Steelhead Simplicity — still strong in 2017

Jay Nicholas Jon Hazelet summer steelhead

Some ten years or so past, my friend Jon Hazelet taught a spey casting clinic on the Mckenzie River for the Caddis Fly Shop. As I spoke with Jon at the end of the day, I opened up one of my fly boxes and picked out a dozen or so of my favorite summer steelhead flies, several color varieties of the Steelhead Simplicity.

Yesterday, on July20, 2017, Jon sent me this photo and a short note.

“Just caught my first summer steelhead of 2017 ten minutes ago. Remember giving me 10 or so flies years ago after the first Caddis Fly Spey class I did? Thanks buddy for the good mojo!”

Thanks for your note Jon. You made me smile. The Steelhead Simplicity will be featured in Modern Steelhead Flies (Stackpole Books; Rob Russell and Jay Nicholas, due to be published in fall 2017) as an example of the humble roots  of the innovative and specialized range of steelhead flies that are being fished today across the range of the species.

The modern steelhead angler now has the opportunity to fish excellent patterns that had not even been imagined 50 years ago.

I still have a few, probably less than two dozen, of the flies that were in the box that held the flies I gave to Jon. I’m really-really happy that those flies are still producing.

My best to you all –

Jay Nicholas (21 July 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Salmon Journal Kickstarter is Live!

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Yes. Finally. The time has come to make the final push from the high-elevation camp to summit the mountain. I have a plan in place to finally publish Salmon Fisher’s Journal.

I’ve dedicated fifteen years to writing, on top of nearly six decades of fishing to complete the manuscript, assemble the photo images, and ink the sketches. My all-volunteer team of professional creatives have dedicated nearly two years in pre-production mode. I’ve received financial, product, and moral support from a long list of friends who are formally or informally associated with the fly fishing community.

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With the support of professional book designer, photo editor, videographer, and project manager—we are ready to launch this Kickstarter Campaign. Our goal, the remaining funds needed to print and ship the book have been whittled down to $18,500.

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My Kickstarter goal is the amount I need to transform the Salmon Fisher’s Journal from manuscript proof to a collector’s quality, two volume set of books that tell the big story of Chinook salmon. This story is wide ranging, more comprehensive than anything ever written about the species and the fly fishery. Really.

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I characterize Salmon Fisher’s Journal as — too much and not nearly enough. I say this because no one, ever, has laid out the story in this depth, and yet after reading over 500 pages and two hundred thousand words—you’ll likely be wanting more. Such is the nature of tackling a topic so deeply fraught in passion, culture, mystery history, and technicality.

 

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With this plea, I’ll conclude.

Kindly visit our Kickstarter Page for Salmon Fisher’s Journal as soon as you can. Make a contributing to the cause. Make a donation—pure and simple, with flies, or with an original ink pen sketch. Order one or several books on a pre-order basis. Reserve a book and go fishing with me. Be a Journal FOUNDER or PRODUCER and be recognized on the title page of the book.

Enough said. Thank you.  Act now. Share this with your friends, family, and anyone who cares about the culture of fly fishing for anadromous salmon and steelhead.

Jay Nicholas

Fly Fishing Baja with Gary Bulla 2017

Jay Nicholas Baja Dorado by JB

I just returned from a very enjoyable week fishing with Gary Bulla in Baja, La Ventana and Baja Joe’s to be more specific. Gary runs a great show for fly anglers of all skill levels and his panga captains are gentlemen as well as fly fishing mentors.

I put together a short clip of highlights from the week, of course I failed to record some of the hottest action during the week plus, I lost one of my cameras at the end of day 6 of the trip. Oh well, stuff happens don’t it?

I also posted a trip report with more photo images on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog.

In short, I did not catch a rooster, but I came close. Really close. I was told that you can’t retrieve too fast for the dorado and roosters, but I now question that advice, as I’m pretty sure I pulled my fly away from both species at crucial moments when they were trying to chomp it.

Again, oh well.

Jay Nicholas with Gui in Baja

On day 6, our guide Fedilito cruised in near a buoy and threw a few ballyhoo to see if there were any dorado about. Well, there were three dorado ready to chase bait and they commenced to crash the surface, throwing water two feet in the air in the process.

This was my first week fishing for dorado and I had never seen fish of this size crashing around chasing bait. My angling companion for the day, Karen, commenced casting as I did. She is an experienced dorado fisher and kept her cool, but I was going nuts casting to the giant fish as it raced around in front of us. Of the three dorado we saw, two were very large and one was modest sized. We both cast and cast, Fedilito threw a few ballyhoo to keep the fish active, and  — oh my gosh — the biggest dorado was chasing my fly straight towards the boat as I was retrieving! I probably only had ten feet of fly line out of my tip-top when the dorado consumed my fly and turned away from the panga.

As usual, I shouted with excitement, just like a kid.

Game on.

I did not capture any of the excitement before hooking this big dorado, but it was much like the action of a few days earlier when I hooked a modest size dorado and managed to record that event on the Go Pro. I am pretty well captivated by the sight of brilliantly hued fish chasing bait and flies around in plain view. This sort of fishing excitement is something I could easily become addicted to. Oh my goodness.

Our panga captain Fedilito was as pleased as I was to have the big fish take the fly. It was a good 200 yards into my backing in a flash and jumping while I turned on the Go Pro. Fedilito cautioned me — grande dorado, no break.  This fish was a real prize to a young panga captain.

Here is the video clip. I hope you enjoy it. Better still, I hope you are able to go fishing down in Baja someday yourself. I never imagined that I would make the trip but thanks to my dear friends Gui and Jim, I decided to accept their invitation to join them and I booked a trip and a flight less than two weeks notice.

Sure glad that I did.

My best to you always. May your fishing and your world be good.

Jay Nicholas — May/June 2017

Tying a Sardina Fly with Jay and Guy

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This is the director’s cut of a shorter video posted on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog. Thanks to Guy Allen who has tied and fished this fly to perfection and is always prepared to fish some version of the pattern on his yearly trip to Baja.

So. Last minute, I decided to join Guy and Jim on their adventure to Baja. I had a great time and some blog posts will follow when I get time to write them. For the week we were there, the sardina caught a few fish but the ballyhoo fly was better because there were not very many flat iron herring around. Still this is a pattern one would be foolish to omit from their Baja fly box.

I hope you enjoy the discussion as Guy and I explore the tying and fishing of this great saltwater fly.

Jay Nicholas, spring season 2017

The Most Perfect Glass Bead Bugger . . .

You will ever fish. 

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Yep, that’s right. 

This is the long version of the video on tying this fly complete with much conjecture and rambling. The short version will be posted very soon on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog.

I hope you enjoy this extended edit of the video. This is a fly that has caught hatchery and wild rainbow, sea run cutthroat, and summer steelhead on many occasions. Tie and fish it with confidence and vary the color of the glass bead to suit your preferences.

 

Thank you all for your patience and good wishes.

Jay Nicholas, Spring Season 2017

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

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

Guest Steelhead Intruder Art

Good morning people.  You never know what manner of joy the inbox will deliver each day, but sometimes it is really wonderful.  Meet new people, share stories, know there probably won’t be time to forge new friendships – judging by the old friendships that have cobwebs on them due to the shortage of time and the things I have chosen to undertake.

But on the bright side, I learned that I’m not the only person who is infatuated with fly art, and many if not most of the people I’ve met are far more advanced in their artistic endeavors than I am.

This morning, I wanted to share a painting by Nathaniel Price, a fellow fly tier – angler – artist.

Nathaniel Price Intruder Painting, April 2015.
Nathaniel Price Intruder Painting, April 2015.

Thank you Nathaniel, for sharing this image to inspire my tying.

If several people were willing to share their art with me I would include their work in one or more of my new books that are presently in production, destined to join the nine titles already available on Amazon.

May you all have a good day ahead of you.

Jay Nicholas April 28, 2015

Three Flies to Fish Out of Pacific City – in a single day!

Three flies - one day - in Pacific City
Three flies – one day – in Pacific City

I had to chuckle the other day when I glanced at my SIMMS Boat Bag and noticed the wild assortment of flies tangled in a little scruffy patch on the top of the Bag.  Among the dozen or so flies were three that I had recently fished in a single day, and caught fish on too. Pacific City is a paradise for me, my analog to Rodrick Haig Brown’s Campbell River home that I read and dreamed about my entire life.  The fishing opportunities within an hour of our cabin are so rich and enjoyable, and while there are certainly more glamorous and exotic destinations around the state and the world, I find myself quite amused and engaged with the fishing here close to PC. The day in question began with a quick trip into the Ocean with Ed and Kevin in their dory, fishing for pacific black rockfish, blue rockfish,  and lingcod.

The morning fly for the ocean - a fine clouser.
The morning fly for the ocean – a fine clouser.

This modest size clouser caught 4 species of bottom fish, including blacks, kings (nope, that is the auto correct changing “lings” to “kings“, blues, and yellowtail rockfish. On the beach by ten AM, I had to rest, so I took a short nap, re-read a few entries in the Fly Fishing Book of Revelation and then headed up to the Town lake, a mere three minutes from the cabin.  The little Chironomid nymph in a size 16 was about right to entice a nice summer steelhead kelt that was all shiny and full of jumps and runs, plus a few hatchery trout. Note: the hatchery trout prefer a bead head gold ribbed hares ear nymph to the buzzer.

Size 16 Chironomid Nymph - perfect for the Town Lake Steelhead.
Size 16 Chironomid Nymph – perfect for the Town Lake Steelhead.

Back from the lake by 3 PM, I unloaded trout rods, donned waders and cleated boots, and drove up the Nestucca, where I swung flies throughout the evening.  I did not hook any steelhead on this particular day, but on many occasions I have, and (fish or no) any evening swinging flies in a river that is only 20 minutes from my door is a great joy.

One of my favorite winter/spring clear water steelhead wet flies.
One of my favorite winter/spring clear water steelhead wet flies.

Of course there is always work to be done, like mowing the lawn, tidying tackle, tying flies, writing about these adventures, working on book creation and sales. and helping Chris with customer recommendations, not to mention an occasional fly tying video. But all in all, life is good and the sight of these 3 flies helped me remember just how diverse the fishing opportunities here on the Oregon Coast. I bet there are many places around this state and others where you could fish three wildly different flies in a single day too, and I’d love to hear from anyone who is willing to share their home water stories.

Jay Nicholas May 2015