Conservation and Science Director for Native Fish Society
Very committed to conservation of wild steelhead and trout so that in the future anglers will have a productive and interesting fishery.
Since the 1950s, I have fished steelhead and trout in Deschutes R, Oregon, my primry water, but have also spent time on the Umpqua, Skeena, Klickitat, Grays, EF Lewis, Molalla, Kalma, Nestucca, Santiam, Wind, Washougal, Skagit, Clearwater, John Day among others. Fly tying has always been important with attention to variations that are tested and used if proven effective. I invented the Dragon Fly and October Caddis, used for summer steelhead as a surface bug fish down stream. I have also found fishing the dry fly upstream to be an effective approach on clear water, especially in small streams. With Bill McMillan we were the first to concentrate on using the dry line for summer fish and even winter fish while the rest of the steelhead fly fishers were using wet lines. Rob Brown of Terrace, B.C. read my articles on using the dry line in the 1970s and began using it for summer steelhead in the Skeena watershed with satisfying success. It opened a whole new style of fishing steelhead with a fly for him. However, he would take his wet line buddies on the river and show them how effective the dry line was on summer fish but they would still not believe him. Anglers often become captured by technique and convention which for me has been a trap preventing innovation. For winter fish I have developed the Tammy series of wet flies that are effective, active in the water, and easier to cast than the more standard patterns composed of feathers and rabbit fur. For summer steelhead I have discovered the value of the wee fly, patterns from size 16 to 6 with 10s and 12s very effective in warmer water (60 F or warmer). The steelhead will fluff a larger fly, but take a wee fly solidly. While most anglers are going to large patterns, I have been following the effectiveness of the small pattern. The use of the small fly for summer steelhead has been practiced by some in the Northwest for a long time, but has never become popular. The value of the wee fly is something that English Atlantic salmon fishermen and, of course, Lee Wulff cultivated and its application to steelhead is a largely undiscovered success. I fish a spey rod but prefer the shorter "switch" rod for most of my summer fishing. For the last decade I have begun to use a ten foot sinking leader on the dry line (slow or fast sink) with good success. In a fast big river like the Deschutes the sinking leader helps keep the fly off the surface.