Well, Spokane has just decided to become Phoenix this summer as this prolonged heat wave refuses to subside. This continues to keep our fishing trips to the morning hours and we are taking our rafts out around noon. But, the early morning hours on the river have thankfully been very pleasant before the sun rises too high, and the fish are staying active and taking flies.
The dry weather and hot temperatures are also placing the Pacific Northwest into extreme fire danger, and the Spokane River had a small fire earlier this week. Fortunately, it was called in quickly and fire crews were able to smother it before it grew out of control. In the end, only about three acres were burned and the firefighting crews were finishing up their operations on Monday while we floated below in our rafts.
With the hotter weather, we were playing the pocket water and riffles by casting an assortment of dry-dropper rigs. Floating through the boulder-studded river, it's a quick succession of deploying and re-deploying the fly to any window of water that could hold feeding trout, and over the weekend we had one of those rare heart-stopping moments when we chose our spot correctly.
We were having luck bringing in a few decently sized trout on both the dry and dropper, and as the sun rose higher we thought the best fishing was already past. However, up ahead some deeper current was gliding over a sunken boulder that just rang out as a spot to cast the dry fly. The boulder was on the inside bend of the river, and although the outside bend can be one the most productive zones on the river the inside bend can hold its own surprises, and we found one of those gems on that day.
The dry fly plopped onto the surface well before the boulder. As the fly neared closer, a trout materialized from out of its nook, rose, and confidently gulped in the dry. To see that, and the rod bend over in response, well it is a special thing on the Spokane. A few moments later a splendid redband trout was in the net, it was a personal best trout for the client which made it even more exceptional.
Now, I know that the Spokane is not considered a dry fly fishery, but it does work, they are trout after all. On hot summer days like we are having, the pocket water is the place to explore most, and dry-dropper rigs cannot only be effective they are a thrill to employ (and it is a relief after throwing an indicator set up for the past hour or two).
For this weekend, and into next week, continue to fish the river early in the morning. Green caddis patterns (size 12-16) continue to work well, and stonefly patterns (sizes 8-12) drifted deep can also hook a couple trout. With any of these patterns, we prefer them to be tied on jig hooks, with slotted beads, so the point of the hook rides upwards which helps to prevent some boulder snags. But, if you are not losing the occasional nymph then you might not be fishing deep (or hard) enough...sometimes you have to lose a few flies to connect with the trout. Frenchies and Walt's Worms with some flash have been doing well and so have perdigon flies. Perdigons plunge quickly through the water column which helps you to get into zone where the trout are, these are particularly useful when you are wade fishing.
Of course. don't overlook dry-dropper rigs, think larger more buoyant dries like Stimulators, Schroeder's hoppers, Chubby Chernobyls, and Elk Hair Caddis (preferably ones that have some foam incorporated into the fly). These will help to suspend some larger beadhead nymphs underneath. Suspend the nymph below the dry with roughly 14-18 inches of 4-5x tippet, and since the Spokane requires barbless hooks the tippet is best tied through the eye of the dry fly hook or via a triple surgeon's knot (if tied to the bend of the hook the tippet could slide off those barbless hooks).
Besides focusing on the pocket water, try floating the dry-dropper through the tailouts of pools and runs, specifically tailouts that have a "walking pace" current. Right where the pool or run begins to shallow out, there might be trout holding there and a dry-dropper rig will coast the nymph a foot or so below the surface, easy enough for a trout to tip up and take it.
We weren't the only ones on the river cooling off this week either, we spotted a moose wading along the bank trimming down some low hanging branches. He paid hardly any particular interest to us while he ate away, but it was some enjoyable wildlife viewing for us.
Hopefully, you will be able to get out on the Spokane River this weekend, and if you are interested in booking a guided fly fishing trip with us Contact Us, or check out our Spokane River Guided Trips page for more information. We also offer Fly Fishing Instructional Classes here in Spokane if you are interested in spending just a couple hours out on the river improving your fly fishing skills.
Fly Fishing Tip of the Day - How to Clean Fly Fishing Line
So a number of anglers have asked what is the easiest way to clean their fly fishing line. Here is how I clean my lines:
Fill a kitchen sink or bowl with warm soapy water (use dish soap, like Dawn).
Strip the fly line off the reel to the backing and let it soak in the soapy water for a few minutes.
Take a damp paper towel and run the line through it (applying moderate pressure with your hand).
If the paper towel ends up with a bunch of grim on it then soak the line again and run it through another damp paper towel.
Once the line is clean, reel it back up and let it air dry before storing it.
How often should you clean your fly line? Well, it depends on what kind of water you are fishing. If it is relatively clean and clear water then look at cleaning your line every 4-5 outings. If it is muddy or silty water then try to clean it every 1-2 outings.
Finally, people ask about fly line cleaner or dressing kits. These are really good if you are a competition fly caster. Those dressing kits might help you to send casts out more easily for an hour or two, but they will attract dirt and grim like a magnet and the line will need to be cleaned after just a couple hours. So they are not worth it unless you are going to fly casting competitions and only needing a smooth casting line for an hour or so. Save your cash.