Fall Fishing on the Metolius River

I’ve been getting out on the beautiful Metolius River over the past couple of weeks before the closure at the end of October.  The Kokanee have come up from Lake Billy Chinook to spawn in the river and are very numerous in the shallower areas of the river.  While the Kokanee will occasionally take nymphs, we don’t target these fish and let them do their “spawning thing”.  Here is a quick video of the Kokanee doing their thing:

With all the fishy activity in the river, the rainbows also get active.  Earlier this week, I got out on the upper portion of the river with my good friend and local Sisters resident, John, for a few hours of afternoon fishing.

Dave and John on the Metolius River

The river is pretty small in these upper stretches, and the fish tend to be a little smaller than in the lower sections of the river.  But, I took out my 7′  0″  4 wt bamboo rod, which worked great to high-stick some nymphs through the shallow riffles.  The resident native rainbows were very happy to take my #10 October Caddis Pupa and my #20 Rainbow Warrior.  Here is a nice little fish from our day.

Rianbow from the Metolius River

A VERY OLD Leonard Bamboo Fly Rod

A fellow came over to my workshop a couple of months ago to show me “an old Leonard Fly Rod” he had to get my opinion of it.  Although I’m not a big collector of old bamboo rods, I always love to see what comes out of an old rod tube.  At first glance, here is what I saw on the rod sock:

This doesn’t look good!

Well, that didn’t get my hopes up….a Wright & McGill fiberglass spinning rod!!!  But, things changed when I pulled out a VERY OLD Leonard Bamboo Fly Rod that really got my blood pumping…what a gem!  This rod is from the Leonard Rod Shop when it was in Bangor, Maine from 1876 to 1878!  Overall, the rod is in reasonable condition given that it is 140 years old.  It is 10 1/2 ft. long, and has the most impressive morticed butt section, beautiful rattan grip, and spigot ferrules.  And, the reel seat hardware is in beautiful condition.  Unfortunately, all the guides had been replaced on the rod, both tip sections are about 1″ short, and there are two repairs that were done many years ago. Check it out:

Old Leonard Fly Rod

Beautiful Rattan Grip.

Morticed Butt Section.

Patent Date on the Ferrule.

Cool Spigot Ferrules and the H.L.L. Leonard, Maker, Bangor, Me. Stamp on the reel seat.

I’ve assembled the rod and “wiggled” it a little to see the action.  It has a very slow action, and at 10 1/2 ft. in length, it would be hard to fish with. I’m not sure yet what fly line would work best on this rod…I haven’t cast it yet.

Of note, an identical rod is pictured in Jeff Hatton’s book, Rod Crafting, on page 30. After conversing with couple of collector friends so  mine, I’ve discovered that these very old rods generally do not have a significant collector value but they have an important historical value.  The gentleman who brought this rod in doesn’t fly fish and was interested in selling the rod.  So, after little conversation about the value of the rod, it has now become mine.  My only problem….so do I keep it in it’s current condition or have a complete restoration done on the rod?  Hmmmmm…….

Bamboo Rod Fishing at Yamsi Ranch

I just got back from 3 days of fly fishing on the Upper Williamson River in Southern Oregon with my good friend and fishing buddy Bill.  We stayed a great place, Yamsi Ranch, which has 8 miles of spring creek water flowing through the ranch.  Ranch guests are the only ones who have access to the river so there is plenty of water to get out and fish.  John, Gerry, Dayton, and Sally are fantastic hosts at the ranch, which has been around for over 100 years.  Fishing is for native brookies and rainbows on miles of beautiful spring creek water.  Fishing in the river was non-stop action for Bill and I…small bead head leaches in the mornings, mahogany dun dries mid-day, and hoppers in the afternoons.  Bill and I lost track of how many fish we caught.  I fished most of the time with my 8′  0″  5 wt Signature Series medium action bamboo fly rod, but went to my 8′  0″  6 wt medium fast action Freestone Series rod for the afternoon hopper sessions.  We also got the chance to fish for a few hours in Hyde Lake on the ranch.  It was loaded with huge rainbows…nothing was under 21″.  Again, leaches worked great for these big rainbows, as well as callibaetis nymphs stripped slowly along the weed beds.  What a great trip we had.  Here are a few photos:

Bill and Dave’s excellent adventure at Yamsi Ranch

A beautiful 14″ brookie…we caught A LOT of these guys.

Bill working a nice bend in the river.

Stripping bead head leaches.

A nice rainbow I picked up our last morning.

A big rainbow from the ranch’s lake.

What Is The Best Reel For A Bamboo Fly Rod?

I get asked occasionally “What is the best reel for a bamboo fly rod?”  Well, there is no one answer to that question.  But, a lot of the modern day reels are very light weight and don’t balance a bamboo rod very well, while many of the older reels that were made years ago are heavier.  And, there is just something about putting a reel with a “classic look” on a fine bamboo fly rod.  When I’m out fishing, I usually have an older classic reel on my rods.  I have several old Hardy reels and Pflueger reels, and also have a very nice Saracione reel and a Bellinger reel for my two-handed Trout Spey rods.  Here are a couple of photos of my set-ups:

A beautiful old Pflueger Gem Reel on my bamboo 3 wt Euro-Nymphing rod on the Metolius River.

A classic Hardy Sunbeam on a 7′ 0″ 4 wt medium action rod on Whychus Creek.

A Hardy Perfect on a 7′ 6″ medium fast action 5 wt rod on Silver Creek.

Casting an 8′ 0″ slow action 5 wt rod with a Saracione reel on the Metolius River.

Again, my old Pflueger Gem reel on my Euro-Nymphing 9′ 0″ 3 wt rod on Hat Creek, CA.

My old Hardy Sunbeam on the Upper Deschutes River.

My Bellinger reel on my 10′ 6″ Bamboo Trout Spey rod and a beautiful Cutthroat from the Salmon River.

My Hardy Lightweight on my 8′ 3″ Medium Fast Action 5 wt rod on the Salmon River and big Cutthroat.

Incredible colors on this nice cutthroat taken on my 8′ 3″ medium fast action rod with my Hardy Perfect reel on the Salmon River.



Bamboo Rods on the Owyhee River

While attending the 2018 Fly Fishers International Fly Fishing Fair in Boise, Idaho last week, I got the chance to fish for a day with my good friend from Australia, Noel Williams.   We drove the 90 minutes it took to get to the Owyhee River and tempted the big brown trout for the day.  Noel fished with his 8′  3″  5 wt medium action bamboo fly rod, while I used my 9′  0″  3 wt EuroNymphing Bamboo Rod.  We had pretty slow fishing early in the day, but the PMDs came out in the afternoon and we found an area with some rising fish.  Noel bested me for the day, landing his largest brown trout ever (about 20″)…on a fly he tied himself…how great is that.!  I hooked into a few nice browns but couldn’t land any of them.  Noel’s wife, Sue, joined us for the day, and although she doesn’t fish, she did a great job netting fish and taking some excellent photos.

Noel and Dave with our bamboo fly rods.

Nice Fish!

A beautiful 20″ brown Trout that Noel landed.