Deschutes Angler Fishing Report
Friday fishing report - from a snowy Deschutes River in Maupin.
We awoke the last two mornings to snow falling and a small amount of accumulation on the road and along the river. Beautiful, clean, white snow is always a treat to see in our low moisture desert environment, and we are expecting to get quite a bit more before the storm front completely passes through. Like it always does, the snow will melt off before long – temps next week are flirting with 50 degrees and that will melt off all the white stuff. However, for the next few days we can enjoy our wintery wonderland.
Check the Oregon Trip Check website before heading out for the weekend, we think that many roads will be closed due to the snow and ice.
Sometimes these events will cause the Deschutes levels to spike up, that will depend on the overall accumulation of snow that we get and how quickly it melts off. The ground is fairly dry right now, so it will absorb a lot of the moisture – unless, of course, the ground is still frozen when the temps spike back up. If that happens, the runoff will be significant and the river will be too big to fish well for a few days. I will keep you posted on that front.
There were very few anglers out and about yesterday – but those to whom we spoke had good a good day of catching trout. Trout fishing has been quite good all winter long, if you are willing to get your fingertips cold. My crew has been out there doing the R & D daily trying out some of the new patterns we just brought into the shop. The selection of Euro nymphs with tungsten beads has grown dramatically this year, and that specialized type of nymph now dominates our nymph selection. These flies can be fished on a traditional rod using traditional indicator-style fishing methods, but they really shine when used as they were intended to be used – with a Euro-nymphing set up.
What is Euro-nymphing? Well, in a nutshell this is a form of fishing weighted nymphs without an indicator. The idea behind it is simple. Look at a cross section of any river and you will find that the water flowing over the rocks on the bottom of the river is moving significantly more slowly than the surface currents. For this reason, the trout will tend to hang near the bottom where they can expend less energy (particularly in cold winter months) and where they have plenty of food in the form of nymphs.
When you use a traditional tapered leader and indicator, it is very difficult to get a drag-free natural presentation of your nymphs on the bottom because the thickest part of the leader and the indicator are moving much more quickly than the nymphs that are dropping down into the slower currents. The nymphs also struggle to pull that fatter section of the tapered leader down into the depths, so the nymphs often do not reach the bottom of the river before they are dragged out by the indicator. When you use a Euro leader, the flies are able to get down more quickly because the overall diameter of the leader is very small. Once the flies are down deep, they bounce along drag-free because the leader is super fine and there is no indicator to pull them out of the zone. More time spent drag free in the zone of the trout equals more fish.
A Euro-nymphing leader is not a standard tapered leader – we use a customized leader that is made up mostly of very fine, one diameter fluorocarbon for about 20 feet. There are different leader formulas out there, but the general design is a 14 foot length of 4X material, followed by a 20 inch section of brightly-colored, two-tome, indicator tippet, followed by a tippet ring, below which you tie on 5.5X or 6X fluorocarbon down to a point fly (your heaviest fly in the rig). Halfway between the point fly and the tippet ring, an angler will tie in a piece of tippet material to create a tag for a second, less heavily-weighted fly.
This type of long leader is nearly impossible to cast using a traditional 4, 5, or 6 weight rod because the tip of a traditional trout rod is stiff and this form of fishing does not utilize fly line in the same manner that we have utilized fly line in traditional casting – in fact, fly line is barely used while Euro-nymphing. The leader is usually just outside or just inside the tip top of the rod and the specialized Euro Nymph Fly Line is just inside the tip top of the rod.
Now, I will be the first to admit that I was highly skeptical of this special line for Euro nymphing. I even hit the river on the first day with my new Euro Rod (oh yes, the rods are specialized for this type of fly fishing) without buying a Euro Nymph Line. I thought, who needs special line when we aren’t even casting the line? Well, I found out the answer to that question in short order – as I pulled my leader into the tip top of the rod, trying to control my nymphs through the drift at the exact depth that I was trying to attain, I watched my weight forward five weight fly line start to fall back down the rod pulling the Euro leader with it. I should have known! I have taught hundreds of anglers how to fly fish and I have seen this happen time and time again – pull the line all the way into the rod and it falls right down through the guides and makes a pile of line spaghetti on the hand holding the rod. So, it turns out, the Euro nymphing fly line is very important to the overall set up. The diameter of the Euro fly line is small enough to stay in the guides of the rod and it is a nice diameter to handle while fishing.
The reel you use for Euro-nymphing doesn’t need to be special in any way, but the rod certainly does. Euro-nymphing rods are typically 10’, 10’6”, or 11’ in length with highly sensitive tip sections. A sensitive and responsive tip section is needed to load up with just the weight of a couple of tungsten bead head flies and this sensitivity is needed in order to cushion 6X tippet without breaking it. So, a specialized Euro-nymph rod is critically important to your success and enjoyment of this branch of fly fishing.
The biggest reason that people are drawn to Euro-nymphing is that it takes your catch rate through the roof. It is astounding how many more trout you can fool with a perfect down deep presentation. If this intrigues you, come check out the great rates we have on Euro-nymphing packages. You can get rod, reel, line, leader, etc ready to fish for as little as $229.95. Package prices go up from there.
If you want to know more about Euro-nymphing, we offer full-day classes monthly as well as a couple of two-day Euro-nymph camps. The one-day clinics will cover the basics and get you in the know on rigging, casting, fly presentation, fly choice, and fishing. In the two-day camp we can cover a lot more material and you will get demos on nymphing with the Euro-rod as well as using it as a tool to fish streamers and dry flies. We have been deep into Euro nymphing for years (no pun intended) and we are able to show you aspects of this niche division of fly fishing that will blow your mind.
The snow is supposed to start falling heavily this afternoon. Travel safely. If you can’t make it out to the river this weekend, it might be fun to curl up on the couch with your laptop or tablet or phone to cruise around in our new website. We have hidden some pretty funny descriptions of products deep deep in the new site. Start looking!
Tight lines! Amy Hazel and the crew at Deschutes Angler Fly Shop