Straddle the Wire – a 2017 preview


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.


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)


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


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

Chartreuse Comets Ready to Fish


Tying at the Watershed Fly Shop on Friday and Caddis Fly Shop on Saturday, I now have a decent supply of big bold Chartreuse Comets to fish in the next two months. Bring on the kings!

My best wishes to you all and thanks for the good energy and genuine care so many of you have shared in the past few months. Baby steps. One at a time.

Jay Nicholas – October 9th, 2016

Advanced Intruder Strategies is available to order now!


Finally finally finally. Got it published on Amazon Books. If you would like a signed personalized copy, let me know and I’ll order a batch and ship them out in a few weeks. Meanwhile, the book will be available for quick delivery directly though Amazon. Your own local Fly Shop may contact me and I’ll provide signed copies for their customers and ship to their shop with a little notice.

Trey Combs says, “On a personal level, Jay’s book is a companion volume to my Field Guide to Western Birds: fly fishing as comfort food, something I visit daily and consume in small bites, a new fly to think about and one day tie.”

Advanced Intruder Strategies features over 40 new Intruder like flies in a wide variety of styles on tubes, shanks, and traditional hooks.

Greg Senyo says, “Tie until your fingers hurt, and smile as you do, because this book is a labor of Jay’s love of fly tying and fishing . . . . . ”

Thanks to my friend’s encouragement and support as I have worked on this sequel to Intruder Essentials.

This book digs deeper and broader to explore the family of flies that have so loosely been labeled in one form or another as Intruders. You will find articulated shank flies, articulated tube flies, Mohawk style flies that I refer to as half-Intruders, and a nice selection of flies I refer to as Micro Intruders.

Each of these flies has passed my exhaustive testing and earned approval in both swim tank and on the river in the winter of 2015/16. Has every fly actually earned a grab? Of course not, but I’m confident that each fly is a winner, and these are flies that I carry and fish routinely.

Thanks to my many readers for your support.

Jay Nicholas September 24th, 2016

Fishing with Rob and Capt John out of Pacific City


Progress. Time on the water with friends John Harrell and Rob Perkin yesterday. The black sea bass were a lot of fun and Rob picked up a nice silver too.

I am grateful for this life and my family and friends who are so very supportive.


Capt John Harrell and Rob Perkin with nice silver salmon.
Capt John Harrell and Rob Perkin with nice silver salmon.


Jay Nicholas, September 23, 2016.





Got my Clouser Box ready to fish!

A perfect Clouser Box.
A perfect Clouser Box.

Why mess with something that’s perfect just as it is? Best flies on the planet for king salmon are the Boss/Comet and the Clouser. I posted my Bosses on Instagram already yesterday. This is my Clouser box. Well, not all of my Clousers but just one view of one box. Got a few more boxes ready to go. May start this weekend if I’m able to do so.

My deepest thanks to my many close and distant friends who have wished me well in the last few months. I’ve made tremendous progress, managed to sketch, tie some flies, and do some writing in between taking walks. I am on the mend and have great aspirations for more progress day by day.

I wish each of you good spirits and the strength to persevere through the days when you may find yourself struggling to keep your head above water.

Jay Nicholas – September 16th, 2016

7 PM Presentation in Salem tonight September 8th 2016


Wow, where has the time gone? I’m counting down the hours until 7 PM when I’ll be showing my saltwater fly fishing video at the Santiam Fly Casters meeting at Pringle Hall in Salem. The venue is one block south of the Parkway on Church St. I am REALLY looking forward to meeting new friends and connecting with old friends at the meeting. I’ll talk about how much fun saltwater fly fishing is and how accessible it is too. Dwight Klemin told me to expect 50+ people at the meeting and that sounds like a fun crowd that should include a few hecklers to spice up the evening. Thanks in advance for the opportunity to be there!

Jay Nicholas, September 8th, 2016

Sea-run Cutthroat Fly Sketch…

Jay Nicholas cuttroat fly sketch 082516

This simple ink sketch is my closer on five days of Sea-run cutthroat flies. You may choose to fancy up your wet flies or keep them simple, and they will all be effective if you can find these beautiful fish in a taking mood. Two friends lately have found the fish – but they were so spooky in low clear water that there was no chance for any interest on the fish’s part. One of these days will dawn cloudy and drizzly – and that will be my cue to head out for Sea-run cutthroat fishing.

Meanwhile, I’m tying a little, sketching a little, and dreaming a little.

Jay Nicholas, August 25th 2016