Steelhead Fly Fishing

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Steelhead Mysteries
Fly du Jour

Edge Bright
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A box of steelhead flies. Steelhead Mysteries
Two part article by Mark Bachmann
There are few things more inspiring to the Northwest angler than a box of well worn steelhead flies.  Especially interesting are flies with ragged hackles, tattered bodies or broken ribs, often with hook points of bare metal honed to surgical sharpness.  You know the owner of such a fly box doesn’t pack it around just to 

show off his tying skills.  Such a fly box is a legacy of days spend searching the water and of fish hooked and conquered.   Houston Fuller and I viewed such a box several years ago on a trip to the  North Umpqua River. We had spend an unsuccessful morning on the water around the mouth of Steamboat Creek.  Finally deciding to break for lunch, we climbed the trail to the Forest Service parking lot.  When we had arrived earlier, ours had been the only car.  Now there were 

Fly caught steelhead.

My buddy Bob beaches a nice summer steelhead.

several, including a large station wagon where three elderly gentlemen were sitting on the tailgate eating lunch.  Behind them on the floor of the car aid their fishing paraphernalia lay a very bright ten pound steelhead.  After introducing ourselves the conversation immediately turned to the mornings fishing and the fish in the car.  They cordially advised us that fishing had been slow for the past week and this was the only steelhead they had touched that morning.  More conversation disclosed that they had shared the Umpqua for the past twenty five years and had caught a lot of steelhead together.  Finally, I asked the inevitable question, “What are the best fly patterns for this river?”  One old gentleman reached around behind him and after fumbling in his vest, produced a beat up old #90 Perrine.  I undid the large rubber band that held it together.  It held four dozen size four long shank very, very sparsely dressed Muddler Minnows.  That was all.  The old man told us it was  

the only fly that any of the three of them ever used.  “When they won’t take a Muddler, they won’t take nothin’.”  Some folks believe that one fly will catch steelhead under all conditions.  Would the sport be as much fun if this were true?  
The Deschutes River occupies most of my summers.  From August until late November I work there as a professional steelhead guide.  The Deschutes is a big desert river in a deep basalt canyon.  Here the air is dry and only a narrow strip bordering the water contains much green vegetation.  Head-high canary grass, horsetails, and short scrubby alders can make a wall that is nearly impenetrable.  The Deschutes is big and strong.  It’s waters are always richly laden with algae giving the fish lots of cover.  With water temperatures in the fifties most of the time, it is probably one of the best floating line fisheries for steelhead in the world.  
Don Wysham, Dave Bretton and myself had launched my seventeen foot aluminum drift boat on the Deschutes River at day light.  The morning’s fishing had been active.  Don had landed a couple of nice steelhead on standard Deschutes patterns, one on a Skunk Fly, the other on a Mack’s Canyon.  Dave, an experienced Atlantic Salmon angler had landed one steelhead and lost another on a Conrad, a fly he had used successfully in Maine.  The sun was high.  It was time for lunch.  
I anchored the boat along a small sand bar that was shaded by overhanging alders and set up my folding table and gas barbecue.  The first gusts of afternoon breeze showered the water with small, yellowish-green alder leaves.  Dave, who would rather fish than eat, asked about the water nearby?  I suggested that he walk upstream one hundred yards and fish through the riffle above the boat.  It had produced many steelhead over the years.  Dave searched through his fly box and selected a yellow and green Cosseboom, saying it was one of the best patterns for Atlantic Salmon.  
Dave left for the riffle;  Don tried the water next to the boat and I proceeded with lunch.  In a short time there was a yell from upstream.  Dave was into a steelhead.  I turned off the grill, grabbed the net, and Don and I walked upstream to join Dave.  After landing the fish, a seven pound buck, Dave said that he had watched the steelhead come to the fly from a long distance.     Don and I were fishing a cast of two flies.  We each tied on a Cosseboom; mine on the dropper, Don’s on the point.  The three of us took seven more fish that afternoon, all on the Cosseboom.  I have since fished the Cosseboom on the Deschutes many times and have caught fish, but never as on this day.  Was it the shower of alder leaves that turned the steelhead onto the green and yellow fly?  We will never know for sure.  
On the west side of the Cascade Mountains, the Cosseboom is a top producer of fresh early summer steelhead when presented with a sink tip fly line.  
To be continued in 09/18/05 "Insider".


Fly du Jour
Hook: TMC 7999
Thread: Red 8/0
Tag: Flat Silver Tinsel
Butt: Fluorescent Pink Edge Bright
Body:
Purple Synthetic Dubbing
Rib: Flat Silver Mylar

Hackle: Purple Saddle
Wing:  White Calf Tail,
            Pearl Pink Krystal Flash
Head:  Red
Common Sizes: This fly is most often used in sizes four and six in rivers like The Deschutes, John Day, Grand Rhonde and Clear Water
.

Fly du Jour

  The "Fly du Jour" is proven on all sizes of rivers and a wide range of water temperatures and conditions.  It is one of the have-to-have flies no matter where you fish steelhead along the Pacific Rim. The Fly du Jour may be the best of all Deschutes summer steelhead flies for floating line fishing the majority of the season.  Ninety percent of the season it is my point fly of choice.  Just another purple and pink fly?  Maybe.  There are many.  Purple and pink is a popular theme on the Deschutes with such patterns as Rick's Revenge and the Freight Train being the most popular examples.  The Fly du Jour is different because it uses a revolutionary material called Edge Bright for the pink butt.  Edge Bright is a material that gathers light through its broad side and magnifies it through its narrow edge. It is wrapped on the fly so that the rear edge of every wrap is exposed.  Viewed from the rear this butt literally glows.  The effect is further enhanced with the butt surrounded by a halo of dark purple materials.  The pattern was an instant success when it was introduced in 1990.  In the space of a couple of weeks two different groups of clients that didn't know each other called it the Fly du Jour (fly of the day), and that is how it got it's name.

Item Description Size Price To Top
20575-02 Fly du Jour 2 3 for $5.95

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20575-04 Fly du Jour 4 3 for $5.95

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Edge Bright
Popularized by Idaho fly tier, LeRoy Hyatt, in the Dean River Lantern series, Edge Bright is a stretchy plastic material that gathers light through its broad side and magnifies it through its narrow edge. It is sold in 10" X 3" sheets that are about 1/64th inch thick. The sheet is cut into narrow strips. It is wrapped on the fly so that the rear edge of every wrap is exposed.  Viewed from the rear, this butt literally glows. It gives the same effect as a fiber optic cable when viewed from an exposed end.  There is little doubt that a fly tied in this manner becomes easier for fish to see when they are viewing it from the rear.
The easiest way to prepare Edge Bright is to lay the sheet on a clean pane of glass. Smooth it out and it will tend to stick to the glass.  Use a metal straight-edge and slice with a fresh razor blade.  Width of strips vary with the size of the fly and the whim of the tier.  Most common sizes are about 1/8" to 3/16".  Narrower strips will take more wraps to cover a distance on the hook shank, so they build a larger diameter, quicker tapered body.  If you stretch the material as you wrap it, the strip will become thinner.  This may be undesirable as the thicker strips transmit more light.
The light gathering ability of Edge Bright is enhanced when it is under-wrapped with silver tinsel.  Trim the end of your strip like the one just below center of the picture at left.  Tie it to the hook as you see it in the picture.  The end of the strip is narrowed to just slightly larger than the wire in the hook it will be tied to.  8/0 Uni Thread works best.  The narrow end of the strip should form the foundation under the finished Edge Bright butt or body, so its length should be adjusted accordingly.  Attach #14 silver Mylar in front of this foundation and wrap smoothly all the way back and then all of the way forward.  Wrap the Edge Bright over this foundation so that each wrap over laps the one under it with the rear edge of each wrap exposed. 
Tying off Edge Bright can be tricky.  However thread tends to dig into it and stay in place. 

Fly Fisher's Art. Edge Bright comes in 4-colors.
Item Description Color Price To Top
EB132 Edge Bright Fluo. Green $2.00

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EB137 Edge Bright Fluo. Orange $2.00

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EB138 Edge Bright Fluo. Pink $2.00

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EB139 Edge Bright Fluo. Red $2.00

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My Week
Some people spend their work-week in an office.  I don't.

Actually this picture was taken last jet boat period, but I just had to include it.

My transporter:
on its leash in front of camp.

My best fishing buddy glassing
the canyon wall for Big Horn Sheep.

A couple of half curl rams eat and sleep
 in plain sight for our amusement.

The Camp Heron thinks this is his domain
and that all humans should tread lightly.

Steelhead PhD Class students enjoying a
full breakfast before the morning hunt.

Marty and Brian discussing fishing strategy and designing flies in front of PhD camp.

Andy Murray takes a short break
between teaching assignments.

My best fishing buddy with a steely
landed 20' in front of our tent.

Contrary to popular opinion I do catch fish
once in a while.  Fish caught with Fly du Jour.

I looked up and Doc had a lot of line stretched down the river with a dandy steelhead on the other end.

According to the strained look on Bill's face, this steely must weight at least fifty pounds.

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Fish long & prosper,
Mark Bachmann, Patty Barnes

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