A Reflection »

March 2013
Winter Steelhead

You know how it is: Winter creates unpredictable water conditions, but everyday family life hands you so many variables that planning a two day foray to the coast and being lucky enough to see perfect water conditions coincide with your hall pass is luckier than holding a winning Powerball ticket. This I pondered as I lay in a heap of pain, crumpled on the landing of the basement staircase having just discovered that polished painted stairs under wool socks are slicker than dog snot on a bacon fat smeared park slide. In the 4 am darkness of our quiet home, my right foot shot down the stairs after I planted the arch over the routed edge of the top step. The first thing to hit wood hard was my right elbow. But almost simultaneously, the bottom three ribs on my right side crashed into the last step above the landing.  I thought I had broken my back. Then, once I determined I could feel my legs, I thought I had broken many ribs. But once I started to breath again, I didn’t feel any crunch, crunch, or pop, pop, as my lungs filled with air. Unable to move, I relived my career as a high school quarterback 30 years earlier; the localized pain in the same lower ribs reminded me of the punishing hits I took week after week because our coach thought a passing game was essential to our overall offensive threat, though our line was so weak it couldn’t keep a stampede of pop warner 10 year olds off my back. Then I thought about my fishing plans: at the top of the stairs I was feeling lucky. Now, not so much.

Many minutes later I crawled back up the steps and chose the cold kitchen floor as a resting place. I rolled onto my back and tried to breath, slowly; a little at a time; the shallowest of breaths, waiting for the spasms and pain to subside. I would have bet that Powerball ticket that there was no way I could make my crippled body descend into the river canyon and hop from rock top to rock top in the murky winter water when I was unable to simply lift myself off the floor.

But 30 minutes later, I sat up, pulled my things together and ever so slowly, left the house. Fortunately I had packed the truck the night before. Hoisting camping gear and a cooler would not have happened. As it was, the only time I nearly collapsed from the pain was when I had to climb into the truck.

When I was younger I would “walk it off” after experiencing a sprain or deep bruise. I’m not sure the coaches shouting those directions knew what they were doing, but the pain usually subsided as long as I kept moving. Sitting static for 3 hours in a comfy 4×4 locked up the recently torn muscles and tendons holding my spine in place. At the end of the old logging road, I pulled the truck into the pullout of the first run I wanted to fish and then spent another 20 minutes trying to get out of the truck. Rotating my torso against the seized up trauma shot sharp pains down my leg and up my back. Inch by inch, I slid my crippled mass out the door and onto solid ground. I’m sure I should have been in the hospital, but the water was perfect, and I needed to be on the river.

Donning waders took another 20 minutes. Rigging the rod; 20 minutes. Slipping on my rain coat nearly made me puke when I raised my arms. The trail to the river was flat, mostly, and negotiating the short drop into the stream bed required nothing more than keeping my feet beneath my rigid form as the sandy bank gave way to bedrock. Surrounded by my favorite sounds, I swear I was breathing easier.

Posted by: camosled on September 18, 2014 @ 4:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Keep your friends close. And others? Well you decide. »

The Clan

by Jeff Mishler

By keeping our steelheading clan small, we avoid tossing around the Tinted Window Treatment because we don’t really care if one of us knows where the other has been hiding out. What’s the tinted window treatment? Remember that time you were cruising down the freeway and noticed in your truck’s driver’s side mirror a nice sports car approaching. You could see through the windshield that the driver was a woman, a single, attractive woman, as well kept as her stunning sports car. At least in your mind she’s single cause she’s alone. In fact, she’s smoking hot beautiful, as far as you know. She’s still a ways off traveling over 60 miles per hour, but approaching fast and you can’t take your eyes off the mirror, because, well she’s beautiful. Then, when the car pulls alongside and passes your truck, you quickly glance that way, hoping to peek, for a moment, into her world but see only black tinted windows and the reflection of your dirty truck. The window tint is so dense you can’t distinguish a single shape inside let alone the truths of her beauty and your curiosity is squashed like those bugs smudging your windshield. You’ll never know the truth. That’s the Tinted Window Treatment; that’s what you get from us if you’re an outsider trying to look in, asking too many questions, too close to the bone. Nothing personal. We’re just trying to avoid insanely crowded situations in our favorite haunts so we don’t have to resort to booting up pen-raised pheasants for fun.

Posted by: camosled on June 6, 2014 @ 5:27 pm
Filed under: Get On The Bus,Uncategorized

If you care about the Lower Deschutes River…. »

My buddy Dave Moskowitz and the staff at DRA are working hard to make sure our wonderful treasure known as the Lower Deschutes River, is managed for the long haul.

The Deschutes River Alliance was formed when concerned stakeholders noted that there was no long term management plan for the river while observing substantial changes in the ecosystem after the cooling towers went into operation at Pelton Dam.  The stream ecology was changing and no one was keeping track.

Check them out.  Donate.  Do what you can.




Jeff Mishler

Posted by: camosled on May 28, 2014 @ 4:55 pm
Filed under: Everyone Lives Downstream,Get On The Bus,Uncategorized

Another Casting Flaw…D Loop Crashes On The Water »

by Jeff Mishler


I spent some time last week helping a new-to-the-sport angler/buddy work on his casting.  My initial intent was to find a fresh steelhead for him, but his casting flaws brought the line, leader and fly down from the sky in a heap, keeping his fly too close to his casting position for any kind of swing.   Between stepping down to free his fly from the river rocks and repeated attempts to execute a complete turnover, he spent a lot of time with his fly out of the water.    I will give him credit for his tenacity.  In twenty years of casting two handers I’ve only seen a couple people work so hard for so long to get it right.  I’m confident he will put the pieces together and feel that yank at that end of a straight line delivery as the line unfolds completely.


From my upriver position I could assess his casting motion.  Setting the anchor and initiating the sweep were obviously motions he had worked on because those elements were very good.  Where his cast fell apart, and where many casters struggle, is in the turnover/setting the D loop phase of the casting motion.


Constant Motion/Constant Load casting, as Ed Ward presents it, requires a compact casting stroke; elbows down and tucked close to the body throughout the sweep and turnover.   The turnover in CM/CL happens in the hands.  The top and bottom hands work together to shape the upside down C the rod tip is scribing out there off the casting shoulder.  A subtle push, or 45 degree thrust towards that C helps keep the line behind the rod tip and away from that zone behind your body.  The turnover is a constant motion that accelerates to a stop at the end of the casting stroke when the bottom hand pulls on the rod butt, and the top hand reaches an extension, effectively stopping the rod tip around the 10 o’clock position.  That abrupt stop is what controls the finish of the cast, and the energy delivered to the loop comes from a constantly loaded rod.


The spey casting technique incorporating a 180 relationship between D loop and forward cast–a more linear style–requires a good turnover still.  After setting the anchor and beginning the sweep, a more conscious effort to “Set” the D loop by accelerating into a subtle pause, 180 degrees from your casting direction requires one to carve the upside down C, and sometimes even incorporate a slight press to the sky of the hands, or poking of the rod tip to the trees behind the caster, to keep the D loop from crashing on the water.  Then prior to the forward stroke, the elbows settle back into the pocket and the forward stroke occurs. Keeping the rod loaded or forming a nice D loop is where I see most of the flaws when beginning casters struggle to get the line moving forward during the casting stroke.


If straight overhead is 12 o’clock and 10 o’clock is out over the water and 2 o’clock is behind your shoulder, my observation point on river right from directly upstream from my buddy told me all I needed to know about whether his rod was getting to a good casting position for the casting stroke.  Most often, and in his case, the rod tip never gets to a  2 o’clock position.  With CM/CL casting, the rod tip moves through this zone quickly as the casting motion never really pauses.  With a 180 style cast, the rod tip does pause momentarily to allow the line to pass behind the caster and form the D loop.  This is where my buddy was experiencing a total melt down of his well executed, up to that point anyways, set up.


It is a very common mistake to thrust the bottom hand forward, once the top hand comes to the position in front of the casting shoulder just prior to the forward casting stroke.  The thrust of the bottom hand is part of the caster’s incorrect preparation to haul with the bottom hand at the end of the casting stroke. But the effect on the turnover phase of the cast is disastrous.  The rod tip drops below the 2 o’clock position behind their shoulder after the D loop is set, and crashes all of the line moving behind the caster, onto the water.  The cast killing move is rarely noticed because for some reason it is very difficult to get a beginner to turn and watch the formation of their D loop.   When I say to them, “Your rod tip just crashed into the water after the sweep” they can’t understand how that can happen because they were very conscious about getting the rod tip to the 2 o’clock position at the end of their sweep.  It’s the little hitch they add just prior to the forward stroke that dumps everything behind them.  The forward stroke looses its load and no mass remains lined up behind the tip.   When the new caster turns their head to look, they don’t replicate the same move and never see the flaw.   Video cameras reveal the flaw, but how do you take a movie of yourself when you’re suppose to be fishing?


The other, more obvious flaw I notice occurs during the sweep when the rod tip does not travel parallel to the water or in an ascending, out and around path.  As the caster initiates the sweep and the rod comes towards the turnover the path of the rod tip dips a bit.  The line crashes on the water and kills any possibility that the rod will stay loaded in a CM/CL cast or that the line will travel behind the rod tip in a 180 style cast.   This flaw is easier to correct because the caster can see it happening out in front of their position as they track the rod tip with their eyes.


I spent the better part of the day trying to find a few analogies or key words to help my friend understand what was happening and by the end of the day I found that a dart throwing reference seemed to resonate: The top hand, at the end of the sweep should come to a position in front of your shoulder, turned towards the target, like you are preparing to throw a dart at the board.  The bottom hand should stay relatively quiet until the forward stroke is initiated. Any additional movement by the bottom hand introduces a lot of off-path tip movement, unless the casting stroke has become intuitive.   Not the case here.  Only after the forward stroke is initiated does the leverage build in the bottom hand and and eventually result in the bottom hand stopping against the center of the torso.  Again, top hand in front of the shoulder, bottom hand centered on the torso; this keeps the rod tip canted out over the space beyond the casting shoulder, and the fly out of your face.


The abrupt stop of the top hand, after the dart is released, is the exact stop the rod tip needs to deliver a powerful loop.  If you push with the top hand only causing the rod tip to move forward in an ascending arc rather than a straight line, the loop will be open.  The bottom hand pulling at the end of the stroke tightens everything up.


Just some thoughts.



Tom Larimer in perfect firing position for the casting stroke.

Posted by: camosled on May 6, 2014 @ 7:25 pm
Filed under: Gear We Like,Get On The Bus,Uncategorized,Words From The Masters

Another cool photo I took last spring »

It's all in the hands

Posted by: camosled on April 25, 2014 @ 5:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Photos I Like »

I haven’t loaded any photos onto this site from my fishing adventures for a while. I’ll start with a few, see how it goes, then add more if it feels right.


Duck hunting comp

Duck hunting comp

Yellowstone Park Slough Creek


Marabou Intruders


Posted by: camosled on @ 5:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

New Skagit Master 4 clip on Youtube »

Check out this new clip

Tom Larimer and his good buddy Dave Pinczkowski hit their favorite rivers in the fall hoping to connect with a few steelhead. Tom talks about water temps and presentations.


Posted by: camosled on March 18, 2014 @ 10:53 pm
Filed under: Get On The Bus,Production Notes,Skagit Master 4,Uncategorized

Check your $%#&! »

by Jeff Mishler


In the dinner tent of one of our Russian steelhead expeditions, Pete Soverel proclaimed to the weary clan of weather beaten anglers, “If you loose the fish because the terminal gear fails, that’s operator error”.  Interpretation: You failed the process of landing the fish if the leader parted, because you didn’t check your knots regularly,


It’s a lesson I learned early in my steelheading life.  Drift fishing with pencil lead and oakies reveals the abrasive nature of a near-the-bottom presentation.  Good mono is tougher than cheap mono.  Hard mono lasts longer than soft.  Good knots work better than bad knots.  Beginning by age 8 I knew the drill;  check your leader often.  Check it again.  Sharpen your hook even if you think you missed the rock. Change the hook before you even question the point.


“No sense in loosing a nice steelhead over a fifty-cent hook”, Ed Ward muttered while changing what appeared to be a perfect sharp trailer on his Intruder.  One quality all good steelheaders share is that they are extremely particular and meticulous when it comes to their gear.  There is very little room for error on the river because the size of our prey varies greatly from fish to fish. And while you might be expecting another 8 pounder after the line comes tight, the possibility that a 20 pound buck might break your knuckles on the first run is real.  Steelhead are repeat spawners.  You never know which age class of adult just decided to destroy your bunny strip.  Using a 10lb tippet in heavy, colored water conditions is just asking for failure.  Even 12 pound Maxima is questionable if you will be swinging your fly near the rocks for any period of time.


So I was not terribly upset when I crackered off a huge steelhead this past weekend, in the hours before George Cook’s pre-spey clave, clave.  I gave myself about 90 minutes to fish one of my favorite runs, leaving enough time to bushwack to the truck and roll into the gathering wadered up, ready to jack a few new sticks…(The SAGE ONE 4 weight switch rod is amazing by the way)


Working up the riverbank towards the head of the run, it was obvious that high water events had pushed most of the structure around, leaving the big rocks from the middle of the run spaced evenly in the tail out.  Each one surrounded by the in fill of smaller cobble.  At the present water level, they would not hold fish.  Because of the mass exodus,  the upper parts of the run lacked much of the holding water I fished during past winters.  Hopping around the bigger stones, I poked up the shoreline looking for a green bucket in the meatiest part of the 100 yard run.  Rounding the bend in the river, I spotted another steelheader 400 yards or more above me.  I could not get any closer to him without low holing him, so I decided, “We camp here” and walked out into the river, stripped off about 90 feet of line and jacked my first cast beyond the backbone of boulders midstream.


I should have made that first cast about 10 feet longer because my fly parked on the backside of the last boulder.  I stumbled into the run, tossed a bunch of slack into the river and pulled the fly free.  I inspected the fly: the hook: the leader: the knots.  All felt solid.  About ten casts later, 2/3rds of the way through the arc, as the fly left the greasy part of the tailout and began to swing up on to the shoulder, the line came tight.  For an instant, I froze and waited for the line to belly a bit before coming tight.   The line surged back. I swept the rod low to the bank and a giant yank pulled the rod tip back towards the middle of the river.  At the end of the bright line a huge tail broke the surface.  Then nothing.  Upon inspection, I found that the leader parted at the double surgeon knot on the 20 pound butt section.  Obviously I didn’t give the mono a full test.  That butt section had battled 3 steelhead two days before. Why didn’t I change that butt section?  One minute of maintenance and I might have gotten a good look at what was by far the biggest steelhead I’ve seen in a while.   Not that I would have landed the fish, because beyond those controllable elements, ones attributed to basic rookie mistakes or blatant operator error, lie an infinite number of variables we cannot control.  The odds are mostly in their favor even if our obsessions, habits or rituals of terminal tackle maintenance are followed, meticulously.  That’s steelheading.


 Intermediate Skagit heads rock!

These are new for 2014


Both lines are on my reels and make the cut.




Posted by: camosled on March 5, 2014 @ 6:49 pm
Filed under: Gear We Like,Get On The Bus,Uncategorized,Words From The Masters

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