Chris Connaty at Idylwilde contacted me recently and asked if I could help test some of their signature fly patterns. Chris is director of Product Development. Wow.
Chris and I had been looking for an opportunity to get together, swap stories about fish, flies, the fly tying industry, and our zany ideas about the future of same. Our phone conversations about mutual friends, fishing obsessions, quirks in flies and fly tying materials were great, but nothing like we could experience during a day on the river.
To prepare for the trip ( I do my homework), I drove to the coast, where I last remembered seeing my drift boat, and found it upside down in a Tillamook pasture. A trip through my favorite car wash ‘cross the street from Tillamook Sporting Goods and the boat was as good as new, with drain plugs, oars, and all that good stuff.
We met at the appointed hour and found our intended destination a little crowded, but hey, the fishing was obviously good, right?
Chris showed me one of the prototype steelhead flies he wanted himself, personally, to test, pictured above.
With finesse surpassed only by my own finely honed Spey casting skill, Chris proceeded to chuck the fly, pictured in-flight above, clocked at Mach 3.79, into a likely steelhead holding run.
Sure enough, he promptly hooked a bigie; a freshly-delivered-from-the-ocean, chrome dipped, mercury and PCB-free, most fly-discriminating fish.
After a nail-biter of a fight, which included several Hardy screeching runs, Chris is shown above reaching to tail the monster.
The Steelhead, or whatever it was, looked something like this fish, except it was larger, more chromer, and considerably more imaginary.
Me? Chris put me in some great rapids to fish. He even supplied me with a handful of Idylwilde’s finest #14 Adams Parachutes and one Hickman’s Mr Hankey, only charged me twenty bucks, and wished me luck.
Thanks Chris. And thanks for not blabbing about how I got drug by the boat down hill and across the rocks. I’m gonna see if Simms will warranty the shredded knees. Hummmm. And thanks for not mentioning the Burkheimer rod tip I smushed into a rock after you warned me of the impending disaster. Kerry, I don’t understand what could have gone wrong, it just snapped off while I was casting and you wouldn’t really charge me for a new tip would you?
Short story: Chris and I had a great day. No fish, 3 pulls, beautiful water, and time to let down and share ideas about fish conservation. We spent way more time talking about our dreams for the future of our rivers and their steelhead and salmon than about flies, or fishing tackle, or even great winter steelhead we almost caught.
Jay Nicholas, January 26, 2011