What’s Up?


Jay Nicholas and Boomer

Well, at least I got the date right this time.

1. I have the flu. Not fun. I’m going to be OK – but for now?
2. Just finished a complete re-edit of Salmon Fisher’s Journal. Big deal. Excruciating effort. Much needed. The manuscript (perfect before I started) is tighter, cleaner, more streamlined and logical. Or something. At least it is shorter now, allowing for TONS of color images in both volumes of the finished book.
3. I have fished a little.
4. I caught a few salmon.
5. I’ve tied a few new flies.
6. I gave a presentation down at lakeside for the Lower Umpqua Fly Club. Very nice people. Looking forward to going back one of these days.
7. I missed yesterday at Royal Treatment because I was so darn sick.
8. Rob Russell and I will re-schedule soon.
9. Rob and I signed 300 of our books at Angler’s Book Supply last week.
10. Modern Steelhead Flies just made the NYT Best Seller List. (Just kidding)

11. I am seriously considering opting out of social media.

I miss my friends Larry Cullens, Jerry Stoopes, Ermie Walter, and Gene Davis. Rest in Peace.

I also miss many friends I have lost contact with as a consequence of my focus on far too many things, including at the very forefront, completing work on Salmon Fisher’s Journal.  I’m sorry. I doubt I’ll ever make up for my neglect.

My best to you all on this rainy, windy, Autumn Sunday.

Jay Nicholas October 22 2017

Modern Steelhead Flies is out! (and in stock)

MSF Cover

This here is a formal late as ever invite to join the right honorable Rob Russell and me at the Caddis Fly Shop this Sunday October 15th in Eugene Oregon for the release and book signing of a super dandy new book on steelhead flies and yes — about fly fishing for these steelies.

Ok, so this notice is a little tardy.  Best that Robert and I could muster. We will hold more of these events at other fly shops like Royal Treatment and Ashland fly shops (and wherever we can muster an invitation) but for now, we are gonna get the show off to a lumbering start.

Thanks in advance to any and all who can join Rob and me at the Caddis Fly on Sunday.

Jay Nicholas, October 11th, 2917

Cortland fly Line Review 207


This is my review of several Cortland fly Lines that I have fished in 2017. My short conclusion is that Cortland in general performs at a very high level, and I have full confidence in these lines.

I have fished lines by Airflo, Rio, Cortland, Wulff, Teeny, and other non-branded lines I have obtained from China. The number of inadequate (crappy) fly lines I have fished in the last fifty years can be counted up on one hand.

* Back in the 1960s, my SA fly lines would crack after a season or two.
* Twenty years ago a fly line from __________ was impossible to cast because the finish was sticky.
* Two years ago a fly line from _______ fished just fine but the finish was incomplete in a few small regions.

I have also stepped on fly lines with cleated boots, nicked them on sharp edges in my boat, pinched them in reel spools, stretched them to their limit, and so forth.

Today, the overall quality and performance of fly lines is quite like the performance of fly rods—very good.

Actually, I think it is more of a challenge to pick a good fly reel than it is to select a good rod and line.

Dick Sagara has helped me home in on several Cortland fly lines to fish and I thank him for his constructive suggestions. My experience with these lines has included the following environments and species.
* Baja – Dorado, skipjack tuna, jack crevalle, roosterfish
* Oregon lakes – trout up to 12 pounds
* Oregon estuaries – sea-run cutthroat, spring and fall chinook, coho salmon
* Ocean offshore Pacific City – black rockfish, lingcod, silver salmon, albacore tuna, chinook salmon, blue shark

With the overall notation that all of these lines performed 100% to my performance expectations – I should also note that I am not a world class caster—I would say that my demands on my fly lines is representative of the dedicated non-professional angler so if a line works for me it will probably work for the vast majority of anglers. The Professionals might want more.

Denny Rickards – this is a trout line that floats but has a short  7 ft camo intermediate sink tip. I LOVE this line when I’m fishing for sea-run cutthroat in rivers and estuaries. This is my line of choice when I want my fly to fish shallow.



big game intermediate clear

Small and Big Game Intermediate – this is an excellent fly line that I use when fishing lakes and estuaries for sea-run cutthroat if I want to fish my fly from the top foot to about three feet deep. This line is offered in clear or camo, and I honestly can’t make up my mind which I prefer. Both are pictured above. The big Game Intermediate is the same line on a stronger core in higher line wts. I fish these lines for salmon in the estuary and again, go back and forth between the camo and clear lines to fish on any given day. These intermediate lines sink at somewhere around 2.0 in to 2.5 in per second, so I would call these fast intermediates.


Precision Compact sink – this has been a great fast sinker I have used mostly when fishing the ocean from dory boats. I have fished the 350 and 425 gr lines on rods from 8 wt to 12 wt. These lines (available from 200 gr to 425 gr) cast very well and sink quickly. Highly rated. The only lines I have found that sink faster are the T-14 custom cut lines by RIO and AIRFLO. These respective lines have a longer sink tip (~35 ft) and are denser, but are not fun to cast because they have no taper whatsoever.


Compact Intermediate Blitz – I have found this line to be among my top choices for fishing estuaries for salmon. I think this would be a great line for stripped bass too. The 200 gr and 275 gr Blitz lines should be a nice clear tip alternate to the RIO Outbound and AIRFLO Sniper lines fished for Puget Sound cutthroat and coho.


Precision Tropic Compact – I fished this floating line in Baja for Dorado, skipjack tuna, jack crevalle, roosterfish in the 350 gr and 425 gr line wts. This is a great casting line that excels when you want to make a long cast with minimal need to back cast. This is often the situation when fish follow close to the boat. You need to retrieve to leader length, then work out engouth line to load the rod to re-cast. This line has a short (~30 ft) powerful head that allows anyone to load the rod quickly. I really like this line for run and gun fishing.


Precision Compact Float – This is a short head, powerful fly line that I prefer when popper fishing in the ocean and estuary, and also when fishing Clousers in the estuary for Chinook salmon. This is a smooth long casting line that will load your rod quickly and maximize the time you are fishing because you will not need to make many false casts before letting-fly.

In conclusion – Cortland fly lines have performed in every measure neck-and-neck with RIO, AIRFLO, and WULFF fly lines. One performance issue I have not found in Cortland lines (for big-game) is a hover line: a line that sinks at perhaps 0.5 in per second. I have only found these lines offered by SA, RIO, and Wulff.

I believe that anyone who is considering a Cortland Line will be pleased with the fly line’s performance.

Jay Nicholas – October/November 2017




Snapshots from Pacific City, October 2017

Yes, this will be short.
Yes this is content light.
That’s what I’m capable of right not now it will have to do.

Jay Nicholas & Jack Harrell

First thing I’d like to do is say thanks to my friend Jack Harrell.

Thanks Jack for putting up with me no matter what.
Thanks Jack for the love that you and Mary give my family.
Thanks Jack for the day you unhooked my 9.9 and loaded it in my truck.
Thanks Jack for every time you called me no matter why.
Thanks Jack for the many days you have rowed me around the lake or the estuary.
Thanks Jack, for the coffee and scones and time sitting on the porch talking.
Thanks Jack for listening to the stories you’ve heard me tell a hundred times.
Thanks Jack for the kindness you have shown me over the years.
Thanks Jack for keeping a messy fly shop and talking to kids.
Thanks Jack for the kids you influenced when your drove the school bus.
Thanks Jack for your time up feeding salmon at Rhoades Pond.

And oh yes by the way.
Thanks to Mary for all the dinners, and breakfasts, and lunches.
Thanks Mary for your patient understanding.

Finally, thanks to Jack and Mary and John and Gracie for your hospitality and good nature and help and support and food and oh-my-gosh, I could go on and on.

But I’ll close by remembering the day I called and asked for something to eat and drink – Jack got me a turkey sandwich and drink and delivered it to me on the river. I remember deliveries dropped off the bridge and deliveries on the shore.

Your friendship, my dear friend. is precious beyond price.


Dave Stewart – “Steelhead Fly Fishing Interview with Jay Nicholas”

I’m baaaaaaaack!

Jay Nicholas steelhead interview by Dave Stewart

Here is Dave Stewart on the right asking the tough questions at my cabin last week.

Screen Shot 2017-09-29 at 6.11.31 PM

(Hey there, the image above is not the link to the interview, it is a screen shot of Dave’s most excellent website!)

Goodness where on earth has the time gone? So much has transpired since my last post that I’m a gonna spit out a flurry of posts (ha ha, maybe you are probably thinking) in the next few weeks.

For starters, here is a link to an audio interview recorded by my friend Dave Stewart.

Totally awesome topics in the interview indlude the following:

  • Why you shouldn’t start fly fishing for salmon
  • Tips on finding steelhead
  • Understanding spey lines (and how to avoid destroying the economy)
  • Rio Fly Lines has a cool app that helps you select a new spey line to match your rod (click here)
  • How the non slip uni knot will increase your time in the water (Click Here for a short video)
  • Jay’s Top Flies for steelhead fishing (summer and winter)
  • Fly tying magic and our caveman connection
  • Tying Atlantic salmon flies
  • How to create your own original fly patterns

Dave will soon post the video of the interview, but if you are fly tying and have your iPhone or computer nearby, you can listen along to this audio masterpiece just for fun.

My thanks to Dave for creating this small audio recording for the historical record.

Best to you all

Jay Nicholas – September 29 2017



Photo of the Day August 3rd

Jay Nicholas leaping Chinook salmon.

This is a screen shot taken from a go pro movie shot this season. You will need to look closely, but there is a chinook leaping off to the right side of the photo. Unfortunately this salmon was not attached to my fly line. Still, this is a nice memory of a day when fish were not shy to roll, but were entirely opposed to grab my fly. And yes, I cast my fly to this fish immediately, to no avail. Best wishes to you all

Jay Nicholas August 3, 2017

Donated Guide Trips to Support Salmon Fisher’s Journal Publication

Jay Nicholas smiling while swinging a Burkheimer.
That’s right. Several of my guide friends have generously offered to donate their on-water time to support publication of Salmon Fisher’s Journal. This is a rare opportunity to reserve a guided fly fishing trip with several of Oregon’s premier steelhead guides AND support the publication of my most ambitious writing endeavor.

Here is the list:
Jeff Hickman (Fish the Swing)
— one person, winter or spring as mutual schedules allow, location TBD

Jeff Coffey (Fair Flies)
— one person, Oregon mid coast, preferably October, TWO DAYS with overnight at the Nicholas cabin in Pacific City

Josh Linn (guide and employee at Royal Treatment Fly Shop)
— one person, Sandy/Clackamas, winter or spring as mutual schedules allow

Michael Gorman (michaelgormanflyfishing.com)
— one person, Siletz or Nestucca winter steelhead as mutual schedules allow

How to reserve one of these guided fishing trips?

Contact me at jaynicholas@comcast.net and indicate your interest in one of these trips. I will let you know if any are still available as well as means of payment.

My Kickstarter Campaign will wrap up at the end of this weekend, but this is an open offer that will remain open for a slightly longer window.

Call ASAP to book one of these trips with extraordinary angling guides who are donating their supporting my dream.

Thank you.

Jay Nicholas August 2, 2017

Urban Spring Chinook Fly Fishing

We dream of bright grabby salmon and steelhead in remote, wilderness settings.

Sometimes there are good fish close to home. Perhaps the salmon aren’t quite as large as we might prefer. Sometimes they are found in uncomfortable proximity to people who care little of our passion for clean air, clean water, and clean fish.

Beauty, like peace of mind, is to be found in surprising places, if we can find what we need where we are at the moment.

I have been blessed with good friendship and strong bright salmon, and for both I am grateful.

Jay Nicholas – July 2017

Salmon Fisher’s Journal Meets Kickstarter Goal in 5 days


With 14 days until the campaign is complete, we are currently at 110% of our initial fundraising goal, thanks t the support of 121 backers.

I’ve said it many times, but I want to thank everyone who has taken action on the campaign, and my all volunteer team says a big THANK YOU too.

Naturally, I set my sights on delivering an even more spectacular set of books on Day Three of our campaign.  I’d love to be able to upgrade the quality of the cover from the initial specs we submitted to the printers, add more color images to the interior, increase the overall page count of the two volume set, and …….

I have a secret plan too, an enhancement I’m not going to mention because I’m not sure if it will be economically feasible. All of these optional enhancements to Salmon Fisher’s Journal will be fun if we can pull them off. As it stands, the book will be something that I am very, very proud of delivering. I’ve always been a person who has difficulty letting go of a task that I have set my sights on. Publishing this journal as a collector’s quality book is something I’ve been working on for two decades.

The bridge between dreaming and delivering is about to be traversed.

So — rest assured that we’ve succeeded in securing the backing to produce and deliver. My efforts over the next two weeks are focused on pushing the standards of what we can publish even further into the spectacular zone.

And I have a few cards up my sleeve too.

Jay Nicholas, 22 July, 2017

Pacific City Dory Launch and Fly Fishing for Rockfish

This is a very short video that records highlights from a recent (mid July) trip on my friend Kevin’s dory. Kevin, Rob, and I fly fished for Pacific black rockfish and had a very enjoyable day on the ocean out of Pacific City.

The video shows the process of dumping the dory off the trailer, a little of the fishing, and the run onto the beach at the end of the trip.

Several people have asked for video of the launching process, so I hope this helps people understand the what is involved when we launch into the surf. I note that the ocean was very calm on this day.

My best to you all.

Jay Nicholas July 22, 2017