North Umpqua River

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North Umpqua River
Ant Flies
Shooting Lines
A Moment Of Silence

North Umpqua River  North Umpqua Fish Counts At Winchester Dam
By: Roger Shearer

This week I was fortunate enough to find myself with three days off from work, a perfect chance to hit the North Umpqua for some steelhead fishing. First things first, though, I needed to make a short stop at the doctor’s office. Last week I had an encounter with some poison oak on the banks of the Deschutes River that would require some attention. As bad as the rash was, it was a small price to pay for six steelhead hooked on my Thomas & Thomas 1307 rod and Nautilus 12 reel.  Urushiol oil, the toxic substance in poison

oak, is difficult to remove from your skin, and spreads easily through skin-to-skin contact, as well as on clothing and bedding. In my case I may have contacted the oil from my waders, or possibly while I was playing with Marty Sheppard’s dog Trevor. Unaware that I had the oil on my right arm I went to sleep, and awoke to find that it had gotten on my blanket and spread to my left hip and

upper thigh.  My doctor prescribed an oral steroid, Prednisone, for treatment of the rash. I applied Calgel, a lotion from Tecnu, to control itching. This regimen has greatly alleviated my suffering. You can find more information about exposure to poison oak and Calgel by searching on  Now that I was feeling better, it was time to fish. I fished Monday evening and Tuesday morning on the North Umpqua without even a bump. Step, cast, step, cast - the last rays of daylight passing as I reached the end of the run. One more step and I

was practically swimming in the river when I felt a slight tap-tap-tap on my line. At first I thought I had a small trout. Great moments in fly fishing often come from small beginnings.  This fish began taking more and more line. I tightened the drag a quarter turn and then another quarter turn. I stopped the steelhead’s run and began to retrieve line when all hell broke loose as the fish took off down stream.  Suddenly half of my backing was gone! I turned the drag another quarter turn to stop this latest run. I was confident that I had hooked a big steelhead. I began the retrieve again.

I had the backing back on the reel when again the fish resisted, then turned again down river with my fly line and 30 pound orange backing burning off the reel as the sky darkened.  Confident that the fish was well-hooked, I began to apply more pressure. I once again began the retrieve of backing and fly line when suddenly the fly line went slack - nobody home. Fifteen minutes of glory. I had forgotten all of the discomfort from exposure to poison oak.  As the full moon rose on the horizon, I remembered that a full moon is often called a steelheader’s moon. I returned to camp, quite happy and content.

The North Upmqua River features thirty three miles of 'fly fishing only' water, running from Rock Creek to Soda Springs. Here the white water riffles, narrow glassy chutes, and pools  were first made famous by Zane Grey. Highway 138 parallels the north side of the river with a hiking trail on the south side. John Shewey’s book North Umpqua River Journal covers the men who first fished the river: Major Mott, Zane Grey, Clarence Gordon, and Roderick Haig-Brown. It talks about the now famous steelhead runs like Station, Kitchen, and Confluence in the camp water of Steamboat Creek, plus available camp sites including Susan Creek Campground (where hot Showers are available) and Bogus Creek Campground.

The peak of the summer steelhead run occurs in August with productive fishing through September and October. A majority of the summer steelhead will spawn in the Steamboat Creek drainage. The North Umpqua is notorious for its treacherous wading which makes studded wading boots and/or wading staff mandatory.

When fishing the North Upmpqua, look for the pull-outs on Highway 138, follow the trail to the river and find the rock with cleat marks for the casting station. Good luck discovering the intoxication, and endless fascination of the North Umpqua River. The river's "juice" will mesmerize and renew your spirit.

In his book, Steelhead Fly Fishing, Trey Combs called the camp waters of the North Umpqua River the most celebrated waters in all of steelhead fly fishing. This book is considered by many to be the bible of steelhead fly fishing techniques, fly patterns, and the great river anglers.

Ant Flies
Antron Wing Ant, Black Twilight Parachute Ant
Ant, Foam Body  Winged Ants
Carpenter Ant Queen

Ants are the most numerous of all insects. They live in large colonies which are family bands who conduct themselves with strict social organization.  Ants have only one or two queens per colony and they that do all of the egg laying. When new queens are born they have to leave and start their own colony. At this stage they are winged,

and they fly to new territories. On the west side of the Cascades it starts with the Queen Carpenter Ant exodus. At the 1,200' elevation near our store, the air is filled with big glossy black queens during the first hot days in April.  Emergence progresses up hill and is still going on in August at Frog Lake, which is about 3,500' in elevation. Ant "hatches" are of major importance to the angler. Ants are clumsy fliers. Wherever ant queens are migrating around water, there are fish eating them. Carpenter ants make their living by consuming dead conifer trees. There are a lot more of them in old growth forests. A Carpenter Ant fly is an especially good fly pattern to have when fishing mountain streams. Try our foam body Carpenter Queen. It's the best we've been able to come up with. The Carpenters are only one of many ant migrations that happen in the region. Next time you are fishing a desert stream, stop and examine how many kinds of ants inhabit the barren landscape. There are a multitude of sizes and colors. Most seem to forage around water. Some do fall in. Trout and panfish love ants. Foraging ants are always wingless. But, remember that each specie probably has a queen exodus sometime during the year. Be sure to carry a few winged and wingless ant patterns to cover a variety of situations. The Twilight Parachute Ant is an easy one to see and an effective searching pattern for everything from blue gills to sea run cutthroats. The Winged Ant Fly is an essential fly to have in all sizes.  If you are fishing for any specie of fish that eats insects of any kind, the probability is that they eat ants whenever they are available.

Antron Wing Ant, Black
Angling entomologists haven't studied and documented terrestrial hatches, such as queen ant flights, with the same  interest as has been paid to aquatic insect hatches.  Because of this, there isn't a readily available source of information on species or hatch timing.  The Antron Ant series of flies are designed to fit the size and color of ants most usually found in the Pacific Northwest.  The white wing is easy to see in many light conditions.  It is easily colored with a water proof felt marker.  We suggest you carry dark gray and brown markers.  You man also easily refashion or remove the wings with your leader clipper.
Item Description Size Price To Top
8000-12 Antron Wing Ant, Black 12 3 for $5.25

8000-14 Antron Wing Ant, Black 14 3 for $5.25

8000-16 Antron Wing Ant, Black 16 3 for $5.25


Ant, Foam Body
The queen removes her wings by chewing them off at the base.  After the initial construction of the nest, eggs are laid, and after a period of incubation they hatch.  These new ants are all females, but will never breed.  Instead they become nannies for future generations of ants, which too, hatch from the next laying of eggs by the same, original queen.  They are the workers.  Much of their work is foraging to feed the queen and her young.  Many of these wingless ants end up in water where they become fish food.  This foam pattern is unsinkable and very durable.
Item Description Size Price To Top
99255-14 Ant, Foam Body 14 3 for $5.25


Carpenter Ant Queen
This ant produces some of the most important  hatches of the season on our local lakes and streams.  The ant specie that produces this hatch is the larges ant in our region.   Expect to see carpenter ant queen flights from April through August.

Carpenter Ant Hub
Carpenter Ant Photos

Item Description Size Price To Top
8010-10 Carpenter Ant Queen 10 3 for $5.25


Twilight Parachute Ant
This is an easy to see "wingless ant" pattern.  It is a good searching pattern for both lakes and streams.  Ants are active throughout the daylight hours.  This is when most ants make contact with trout water.  The day-glow parachute post on this fly is easy to see for the angler, but inconspicuous to the fish. 
Item Description Size Price To Top
8003-16 Twilight Parachute Ant 16 3 for $5.25


Winged Ant Fly, Black
Often new winged queens leave a colony by the hundreds.  When this happens there can be an explosion of fish food equal to many aquatic insect hatches.  Fish can become very selective when it comes to the size of ants they will feed on. Most ants are small.  One day many years ago, a friend and I visited the Kilchis River, not far from Tillamook, OR.  It was late September and the water was very low and clear, clear enough to see dozens of Sea Run Cutthroats in a big pool under a bridge.  There fish were on the move, coming upstream

into the pool through a shallow riffle.  They were going out the top end, also through another shallow riffle.  We fished under the bridge to fish that were easily visible, trying many flies and different presentations without success.  After more than an hour I gave up, and decided to explore upstream from the bridge.  The river was very shallow for a several hundred yards.  It deepened only slightly under a jam caused by an up-rooted medium size cottonwood tree, and the other woody debris that had collect on it.  At first I passed it by.  Wading through extremely shallow water I kicked a sculpin out of the gravel  and up onto the low bank. It flopped around and I seized it, examining it closely.  I selected a fly out of one of my boxes that looked similar, and to the end of my leader.  It was then that I saw a fish rise under the log jam.  Upon re-assessing that piece of water, I realized it was much larger than my first impression.  A second fish rose and then a third.  There was much more room between the water and the wood than I first thought.  The sculpin fly was sent under the jam.  The reaction was instantaneous and a very nice cutthroat was landed.  It was killed for dinner and its stomach contents were autopsied.  It was full of small black winged ants.  It was then that I noticed the cloud of tiny queens hatching from the log jam.  Fortunately there matching flies in one of my boxes.  Many nice sea runs were landed that afternoon.  It still ranks as the best day of sea run cutthroat fishing I have ever had.
Item Description Size Price To Top
06250-12 Winged Ant Fly, Black 12 3 for $5.25

06250-14 Winged Ant Fly, Black 14 3 for $5.25

06250-16 Winged Ant Fly, Black 16 3 for $5.25

06250-18 Winged Ant Fly, Black 18 3 for $5.25


No one beats our quality at any price!

Shooting Lines
Airflo Frog Hair Rio
Cortland   Sunset Amnesia
A Brief History of Shooting Lines
Pete Gadd works the Klickitat River using a Rio Skagit Spey line, which has been modified with PowerFlex Core Shooting Line.

Jim Green introduced monofilament as a running/shooting line for distance fly casting in 1946 at the Golden Gate Casting Club.  That revolutionized fly casting. Suddenly fly casters could reach what before were unobtainable distances because the small diameter monofilament greatly reduced friction between itself and the rod guides. These shooting lines were attached to high density shooting heads.  Lines of this design are still used today by such legendary distance casters as 13 time World Champion, Steve Rajeff.  As a matter of fact, monofilament is still the choice as shooting line for the majority of tournament distance casters today.  Monofilament does have one problem however, after it has been wound on a reel for a while it tends to take on the shape of the reel spool.  It tends to coil much like the Slinky kids toy.  This is called memory.  In the early 1960's Amnesia shooting line was developed by the Sunset company.  It was was developed specifically as shooting line, and could be stretched to instantly loose all memory which greatly reduced the possibility of tangles. This shooting line remains popular after more than forty years. Monofilament shooting lines are still evolving.  Rio SlickShooter with its oval cross section is very popular.  Frog Hair Shooting Line is bombarded with gamma rays during manufacturing to make it slicker and more tangle free.  It is the latest monofilament shooting line to hit the market.  Shooting heads and shooting lines quickly migrated from the tournament scene to fishing water.  Anglers found that they could cast much further with this new system.  Suddenly shooting heads were available in many different densities from high floating to deep sinking.  Anglers took these new lines to large rivers for salmon & steelhead and to the saltwater or anywhere long casts were needed.  Cortland fine diameter coated fly lines became popular as shooting lines with anglers during the 1970's.  Larry Schoenborn, while he owned  Larry's Sport Centers, sold hundreds of these lines in the Portland, Oregon area between 1973 and 1980.  The Cortland shooting lines remain popular today, having been proven by hundreds of anglers multiplied by hundreds of days of on the water.  Rio Powerflex Core Shooting Line, complete with integrated loops is the latest development in this type of shooting line. It is exceptionally slick and tangle free because it is built on a monofilament core.  This summer, Patty and I were fortunate to catch very many Dorados using Rio shooting heads and Powerflex Core shooting lines. We will use this system while fishing the Sea of Cortez next year. Lately there has been renewed interest in shooting lines. There is a wider variety of designs is available now, than ever before.  New monofilaments in both solid and hollow configurations are becoming popular.  Tangle-free, braided, monofilament lines have found favor. New coatings are making shooting lines slicker.  The smooth surface creates less friction when contacting the water or the rod guides.  Many fly fishers using two-hand rods are switching to shooting head type fly lines, and there is much discussion about which shooting lines work best in that environment.  Tom Larimer & Jeff Mishler stopped by my camp on the Deschutes the other day. After casual conversation about the steelhead fishing, Jeff picked up his 8139-3 Burkheimer, and proceeded to demonstrate the art of forming long straight casts with a Scandinavian head and a braided shooting line. I tried it, and had to admit it was mighty sweet.  The shooting line was Airflo Miracle Braid. I bought some for myself.  Last winter on our annual G.Loomis float trip down the Sandy River, I watched as Steve Choate reach places in the river that had never been fished with a fly before.  Steve, who is a member of the G. Loomis pro staff and winner of the Musto Spey Casting Championship in U.K., has always been an advocate of long belly spey lines.  On this day he was armed with a Scientific Anglers prototype Skagit head and GuideLine Shooter, hollow monofilament shooting line.  Some of his casts and presentations were off the chart.  He explained that since this mono floats, the coils coming off the water caused less disturbance to the cast than if they had sunk, thus enabling him to cast further. 

Airflo Non-Stretch Miracle Shooting Braid

Marcy Stone fires a line across the North Umpqua using Miracle Braid shooting line.

One the best overall shooting/running line for coldwater fishing with spey shooting heads, is Airflo MiracleBraid. It's incredibly light so it shoots a long way, has NO memory, floats, and doesn't tangle very often.  Because it has no stretch, even those dainty strikes where the fish merely "stops" the fly can be felt. The feel is immediate and very pronounced. This is a great line to use in combination with Skagit and Scandinavian heads.  Some anglers are even cutting the stock shooting lines from mid-length heads and replacing them with Miracle Braid because it gives superior performance.

Item Description Size Price To Top
MBRATDNS Airflo Non-Stretch Miracle Shooting Braid, 40-yard spool 35-pound test $24.95


Cortland Shooting Lines
This company has been making well proven shooting lines for over 30-years.  Floating .031 is most popular with floating heads or sinking heads when fishing moving water.  The .031 Intermediate line can also be used in moving water with sinking heads, and is very popular shooting line for fishing lakes and cold saltwater.

Cortland 444 SL Running Lines for use with shooting heads.  100' length.
Item Description Price To Top
431041 Cl Running Line, Floating, Yellow .027  $22.00

431010 Cl Running Line, Floating, Mint .031 $22.00

431027 Cl Running Line, Intermediate, Blue .031 $22.00


Frog Hair Shooting Line
GAMMA's new "Molecularly Altered" Frog Hair Shooting Lines offer all of the casting qualities the big water angler desires. GAMMA's exclusive process builds-in flexibility and virtually eliminates coil memory, which produces lines that will shoot further and handle easier than any other running/shooting lines. Frog Hair Shooting Lines have the "slickness" needed to achieve greater distances. This processing also helps prevent kinking and allows the line to lay in soft, loose coils that literally "shoot like a bullet" through the rod guides. In the larger diameters, stripping is also easier, more controlled, and provides more secure

hook-sets.  Many shooting/running lines must be presoaked the night before and kept wet right up until fishing time to help make them more flexible. But not Frog Hair! GAMMA's proprietary manufacturing process eliminates this bothersome step to ensure greater suppleness and more flexibility throughout the line.  At home in both fresh and saltwater.
Fluorescent orange
SIZE .030, 88-pound test
44-yard spool
Item Description Size Price To Top
392120 Frog Hair Shooting Line,
fluorescent orange
88-pound test $12.95


Rio Shooting Lines

Rio SlickShooter PowerFlex Core Shooting Line

This fish was taken with a Rio Skagit spey line which had been altered to use Rio PowerFlex shooting line.

There are a number of reasons for using shooting heads and shooting lines.  Traditionally shooting lines are used to cut down on friction in the rod guides while performing long casts.  A floating or sinking head is used to load the rod, the cast is made and the head pulls the fine diameter shooting line behind it.  First used for tournament distance casting, this system quickly migrated to salt water, and Pacific salmon fishing.  Since then it has been used for many fly fishing applications.  The newest arena where shooting heads and shooting lines are making an impact is in Spey fishing.  Spey line shooting heads have been popular for a number of years in Scandinavia. 

Many west coast steelhead anglers have also found Scandinavian style shooting heads to be very practical for fishing their rivers.  The original Skagit style lines were shooting heads.  The latest fad is to replace the running lines on Rio's Skagit Spey and WindCutter lines with Rio PowerFlex Core Shooting Line, because it is slicker and more tangle free than the original running line.  Also one reel can be loaded with backing and a shooting line, and many heads can be interchanged on to it.  This system creates less bulk than packing around several extra reel spools.

Rio SlickShooter

A super hard, slick finish oval-shaped nylon shooting line.  Has no memory after being stretched before fishing each day.  Has an extremely low coefficient of friction for long distance casts.

Length: 115 feet

Item Description Size Price To Top
20490 Rio SlickShooter 35 pound-test $9.95

20491 Rio SlickShooter 55 pound-test $9.95


Rio Powerflex® Core Shooting Lines

Powerflex core shooting lines feature a strong single strand monofilament core that results in a thin diameter and a very smooth finish for maximum shootability and distance. Made with RIO’s proprietary SlickShooter® Process to provide maximum durability and retain the smooth, slick coating that makes these lines so easy to cast. The ultimate shooting line when distance and manageability are important, they combine the slickness and suppleness needed for the highest in performance and are virtually tangle free. These lines were developed for

fishing with indicators for salmon and steelhead in the Great Lakes and West Coast fisheries, as well as being an excellent choice when used with any shooting heads.
All Powerflex shooting lines come with RIO’s proprietary welded loops on both ends.
The rear loop is small, so the backing can be attached in a very streamlined fashion.  The front loop is large enough so that a whole line spool can be passed through it.
Length: 100 ft (30.5 m)
Floating Cold Water: Chartreuse
Intermediate Tropical: Green Tint
Item Description Size Price To Top
19021 Rio Powerflex Core Shooting Line, Cold Water, Floating .035-inch $35.00

19024 Rio Powerflex Core Shooting Line, Tropical, Intermediate .035-inch $40.00


Sunset Amnesia
Amnesia means "no memory". This round monofilament looses its memory with a slight stretch and then lays coil free for the rest of the day. For this reason it is very popular as "strike-indicator" leader butt sections. Amnesia may be the ultimate shooting lines behind shooting head fly lines. It comes in either fluorescent red or fluorescent chartreuse color for maximum visibility. 
Amnesia, Fluorescent Red, 200 ft. spool
Item Description Size Price To Top
AMN-R-15 Amnesia, Fluorescent Red, 200 ft. spool 016 - 15 lb. $2.85

AMN-R-20 Amnesia, Fluorescent Red, 200 ft. spool .019 - 20 lb. $3.40

AMN-R-25 Amnesia, Fluorescent Red, 200 ft. spool .021 - 25 lb. $4.25

AMN-R-30 Amnesia, Fluorescent Red, 200 ft. spool .024 - 30 lb. $5.00

Amnesia, Fluorescent Chartreuse, 200 ft. spool
Item Description Size Price To Top
AMN-C-15 Amnesia, Fluorescent Chartreuse, 200 ft. spool 016 - 15 lb. $2.85

AMN-C-20 Amnesia, Fluorescent Chartreuse, 200 ft. spool .019 - 20 lb. $3.40

AMN-C-25 Amnesia, Fluorescent Chartreuse, 200 ft. spool .021 - 25 lb. $4.25

AMN-C-30 Amnesia, Fluorescent Chartreuse, 200 ft. spool .024 - 30 lb. $5.00


A Moment Of Silence, Please!
Please join us in a moment of silence as we celebrate the passing
of a good friend and fishing companion and professional guide.  
He was one of the first to row John Jones'
hand crafted wooden drift boat. 
Fished with Mark Bachmann, best friends with Josh Lynn,
and well known to the fishing community on many rivers. 
We will miss him.
Marty Sheppard is being married this month on Friday, August 18th
P.S. Watch for signs that say: “Garage Sale-fishing gear” soon.

The Fly Fishing Shop HOME. The Fly Fishing Shop, Welches, OR

1(800) 266-3971

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Fish long & prosper,
Mark Bachmann, Patty Barnes


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