Fly of the Week: Blue & Black Fish Taco Steelhead Tube Fly

Keeping with my goal of producing roughly one post for each week, here is the latest installment. This is a steelhead tube fly very much fashioned after Jeff Hickman’s Fish Taco. I have tied this fly with a blue/black color theme but I’ll reiterate my advice that most steelhead and salmon flies are not intended to be tied EXACTLY as illustrated. Part of the fun and creativity is that each tyer has the freedom to diverge, adapt, and modify flies as you see fit.

If you view this video you will see that I am learning how to edit video, and will probably decide that I have a long way to go in developing my skills.

Thanks for your patience – I hope you find something entertaining here.

Jay Nicholas
Winter season, 2017

ECHO OHS fly rod: two-hand casting excellence in the tightest quarters

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Just a quick notice that I’ve written a review of this very fine new OHS fly rod by ECHO for the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog—after fishing this rod a full ten days this winter season. Tim Rajeff coached me into the proper wt. Airflo Scout head and tip to load the rod properly for two-hand casting, and I love fishing this rod in everywhere from close quarters to wide open runs.

Rather than a full repeat of the review, I’ll include a link to the OFFB here, and publish both posts simultaneously . I realize that my reviews make almost no mention about the OHS rod’s cosmetics and hardware. These rods are built very much like the Echo 3 Switch Rods with emerald green shaft and anodized aluminum reel seats. The rod includes the option for shorter and  longer butt handles—I fish the OHS exclusively with the longer handle (it screws into the reel seat.

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Here are a few OHS rod and line matches if you will strictly be casting two-hand style, as I normally do.

ECHO OHS 6 wt. — 270 gr Airflo Scout8 ft Airflo T-10; or OPST 96 gr tip.

ECHO OHS 7 wt.  — 330 gr Airflo Scout10 ft Airflo  T-10; 10 ft Rio T-11; or OPST 96 gr tip.

ECHO OHS 8 wt. — 390 gr Airflo Scout10 ft Airflo  T-10; 10 ft Rio T-11; or OPST 96 /132 gr tip.

If you plan on using the OHS rod as it was originally intended (single-hand casting with a haul to load the rod properly), it is fair to suggest that you subtract 60 gr from the recommended head weights listed for each rod above.

Jay Nicholas winter steelhead 2017.jpg

Swinging for winter steelhead on the upper river has been a scratchy proposition for me this season. One friend fished about 6 days and caught 3 fish. Another friend fished close to two weeks and has hooked (and lost 5 fish). My count for 10 says swing fishing is three fish lost and one to hand. A challenging but successful season in my mind.

I loved the light-in-hand feel of the 7 wt. OHS rod.  It is shockingly light compared to most 7 wt switch rods. When I finally hooked a steelhead that held onto my fly (on the last day of the upriver season) I had my hands full of excitement with a nice 12 pound (I swear) hen. We all have different perspectives, but I felt that the 7 wt is entirely powerful enough to fight the fish.  At least it worked out for me. If you have doubts, I’d suggest that you reach for the 8 wt.

 Two-hand casting with this 10 ft. 6 in. rod is so pleasurable that I don’t even dabble at developing my single hand casting style—I’m satisfied to classify the OHS as a mini spey rod—realizing that I’m missing out on half of the rod’s performance capabilities.

I’ll also reiterate that these rods are ideally suited to small and modest sized rivers. They will cast a country mile, handle in the tightest quarters, and I would recommend these short (10 ft 4 in) rods in a very wide range of fishing habitats. For places like wide open runs on the Sandy, Clackamas, or Deschutes, I would often reach for a longer Spey rod. Even on these larger rivers, I have fished specific places where trees and brush complicate casting with longer two-hand rods. These make a perfect place to swing the OHS rod without stress or strain. Wow, another excuse to buy more tackle.

My best wishes to you:

Jay Nicholas

Uncut – Flame Boss Tube Steelhead Fly

 

I’m starting to get into the swing, figuratively speaking, on editing and posting video content.

The Flame Boss in all its various forms is a glorious fly to fish for steelhead and salmon, heck I bet the anadromous salmonid that can resist this fly is the rare individual indeed. So I’ve taken one of my favorite steelhead flies and adapted it to a tube as shown here in this video.

The Flame Boss—if tied on a shank—would not have quite so voluminous a tail or wing. This fly tied with Pro Sportfisher Marble Fox tail seems shockingly bulky but I promise that it becomes nearly transparent when it swims. Most likely I should use the term translucent. Regardless, it is not overpowering in the water and this is a very effective fly. It is light to cast and the fish love it. A friend brought three winter steelhead to hand during this winter season while swinging  this pattern.

The recipe for the fly is posted on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog.

I hope you find some entertainment in my long rambling conversation and catch many fish on the flies you tie.

Jay Nicholas – winter season 2016/17

Movie Trailer – Fly Fishing Pacific City

This is a short trailer (about 4 minutes) of a 50 minute movie I produced that showcases highlights of fishing throughout the season near Pacific City. This trailer covers winter steelhead, sea run cutthroat, black sea bass, lingcod, albacore, ocean silvers estuary chinook, land-locked hatchery summer steelhead, and hatchery catchable trout.

This video trailer represents one more step in the gradual process of adding to my YouTube channel. This is video number three and I have about 6 ready to go that I will be doling out at about the rate of one per week. This means I’d better get more in the bag and ready to publish.

Also—I’ll be sharing more on my upcoming Kickstarter Campaign and the quest to fund publication of my Salmon Journal.

May this be a good week for you, and I hope to have another video post this time next week, or close to it!

Jay Nicholas, April 3 2017

New Fly Tying Video Library

Here it is in late March 2017 — I’m embarking on a quest to create a new video library of (mostly) fly tying videos.  I probably have over a hundred videos on the Caddis Fly Shop YouTube channel for the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog, but many of those are old news and I wanted to shoot a series of new videos that will reflect my current abilities, hair cuts, declining  vision, and ever thickening glasses. Not to mention new materials, fly styles, and my latest stories and opinions.

Here is the basic approach. Chris Daughters likes me to produce short, snappy, business-like videos for the OFFB. I prefer to produce long rambling videos that allow me to go on and on about materials, and fishing techniques and such forth, including all the mistakes and broken threads and non-cooperative feathers and the like.

 

So I’ve decided to edit many of these new videos down to a short business-like time frame for Chris, and then edit a longer (Director’s Cut) version for my own blog.

This has been fun so far. Finally, I’m learning how to edit video with transitions and audio. I even purchased a sound track to use at the beginning and end of these videos. I sure hope you can stand the guitar, because we’re going to be hearing it over and over again.

This pattern is the first in the fly series. I hope to shoot all kinds of fly tying instructional videos for this new library—but who knows how it’s going to go. So little time and so much to do.

Jay Nicholas, March 28, 2017

 

Back from Ashland Fly Shop 03/27/17

Jay Nicholas Ashland Fly Shop class a

Just returned home from a very nice visit to the Ashland Fly Shop and a fly tying class hosted by friends Will and Jon. We had 8 great tyers gathered around the table in the back room and this was an opportunity to explore the world of steelhead tube flies and tell some fishing stories too.  We tied three tube flies that are almost always in my sling pack when I’m on the water in the winter.

After the class I entertained our group with a movie: Fly Fishing Pacific City. This is a 50 minute review of the season in PC — with winter steelhead, black bass, lingcod, albacore, estuary chinook, town lake summer steelhead, and hatchery catchable trout — all part of a good year close to my family cabin.

Jay Nicholas Ashland Fly Shop class b

My thanks to the people who shared a Saturday afternoon tying flies, I wish you good times at the bench and on the river with your new creations.

Jay Nicholas

Straddle the Wire – a 2017 preview

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OK, it is a little late to lay out my New Year Resolutions, and then there is the fact that I never figured out what, if any, these would be. Still, the year unfolding holds great promise, and this is finally the right time to share a few of my thoughts.

Much of 2016 was a down time for me. A deeper, darker down than I’ve ever survived. My life was good, my family well, my friends supportive. What’s wrong Jay, some of my well meaning friends would ask. How can I help, they would ask. Fine and I don’t know, I’d reply. Nothing was out of order in my life, except that an illness had settled in. An illness I couldn’t shake. I walked. I wrote. I tied flies and took photos of flies. I produced a book. All of these things were not achieved easily and none were comforting. My family held me close. The pit was so deep and dark that I couldn’t see light and held on to only thread of intellectual hope that I would survive.  My former plans for the future were replaced by a minute-by-minute process of placing one figurative foot in front of the other, trudging in circles.

Gradually, by imperceptible increment, the cloud lifted. The light returned. I’m back. I wake each day with enthusiasm for a long list of projects to accomplish, and there is never enough time to do what I’d like by the end of the day.

Thank you. This is a word of thanks to all of my friends who stood-by me, accepted that I’d eventually pull out of the darkness. You were right. Although I couldn’t feel it at the time, I held on to your friendship and good wished, just like I held on to my family, and kept a tiny measure of hope hidden away somewhere in my head, because I couldn’t feel hope in my heart.

Enough of that.

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I’m back. I’ve been tying flies and fishing better than ever before. I have yet to catch a winter steelhead, but still hope to. Regardless, my flies are swimming well, my casting feels right, and I fish the swing with great anticipation. The fish will do whatever, but I’m enjoying the tying and fishing.

My family is thriving, and more than a little relieved, I’m sure, to have me back to my usual, normal crazy.

What’s on my list of things to accomplish in 2017?  Plenty. The two headline goals for 2017 are huge, all things considered.

  1.  Shooting fly tying videos (short videos for the oregonflyfishing blog and extended version videos for fishingwithjay. I’ve tied flies in front of a video camera for some 7 or more years, and I often meet people who learned to tie flies from these, people who are able to recount details of these videos far better than I can. Well, I’ve decided to dive into 2017 by recording and posting 20, 30, 40, or 50 new videos. The goals are fuzzy and I’m not sure what I can deliver, but as I draft this note, I’ve already shot a dozen videos, have edited 6 of these, am on the cusp of starting a YouTube channel for fishingwithjay,  and close to posting the first of these new vids. My hair is short now, and my age is showing, but I’m recording on a new camera and still prone to ramble on.  I’m looking forward to producing my own library of fly tying videos in a new and improved format, even though I won’t be tying anything smaller than a size 16. The first should be posted within a week, if all things go well.
  2. Publishing my salmon journal.  It’s time. My friend Al James enlisted a team of volunteers with the right skills to bring my dream to reality by the end of this year. Our team will bring focus to  the collective  expertise of a book designer, videographer, photo journalist/editor, proofreader, accountant, and project manager—culminating in a Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds to print and distribute the journal. The details about my fundraiser will be forthcoming soon and I’ll be depending on my friends to help me bring this book home.

Here we go. There will be a new look for my website too, thanks to Rob Perkin, just as soon as I figure out how to respond to the possible options he’s laying out for me.

Jay Nicholas with Lisa and Courtney

Here’s  me with my wonderful wife Lisa, and teenager Courtney, just last week.

Thanks again, to everyone who wished me to recovery. I know that many of my friends are dealing with their own health and personal challenges, and have all-the-while offered their love and support.  I wish I could ease your burden as much as you wished you could have eased mine. We will each begin this day, do the best we can, and prepare for tomorrow—as best as we may.

Jay Nicholas, March 14th, 2017

 

Sea Run Cutthroat Book Published (at last)

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Well, they say that all things must find their own time, but finally, finally I managed to put the polish (Ok it is a Jay polish that must assuredly still include some novel spelling and punctuation) on my sea run cutthroat  book.

The book title is Sea Run Cutthroat: Flies and Flyfishing. This book (100 pages) includes a short chapter on Puget Sound fishing by Blake Merwin of Gig Harbor Fly Shop and a foreword by Puget Sound Guide Leland Miyawaki. The emphasis of the discussion regarding anadromous cutthroat life history and fishing is, naturally from my perspective, the Oregon Coast, but I wanted to reach out and include some fly patterns and discussion of the Puget Sound fishery since it is to very different from the SRC fisheries we pursue here in Oregon.

This 8.5″ x 11″ book  contains half-page photographs of 60 great sea run cutthroat flies, along with each fly’s tying recipe and tying notes. I also offer my perspective on the Oregon distribution of SRC, their life history variation, catch and release fishing, best tackle, SRC boats, SRC flyfishing tactics,  SRC fly styles, and the history of Oregon’s fishery and SRC hatchery programs.

The Puget Sound chapter by Blake Merwin and the flies he so generously contributed to this book help broaden the reach of the discussion by providing a glimpse into the rich fishery for SRC that has deep roots in Puget Sound. Oregon’s fly fishery for SRC has its roots that extend back a century and I included a quote from that era illustrating that these fish were as finicky then as they can be now-a-days.

Leland Miyawaki’s foreword is a generous invitation to explore the book and dig in, saying:

“There’s a lot of meat in Jay’s book, particularly when he discusses fishing Oregon’s rivers and their estuaries. So unless you’re fishing our Washington estuaries, Jay’s book is a revelation and, in the end, a total godsend. And about those fly patterns, whoa! Like I say, there’s a lot of meat in this book.”

This book is available now on Amazon, and will shortly be available at Gig Harbor, Royal Treatment, and the Caddis Fly Shop.

I would be pleased to ship a signed copy to anyone who contacts me directly, and note that delivery of signed books will probably be delayed until the week after Christmas.

My thanks to many friends who have encouraged me to create this book and catalog some of the very best flies one can fish for SRC (there are some great Puget Sound coho flies in here too).

Thank you always for your support and patience.

Jay Nicholas, December 7th, 2016

Coastal Salmon & Steelhead Primer on October 22nd

Please join me for a discussion of the salmon and steelhead in coastal rivers from the Necanicum to Elk River on Saturay, October 22nd.
Please join me for a discussion of the salmon and steelhead in coastal rivers from the Necanicum to Elk River on Saturday, October 22nd.

I’ll be at the Caddis Fly Shop on Saturday from noon – 2 PM to present a status report on 7 species of anadromous salmonids – with emphasis on spring and fall chinook, summer and winter steelhead, and coho salmon. I’ll also speak to chum salmon and coastal cutthroat.

My baseline will be graphics that are shown in the recently (2015) Coastal Multispecies Salmonid Conservation and Management plan.

Some of the graphics in this executive summary provide a great basis to discuss the status and trends in our salmon and steelhead populations on the coast from the Necanicum to Elk River on the south coast.

How many of you presently have a good idea regarding the hatchery vs. wild ratio for each species of hatchery and wild salmon and steelhead on the coast, by river and overall?

How many of you presently have a good idea regarding the trends in number of hatchery smolts released by species over the last 40 or so years?

How many know how the abundance of wild coho, chinook, and steelhead compare on the coast and in individual rivers?

These topics and more will be some of the key questions I’ll try to address on Saturday.

The Multi-species Coastal plan is unique — but I’m pretty sure that the underlying status and trends in these species are not at the forefront of most angler’s thinking.

Well, how can we pretend to be conservation minded when we don’t pay attention to the fish that we pursue, the same fish that ODFW is managing through the Multi-species plan?

I invite you to join me on Saturday, I’ll do my best to share what I know, and what I do not know, about these marvelous salmon and steelhead.

Jay Nicholas

PS: I’ll be using the same graphics I used at Royal Treatment Fly Shop last Saturday, but I’ve re-ordered the graphics and each of my presentations (being spontaneous) will have a slightly different emphasis. Want to question the impact of hatchery fish in our coastal rivers? This is a good place to have the discussion.

Great reception at Royal Treatment Fly Shop

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Monday morning, and I’d like to share a great reception I had up in West Linn a few days ago. Joel invited me to do a presentation and tie flies for folks looking for a respite from the Typhoon that was sweeping the valley on Saturday. The turnout was great, many regulars and all very kind people.

I had an hour to talk about hatchery and wild anadromous fish on the Oregon Coast – but that ended up being an hour and a half with questions still rolling when Joel dragged me out to the tyer’s table. Where people were already jammed around waiting for me to begin tying.

Bad photo, great crowd learning about salmon and steelhead on the Oregon Coast.
Bad photo, great crowd learning about salmon and steelhead on the Oregon Coast.

Although the photo at the top of the page shows my comet – boss box, I tied tuvbe flies for winter steelhead and managed to product about 4 flies in the next two hours. Rob Perkin kindly went on a lunch run and brought me back a delicious bowl of Mushroom soup to keep my blood sugar sustained.

Another back-lit photo at the Tyer's table on Saturday. I had a great time with all the questions from folks gathered.
Another back-lit photo at the Tyer’s table on Saturday. I had a great time with all the questions from folks gathered.

I had a chance to re-connect with old friends and meet several new friends who are, like me, dedicated fly tyers. About the time the Typhoon winds rolled into the valley, I packed up my gear and headed down I-5 to return to my family. Gusty but not too bad a drive. My supply of winter steelhead marabou tube flies is growing and I sure hope we have a good run with good conditions to swing fish this season.

Here is an example of a Marabou Tube Intruder - the kind of fly I've been tying lately.
Here is an example of a Marabou Tube Intruder – the kind of fly I’ve been tying lately.

Here is an example of the flies I have been tying the last week or so. Thank you Joel, for the invitation to present at Royal Treatment. Thanks to Nick and Josh also – it was great to see you taking care of customers at the Shop.

My best to you all and thanks for your kind notes and phone calls.

Jay Nicholas, October 17th, 2016