We Fish . . .

Jay Nicholas Fishing

We fish
We fish because . . .
We fish

We fish with utmost diligence
A hundred casts
A thousand
Un-counted hours of dedication

We fish with hope on top of determination
Remembering a great grab in our past
Hoping for a great grab we’ve never experienced
Knowing it must
Hoping it will
Fearing . . . .

When our line tightens, finally
When we feel the pull, the weight, the head shake of a great salmon
We lean back
Pull hook point into bone

We stand our ground
Each of us pulling as hard as we dare
Hard as we can muster

The salmon draws into the darkness, the safety of the deep
We draw the salmon into the light, the danger of the shallows

Back and forth
Darkness and light
Back and forth

Each of us yielding only when we must
Each testing the other’s resolve

It’s not a fair contest, we know
But still, we wrestle with the salmon as if our life depended on the outcome

And finally, more often than not
Our prize lays in the shallows, on the beach, in the net

Time to decide

Kill the salmon
Release the salmon

This salmon is food, we think
This is a time-honored tradition

So much potential lies in the shallows where we kneel
Food for family – food for tribe
A glorious token of our skill

So much potential
Male or female, sacred genetic heritage
A chain of life reaching across ten thousand, years
Ten thousand generations

So much potential
Food for the river and all the river’s creatures
So many mouths to feed

So much potential
This salmon is the next generation of salmon

And now it’s time to choose

Time to choose

Continue reading We Fish . . .

3 new Nicholas YouTube videos!

This has been another great week for video production adhere is a quick list of what’s new on my Youtube channel.

Tips for tying a summer steelhead fly with chenille. This material is still a great fit with our most productive flies.

Intruder fly tying discussion. This is a thirty minute video that features a general discussion about Intruders, especially those tied on ProSportfisher tubes. The fly is a great one and I try to mention features of these flies and the intention of tying, materials and so forth. This is not the full story but it is a start and I hope it entertains and informs a little.

Olive and Orange Tube Intruder based on Jeff Hickman’s Fish Taco.

Cream Balanced Leech. A hot new pattern useful in many waters, and most recently popularized on Pyramid Lake – fished under indicators.

Thanks for your kind notes and feedback, I hope you will have fun with these videos.

Jay Nicholas, February, 2018

7 Videos Added to YouTube Channel

I had a busy weekend and one positive outcome was adding seven videos to my Youtube channel.

One of these is a review of the most basic fly tying tools.
Two are instructional fly tying videos; one featuring my friend Garren Woods.
Four are part of my new River Story Series; These videos provide an opportunity to tell a story or share some ideas while I’m tying a fly. These videos are more about the events than about the fly tying — although I do tie a fly, I say little about the tying techniques and focus on the story.

I hope you find something interesting in these latest postings, and encourage you to browse them at your convenience. Thanks and have a great week!

Jay Nicholas – January 29 2018

River Story Series — Larry Cullens’ Comet. This video features Jay Nicholas tying a Chartreuse Comet and relating a story about his friend Larry Cullens fly fishing for Chinook on the Rogue River in about 2004.

Garren Wood’s Adams Parachute. video is rather long and conversational — it contains a lot of good information shared by my friend Garren Wood. The Adams Parachute is an extremely effective fly and this rough water version is well worth your time to tie and fish.

Basic Fly Tying Tools – 1. This short video introduces the most Basic Fly Tying Tools. This is strictly for folks who are interested in beginning fly tying. Future videos will show some basic fly tying vises.

River Story Series — California Bill’s Special Clouser. This is a short video feature that I’m calling rilver stories told from the fly bench. This is an opportunity to share a short story bout fish, fishing, and people while I’m tying a fly in the background. I hope you find something entertaining here.

River Story Series — Henry Hoffman. This video is another in my new River Story Series – I relate my recent meeting with Henry Hoffman while tying a traditional Boss Steelhead fly. This fly is still effective in summer and winter fished on the swing in rivers from the coast to the interior in places like the Deschutes, John Day, and Grand Ronde. I hope you enjoy the short story.

River Story Series — Three-Day Chinook. This is another of my River Story Series -— Three-Day Chinook. In this story, I relate the time back in 2003 when I fished with Bob Borden, Ryan Borden, Jeff Hunter, and Darian Hyde. It was a very slow time and I managed to catch the one fish of the trip by luck alone, I tie a Flame Boss while telling this story.

Trout Tube Streamer Fly “Slender Minnow” Red & White. This video features a tube streamer that is tied with trout in mind, resident and sea-run. That said, I think this style of fly has great potential for summer and winter steelhead in clear water. I fashoned this fly after the style that is well established in Eurpoe for sea run brown trout and Atlantic Salmon. I chose a red/white color cast for this fly because of the universal appeal of the colors.

Last Cast Feature in 2015 Steelheader’s Journal

Steelheader's Journal 2015 Edition.
Steelheader’s Journal 2015 Edition.

Just got my copy of the 2015 edition of Steelheader’s Journal, and quite naturally zipped straight to the back page to see the Essay I wrote at Pat Hoglund’s invitation.

Jay Nicholas' essay in the 2015 Steelheader's Journal.
Jay Nicholas’ essay in the 2015 Steelheader’s Journal.

Thank you Pat, for the opportunity to share my renewed passion for winter steelhead fly fishing.  Yeah, there are kings out there now, but when the salmon season winds down, I’ll be after those chrome bullets again come January 2016.

Common, get out there and purchase your very own copy at your local fly shop or online.

Jay Nicholas, July 8 2015

Not Dead Yet

Jay Nicholas Dec 2014 selfie on river

That’s right folks, I’m still here; just been busy as all get-out and fishing my tail-off, and tying flies, and writing, and – get this –  publishing some books.  Not real fancy official books like you would get in the media commercialized press, but straight from the head to the heart, to the hand,  to the book, with little editing in between to sanitize the content and ensure that it is in tune with whatever convention in style in the fly fishing industry military industrial complex this moment.

Books?  Yes indeed books.  In fact I have just published five books related to fly fishing via Create Space and these are available on Amazon as both print and Kindle e-Books.

Five down, one to go in the next two weeks and two to follow shortly in January and more in 2015 should good fortune and the luck of the draw allow.

Here are the five book titles published so far:

Jay Nicholas Fly Fishing Book of Revelation

Fly Fishing Book of Revelation: the Ultimate, Irreverent, Illustrated Fly Fishing Glossary – this is a 340 + page spectacular coffee table book that takes on the definitions and legacy of over fourteen hundred give or take a few words, terms, phrases, and concepts related in some manner to fishing and fly fishing in specifically.  You will laugh, cry, burp, and roll your eyes as you read this book. Forewords by Misha Skopets and Randy Stetzer will hypnotize you into purchasing this book and that will be the beginning of the end. As with many of my books, there is an element of memoir to this one, and although this is featured as a fly fishing glossary, there are many elements of lure, bait and catfish noodling techniques referenced along with notations as to the ethics of fishing beads, jigs, center pin reels, and bobbers while pretending to fly fish ha ha. Are you an anger?  You’ll love this book.  Do you work with an angler, date an angler, are you married to an angler, is a parent or child an angler?  You’ll find insight to the inner workings of said angler’s mushy brains in this bold tome. Apologies in advance to any person, product, or angling practice that I may seemingly have offended ‘tween the pages of Book of Revelation.

Jay Nicholas Super Flies B:W edition

Super Flies: this is a 6×9″ black and white book featuring a genuine authentic Nicholas sketch of the 52 greatest trout flies, steelhead flies, salmon flies, sea-run cutthroat flies, and half pounder flies ever in the entire world especially in the waters that I fished here in Oregon starting back in 1962 or whenever that was.  This is the artist edition of Super Flies. Foreword by Rich Youngers, Oregon FFF Fly Tyer of the Year in 2006.

Jay Nicholas Super Flies - Cplor

Super Flies – Color: I started with the text for the previously noted book, deleted part of the text, added new text, switched around a few flies, edited some of my childish word usage, and replaced the artist renditions of each fly with genuine and original Nicholas Macro Photographic  representations of the 52 flies.  Most of these flies pictured are fresh from the vise in 2014 BUT tied in vintage style on vintage half century old hooks like Eagle Claw 1197-B, 1197-G, and Mustad lord save us in this new day of fancy materials and hooks and threads.  Close to 150 color photos of flies, fish, tackle and a few people grace this full color large format book.  And if you fished with me years ago I may have told a story about our trip that reported me catching more and larger fish than anyone else and also related how I personally invented most of the good fly patterns out there and you are naturally free to believe any of my drivel or simply be entertained or write a review contesting my account of the events as may please you upon such reading.

Jay Nicholas Sea Flies book

Sea Flies: this little beauty has a ton of color photos of 24 saltwater flies that I have tied and fished offshore Pacific City Oregon in the last three seasons.  Well, actually only 23 of the 24 are tested on live fish but the 24th fly is so promising and unique that I just had to include it in this book because I am convinced that it will be a monster fish catcher in 2015.  Jack Harrell wrote the Foreword for this book and Jack is the experienced fly angler, friend, and mentor who first got me to sea to fly fish the mighty Pacific ocean three years ago.  This book features flies that are assuredly superior in their ability to draw bites from salmon, black rockfish, lingcod, and albacore tuna.  Short and to the point, the photos and fishing stories laced with a little about these fine fish will entertain angler and tyer who aspire to fish the salt or who wish to see what other crazy salty anglers are up to these days.

Jay Nicholas Tarpon Sketch

Sketch: This is an over two hundred page thriller that has little text but contains the best of my sketch collection drawn from images I created between maybe 2008 and 2014.  Factual and fantastical flies, fish, and fishing gear are all here with titles and minimalist text.

I am working on making these available at your local fly shops but so far any anxious reader may 1) order print or e-Book directly through Amazon, or 2) contact the Caddis Fly Shop because I’ll be there on the front end of a statewide tour (ha ha ha  ha) on Dec 12/13 and 19/20 to accept pre-orders and personalize books with signature, a chatty note, and a Nicholas vintage-style fly in a little sealed plastic bag that you can save for posterity or fish – your choice.

After a year and a half of this website being inactive, I have no idea if anyone will even find this new post, but if you do, stay tuned please, I hope to continue producing fresh original books as long as I’m able and I have several more in me.

But this is plenty for now, I’ll follow up with more on the next books to be published shortly.

Thanks so very much to all of my readers for your patience and support. These books mark a very important stage of my life, and it feels great to get them out for others to enjoy.

Jay Nicholas, December 9, 2014

Saving Salmon and People – In the Next Century


The following is the chapter I contributed to the Salmon 2100 Project, edited by Robert Lackey, Denise Lach, and Sally Duncan.  The book was published in 2006 by the American Fisheries Society.  I recently received a request for this chapter from an individual professionally involved in salmon and steelhead management.  I wonder if he will think me a nut-case when he reads this.  Hummmmmm.

I re-read the chapter just this morning and, overall, my views have not changed much in the last six years since this was published.  Sadly, I have not seen much progress with respect to the suggestions I made in this chapter.

Tempus fugit.  Wikipedia tells us that this phrase, written thousands of years ago by the Roman poet Virgil, conveys the idea that “time flees irtetrievably, while we wander around, prisoners of our love of detail.”

I invite you to browse the chapter that follows, and see if you agree, or disagree, and decide if there are ways you can help save people and salmon or whether you even care.

JN, June 29, 2012



Saving Salmon – and People – in the Next Century[1]

Jay W. Nicholas


The invitation to contribute a chapter to this book was deceptively simple and ever-so enticing:  describe what must be done to ensure that significant, sustainable runs of wild salmon will persist in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and southern British Columbia) and California in 2100.  Be brutally honest, be candid, be clear, and speak from the heart in describing what must be done if society really wants wild salmon to persist.

OK.  Here goes.

I believe that the effort to sustain wild salmon in the region is as dependent on swaying public opinion as on science, law, management, or restoration.

Excuse me?

I actually believe that saving salmon (as something more than a museum piece) depends on emotion more than objectivity, on the heart more than the mind.  I believe that human society can choose to sustain wild salmon in much of the Pacific Northwest and California – or could choose not to sustain them.  It’s that simple.  The cost of saving salmon is likely to be significant (see Lackey Chapter 3).  The benefit is also likely to be great.

Is sustaining wild salmon the highest priority for the region?  Not at all.  Social issues like education, health care, crime, infrastructure maintenance, clean water to drink, food to eat, and employment certainly rank higher for most people than sustaining wild salmon.  These and other issues of high social and environmental importance will receive a large and well-deserved amount of attention, money, and effort.  Still, our society will continue to possess considerable discretionary resources available for other, more personal causes.  Save the whales.  Save the seals.  Save the redwoods.  Save the tweetie birds.  Why not save the wild salmon?  Why not save the forests, the fields, the estuaries, and the rivers – the sort-of wild places – that define the Pacific Northwest and California today?  Why not save the opportunity to breathe fresh air and see salmon leaping up rivers?  Why not?

I do not believe wild salmon will be abundant and thriving in all watersheds across the region in 2100.  Humans are planet changers.  Period.  The future that lies ahead for both salmon and people will be shaped by the magnitude of the human population and the sum of choices people make as the number of people in the region grows. I believe that the futures of salmon and people are intimately connected.  Our futures will be shaped by the global economy, and by global climate.  But our futures will also be shaped by the choices people make as we live our lives as individuals and as families in our local communities.

A future with 50 to 100 million people in the Pacific Northwest seems rather ominous to me.  I imagine a future that is not very safe for people or for salmon, a world of making do with environmental leftovers.  I can still imagine joy, beauty, purpose, opportunity, and choice.  I just imagine that options for both people and salmon will be much more limited than they are today.  This future will bring great challenges dealing with the basic human business of survival:  earning a living, finding a home, taking out the trash, eating supper, going to the doctor, getting to work and home at the end of the day, raising a family, educating the kids, going to the park, having some fun on days off from work, keeping crime rates tolerable, paying the doctor bills, paying to get the roads repaired, and so on.  All of these concerns will certainly exist in our children’s future, with or without wild salmon.  The future will surely make it harder and harder to find rivers that behave like rivers once did, to find quiet alongside streams, to find salmon lying in the pools or digging their nests in gravel bars.

Wild salmon depend on watersheds and oceans where they can live their lives.  The actions required to maintain healthy watersheds and oceans are often typecast as an exorbitant luxury that would only serve the needs of a tiny segment of human society.  I disagree. I believe that functionally healthy watersheds and oceans are actually essential to sustaining the earth’s ability to produce food to eat, wood for shelter, water to drink and irrigate crops, and air to breathe.

Well now, look at that.  We need what the salmon need.

Before I get started, I need to get something off my chest.

Just what makes salmon experts the final authority on what the future will bring anyway?  Remember, after all, that salmon experts have been acting like they were in charge and everything was under control since the late 1800s.  They wrote scientific papers, officiated, and pontificated while the salmon declined.  They told us we could have all the salmon we wanted from hatcheries.  They told us how we could have maximum sustained yield.  They explained in great detail how fish ladders and other new gizmos would make dams in the Columbia fish-friendly.  Hah!  Some of the salmon experts may know a lot about fish.  But they don’t know beans about what the world of 2100 will look like.

Sure, there are population trajectories, there are energy-consumption trajectories, there are water use trajectories, and there are crime trajectories, and human disease trajectories and earthquake trajectories.  Should we ignore these?  Nope. But we should not be paralyzed by these trajectories either.  We make choices, each and every one of us, choices that determine which trajectories will actually come to life.  Get the facts and make the choices.  The future is up to you, not just the salmon experts, to determine.

Setting the Stage to Consider Sustaining Wild Salmon

I had a conversation with my five-year-old son last summer.  We were sitting in our car, in a parking lot, taking a break from grocery shopping.  It was a hot day for Western Oregon.  We sat in the car and sipped cold drinks.

Son – Dada, will there ever be no people on earth?

Me – (Surprised at the seriousness of the question) Well, I suppose so.  Yes, eventually.

Son – When?

Me – A long, long time from now.

Son – While we are still alive?

Me – No.  Long after you and I are gone.  And after your children are gone.  Millions of years from now.

Son – Why would there be no people on earth?

Me – (Not wanting to talk about nuclear winter, asteroids, or other unpleasant possibilities) – The sun will eventually burn out and the earth will be a cold ball of ice.

Son – How could people still live here?

Me – They couldn’t.  Nothing could live here when the sun burns out.

Son – What would all the people do?

Me – (Not wanting to admit that the entire human race could just perish) – Well, they could build rocket ships and travel to another planet like earth and live there.

Son – How could the new planet be just like earth?

Me – It probably wouldn’t be just like earth.  But it would have oxygen and not be too hot or cold, and have water, and plants, and critters, and have food to eat, and places for people to live and for children to play.

Son – You know, Dada, if you were playing or fishing, a million years wouldn’t seem like a very long time.  (He knows me.)

Me – Yes, time passes very fast when you’re having fun playing or fishing.

We sat there for a while in silence.  Then he started again.

Son – Dada, will there ever be no salmon on earth?

Me – I don’t know.

Son – Could there ever be no salmon on earth?

Me – I don’t know.  I suppose so.

Son – Why would there be no salmon?

Me – Well, people could catch too many, or we could change the rivers so much that the salmon could not lay their eggs and have safe places to live in the streams before they go to the ocean.

Son – And litter and make culverts that block fish too?

Me – Yes.  That would be bad for the fish too.

Son – Dada, will salmon be here as long as people live on the earth?

Me – I don’t know.

Son – Will salmon be here as long as our family is alive?

Me – Yes.  I think so.

Son – Dada, is your job to help salmon stay healthy?

Me – Yes.  Yes it is.

Son – What should people do to keep salmon alive?

Me – Well, it’s complicated.

Son – But what should people do, Dada, please tell me.

So I told him, in words I thought a five year old would understand.  I told him in words that anyone would understand.  I tried to be accurate and fair.

Me – Don’t catch too many fish.  Don’t straighten the rivers too much.  Don’t block the streams with culverts the fish can’t swim through.  Don’t build dams that the fish can’t swim over.  Don’t take too much water out of the streams.  Don’t cut down all the trees along the streams.  Be really careful with putting hatchery fish into streams.  Don’t put too much mud or bad chemicals into the streams.  Don’t  . . . . . . . . . .

Son – Dada, can we go to a park and play now?

Me – Yes.  Of course we can.

We went to a park where there were trees for shade, but the conversation and Lackey’s annoying forecasts of salmon scenarios in 2100 continued to haunt me. I began to think about what I would say to my son if I thought he could understand the complexity of the world that I see.  My son knows that I am supposed to help save salmon.  He simply expected me to do my job.  My plea – well, it’s just so complicated – was not sufficient reason to avoid answering the question.

How would I answer if God asked my opinion?  What would I tell people if I thought they would listen and consider doing what I asked?  How could I plead to save wild salmon in a world that is becoming increasingly more complex socially and economically, where development pressures are growing day by day, where it seems that everyone wants the same resources that salmon need to survive?  How could I say what I believed without being branded as too radical, too weak, misguided, compromising, unrealistic, or just plain – you know – crazy?

The answer came to me, as they say, in a dream.  A salmon spoke to me:  a wise old chinook salmon.  She spoke to me of her fears and hopes for the future. Here is what she said.

Dreaming of Salmon

You come to me and ask what must be done to save salmon across the Pacific Northwest and California.  To ensure that salmon are sustainable as wild runs across the region in 2100.  You tell me that there will be millions more people here.  You tell me that humans will continue to worship money and manufactured things above natural things, above spiritual and cultural values.  You tell me that humans will not wish to share the streams, the forests, and the waters that sustain our young.  You tell me that humans are obsessed with concerns for their own prosperity, that they will have little regard for our prosperity, for our future.

All this talk makes me very sad.  This talk fills me with fear for the future of salmon.  And it fills me with fear for the future of your children.  You describe a future world that is dark for salmon and, I think, dark for your children as well.  Humans are great and powerful, yet you are not so wise as you pretend.  You depend on the earth, the sky, and the waters to sustain you, just as salmon do.  Yet I fear humans believe they have outgrown any need for the natural world.

Very well.  You ask what must be done.  I will answer to you.

I will try to speak for all salmon, but I remind you that we are still many species, many populations, in many rivers.  I ask my brothers and sisters to forgive me if my words are clumsy or if I am simply wrong.  Do not believe that I speak for God.  I can only tell you what I have come to believe, not knowing if this is right or just.  But hear me, at least, and consider my words.

First – your actions must enlist support for our cause.

You must speak gently and firmly to win over people who have misguided ideas about the effort to sustain wild salmon.  From time to time, you will hear humans talk about efforts to sustain wild salmon.   In the course of their conversation, they will make statements that are just plain wrong, or that are not fair, or that only tell one side of the story.  Here are three examples of short sighted or unfair statements that you must confront in a constructive manner.

1.  Huge sums of money are being spent on salmon recovery. Humans have extracted uncountable riches from the land, the waters, and the creatures that populated this region.  Our homes have sustained humans and bought you great prosperity. It is unfair to complain about money that is being spent to secure a future for salmon.  Remember, neither salmon nor humans can breathe, eat, or drink money.  It is time to pay back a small fraction of what you have taken to build a future that will benefit both people and salmon.

2.  Sustaining wild salmon requires draconian restriction of private rights.  Everyday human life involves innumerable restrictions on behavior.  Obey traffic laws, pay taxes, meet school requirements, stand in line to get tickets, pay for water from the tap, pay to flush the toilet, wear clothes, don’t use offensive language, don’t pick flowers in the park, don’t litter, don’t walk on the grass, stand behind the security line, submit your luggage for screening, buy a fishing license, meet the minimum building codes, don’t locate that industrial factory in this neighborhood, don’t dump that trash in the river – and on, and on, and on.

Humans, most of them, accept a vast set of restrictions on individual behavior and enjoy the rewards of the restrictions – a safer, more orderly, more predictable society, city, neighborhood, classroom, and workplace.  Humans obey the rules and restrictions that society has established.  Is it draconian to make someone pay taxes for the military even though they personally are not threatened with invasion by a foreign country?  Is it unfair for someone to pay taxes to support elementary education even though they do not have children?  The answer to each of these questions may be yes or no depending on the individual’s perspective.  The same may be said of restrictions that may be needed to sustain wild salmon in the face of an escalating human population; some may find them inappropriate, but it is not fair to refer to these restrictions, alone, as draconian.

3.  People’s lives would be no poorer if our Pacific Northwest and California rivers could no longer sustain wild salmon.  Look at the inner cities in the densest population centers of the world.  Look at the inevitable disparities between the few, the rich, the privileged and the multitude of impoverished souls that eke out their existence in high-density populations.  Are the predicted increases in human population really coming to the Pacific Northwest?  I can’t say.  Has human society been bold enough to tackle the population bomb issue?  No.  Would there be social and economic consequences to limiting human population growth?  Surely.

Today, you have scenic vistas of rivers, lakes, forests, farms, beaches – and you have wild salmon.  You have jobs and space to live, jobs and recreation, jobs and salmon. Salmon still swim through Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco.  Many people live here because there are still rivers, beaches, farms, forests, and salmon.  Don’t be so quick to dismiss the value people place on these intangibles.  Where are you going to go, where will your children go, if millions of people gobble up the clean air, rivers, forests, beaches, and salmon?  Alaska?  Northern Canada? Do you think they want you up there?  Not likely.

Tell people how their lives would be different, how their children’s lives might be different, if the region changes so much that wild salmon can’t survive here.  Paint them a picture.  Let it sink in.  Then encourage them to make choices that will be good for salmon and for people.

Celebrate salmon images in your everyday lives.  All creatures are beautiful.  Sadly, many humans have become so distant from the land and the waters that they only appreciate the beauty of artificial things – trinkets created by man.  Spread word of our beauty.  Spread word of how we salmon have lived here with humans for 10,000 years.  Spread word of how our bodies have sustained humans and otters, eagles and seals, raccoons, forests, and mayflies.  Spread word of our beauty in images – in writing, film, and stories.  Teach your children of our beauty.  Teach your leaders, voters, and business owners.  Salmon must have a strong constituency.  Without it we will perish.  With each year, human thoughts and lives are further removed from a world that can sustain salmon and people.

You must provide abundant new opportunities for humans to see wild salmon.  Today, the best place for people to see salmon is in a hatchery, at the viewing window of a dam that restricts our journey, or wrapped in plastic at one of your grocery stores.  This must change.  You must invest in constructing many viewing sites where humans can go to see us in the wild:  see us digging our nests in the gravel; see us leaping at rapids and falls; see our young in their home streams leaping at insects at twilight; see us surging upstream through the riffles on the first fall rains.  We must live in the hearts and minds of humans as they make their daily choices of how they work, how they spend their money, how they build their homes and families, and make compromises that affect the survival of wild salmon.

Why should humans choose to make any sacrifice to sustain wild salmon if they think we live only in hatcheries?  Help them understand that watersheds nourish us, and that we, in return, nourish the watersheds. Bring people to our homes.  Let them see how we live and die.  Tell them what we need to survive.  When humans know us throughout the year as part of their families, they may choose to save us.

Cease your bickering.  Many humans who are most dedicated to securing a future for wild salmon behave as isolated angry spirits, arguing over what must be done to save wild salmon.  Many of these humans are sincere but unrealistic. They engage in fights that cannot be won.  They waste energy, waste resources, and create bad feelings among humans who might be sympathetic to our cause, but who turn away from our need because of the anger and hatred they see being expressed.

Some humans say that a grave injustice has been done to the land and the waters that are the home to salmon.  Some people say that the injustice must be set right.  But salmon see that much of what has been done – is done forever.  Battling with ghosts of the past will never secure our future.  Do salmon think that it is wrong for humans to take our homes from us?  Yes.  Has it happened to other creatures, other peoples?  Yes.  Will the injustice ever be erased?  Not likely.  Cast these thoughts to the wind.  Live in the present and strive for what future can be secured for salmon and humans, together.

Speak with a single, clear voice.  Many humans already respect the needs of salmon.  All too often, these humans gather into little separate groups instead of banding together to speak with a single clear voice.  It seems that many of these groups have become more concerned with sustaining their own viewpoints, their own distinct identities, their own sense of power, than they are with securing a future for wild salmon.  These groups often do not agree with one another, so each speaks to their own agenda.  The humans who care little for our future are confused; they do not know whom – or what – to believe.

Human nature respects leadership.  Do you think that the little chattering voices of the groups trying to save salmon will be strong enough to change the present course of human development?  Do you think that many little voices will be respected when they tell different stories, make different demands, and argue among themselves?  Put your differences to rest and sing a clear, positive song of a future that is livable for salmon and people.

You must speak of salmon with your children.  Education is the greatest hope for your future, for our future.  Without each new generation of humans sympathetic to our needs, we are lost.  Teach your children how to value life, how to value the land and the waters and the creatures of the earth.  The existence of forests, marshes, beaches, and rivers can heal human souls.  These are the homes of the salmon.

Those of you who are not Native American tribal people must support the Tribes.  European humans have been in the Pacific Northwest for only a few centuries.  Native Americans have lived among the salmon for at least 10,000 years.  The Tribes have memories of living and dying with salmon that deserve great respect, memories that carry great value in planning for the future.  Both tribal and non-tribal people live here now, and each of you has powerful tools to serve the future of wild salmon.  Your united action is needed to secure our future.

Don’t trust in science or government to save salmon.  Your human science and technology, alone, will never be enough to sustain salmon in the next century.  Humans play games with science just as they play games with words.  You study us.  You study the rivers, the forests, the seals, the waters, and the dams.  What happens then?  Different humans tell different stories about these studies – stories that confuse and mislead.  But who is to say who is telling the truth and who is misleading?  These stories serve only to distract and delay effective action.

Those of you who wish to secure the future of wild salmon must put your own differences aside, decide what you believe, and temper your belief with great humility.  You already know enough to choose between actions that will secure the future of wild salmon and actions that will most jeopardize our future.  Be clear about what you think and what you say.

And never trust government to save us.  Need I explain?  Government is essential to human existence.  Government provides law and order to replace chaos and anarchy.  Government workers do their best to make decisions and take actions that are consistent with their assignments.  But government, like science, has no soul.  Government, like science, must constantly be watched, trained, counseled, re-organized, and, occasionally, challenged.

I present you, I know, with a great dilemma.  I tell you that science is important, but say don’t trust science blindly.  I tell you that government is needed, but urge you not to trust government blindly.  This is the challenge of being human, a free soul living in a democracy.  This is the great challenge of thinking and evaluating and choosing for yourself.  This is the challenge of maintaining balance between the group and the self.  Humans want simple answers to complex problems.  But what humans want is often not possible to achieve.  Sustaining wild salmon will require compromise and sacrifice in many ways, just like most aspects of your daily lives.

The solution is to swim in the sea of resources that can guide your journey to a future where wild salmon will survive with humans – science, government, common sense, emotion, love, art, money, business, passion, individual preferences, choice-making, commitment to the future of the earth and all of its creatures, commitment to our children, commitment to local communities – the list goes on and on.  Listen to scientists.  Listen to government.  Listen to community members and leaders.  Listen to your parents.  Listen to your children.  Listen to your conscience.  Listen to your heart.  Think.  Dream.  Then act.  Act positively to sustain a world that will nurture wild salmon and people.


Next, you must change some of your laws and practices.

You must prepare for the time when humans do not hunt salmon.  Hunting of salmon by humans is an ancient and honorable tradition, as ancient as our history together.  It is in our nature to bring nutrition and life from the sea to the land, to nourish all the creatures and the streams where we come home to spawn.  For the present you may continue to hunt us.  But the time may come when the land and the waters have changed so much, when we are abundant in so few places, that it will no longer be possible to celebrate the hunt.  You will need then to simply celebrate our existence and strive for our survival together.

You now have industries built around hunting salmon.  You hunt us in the ocean and in our home streams when we return to create a new generation of salmon.  The hunt has been part of the dance between humans and salmon for thousands of years.  It is in our blood.  But the world has changed.  The land and the waters are not as productive for salmon as they once were.  Much of our productive capacity is now taken from us by a changed landscape, instead of by the spear, the net, and the hook.

Many humans place great value on the hunt.  For some, the value is deeply spiritual, for some the value is economic in nature, and for some, the hunt is recreation.  All who participate find value in the hunt.  Just understand that there may come a time when your pursuit of us will be more than we can bear.  Understand that humans who depend on us for money to sustain their families may need to find new means of support.

Many humans will cry out in anguish at the thought of ending the tradition of the hunt.  Perhaps that time will never come.  Salmon also hope that the time never comes, for if it does, it will mean that our survival is at great risk, that our number has grown very small.  We shall see.  We cannot force you to abandon the hunt.  You must listen to the voices within your own heads, the voices of reason, of conscience, of needs and wants.

Reduce your reliance on hatcheries to support fishing a little, and never count on hatcheries to sustain wild salmon.  You delude yourselves about what hatcheries can and cannot do.  Hatcheries have been dangerous toys.  Some hatcheries have done little for salmon or humans.  Others have created a few fish for you to hunt – always at great cost.  Hatcheries have allowed you to pretend that the land and the waters were healthy.

Today in the Pacific Northwest and California, salmon can survive in hatcheries and in many of our home streams.  But if the day dawns when salmon can only survive in hatcheries, we – salmon and humans – are lost.  That dark day would prove that humans have not respected the earth that we both depend on.  That day would reveal the squandering of your children’s heritage.

Should you close all your salmon hatcheries?  No.  Many should be maintained, a few should be closed, and a few new hatcheries should be built to replace hopelessly out-dated or poorly placed ones.  But all hatcheries should be operated with a clear understanding of what they can and cannot do to sustain wild salmon in streams. Many should be operated at a smaller scale, and with different brood stocks.  Each hatchery should be managed in concert with a local council of citizens who are committed to sustaining wild salmon in their watersheds.  All hatchery fish should be marked so that all can know their true abundance.  Some hatcheries may be operated to keep salmon from disappearing from watersheds above dams.  Some hatcheries may be operated simply to provide salmon for hunting.  But the business of all hatcheries should be guided by concerns for sustaining wild salmon.

Your laws to protect endangered species (ESA, SARA) must evolve, as salmon have, to be more effective in the future.  This suggestion will chafe many humans who have already committed to sustaining wild salmon. Endangered species laws were intended to protect us, yet I believe that, as written, these laws may soon be our undoing.

The endangered species laws and the threat of listing have caused humans to devote new resources to monitoring, to restoration, and to education.  Many of these changes are good and have helped salmon – and we are grateful for the work that has been done so far. Still, to this day, humans squabble over whether the future of salmon is in doubt and whether endangered species laws should protect them, or not.

But I now fear that these laws serve more to divide and distract people than to protect salmon.  Too many humans are engaged in a fight over which salmon species should and should not be protected under law – rather than engaging in work that will benefit both humans and salmon in the next century.  The laws are admirable – presuming that all species are valuable and that accommodations will be made to preserve each and every one of them from extinction.  But the world is changing at a frightening pace.  The resources are not available to do what must be done for all.

How could laws meant to protect us cause us harm?  If people believe that a law will act for them by forcing the changes necessary to secure our survival – will they not go about their business thinking that their work is done?  Will they not go back to their jobs, their families, and their worries, thinking that salmon are safe because of the Endangered Species Act and the Species At Risk Act – safe without their needing to do anything more?

Many sincere humans believe that laws are powerful enough to save us. To these people I say – look to the sun, the wind, and the waters; look to the molten rock inside the earth; look to the passing of 10,000 years; look at how humans have changed the face of the region in the last two centuries.  These things are truly powerful; your endangered species laws are not.  It is presumptuous to believe that a law will prevent the salmon’s extinction in the Pacific Northwest and California.

The sad truth is that many species may indeed become extinct or shrink to a tiny number. How can this not be true, I ask you?   How can this not be true given the number of humans that are spreading across the land and their appetite for the same resources that sustain us?  You humans cannot educate all of your own children or protect them from harm.  How will you possibly protect all of the creatures and plants in the natural world?

So I tell you that your endangered species laws need now to grow so that they encourage rather than threaten, allow for compromise, and reward those humans who help us. Watch closely. Laws alone will not save wild salmon.  People who care about wild salmon are the only ones who may be able to sustain us.  People who build support for preserving healthy watersheds will sustain us.  People who dream of leaping salmon will sustain us.  People who are willing to give up something to nurture the earth for their own children will sustain us.  And in sustaining us, they will preserve much of what people love about western North America:  the forests, the productivity of the land, the rivers, the lakes, the estuaries, the soil, the water – our homes – for wild salmon and for people.

Be prepared to sacrifice some salmon populations to save others.   It is painful to say this, but I believe many salmon populations will perish in the next century. Changes already come to pass and changes on the horizon are so great that some salmon populations surely will be sacrificed to meet human needs.

Struggle to save the salmon as if you were trying to save your own children – in reality you are.  Grieve with us for the salmon tribes that will die.  Grieve with us for generations that will not survive.  But do not batter yourself against waterfalls that cannot be leapt by even the strongest.  Resolve to focus your efforts where they may be most effective.  You cannot save all of us. Save some of us.

If I could wish away the hordes of humans who are intent on paving the land and gobbling up our waters, I would.  The salmon were here for thousands of years sharing the land and the waters with Native Americans.  Everything has changed in the last two centuries.  Everything.  We are no longer free to live where we have for 10,000 years.  The world can never be changed back to the way it was. More change will come.

Humans behave as if they will always rule the land and the water, as if their needs will always be met with their science and their technology.  Perhaps they are right, perhaps not.  There may come a time when humans will be greatly humbled.  There may come a time when humans will find it necessary to live in a different sort of balance with the land and the waters and the creatures of the earth.

The coastal rivers of all your so-called states and provinces, from California to Alaska, are likely to be our last stronghold on this continent.  Many of the coastal rivers on this continent are smaller streams in more remote areas.  Many of these streams are not so close to large centers of human population.  Most of these do not have dams that block our migration.  These qualities are their saving grace.  These qualities give us the greatest hope that we will be able to survive in the next century. The true stronghold of salmon in the next century, though, may be in Kamchatka, Russia, far from here.

Be prepared to lose wild salmon in rivers above many dams.  Continued pressure by humans to change the face of the land and the waters that sustain salmon, and reluctance to restrain humans from hunting us, may make it impossible to survive above large dams that kill us as we try to migrate to and from the ocean.  If we could have our way, we would breach these dams.  They are an insult to salmon.  But we see that human society has become accustomed to many things that dams have brought and, indeed, accustomed to the idea that you cannot prosper without all the dams.

Salmon have lived more than 10,000 seasons here in the region.  We have seen great floods, great fires, great volcanic eruptions, and drought.  The dams will live out their lifetime, eventually.  Humans may rebuild them, or they may not.  We hope desperately that wild salmon and people will both outlive the dams.

I will speak to you of three great rivers that salmon sing of.  You know them – the Columbia, the Sacramento, and the Fraser.  Of these three, we have the most hope for our survival in the Fraser.  The largest rivers were once home to the greatest abundance and diversity of salmon.  But most of the great rivers are now a terrible sadness to salmon.  Great rivers are centers of commerce and wealth to humans, but most of the great rivers have become cruel places for salmon to live.  Many of the salmon populations that once thrived in these great rivers are already gone, forever.  We ask you to do what you can to let us persist in these great rivers, to do what you can to allow us to reclaim part of our homeland.

Be prepared to let some of our populations slip into the past so that you may save others in the future.  The loss of living creatures is not to be accepted without serious consideration.  But such sacrifice is what we salmon have come to know in our lives.  We bury millions of our eggs in the streambed knowing that most will perish before returning to begin our cycle again.  We ascend the rivers and leap at the falls by the thousands, knowing that many will not reach our homes.  This is our way.  As the human race becomes more abundant and takes more of our resources, we will need to retreat.  Salmon will need to get by with less land, less water, fewer home streams.  It is up to humans to determine how little we will be left with, how many or how few of our populations will survive.

You must steel yourselves to create a new balance between salmon and creatures that prey on us.  It is offensive to speak of this need among humans who cherish wild salmon and who strive to secure our future.  Many humans care deeply for all living creatures and wish to see a return to the natural balance among salmon, seals, bears, otters, cormorants, and others.  We have lived in harmony with predators for thousands of years when there were only Native Americans in the region.  But the world has changed at the hand of your industry.  The land and the waters are not as productive for salmon as they once were, yet humans still hunt us.  In favorable ocean years when our numbers are not so scarce, there are a sufficient number of us to feed the seals and all the other creatures.  I fear that there may come a time when salmon will need humans to hunt some of the wild creatures that hunt us.

Understand that I do not ask this lightly.  And do not think that we mean disrespect to any of the creatures that hunt us.  Each creature must strive to eat and survive, just as humans do.  The seal, the otter, the merganser – each is simply trying to survive as it has in the past.  It is the natural way of all wild creatures.

But the world today is a different place than the world where salmon lived for more than ten thousand years.  We are striving to adapt to this new world and simply ask that humans be prepared to hunt some of the creatures that also hunt us – if it seems necessary to sustain our populations.

You must consolidate public and private land ownerships and limit human development in certain watersheds.  The region is broken into patches of land owned and managed by citizens, state agencies, local governments, the federal government, and Tribes.  This pattern of land ownership makes no sense in our world, and cannot support a sustainable future for wild salmon. You must create a new model of land stewardship that will serve salmon and people better than the existing pattern has. Salmon need watersheds large enough to support our life cycle at critical times of the year.  Your disorganized pattern of land ownership must be replaced with one that will better serve the needs of salmon and people.

Imagine land stewardship where many people work together, respecting watersheds that sustain wild salmon and people.  Imagine a future where management of many public and private lands in whole watersheds is negotiated to support salmon, forestry, agriculture, and recreation.  The future I ask you to imagine will require large-scale land trades and stewardship agreements.  These changes will be complex and contentious, but must occur if wild salmon are to be sustained in the next century.  Decisions will need to be made about where wild salmon will be allowed to thrive.  You will need a plan, a map, and a schedule. You will need to make up your minds and convince politicians to approve the plan.  This process will cause uproar, but it must be done.

Finally, you must undo some of the changes you have made to the land and the waters over the last two centuries.  You humans have worked hard to change the shape of the land in ways you thought would accommodate your communities.  You dammed and straightened our rivers.  You cleared our rivers and estuaries of the trees that sheltered our young in winter.  You drained and filled wetlands for your farms and cities and roads.  You have changed the world to suit your needs, without thinking of us.

You must learn to understand how your actions in changing the earth, in the long run, are not healthy for people or for salmon.  Your disregard for the needs of the earth’s creatures will create a world that will not be able to sustain your children.  Humans will likely go on changing the land and the water.  But you could choose to make concessions and restore a little of the world that we both depend on.

Some of your dams should be removed.  Many of the culverts under roads should be improved to give salmon free access to our homes.  You should use water from our streams more wisely and protect us by screening more irrigation diversions.  You should replant trees along many streams.  You should breech many diked areas in estuaries and allow the ocean and the rivers to reclaim the marshes.  All these things may be done in moderation.  We do not ask humans to breach every dike and open every culvert to our migration.  We do not expect every stream to run clear and cold in summer.  We will be grateful for every part of the natural world you choose to protect, every piece that you restore.  Salmon will be grateful and so will your children.

I must go now.

I know you feel disappointed somehow. Perhaps you expected me to reveal secrets that you could have used, secrets to help you save us.  I cannot.  There are no secrets that can save us.  I doubt even that much of what I have said here has come as a surprise. 

If you could only understand one thing it would be this:  Your behavior towards people, the way you conduct your affairs of human relationships, is as important to saving salmon as any trick of your science, technology, or management.  This is the only truth that seems secret to humans:  that the spirits and the futures of salmon and people are more closely linked than you think.

So consider this one idea.  Consider that it might not be nearly as difficult to save wild salmon as some people make it out to be.  Consider the possibility that a true commitment to a healthy world for your children, and a respect for your parents and neighbors, might just create a future where both salmon and people can thrive together.

Please understand that salmon cannot choose.  We can only struggle to survive every minute of our lives.  We journey thousands of miles in danger, in darkness, in drought, and in storm, because we must.

Humans struggle to survive just as we do, but humans can do so much more than salmon.  Humans can love.  Humans can wonder about the future.  Humans can believe in things they cannot see, or taste, or touch – in possibilities.  Humans can choose actions that will make the earth a better place.  This is what you must do.  This is what you will do, because you are human.


So there you have it – one more view of what must be done to save wild salmon.  One more little chattering voice.  Emotional.  Straight from the heart, with a little cerebral tempering.  Not all that scientific.  People need what salmon need, so saving wild salmon really isn’t a luxury after all.  And you know what?  It is achievable.  We can do it if we choose to. We can save salmon and we can save ourselves – if we choose to.  Really.  So have faith and get out there.  Build a future that is bright for salmon and people.

My older son doesn’t ask about the future of salmon.  He is busy making his way in the world, building his life and his family, getting by from day to day, like most of us these days.  My young son continues to ask me, now and then, if the salmon are going to be OK.  Will salmon be in the rivers when he has children?  I say – yes, son.  Am I telling the truth?  I think so.  He hasn’t yet asked about salmon in the lives of his children’s children, or theirs.  He’s only six now.  The answer to his unspoken question depends on all of us.

[1] The opinions and views presented here are the author’s own and do not represent views of current or past employers.

The Mother of all Echo Fly Rod Reviews, January 2012

The MOAEFRR – otherwise known as the Mother of All Echo Fly Rod Reviews

For anyone who follows trivial pursuits, this blog post provides more detail to complement a general fly over on some of the Echo fly rods I have fished over the past several years, that is posted on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog.

Blatant commercialism is a fact of life these days. My friends know that I happily fish any fly rod that has a wiggle. Sage, Winston, Redington, Beulah, Loomis, Scott, Tenkara, and even an old Fenwick and St. Croix. More often than not, however, I have a boat-load of Echo and Burkheimer fly rods that I am doing my best to step on, tangle in nets, and otherwise find ways to test the warranty tolerance envelope. Honestly, truly, it broke while I was casting, playing a fish, sleeping, or some such excuse.

The MOAEFRR post represents a brief accounting of my experiences with specific Echo fly rods. I may not be objective, entirely, but I do not make up stuff to the point of saying nice things about a product that I have fished and not liked. My experience with Echo fly rods has been wonderful in this respect. I liked each and every one of the rods I fished, with slight reservation for two rods, and my reaction to these is detailed following. No bull. Echo represents what is, in my experience, the best intersection of performance, price, and warranty.

Echo Shadow PE Fly Rod Review: This is a 10 ft. 3 wt. 4-piece single-hand fly rod.

The Echo Shadow PE (inspired by Paul Erickson who is some famous guy I have not met – imagine that will you?) offers to deliver high-stick nymph fishing excellence. The Shadow delivers on the promise. This fly rod gave me the excuse to delve into the world of high-stick nymphing without an indicator. I had read about the Shadow and even cast it with Tim Rajeff at the Sandy Spey Clave in 2011. I remember thinking that this rod had far greater potential than the special niche market for which it was engineered.

I started out thinking that the Shadow could be a great fly rod for all around conditions, to heck with the specialized functions, but I changed my mind. For a general purpose rod, the Shadow is a little on the heavy side. I didn’t notice this unless I fished my Shadow right alongside my Echo Edge 9 ft 5 wt. In this situation, I covered the water perfectly with the traditional fly rod, and found the Shadow a little on the cumbersome side.

Lake fishing applications. I fished the 3 wt Shadow from a boat in a coastal lake too. This included plopping weighted nymphs and buggers around downed trees and lily pads, into little coves along the shoreline, and change of direction presentations to trout that showed themselves behind me, in open water, just as I was about to make the perfect cast to a shoreline target. Not surprising, the Shadow excelled at pin-point presentations anywhere from 10-50 feet away when I spotted a cruising or raising fish. The Dapple over shoreline structure was an area where the Shadow excelled. For simple Bugger-trolling or stripping, the long rod did not offer any advantages, but the extra weight of the Shadow was only noticeable when I picked up the traditional nine-footer to make a cast.

An unexpected advantage. One completely surprising feature of the Shadow, in addition to the ability to swing-a-fly-over-obstructions, was the tippet protection offered by the soft tip on this long rod. Not that a 9 ft 5 wt rod is incompatible of fishing 6x tippets, but the 3 wt. rating on the Shadow fairly indicates it’s ability to fight big fish on 2 lb. tippets.

Echo Edge Fly Rod 590-4 fly rod review: This is a 9 ft, 5 wt., 4-piece, single-hand fly rod in the Echo Edge Freshwater series.

I fished this Echo Edge fly rod in small Oregon Cascade streams with dries, soft hackles, and strike indicators. I fished wide-open water on the McKenzie and Willamette with dry flies, soft hackles and Buggers. Then I drove to the coast and fished dry lines, full sinking lines, and sink tips for sea run cutthroat. Lately, I have fished coastal lakes with bead-head leeches, buggers, and chironomids. In my mind, the 9 ft. 5 wt. fly rod is the core fly rod in the world of trout fishing: the first rod to build a trout rod collection around. I have fished a ton of rods in this class over my lifetime. I started with Eagle Claw and Shakespeare and Herter’s back in the 1960s. I progressed to Fenwick glass and graphite in the 1970s. I have fished Orvis, Winston, Sage, Scott, TFO, Loomis, Lamiglass, and probably others since then.

This Echo Edge fly rod ranks among the most pleasurable of the trout-class fly rods I have ever fished. Short and long casts, small and large flies, full sinking and floating lines, wind and calm, shallow and deep presentations: this rod is fun to fish, is what I would refer to as a medium fast action, is light in hand, and performs under as wide a range of environments imaginable.

Echo Ion fly Rod: 990-4 fly rod review: This is a 9 ft, 9 wt., 4-piece single-hand rod in the Ion Saltwater Series.

I fished this Echo ION fly rod in estuaries for king salmon, and in the ocean from a Dory for Black Rockfish and silvers. I fished poppers for Silvers in tidewater too. The Echo Ion series of fly rods is built to take harsh treatment. The Ion series, if it is anything like the 9 wt. I fished, casts well and is an excellent value at its price. If it were not for having Edge and Echo 3 fly rods strung up in the boat at the same time, I might just fish Ions exclusively. No complaints whatsoever. I experienced first class performance from this Ion.

That said, when I picked up both the Ion and Echo 3 in a similar rod weight, the latter rod was noticeably lighter and crisper to cast. Here is my overall take on the Ion series of Echo fly rods. These fly rods are built to be the unfailing back-up rod or the failure proof single rod for the fly angler who wants to test the waters in a particular rod/line class. If you are off on a trip and want back-up insurance in case your first-choice rod gets smushed, the Ion is your rod. If you are dipping your toes in any waters and want to see if you are going to stay the course, the Ion is your rod. If you need to have 5 rods strung in the boat with different lines to cover all the bases, a few of them ought to be Ions. But if you are looking for light-in-hand, high line speeds, tight loops, stunning components, and an overall high-end performance specialty rod, the Ion is a tad less than you are seeking (You want the E3 series to meet these specifiations.

Echo 3 SW fly Rod 790-4 fly rod review: This is a 9 ft, 7 wt., 4-piece Single –hand fly rod in the Saltwater series.

I caught 30 Lb kings on this 7 wt Echo 3 Saltwater fly rod. Not because it was my rod of choice, but because I had loaned my Ion out, and had to have 4 rods in the boat, each with different lines. I also fished the 7 wt. Echo 3 with Poppers for Coho, trolled Bucktails for silvers in the ocean, and chucked Clousers with T-14 heads to lure Black Rockfish and small Lings in the Kelp beds.

Keeping my comments short, (ha ha you know me better than that) this Echo 3 fly rod showcased features of the series. These rods cast an incredibly wide range of fly lines and fly line weights. They are fast but not scary fast, they cast long and load short if you need it, they are Echo tough, but light, very very pleasurable to cast, an absolute blast to feel the bend of a fish, and dependable.

Echo 3 SW Fly Rod 990-4 fly rod review: This is a 9 ft, 9 wt., 4-piece Single-hand fly rod in the Echo 3 Saltwaterseries.

This Echo 3 SW fly rod is the core of my Chinook fly-rod arsenal. The rod was in hand for all of my offshore fishing adventures too, but there was never ever a day during the autumn in the estuary when this 9 wt. single hand rod was not strung with one fly line or another and a salmon fly.

Like all of the Echo 3 SW series fly rods, I give the 9 wt. the highest marks. I treated this rod rough, day after day, week after week, and month after month.

Echo 3 SW Fly Rod 1090-4 fly rod review: This is a 9 ft, 10 wt., 4-piece Single-hand fly rod in the Saltwater series.

Next to the Echo 3 9 wt, the 10 wt. is my second favorite salmon rod here in Oregon. Some choose the heavier rod as their first choice, and I probably would also if my fish were running in the 35-plus lb. class more often. They do not. Most of the fish I have been tangling with are in the 15-25 Lb. class, and the ten wt. just isn’t necessary. Too, making five hundred casts with a nine versus a ten-weight rod – hoping to hook one fish, gives the 9 wt the nod of preference every day of the season.

The Echo 3 SW 10 wt rod is always going to be in my Pram when I am fishing the estuary, even when I am mostly chasing sea run cutthroat. The Echo 3 9 & 10 wt fly rods are what I consider indispensible when salmon fishing, and I cannot imagine any advances in technology are going to change this, ever.

Echo 3 FW 7100-4 fly rod review: This is a 10 ft, 7 wt., 4-piece Single hand fly rod in the Echo 3 Freshwater

Coming off a several-season fixation with two hand fly rods, I decided to step back to the single hander and swing flies for winter steelhead the way I once did. My choice for going retro was this 10 ft. 7 wt Echo 3 freshwater fly rod. I wanted the extra length in case I reverted all the way to fishing egg patterns, and wanted to have the line mending ability that the 10-footer offered over a traditional nine-footer. My intention was to fish Type-3 sink tips in soft water and focus on the close casts. These are situations, often during high water, when steelhead will lie in 3-4 foot deep water, with gentle current, and they can be so close to our feet that presentations with a two hand rod are awkward, as this is about where our sink tip starts to emerge from the rod tip, and I, for one, am usually focused on working my Spey line out of the rod to start making epic far-bank casts.

This 7 wt. Echo 3 Freshwater rod is pure fun to fish, and it is a highly versatile tool in my winter (and summer) steelhead arsenal. I had almost, but not quite, forgotten just how simple and fun it is to fish single hand rods for steelhead. A few of my friends still poke fun at my Spey rods on the Deschutes, as they tromp off down the trail with their single hand rods. We return to camp in mid-morning, and after dark; each of us has fished effectively, each of us has had fun, and sure, I may have covered the distant runs more effectively, but I wonder if perhaps they have fished the close water more effectively, because we both catch fish.

I will add, though, that if you are looking for a fly rod that will double as a wading staff, the Spey rod, and specifically a heavy Spey rod, is a better choice than a single hand rod. Not kidding. The single hand, 7 wt. fly rod, Echo or otherwise, is not up to the challenge of breaking the fall of a 225 pound fumble-footed guy like me. Not even close.

Overall, this 7 wt. Echo 3 freshwater fly rod is a wonderful reminder that traditional approaches to fly fishing still make sense. I will add that this rod fishes as a switch rod with Spey style casts, but you gotta plan ahead and string it with an Airflo Skagit Switch line in about 360 gr, (you can tip it with an Airflo Polyleader or Airflo Custom Cut T-7 tip of about 10’ – 12’.

Echo Switch fly rods. Like all of the rods in the Echo Switch
family, have what I would describe as a full action, one where I can feel the rod load through the butt section. I find this an advantage, given my casting skills, with two-hand casting strokes, and this 8 wt rod can really send my sink tips anywhere I want to send them with a short D-Loop behind me if I am constrained by brush or rock.

For overhead casting with full fly lines and shooting heads, the characteristic full-flex action of Echo Switch fly rods is great for Spey casting but the action is not so hot for my overhead casting with shooting heads and full fly lines. Specifically, the full-through-the-butt action requires me to really slow down my backcast, giving the line plenty of time to straighten out behind me, and then driving the cast forward smartly. The length of the Switch rod, compared to my usual 9’ single hand rod, plus my casting ineptitude, usually leaves me with a pretty open loop, and I just deal with that.

Advantage in windy conditions. There are plenty of days when I am anchored, fishing with a brisk, right-to-left cross wind howling. As a right hand caster, these conditions find me with hooks embedded in the back of my head, square in the middle of my back, in an ear, or sailing past my left ear. The Echo Switch fly rods allow one to overhead cast from either side, so I work my cast from my left side, using mostly lower hand power and my line and fly stay on the downwind side where they are not a threat to life or limb.

Shoulder relief. Anyone who has cast single hand rods for days on end, double hauling shooting head fly lines, is vulnerable to shoulder injuries, or at the very least, to shoulder soreness. I often reach for my Echo Switch fly rods and keep right on fishing shooting heads and full fly lines – casting two handed with 95% of the power from my lower hand. This is quite a relief on days/weeks when my right shoulder is talking to me.

Echo Switch Rod SR 81010-4 fly rod review: This is a 10 ft 10”, 8 wt., 4-piece Switch rod.
I fish this Echo Switch rod in two ways: 1) overhead casting for Chinook in tidewater with shooting heads and full traditional floating and sinking fly lines; and 2) with a 480 gr Airflo Switch fly line.

Echo Switch Rod SR 4106-4 fly rod review: This is a 10’ 6” 4 wt. Switch rod.
My experience with this Echo Switch rod
has been fishing from a drift boat with strike indicators and nymphs. I would recommend this Echo Switch stick to anyone, and I do mean anyone, who is going to fish nymphs and indicators. This rod made nymphing easy, effortless, and delightful, which is saying something – because anyone who has dredged nymphs knows it can be dirty business. This 4 wt Switch rod exercised trout well, without beating them up, and we caught natives in the 18” down to 10,” having fun with ‘em all.

Echo Dec Hogan Spey Rod Reviews.
I’m gonna keep this section short and to the point. Dec got these right and Echo has produced a series of Spey rods that are friendly to both beginner and expert alike. The following are quick snapshots from my days on many rivers with these rods.

Echo Dec Hogan 5120-4 fly rod review: This is a 12 ft, 5 wt., 4-piece Spey rod.
Light summer steelhead special. So light you find it difficult to believe that you have reached out waaaaaaay across the river and are swinging a damp, dry, or sunk fly. Fun, fun, fun, and the summers have an equal footing with this rod.

Echo Dec Hogan
6126-4. This is a 12’ ft, 6” – 6 wt. 4-piece Spey rod.
The absolutely perfect summer steelhead rod in the Dec Hogan series. I fish this rod in winter too, with Airflo Polyleaders or RIO MOW tips and it has plenty of authority to fish dry and Skagit lines.

Echo Dec Hogan
7130-4. This is a 13 ft, 7 wt., 4-piece Spey rod.
If you are a new Spey fisher and want advice on your very first winter steelhead stick, this is the one I would send you out the door with. You will cast tips and big flies right off the bat. The rod is light for the power it carries and is able to convince good chrome to “come to pappa,” at least some of the time.

Echo Dec Hogan
8136-4. This is a 13 ft. 6” – 8 wt., 4-piece Spey rod.
Reach for this rod if you have king salmon in mind. Some favor this for heavy winter steelhead and pushing heavy tips, but not me. I find this rod has the guts to engage in serious conversation with kings. Unequivocally, I have decided that this is more rod than I am comfortable with fishing for winter steelhead; I keep kept going back to the DH 7130-4 or the TR 7130-4 to cover the same water with tips and weighted flies.

Echo Tim Rajeff Spey Rods 0product review: The TR 7130-4 is a 13 ft, 7 wt., 4-piece Spey rod.

This is the only Spey rod in the Echo Tim Rajeff Spey rod series that I have fished for days on end. This is a rod of surprises. Reading the literature on the beast, I was a little afraid that I would not measure up to the skill needed to cast it well. Not even. This rod is as intuitive as any Spey rod I have cast, and the power of the 7 wt made me think that I would be comfortable fishing kings on this rod and would probably reach for the 6 wt Tim Rajeff Spey rod as my first pick for winter steelhead, and then the 5 wt Timmie for summer steelhead. Lots of conjecture here, but I can tell you outright that the 7 wt fished 15’ tips up to T-17, cast long and short, and had a responsive feel through the butt that amazed me. Not quite as limber in the lower nethers than the Dec series, but the Tim Rajeff series of Spey rods are not the broom-sticks that you might imagine from reading the promo literature.

Time to quit writing, in my case, and reading, in your case – and go fishing. See you on the river, maybe, possibly, hopefully, or maybe not.

Jay Nicholas
January 2012

Salmon Fishing: the truth for public consumption…11-15-2011

So here it is – November 15th, 2011 been salmon fishing a lot this year; really a lot want to know what the fishing has been like lately sure you do we all want to know how the fishing has been not that fishing reports are our only interest in life but why on earth would any of us visit a sort of fishing blog if we were totally disinterested in learning a little about how fishing has been or how it is going to be or what sort of flies to use or leaders or lines and fly rods and fly reels and fly lines and all sorts of salmon fishing related equipment and tactics and techniques and salmon fishing strategies and how do any of these vary anyway like how do salmon fishing tactics differ if at all from salmon fishing strategies well I never was too good at those like remembering in grad school about goals and objectives and some people make their whole life about this sort of what I consider trivia but to them the organization charts for their business or government agency is the entire universe but guess what once you are retired or semi-retired or reach a certain stage in life you realize that most of that stuff is bullshit anyway and thank god you are out of it but how could you have suffered through it and even remained blind to it and defended it too but what the hey that is past and today is today so let’s get on to the business at hand like reporting how the fishing has been lately well you can see by the accompanying photos this is what I have to report like for one I have an anchor on my pram and was fascinated by its reflection the other day when there was not a single fish in the entire water body where I was fishing and that also I own several fly rods wow big deal this is commercialism at its finest but at least I won’t mention the brand names but will just say that I would feel underequipped if I could not have at least four fly rods in my boat when I am salmon fishing because I am obsessed with this stuff and have manufactured all sorts of justifications for each rod and reel and line and by the way in years past I stuffed the boat with high end rods and reels but of late I have sold the fancy fly rods and reels except for my Burkies and a few old Abels that aren’t worth a dime anyway and just fish mid-price-point fly rods and some beat up fly reels and never ever rinse this tackle off after fishing in salt water and dirt and estuary mud and cow poop effluent in the places where I fish and heck if a drag gets nasty I just dunk the rod and reel in the water fresh or salt and presto it is back in service besides the old timers who fished for salmon with fly rods and cheap leaders and such never had fancy fly reels anyway so I have found that even though I love the esthetics man on man if it were not for spell checkers I would surely have choked on that fancy word but what a thrill it sent down my spine to say I mean write esthetics even it the context is wrong it might pass me off as a certified smart person unless you happen to know me and laugh and mutter that I am really not all that smart and oh yes the fishing well take a look at the photo of the grass sprouting in my jet sled wow I feel like I have arrived for real in Tillamook County if I can grow a crop in my boat but I actually washed out my pram a few weeks ago and it looks practically clean on the inside and then check out the photo of the anchor and reflection and you will get it I hope that some days there is nothing at all going on with actual salmon so I get bored and take photos of weird things but there is always the fish finder that marks virtual pretend salmon but I thing they are really pogies and if you ever fish tidewater you will know what a pogie is but if you don’t you will have to read my fly fishing glossary which will be published as soon as a few years after I secure a book contract so don’t hold your breath even though I have already written a good ninety count ‘em nine zero plus pages of factual sarcastic twisted definitions of fly fishing related words like chuck and bouncing betty and gink and poo goo and slickshooter and mend and the like but OK the salmon fishing has been a tad on the slow side which is good because it is sort of like a gambling addict who needs to run into a brick wall and go broke or else he or she might never cease and desist from spending every waking minute obsessing about the next hand or round or what ever goes on at a casino and for me it is like being a rat pushing a button go get a food pellet because I remember one time getting a food pellet and so I keep on pushing the button and pretend that there is some skill involved but trying to forget all the times when I catch a fish and it is painfully obvious that it was pure luck and then I jump back into the self serving belief system that my years of experience have in any way accumulated an advantage or an increased catch rate and then I laugh at myself of course it has like an increase of maybe three percent at best and who cares because oh forget it you wouldn’t believe or understand the way my mind works because it is a little vague and maybe scary and I surprised Lisa lately when I said that I wanted to play scrabble and taught my youngest son to play 21 and previously having no interest whatsoever with card or other games and she looked at me and asked who are you and now that I think of it I have really been neglecting my old son not that he is old but since I have two sons I refer to my young and old son and I am so proud of them both and they are twenty years apart but Jackson the young one really loves David the old one and David really loves Jackson and I do wish we lived a little closer so they could spend more time together and even though Portland is only really two hours away David and Heather are young professionals both working for food like I still do in retirement and they have their own pressures and friends and obligations and time is never adequate to do even half of the want to dos and in my case I have been salmon fishing obsessed plus working and wah wah wah you can see that I am really making excuses for not calling my big boy and by boy I know that is only an age thing because he and Jackson are now both taking to advising on my behavior which is to say that they both think that they know more about life than I do or maybe they just don’t trust that I will make good decisions and sometimes they are probably right and I do try to listen  to each of them and I love my boys so much and wonder if they know it what with me being so busy and fishing obsessed and such but god I do love them and my family like who would I be without them I would be fishing more and missing them terribly because they Lisa and Jackson and David are part of my life and I sure wish I could get to know Heather David’s wife better but sometimes I think I barely know my big boy David really and I hope someday he will help me get to know him and does he really know me either or do any of us know ourselves or do we really know the façade and oops better not get into that now and dang nab it wasn’t this supposed to have something about fishing in the content yes it was and so OK again, this has been the most amazing salmon year for me and I love these fish and may they always be wild and healthy on our coast and in my home waters and my trip to the Dean as nice as it was truly left a little to be wanting simply because I was a guest and an interloper a non-native up there and it was clear that I was welcome to the extent that I never said anything to make the Dean attractive to people from the Lower 48 or even Alaska or wherever rent a helicopter and float the river in rafts because that would represent unwanted and I really mean unwanted with a capital U competition on the river and so I have kept a pretty low profile about that trip but maybe I will throw in just one teeny tiny photo from the Dean and redact wow now that is a cool word I learned from watching Eureka and have been waiting to use it and here is my chance to say redact as in I am going to redact any thought of where was I heading oh yeah my camera got dunked up in BC to the tune of another five hundred bucks but no pain no whatever and then the next camera got splashed again and again with saltwater in the Bay oh forget where it was it could have been anywhere there are silvers in saltwater in Oregon and I fished poppers for the very first time after shooting a popper fly tying video for Chris Daughters and the Caddis Fly oops blatant commercialism creeping buy fly fishing gear now please Ok just kidding but the popper thing really blew my mind because up to this point I was a little disdainful of coho in Oregon cuz I have generally been unable to catch the silly things on flies when spinner fishers around me were getting doubles and such as if it was easy but when I for the very first time fished a popper in the Bay the silvers romped on  and on and on and it was soooooooooo much fun and I was whooping and hollerin’ like a kid because partly I could not believe that I was actually catching soho coho on a fly rod consistently and partly because the fish were hotter than hot for their size and making me blubber and blabber to myself and shake and get all flustered and blistered hands and line cut fingers and still wanting more and more because when you see them wakes a-comin’ behind your popper it makes your adrenaline dump and your heart pound like a hammer and sputter and stammer and get all hot get the idea or do I have to get more elucent now that sure ain’t a word is it now but even though I got boiled and splooshed way more times than my popper got ate it was worth every second of it and I am already making plans on being in the bay popping my arms off instead of foolin’ around in BC next year that is the situation and ya know one evening a dear friend of mine got a good solid head shaking grab and then nuthin’ and when he checked his hook guess what he had the point of a crab claw on the point of his hook making it cleanly impossible for him to hook the fish which could very well have been a fifty pounder because those Chinook are so rare that you are about as likely go get a fifty pounder if you catch one king a year or a hundred same as buying a hundred lottery tickets sure your odds go up but so little that it hardly matters right and then there was the day when I hooked a nice salmon and played it and was about to slide it onto the grass for a quick photo and the hook came loose and it was a one in a zillion that my hook had penetrated the jaw in such a way as to enter the underside perfect dead center of a tooth near the corner of the jaw and just at that proverbial last minute it pulled the tooth out and Mr. Chinook swam off like leaving the dentist and if I was to make an analogy with my friends crab claw experience I might have to refer to it as “safe” fishing wouldn’t you agree and then there was the evening when I hooked a big king just before last light and everything was going fine on that big initial run when my reel stopped dead and I looked down at the spool as I held on to the rod for dear life and saw one heck of a birds nest in my running line and so I held on and prayed a little prayer but all my years of fishing on Sunday and poop no I really mean “pop” went my leader and away went my twilight salmon probably no for sure a sixty pounder and who is to say it wasn’t anyway and there were magic days when I caught salmon and they lay in the water beside me and I was able to look closely at their sea lice and seal scars and hook scars and see the little patterns and irregularities in their silvery scales and sometimes hook scars from where they were shakers off the coast of BC or Alaska and I wonder really since I see so many hook scarred Chinook if the exploitation rates I see published by PST and PFMC are even close to reality and then I leave it and just admire how beautiful and wondrous and mysterious these salmon are and say a little prayer this time of thanks that I was able to catch one and place my hand on it and release it and know that when Jackson asks if I let the salmon go I will be able to say yes and he will say good and you know last week he asked me if I could ever resolve to never ever kill a fish again and I said yes mostly except for the times when a fish is hooked in a gill and it bleeding and he just looks at me and here at our family cabin there are several wild cats that the lady who lived here fed and loved and they come around even though they are being fed by volunteers at a home nearby they must miss the love they received from the cat lady  and wonder where she is and if we will love them and I just resist but Jackson gave one of the cats an orange fluffy one some lovies and oh man here we go with two cats at our valley home and do I have any more fishing stuff to share no really except that this fishing is really the stuff that keeps mental institutions full and salmon fly fishing maybe more than any other kind of fly fishing can be a tricky thing because it can generate unintended consequences and some people start counting how many fish they caught as if anyone cares and some people get all secretive as if anyone cares and some people fish a lot and some people fish a little and some people are able to enjoy their time on the water with or without fish and some can only enjoy the days when they catch fish and the more the better but that is crap because my most memorable days weeks months are when I finally caught a fish after days and days and days of trying and failing and I have become sort of reclusive in my salmon fishing of late and have found myself avoiding fishing around other people even friends and just going off in different places and such because I don’t like the eventuality of people asking how the fishing has been and where did I fish and what lines were the best and what fly size and what tide and how many and how big and darn that sort of stuff can kill the enjoyment and then too I got on the wrong side of a dear friend for mentioning something or other and it will be all fine in short order because because  because it will but it caused me to rethink and overthink and step back and just go off photographing anchor reflections and grass growing in my boat and not talking to any of my fishing buddies for awhile and today it is raining and blowing and I am working for food and writing this catch-up that is a little on the long-winded side and barely mentions my wife Lisa who I adore and miss and do deserve but barely and she does deserve me but how does she put up with my fishing craziness and she does love me and wow that makes everything good and when the rivers go up and down again as they will do in the next few days I will be chasing kings for another two weeks and then I will be good and not go into a salmon trance until May when the springers show up I sure hope they do in 2012.

Jay Nicholas

November 15, 2011

Rivers Without Salmon – July 8, 2007

Rivers without salmon?

Of late, I was thinking about why I fly fish for salmon.  Amongst all my rationalization, I was trying to convince myself that catching salmon onthe fly was really secondary to the hunt, the pursuit, to time on the water, dawn and dusk in the estuaries, the low clear water of autumn and the gentle river raise that follows a spring freshet.

I just about had myself convinced that all these things were enough, that it didn’t really matter whether I ever caught another salmon in my life.  fter all, I reasoned, I have fished days and weeks on end without so much as a tug.  Why not whole seasons without hooking a king?  I would still have my art to practice, the river sounds and smells.

Then it came to me, and it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.  I can devote those days and weeks on end as long as I have the genuine hope of hooking a salmon.  I always see salmon, at least every other day or so, sometimes every day.  I may or may not be able to draw the tug, but I have solace knowing that I am fishing among salmon.  My time on the estuaries and rivers is special because I know that salmon live there.  I know that I have a chance to catch a fish.  I can see their wakes, see them rolling, glimpse the  shadow of salmon in pools.

What is it about salmon fishing that I love, if not the salmon?  could I love just the rivers, just the waters?  As much as I love swinging a fly through the water, my ritual would be empty, farcical, if I knew that no salmon were there to see my fly.

Returning season after season to familar places, exploring new pools and tide flats, what joy would that hold if not for the salmon?

None.  None at all.  learning the proper tides to fish, the salmon’s habits, the flies they will take, the lines to fish, how the weather and river flows affect their movements – all of this would be irrelevant.  The anticipation of tying a fly, of planning a trip, of seeking the perfect anchor point – would be pointless if not for salmon beneath the waters.

So after all, it is not enough to feel the power in a good cast, focus on packing flies neatly  in  fly boxes, change lines at the end of a season, dream of a new rod, or be the first (or last) on the water.  None of the joys I feel while salmon fishing matter the slightest without the salmon beneath the surface.

I have been confused for years, thinking that loving the art of fly fishing could sustain me.  The art of the fly. Camaraderie and the weather and the river’s song.

Now I know with certainty, that the salmon are the ingredient that flows through everything else.  Without salmon, the rivers are uninteresting to me.  I acknowledge that this is irrational and unfair to the ecosystem that could still survive without salmon.

But still, rivers without salmon hold no interest to me.


Why Do We Fish? January 21, 2011

Why do we fish?

Because we must, I think.

We fish sacred places.  Share river time with like-minded friends.  Swim our flies.  And dream great dreams of fish we will never see.

Truth.  Seeking the unachievable.  Beauty more wondrous than words can express.  Discovery.

A handshake from God.

Because, all too soon, we will be gone.

Jay Nicholas, January 21, 2011