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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Skater Of The Month - July 2017 - Grey Caddis

Spring and early summer yields catches of hatchery rainbows on my local stretch of the McKenzie.  My grey caddis wang did these mutants in as I do my part to get rid of these inferior fish that have no place on a wild river like the McKenzie. 

Grey Caddis and October Caddis versions of my skater.

Side view of the grey caddis wang, tied on a size 10, Mustad S80 hook (3906 equivalent)

Late spring and early summer are the in between time that has me dusting off my trout gear.  This year is looking to be pretty dismal as to the hatchery summer run on my local rivers so I have embraced an extended period of chasing trout.

I am still a surface nut, even with trout, so I have a tough time even resorting soft hackle wets fished in the film.  It's tough being a wanna be purist as I have difficulty  escaping my self imposed visions of what constitutes beauty and grace in fishing.

 Since I figure trout are like small steelhead, I approach fishing for them as if I am skating for steelhead, but on a miniature scale.  I use my single hand rods in 4, 5, and 6wt and most often load them with appropriate Wulff Ambush lines.  On a couple of my older rods, I removed the butt caps and fabricated a lower handle to convert them into trout switches.

I also downsize my favorite foam skater accordingly and go with natural colors.  I have been tying my trout skaters on size 10 Mustad S80/3906 hooks. I notice alot of grey hued caddis during this time of year so I have tried tying my fly with grey yarn for the body and medium dun cow elk in the wings with black Krystal flash and black cactus chenielle.  The little grey skater has been well received by my local trout.

I have been having a blast seeing trout attack my skaters with aggressive surface attacks, again it's steelhead skating,  mini version.

For some reason I have yet to find redsides on the Deschutes to be receptive to skating methods, but closer to home, the redsides and cutthroat go after my tiny skaters with gusto.

If you haven't given trout skating a shot, you should, it's not all about steelhead, or is it?


  1. Hey, Todd -

    I was curious if you had been hooking any steelhead in the valley? I've been getting out, but the fish numbers have just been so low that I have yet to hook a summer steelhead this season. I've had a great time catching trout with a homemade single-hand to 2-hand conversion. I'm teaching my 10 yr. old to fish with a two handed rod and he's loving it. We've been keeping a few hatchery trout for the breakfast pan. It's a great year to practice casts and methods.

    I sure wish the fish #'s were different. I know I'm a better fisherman than my score would dictate. I thought of you the other morning while fishing my favorite river. After two runs with no bumps, I dropped into a 3rd and had a steelhead break the surface plane immediately after my fly hit the water. That got the juices flowing and I switched to a muddler. I didn't get any takers. The muddler swam just 'okay'.

    I really wanted something to wake. Something that would legitimately stay on top. But my fly box was empty of such a fly -- evidence that I don't spend enough time fishing a dry line. I know... I know. My mind tells me that because the fish are so few, I'm better off fishing below the surface, especially in the upper river where the water temps are still quite cold. But science, and Todd, and Adrian, and my own angling experience, says that an aggressive steelhead will just as readily come through the water column to take a skater -- maybe even more so because of the temptation. Alas... I need more time with dry line methods.

    As usual, your posts have inspired and challenged. I plan to return to the same runs with a real fly - a skater! You and Bill would be proud. This year, it seems like getting a summer fish is akin to winning the lottery. But you can't win, if you don't play. So Play on!!

  2. I have also been using a two hand conversion as seen in the first photo. Great that you are teaching your 10 year old to fish, a worthwhile investment of your time and energy.

    Great that you encountered one of the rare steelhead this season. Yes it is a dismal return year thanks to the warm conditions in 2015. I have not encountered a steelhead yet in the valley. Since numbers are low, I continue with targeting trout and figure that if a steelhead is around, my small trout skaters can still draw their attention.

    Great to hear that you are committing to surface methods. Steelhead will rise, especially during conditions where water temps are in thier ideal range.

    I agree that you have be in the game to have a chance at success. Good luck with your efforts with raising steelhead. Keep me posted!