Sage 6129-4 VXP, Steelhead PhD, Fall Hatches On Lakes, Fall Lake Trout Flies

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Sage 6129-4 VXP
Steelhead PhD
Fall Hatches on Lakes
Fall Trout Lake Flies

Sage 6129-4 VXP
Simon Gawesworth and Josh Linn each brought new Sage 6129-4 VXP two-hand fly rods to "Summer Steelhead PhD".  I had a chance to use the one that Simon brought. It was impressive. The rod was matched with Rio's new Steelhead Scandi Shooting Head weighing 385-grains rigged with a ten foot intermediate VersiLeader and PowerFlex Core shooting line .030". The first thing you will notice about the VXP Series of rods is the good looks, never mind that it doesn't cost as much as a Z-Axis or TCX. The second thing you will notice and fall in love with are Sage's new handle dimensions. Cork diameter is more streamlined than previous sage two-handers resulting in increased casting sensitivity and less hand fatigue. The balance and feel of this rod are exceptional. And 6129-4 VXP's are in stock Now!

Simon Gawesworth teaching how to cast with your back against the weeds at Summer Steelhead PhD.
His rod of choice: Sage 6129-4 VXP
Sage 6129-4 VXP Length: 12' 9"     Line: #6     Pieces: 4

This rod has that fast crisp action that will appeal to really good casters and beginners too. It loads easy and kicks hard resulting in a soft easy casting stroke and blinding fly line speed. To us, this is the best six-weight two-hand rod Sage has ever produced, which means it is arguably the best in its class...period. The 6129-4 will capture the hearts of summer steelhead anglers and winter steelhead anglers alike, as well as Alaska and TDF trout fishers. It will also prove to be a great grilse rod.
VXP rods feature premium cork handles, forest green and silver cosmetics, beautifully machined and finished anodized aluminum reel seats, and perfectly sized guides. A case and sock are included.
Line matches for this rod are: Rio AFS 400, Steelhead Scandi 385, Skagit Flight 425, WindCutter 6/7/8. Airflo Scandi Compact 390 or 420, Skagit Compact 420.
Reel Matches: Sage 6010, Nautilus 10 or 12, Hardy Salmon-2, Bouglé 4"
Rod weight: 7 3/4 oz.

Item Series Line Wt. Action Handle Price To Top
6129-4 VXP 380-440 Fast T $595 SALE ENDED

Summer Steelhead PhD School Report
The last ten day camp-out session started with reliable fishing for my first group, and they racked up some good numbers of steelhead landed. By the time the second group arrived the weather had turned wet and the river began to rise and turn of-color. Last Friday and Saturday nights found us camped in real frog strangler rain storms. White River turned loose a torrent of muddy water and the Deschutes River turned white. Most PhD students caught fish and Simon Gawesworth demonstrated that he could catch steelhead during nearly every session, which goes to prove that you have to have your fly in the water and fly presentation does matter a lot.

Summer Steelhead PhD camp from across the river. Most of the tents are in the trees.

Josh Linn and Ron Walp taking a break while sorting through the goodies provided by Rio.

John MacDiarmid lands a steelhead as Simon Gawesworth takes pictures.

Kevin Sheehan hoists his first Deschutes steelhead.

Paul Wagner with his first swung-fly steelhead.

Falling for Lakes!
By: Rick Hafele
Most lakes go through several major transitions in activity over the course of the year. Spring produces a flurry of bug activity with midges, mayflies, damselflies, and caddisflies coming off in profusion. Through the summer, lakes see a decline of bug activity and fish often head for deep areas for cooler water. This means less surface activity, except for short periods right before dark, and often means fishing patterns deep with sinking lines. Thankfully when the weather – and water – begins to cool again in the fall, fish begin to return to shallower water, which often coincides with an increase in insect activity as well. Exactly what you’ll find will depend on the lake you are fishing but in general here’s a rundown on what you can expect to see and some fly patterns you will want to have ready.


Mayfly hatches in the fall can be spotty, but there’s a good chance you run into a decent hatch of Callibaetis or speckle-winged quills again. This is the same mayfly you saw in the spring, but the fall hatch will be a consistent one or two sizes smaller, meaning your patterns will need to be 16’s or even 18’s to match them. Nymph patterns fished around vegetation can prove productive in the pre-hatch period, typically between 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning and 1:00 or so in the afternoon.  Once you see duns on the water you can switch to an emerger or dun pattern. If you’re not sure which, try fishing both, putting the emerger on a dropper below the dry fly. Finally, keep your eyes open for good spinner falls in the mid to late afternoon. Generally cloudy calm days will produce the best hatches and spinner falls.


            Damselflies don’t hatch in the fall and most of the surface activity with adult damsel patterns will be over.  However, by the time you get into October many of the eggs laid by damselflies in the summer have hatched and the young nymphs are active in the shallows.  This can be a great time to use small damselfly nymph patterns sometimes called micro damsels.  These are often tied on size 16 hooks with a small bead head up front and a short tail of marabou out back.  I like to fish them with a dry line and moderately long leader of 10 or 12 feet.  Let the fly settle near the bottom and then fish with a slow retrieve with occasional twitches and pauses.  Takes will often be light so give it your full attention.  Fishing small damsel nymphs is often overlooked in the fall, but they can sometimes turn a quiet day into great one.


            Well, lake fishing wouldn’t be lake fishing without chironomids, right?  The reality is that chironomids hatch just about every week of the year, so the fall is no different.  Like many insects those that hatch in the fall are smaller than their springtime counterparts.  Pupa patterns will still be your top choice, but instead of size 12’s or even 10’s, you will more likely be using 16’s or 18’s.  Because there are so many different chironomids, however, the only sure way to know what size and color of pattern you should use is to actually collect some of the pupa emerging.  If there’s a wind up go to the down-wind end of the lake and start looking in shoreline foam or debris for pupa shucks or pupa still trying to emerge.  Then, just like in the spring, you need to fish your pupa pattern at the proper depth, which often means close to the bottom.


            I don’t think there is ever a time I go to fish lakes without having some good leech patterns, and the fall is no different.  Leeches provide a year round food for trout in lakes and even when leeches are scarce leech patterns seem to make good attractor patterns.  There is a wide variety of leech patterns to choose from, like wooly buggers, rabbit hair leeches, strip leeches, etc.  Olive, brown, black, and purple are all good colors.  Fish your leech patterns where the fish are!  That could be shallow to deep water depending on time of day, type of weather, and water temp.  As the days get shorter and the water gets cooler fish will be in shallower water.

Water boatmen/Backswimmers:

            Water boatmen and backswimmers can be the real sleepers of the fall season.  Both these insects are in the order Hemiptera and look and behave rather similar, though water boatmen belong to the family Corixidae, while backswimmers are in the family Notonectidae.  Water boatmen tend to be the most numerous.  They also tend to be darker in color (dark olive) and a little smaller than backswimmers (size 14’s or 16’s vs. 12’s or 14’s).  Both insects get quite active in the fall, and though they might not look like it they are very good flyers.  In the fall adults take off in search of new waters to populate and end up swimming and diving around where fish see them, sometimes in great numbers.  Brash, heavy swirls in the lakes surface, without any noticeable bugs on the water, may indicate fish are eating water boatmen or backswimmers.  Patterns should be fished just below the surface or hanging in the surface film.  A good technique is to use a slow sinking line, nine or ten foot leader, and a fly pattern with a foam back to help it float.  Cast it out and let it sit in the surface film until your line has sunk a few feet, then start a twitch retrieve with long pauses.  Because your line sinks and your fly floats each twitch will pull your fly down and each pause lets the fly float back up towards the surface.  This is a great match to the naturals behavior and can drive fish crazy.   You can also use a floating line and slightly weighted fly pattern.  Let the fly sink several feet deep then twitch it back up towards the surface.
Observation is always a key to successful fishing, so keep your eyes open when you’re on the water.  While one or more of the above insects can be a good choice in the fall, you’ll need to decide what looks like the best bet on any particular day.

Top Lake Fly Suggestions for Fall Fishing
Flashback Gulper Special CDC Midge
Paranymph Paradamsel Bead Head Leeches
Loop Wing Parachute Griffith's Gnat Water Boatmen
Great fall fishing at Rocky Ridge Ranch. BOOK NOW !!!

Pheasant Tail Nymph, Flashback
This is a very popular pattern that looks like a Callibaetis  Mayfly Nymph that is about ready to hatch.
Pheasant Tail Nymph, Flashback
Item Description Size Price To Top
12262-12 Pheasant Tail Nymph, Flashback 12 3 for $5.95 SALE ENDED
12262-14 Pheasant Tail Nymph, Flashback 14 3 for $5.95 SALE ENDED
12262-16 Pheasant Tail Nymph, Flashback 16 3 for $5.95 SALE ENDED

Callibaetis Paranymph
Some Callibaetis have a distinct olive coloration.  This is a good pattern for those hatches.
Callibaetis Paranymph
Item Description Size Price To Top
Q302-14 Callibaetis Paranymph 14 3 for $5.95 SALE ENDED
Q302-16 Callibaetis Paranymph 16 3 for $5.95 SALE ENDED

Callibaetis, Loop Wing Parachute
This may be the best Callibaetis dry fly for selective trout.  Buy several because the wings are somewhat fragile and can get torn up after a few fish.
Callibaetis, Loop Wing Parachute
Item Description Size Price To Top
Q206-14 Callibaetis, Loop Wing Parachute 14 3 for $5.95 SALE ENDED
Q206-16 Callibaetis, Loop Wing Parachute 16 3 for $5.95 SALE ENDED

Parachute Gulper Special 
This is one of the best late season Callibaetis patterns for local mountain lakes.  It has also proven itself as a mayfly spinner pattern for many streams and lakes.
Item Description Size Price To Top
1042-14 Parachute Gulper Special 14 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED
1042-16 Parachute Gulper Special  16 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED
1042-18 Parachute Gulper Special  18 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED

Foam Body Paradamsel Fly
This fly is designed to float.  The body is made from soft pliable sealed cell foam polymer.  As such it is lighter than water. The large parachute hackle simulates wings and adds to the flies floatation.  Fish this fly along weed beds and shore lines when game fish are targeting damsels on the surface.
Item Description Size Price To Top
06293-12 Foam Body Paradamsel Fly  12 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED

Griffith's Gnat
This is probably the most popular midge dry fly.  It imitates clusters of mating midges or individual midges.
Item Description Size Price To Top
1085-14 Griffith's Gnat 14 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED
1085-16 Griffith's Gnat 16 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED
1085-18 Griffith's Gnat 18 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED
1085-20 Griffith's Gnat 20 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED

Midge, CDC
This is a midge emerger or imitates a stillborn midge.
Item Description Size Price To Top
99319-18 Midge, CDC 18 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED

Bachmann's Bead Head Leeches
Bead Head Leech, Black Bead Head Leech, Maroon
Bead Head Leech, Brown Bead Head Leech, Olive
 Another victum of the Bead Head Leech...
There are many "wormy" looking creatures that live in aquatic environments. Most lakes and weedy streams have dense populations of leeches and aquatic worms. During much of the time they are buried in the substrate or bottom vegetation. However, during low light conditions they often forage about where they are exposed to patrolling game fish. Trout and bass seek out these tender morsels and eat them like candy. This is especially true early in the spring before weeds start to grow. Leeches are your most important early season lake flies. If the water temperature is cold, they are most effective when fished slowly along the bottom with a sinking fly line. Swimming leaches are flat and elongated. They swim with an undulating, almost ribbon-like motion.  Bachmann's Marabou Leech is designed to mimic this action. It's flat and has a black bead head that gives it a distinct swimming-leach action. Don't head to your lake without some.

Bead Head Leech, Black
If you only had one size and color for your earliest season fishing, make it a black size six. This fly catches fish. It is worthwhile having the Black Bead Head Leech in all of the sizes. Sometimes trout display a preference for a certain size. Like everything else, leeches start out small and grow bigger.
Bachmann's Bead Head Flat Leech
Item Description Size Price To Top
9041-06 Bead Head Leech, Black 6 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED
9041-08 Bead Head Leech, Black 8 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED
9041-10 Bead Head Leech, Black 10 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED

Bead Head Leech, Brown
This is a have to have fly when fishing any mud bottom lake. There are brown and reddish brown leeches in many lakes.
Bachmann's Bead Head Flat Leech
Item Description Size Price To Top
9044-06 Bead Head Leech, Brown 6 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED
9044-08 Bead Head Leech, Brown 8 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED
9044-10 Bead Head Leech, Brown 10 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED

Bead Head Leech, Maroon
Commonly referred to as a blood leech, patterns that are maroon in color are very effective in many lakes.
Bachmann's Bead Head Flat Leech
Item Description Size Price To Top
9042-06 Bead Head Leech, Maroon 6 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED
9042-10 Bead Head Leech, Maroon 10 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED

Bead Head Leech, Olive
Some leeches are olive colored, this probably helps them blend in with aquatic vegetation. It is well known that a wiggly fly that is an inch long and green is a high percentage searching fly in most desert lakes early in the spring.
Bachmann's Bead Head Flat Leech
Item Description Size Price To Top
9043-06 Bead Head Leech, Olive 6 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED
9043-08 Bead Head Leech, Olive 8 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED
9043-10 Bead Head Leech, Olive 10 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED

Water Boatmen
Brown Olive
Water boatmen have the hind two pairs of legs fitted with hairs and the outer joints of the hind legs are oar-shaped which allows them to paddle and swim. Adults range in length from 3/16 to 3/8 inch long and are usually dull colored brown or olive. Water boatmen often swim in open water where they are easy prey for trout.  They are comfortable in cold water and often a good choice for an early season trout fly in lakes.

Water Boatman, Brown
Water boatmen are reported to occur in fresh water throughout most of the world. In certain local ponds lakes and reservoirs they occur in dense populations. In the edge water of many local rivers with habitats as diverse as the spring fed Deschutes to the glacial fed Sandy water boatmen populations can be very prolific. When other aquatic insects are still dormant from the cold of winter, water boatmen can be very active. 

Item Description Size Price To Top
00531-12 Water Boatman, Brown 12 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED

Water Boatman, Olive
Approximately 130 species of water boatmen have been cataloged in North America.  Like all aquatic "true bugs" water boatmen lack gills and must come to the surface of the water to breathe.  They frequently carry an shiny air bubble attached to their rear abdomen so they can breathe from it.  Try dressing your fly with a powdered dry fly dressing so it will gather air bubbles. Then fish your fly with a slow sinking line and a jerky retrieve.

Item Description Size Price To Top
00532-12 Water Boatman, Olive 12 3 for $5.85 SALE ENDED

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Fish long & prosper,
Mark & Patty