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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Loon Products ~ Camo Drops ~ Rogue Hook Removal Forceps ~ Rogue Quickdraw Forceps ~ Rogue Nippers


I'm really stoked on life right now as I'm making my transition from the Northern Sierra to my winter guiding schedule on the Lower Yuba River, which allows me more time for special projects like writing articles, creating new power point programs, planning for 2021, and gear reviews like this one. So for this product review, I'm covering some basic needed essentials for the fly angler that can be used for rivers, creeks, or your favorite stillwater. 

There are 3 elements that effect your drift for a successful presentation while nymphing. The depth at which your fly is at, the angle of your rig which is altered by the force of the current, and the drop, which is the amount of split shot we add, or the weight to the fly itself. Tight line nymphing is best done with your heaviest fly on the bottom of the rig, but this doesn't always work, especially when fishing tiny flies in sizes 18-24. I actually fish these small flies while tight lining quite a bit on waters like the Little Truckee, and the Stagecoach tailwater of the Yampa River. You can only put so much weight on a fly that is so tiny, namely a 1.5 to a 2.0 mm tungsten bead, but you can add more weight to your leader, and this is where the Loon Camp Drops come into play.

I've been using the Loon Camo Drops for the past month on dozens of trips and they are now my favorite split shot to use. These non-toxic split shots are made of tin and also feature a non-gloss matte coating, plus a textured finish to prevent slipping. They are much easier to take off than the other similar brand I've been using for the last few decades, and the paint also last a little longer too. The different colors allow the angler to match the natural surroundings of that particular watershed they are fishing. I use the bright green drops on the Little Truckee River, and the dark green drops for the Middle Fork Feather River. Loon Camo Drops come in sizes 6, 4, 1, BB, AB, AAA, SA, SSG and 2SSG, and the easy to use dispenser is quite handy and fits easily in your vest. 

The Loon Rogue Removal Forceps are pretty cool, though I will admit it that it took me a little while to get used to them. Mostly it was the curve of the tip, where the smooth part of the jaw was located past the hinge, and the the other features like the serrated section of the jaws and the hook removal feature. The ergonomics of them are comfy but I'd like to see the finger loops a tad bigger for even more comfort and performance. The hook removal feature is a great asset while taking out flies that are delicate while a trout is thrashing about, namely a Jay Fair fly that has marabou incorporated into it that easily tears off the fly. 

These well made forceps are 5.5" long and feature a stealthy matte black rust-resistant finish, comfy rubberized grip that provides extra tackiness, and made of surgical quality stainless steel. Other features like the the double positioning locking handles really work well and can hold a 2mm tippet ring in them without slipping as one pulls down and sets a good clinch knot. Now that I'm used to the Rogue Hook Removal Forceps, I can't fish without them.

One bad ass tool, the 
Rogue Quickdraw Forceps are at home on your hip, or on your tackle bag in the boat. The ergos on these industrial forceps are extremely comfy, and allow the user to quickly lock the jaws in place and unlock them easily. Oversized thumb and finger holes accommodate large or gloved hands. The carabiner style quickdraw is the best feature on these when you're short on time, and seconds equal success in completing your task at hand. The clip is also easy to disengage when you need them and helps the forceps stay in place and not lose them. I really like the scissor feature which allows me to do multiple tasks without changing tools. The pair I received were a little sticky at the hinge, but some Tri Flow lubricant solved the problem and they are now smooth and free moving.

The Rogue Quickdraw forceps are 6.25" long and also feature a flat geometric jaw for easy hook removal/debarbing, double-dipped handle for added comfort, a eye clearing needle for flies, and a two stage position locking handle. These are a must have!

Last on this product review is the Loon Rogue Nippers. Not much to say about nippers, either they work well, or they don't. These DO work well and they are very sharp which means less physical effort needs to be applied when using them. This is essential when it's super cold out and your fingers are suffering from the conditions. A double dipped rubberized coating adds comfort and keeps them from slipping out of your hand. Nip, snip, and you're done.

Check out Loon's other products on their site, and special thanks to Hogan Brown for hooking me up with these awesome tools and other fine fishy products!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Middle Fork Feather River Fly Fishing Report ~ 10/18/2020


An Indian summer is an understatement for our current weather. Yesterday was 82 degrees in the Graeagle area, with a low of 36. Yes, we need some rain! Fall colors have really come on in the last week, it’s beautiful here, especially along Hwy 89 between Graeagle and Truckee.

The Middle Fork Feather River continues to fish well and the conditions have not changed much from my last report. Water temperatures are 55 in the early morning rising to 60 degrees. Fishing pressure is light. Same flies are bringing fish to the net, and tight line nymphing is your best option. There has been better dry fly opportunities with more aquatics out including more active October Caddis adults, and increasing numbers of BWOs. You’ll want to fish during the middle of the day into the late afternoon.

Hiking far and getting into remote sections has really been paying off. I’ve been taking my guests to areas I have not visited in 5 to 10 years. If a particular section has not been fished in a long time, expect red hot action.

The river closes on November 15th. If we continue to have warm weather with little precipitation, I see no reason why the river would not fish well until the closure. With so many fisheries going off right now, it’s tough to pick which one to fish. That’s a typical scenario in Northern California for fall ball, so much water to cover, so little time. See you out there on the water among the blazing Autumn glow. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Middle Fork Feather River & Lake Davis Fly Fishing Report 10/7/2020


Finally a change in the weather this coming weekend with cooler temperatures, and some actual precipitation falling from the sky. It is so needed right now. The ground is so dry it’s become like powdered sugar. At least the air quality is much better now with less smoke and just a haze, some days there is more blue sky to be seen. Fall colors are slow to come on as well and varied depending on the location. It’s been hot, way too warm for this time of year. Yeah, a change in the weather will do so much good for everything from fishing to hunting, and my other release when I have time – Mountain biking on single track with chocolate cake loam.

Since the weather is cold in the morning and hot in the afternoon, you will be peeling off layers all day long, and in some instances sweating bullets on the hike out of the more remote canyon water. Bring a day pack for all your layers, lunch, and other personal needed items on the river. Once I leave my truck with my guests, we’re not coming back to have lunch, we stay down on the river, cover water, and take in the total experience.

The Middle Fork Feather River still continues to fish well, my guests and I have been having some awesome days with good quality wild rainbows and the occasional brown trout mixed in. Water temperatures have been 57 in the morning rising to 62 degrees in the afternoon. The best action on the water has been from mid-morning to early afternoon, then the evening hours. Fishing pressure has been light and most days we do not see another angler at all. They don’t call it the Lost Sierra for nothing.

Tight Line Nymphing has been the most productive with some of my guests getting double digits to the net. The biggest fault I see with my guest’s presentation is after making the lob cast upstream, they are not picking the leader up quickly enough and making direct contact with their flies as they should. Many of the fish are eating the flies right away, so you got to be on it. 

Also having too much of the leader out of the tip with a bow in the system as well, too much slack and you will be missing strikes. Lastly, not leading the flies enough with the tip of the rod and pulling them through softer and slower water. Those three elements are crucial to feeling and seeing more strikes which results in more hook ups.

Effective flies for the Tight Line rig have been jiggy flies like Yellow Halo, KGB Caddis, Flashback Pheasant tails, and Pheasant Tails with a hot spot collar in orange or pink. Other good flies to have are Zebra Midges (even down to size 20), Hogan’s S&M and Military May in classic fall BWO colors, Black Beauties, Psycho Prince nymphs, and RS2’s in black. 

I like to trail the small flies off the bend of the hook of the larger jig fly to show the trout a more natural presentation – Though detecting the strikes on those smaller flies will be harder and one must keep a tight leash.

Not much dry fly action has occurred except with the adult October Caddis. I’m thinking the hot weather has put off most of our classic fall mayfly hatches in prolific numbers – That will change once we get some rain, and the precipitation will get those trout on the move migrating throughout the river system. We shall see.

As for the bugs, I have not seen this many October Caddis shucks on the rocks since before the big flows of New Year’s day in 2005 which gave the big bug pupae a ride to Lake Oroville in a hurry. In the last few days I’m seeing more flyers during the middle of the day too. The Trico spinner fall in the mid morning is waning but those trout are used to seeing submerged spent spinners in the drift and why I have been putting the tiny black patterns on the Tight Line rig. 

Also in the past week I’m now seeing sparse hatches of mayfly adults including BWOs, Isonychia, and Mahogany duns. They should increase in numbers with the cooler weather on the way. Caddis are out too in a variety of sizes. Non aquatics includes hoppers, a robust population of crayfish, and remember, with 6 golf courses in a 10 mile radius when it rains many earth worms are displaced and enter the river – That’s when you fish the flesh Juan worm.

Right now with low fall flows, the key to success is fishing the deeper water whether it is a plunge pool, slot, or tail out. That’s where the fish are. Skip the skinny water, but also do not over look the hidden nooks and crannies that most anglers pass up. Those unmolested areas usually harbor the larger trout. So you’re thinking, ok… just hit the deeper water and I’m set. There’s more to it. You will have to hike great distances to reach all those deeper spots. Stick and move, cover water, and on those bigger pools go through 2 to 3 times with different patterns. It makes a big difference.

Lake Davis

I’m not ashamed to say that my Tracker Pro Deep V 16 is inoperable. Shit happens. It ran great in June, then I put it away until the fall season. When I went to pick it up a few weeks ago it would not turn over and the trim tab would not work, yet the batteries are less than a year old and always plugged in at full charge. I thought…No problem I’ll have it serviced. Well, everybody and their mother want their boats winterized and it won’t be until the middle of November until I can get my boat in. If the lake cools down quickly in the next two weeks I can guide off the bank no problem with the right clients that possess the needed skills of being able to cast far, accurately, and have good trout stalking skills (ninja level). So for now I’m just going with the flow. I can tell I’m getting older and wiser during situations like this, it’s beyond my control and there’s nothing I can do about it. Being mad and frustrated won’t do me or my guests any good. Thinking positively and listening to my life coaches has helped me so much – Thanks to all those and your wisdom!

I do have friends and past long time clients that have been fishing the lake in the past few weeks and here is the scoop. Water temperatures are much warmer than normal due to the continued hot weather, currently they are 60 in the morning rising to 64 in afternoon. Most fish are scattered throughout the lake and are 6 to 8 feet down in 10 to 12 feet of water, though others have been marked by sonar even deeper. The browns that were planted a few years ago are reaching the 18” mark, that’s really cool as they will be eating the smaller bass that are so prevalent. Hatches include blood midges, the little chartreuse midge, and a sparse hatch of Callibaetis. Bigger flies are starting to be more effective like leech patterns and Jay Fair woolies, and trolling flies. Remember, the go to fall colors for Davis and Frenchman are fiery brown, rust, and burnt orange.

Lots of watersheds, lakes, and fisheries are going off, after all, it’s the fall season. It’s go time…See you on the water.

The pitfalls of learning the craft of Tight line Nymphing

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