask about this rod. I sold him another brand  (I won’t say which one, but I felt it was one of the best rods I ever fished with) even though he asked about The TXL. After I gave him my reasoning for not getting the TXL, he bought the “other” rod. About a week later he called and asked to return the rod and get the TXL. It seems that he had gotten a chance to cast one of the TXL’s and really preferred it. The customer is always right, regardless. Well, I had to try it again, so I spoke the George Cook (Sage rep.) and he sent me a rod and the line that matches this rod. Just so happens that the line was also from Sage, a Quiet taper double taper 4 wt line. The difference was simply amazing! Every now and then a rod company will come up with real surprise for the discriminating fly fisher and that is what Sage has done. Every time you cast this rod you keep thinking that it just is not going to be up to the task. It feels too light to have any power, and at 7’10” it’s a bit short. It easily throws any distance you care to fish at, up to 80’. You keep looking at this rod and thinking “no way”, but then you cast it again. The TXL really like a strong power stroke. This rod does not like a variety of lines at all, but when you string it up with the right line, it comes alive. One of our experienced testers used a Cortland Sylk line and swears it’s even better (while I know it could not get any better, I will be out there soon with the Sylk line). This is not like any Sage rod built before. Four of our testers say they are going to buy this rod soon, and three already have (this rod could be hard to get for awhile).

T&T HII 904-4

          Thomas & Thomas Horizon 2- 9’ 3 wt. Here is a top level rod from a company that many folks don’t seem to know about. Perhaps it’s because it is an east coast company. Their recognition is growing, however. I included this rod because I wanted to try one of their faster offerings. While this a 3 wt rod, it really likes to cast a 4 wt line, and it does it well. The finish of the T&T rods might be the best in the marketplace. This is a rod with obvious quality, perhaps better suited to experienced fly casters. Like the Sage XP, the Horizon 2 is well suited to larger waters and long casts. This is a very nice Deschutes River rod. Many of us would like to have this rod in our quiver. You will be hearing more about T&T in the future.

G. Loomis HLS

          G. Loomis GLX Streamdance HLS 9’ 4 wt - 4 piece. The HLS stands for “High Line Speed”, and it is that. This is a typical very well built world class rod that that we have come to expect from this company. This rods quality is equal to anyone’s in this review. They have been doing some different things with fly rods. Just look at their reel seats and you will see they are all about innovative quality. This is a Northwest big river rod, fast and accurate. This is exactly the type of rod that Loomis made its reputation with. I fished with nothing else for many years.  It wants a heavy line to perform well. Faster rod fans are going to be happy with this rod.  Loomis has been around for a long time in the Pacific Northwest. They were bought up by Shimano Corporation quite awhile back, and I think that everyone assumed that big changes were going to befall the Loomis company. These folks have “stepped up to the plate” in the hopes of making a large impact in the fly rod market. With what we have seen (see our recent newsletter on the tour of the Loomis facility) lately, it’s already happening, and it’s very good. Loomis is making a HUGE commitment, and they seem to know what they are doing.


          Good rods do actually make you a better caster. Ask someone who has one. The bottom line from myself is this: I am in a position to use or have any of the best rods on the planet, and I own all but one of the rods that were tested (but I am thinking about the missing one!).

Simms G3 Guide Vest

Simms G3 Guide Vest

Simms new G3 Guide Vest utilizes the most advanced material and design technologies available. A highly functional, great-looking vest.

  • New for 2005
  • Shoulders feature contoured spacer net for ventilation
  • Non-crushable knit collar will not retain water
  • Magnetic buckle & zipper closure with whistle zipper pull
  • Magnetic tool catcher positioned below retractors
  • Thermolaminated tippet pockets with zipper closure
  • Patent pending molded foam pockets
  • Handy floatant cap
  • Adjustable waist
Item Description Size Price To Top
SIMGO-S Simms G3 Guide Vest, Orange Small $169.95

SIMGO-M Simms G3 Guide Vest, Orange Medium $169.95

SIMGO-L Simms G3 Guide Vest, Orange Large $169.95

SIMGO-XL Simms G3 Guide Vest, Orange X-Large $169.95

SIMGO-XXL Simms G3 Guide Vest, Orange XX-Large $169.95

SIMGO-XXXL Simms G3 Guide Vest, Orange XXX-Large $169.95


Simms Vertical Master Vest

Simms Vertical Master Vest

The design of this all-new vest allows quick access to fly boxes, tippets and tools. An ideal choice for the technical angler.

  • New for 2005
  • Shoulders feature contoured space net for ventilation
  • Non-crushable, 3-D spacer knit collar will not retain water
  • Magnetic buckle & zipper closure with whistle zipper pull
  • Two back pockets with zipper closures - one large bellowed pocket and a smaller, divided pocket
  • External retractors with magnetic tool catcher
  • Dry shake pockets
  • Vertical patent pending molded foam pockets hold large steelhead fly boxes
  • Simms fish patch + Super-Fly patch
Item Description Size Price To Top
SIMVM-S Simms Vertical Master Vest, Loden Small $159.95

SIMVM-M Simms Vertical Master Vest, Loden Medium $159.95

SIMVM-L Simms Vertical Master Vest, Loden Large $159.95

SIMVM-XL Simms Vertical Master Vest, Loden X-Large $159.95

SIMVM-XXL Simms Vertical Master Vest, Loden XX-Large $159.95

SIMVM-XXXL Simms Vertical Master Vest, Loden XXX-Large $159.95


Bead Head Midge Larvae

Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Black Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Red
Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Green Bead Head Zebra Midge, Black
Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Olive  Bead Head Zebra Midge, Red

Midges laying eggs.

Walk along the shoreline of the Deschutes River and study the vegetation growing on the rocks in the splash zone.  A lot of it is yellowish, greenish, stringy stuff that looks like some kind of algae.  Fact is much of what you think is plant life is actually midge eggs; zillions of billions of them. Some species of midges lay strings of eggs on anything that is wet at the edge of the water.  This includes not only shoreline rocks but boats, oar blades and the waders of wading fishermen.  These eggs hatch into midge larvae.  Midge larvae are very simple worm creatures. You can imagine how many there might be in square foot of river bed.  That is a lot of food for trout and other fish. 
The following is quoted from: Hatch guide For Western Streams - "Midge larvae are found in all types of water, though those in stillwaters tend to be larger than those found in streams.  They live on, or burrow into, the substrate and feed on algae or decaying plant and animal mater, though a few species prey on smaller insects.  In streams the larvae are found in most water types, but bottoms where debris settles often have dense populations of midge larvae.  Because midges have several generations per year, larvae are present in streams all year and are constantly found drifting in the currents.  Even though they are small, the large numbers found in the "drift" offer trout a steady supply of food when other insects are not available.  In heavily fished streams, trout often feed selectively on midge larvae, even when other insects are hatching."
The flies below are effective midge larvae patterns for moving water.  Fish them dead drift along the bottom of any river, any time of year.

Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Black Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Black
Many midge larva are dark colored.  This simple bead head fly fished dead drift very close to the bottom is always a good choice as a searching fly.
Item Description Size Price To Top
9046-16 Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Black 16 3 for $5.25


Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Green Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Green
Some midge larvae take on the color of the bright colored vegetation that they feed on. 
Item Description Size Price To Top
9048-16 Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Green 16 3 for $5.25


Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Olive Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Olive
Other midge larvae take on the color of the dull colored vegetation that they feed on. 
Item Description Size Price To Top
9049-16 Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Olive 16 3 for $5.25


Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Red Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Red
Some midge larvae produce hemoglobin and are varying shades of red.  Some midges have bright red bodies in in all life stages. They are often called "Blood Midges".
Item Description Size Price To Top
9051-16 Bead Head Midge, Shaggy Red 16 3 for $5.25


Bead Head Zebra Midge, Black Bead Head Zebra Midge, Black
On many rivers, this is the deadliest fly ever invented.  A long fine tippet facilitates fishing this fly.
Item Description Size Price To Top
00252-16 Bead Head Zebra Midge, Black 16 3 for $5.25

00252-18 Bead Head Zebra Midge, Black 18 3 for $5.25


Bead Head Zebra Midge, Red Bead Head Zebra Midge, Red
Deadly blood midge pattern.
Item Description Size Price To Top
06406-16 Bead Head Zebra Midge, Red 16 3 for $5.25

06406-18 Bead Head Zebra Midge, Red 18 3 for $5.25


The key to success is "understanding".  You can never know enough.
Understanding the organisms that trout feed on is one of the keys to catching trout.
The Hatch Guide For Western Streams by Jim Schollmeyer 
is great reference material for the trout fisher.
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1(800) 266-3971

Fish long & prosper,
Mark Bachmann, Patty Barnes


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