winter runs

The perfect combo

G Loomis         Shimano       Power Pro

                 What would make fishing a whole lot more perfect? Having a rod and reel combo for every technique and species would certainly make things a lot easier, no? That’s simply not realistic especially because we are all striving to learn new techniques and new fisheries so often. So we mix and match my rods and reels all the time to make do with what we have and I think that we finally came across a combo that won’t be changed. It is quite possibly the most universal set up that we use and it’s perfect for taking friends and family on the boat to use as a beginner’s rod.

GLOOMIS STR1162-2S 6-10lb 9’8”

To start with the rod, I have the G Loomis STR1162-2S 6-10lb 9”8”. The Steelhead Series is designed to have the necessary sensitivity to detect the light steelhead drift bite and this rod very much so, exceeds my expectations of sensitivity. This isn’t my first steelhead series rod; however it’s one that I use for salmon as well. Yes salmon, and king salmon at that. This is the float rod that we use as well as the side drifting rod for steelhead. The STR1162-2S is quite possibly the only rod that I can use for both techniques and species. Certainly the only rod that is rated 6-10lbs that has landed a 17lb fall Chinook on a barbless hook in a small river.

Power Pro braided line – 30lb HIGH VIS

The second component of this triple threat setup is the line. Power Pro braided line is without a doubt my favorite line to use. The trust and assurance that I have makes me more confident and less stressed when fishing. It is quite rare to break on the braid which means less lost gear and less tying and rigging up. When I’m using any sort of float, plug, diver, flasher, or canon ball for trolling and back-bouncing, I won’t fish it without Power Pro. I paired a 30lb high-vis Power Pro braided line with my 6-10 Steelhead Series G Loomis and got the power and the sensitivity that we dream of for steelhead.

Shimano Sustain 3000FG

The last component and the newest piece to our fishing collection is the Shimano Sustain FG 3000. All of our reels are Shimano and this is certainly the highest end spinning reel I own. Having fished the Symetre, Sahara, and Stradic CI4, I have had my fair share of experience with spinning reels. I will repeat in every review I ever write, the weight of a spinning reel is without a doubt the most important thing to me. Fishing spinners and jigs means a lot of action with your wrist and arm, float fishing means constant mending, drifting means holding your arm as still as possible thus not to disturb the gear on the other end and feel every tick. This reel was essentially weightless but doesn’t have the cheap “plastic” look or feel.

The new X-Ship feature in the Sustain made it possible for me to bring in a 14lb steelhead from the other side of the river without tripping up or skipping a beat. Not only did I feel every move of the fish, I felt like I was in control with more power but without the extra bulk and weight of most reels. The drag system and casting was flawless. Absolutely worth a little extra money if you want the option to be able to have your sensitivity and light weight, and still manage to land big, powerful fish.

Here’s how I most recently tested this genius combination

 Ignore the jealous face in the corner and check out that tail!!

I was float fishing for steelhead and felt the bite before I even saw it. Literally 2 minutes prior, our friend “predicted” that I would catch the first fish of the day. I was really just out to be out, but with the water so low and clear and not having any rain for a few weeks, I had very little expectations of catching any fish period, let alone one that hadn’t been sitting in the river for a few weeks.

“There’s a fish!” I felt the roar of his head shake twice followed by a flash on the surface and zzzzzzzzzzzzz. “From the way that’s fighting, it’s not hatchery”. So I tighten up my drag, let him run a little bit further before turning and cranking him closer to me. With another big run and two more jumps, I finally was able to win the battle. Believe me when I saw I was shocked, SHOCKED to see a clipped fin. This beast was 100% hatchery and 100% dead. Certainly no “trophy”, but one of the best fights I’ve had with a steelhead.

To say that I fought one of the hardest fighting steelhead I’ve fought on a 6-10lb rod and a light reel is pretty rewarding. If I had mono on, there’s no way I would have been able to stop that fish from a full run and turn it around. If I had a heavier rod, there’s no way I would have been able to absorb every jump without shaking the single 2/o hook.

This is definitely one of my favorite combo’s and we use it for both salmon and steelhead. What more can you ask for than to have a combination that you can use all year long and has the sensitivity and backbone tooboot! If you’re looking for a new set up or if you’re new to fishing and aren’t sure what to get, you won’t be disappointed with any or all of the components in my “triple threat”.

Too cold for fish?

We FINALLY were able to take an old buddy of mine fishing in hopes to teach him that fish bite more than corkie and yarn and to get him his first steelhead. He beared the FREEZING weather with us on Saturday only to watch Jeff get the only fish all day. When I say freezing, I’m sure you all know how cold it was. The motors were to cold to start up, the anchors were to frozen to bring, and the locks on the dry storage were too frozen to open so I imagine the fish were super thrilled either.

The water wasn’t in the greatest condition but we decided we can give it a try for round two on Sunday, but we’d be more prepared. The water was on the drop and clearing up, we brought the heater, hot water, and a lot more gloves! First pass through, Jeff misses a bobber down from a rookie mistake. Setting the hook with the bail open. :)

About 2 minutes later in the same stretch of water, my float SLAMS down and I hook into a great wild hen then clearly didn’t care that the water was less than 40 degrees. She fought and jumped 2 feet in the air and ran and shook her pretty head. I finally got her to the boat and sent her on her merry way. We didn’t hook another one for a few hours but the water and weather warmed up quite a bit and Jeff found himself a nice little summer run on her way back out to the salt.

Jeff hooked into a few more and when Jerry (my friend) needed a new bait, I handed him my rod that was already fishing. Once I got the new set up on his rod, I told him to fish my rod and I’ll re-cast but he insisted I take my rod back and he cast his own. “okay fine!” Sure enough, 3….2…..1-there’s a fish! I hook into another and tell Jerry he should have kept my rod!

Jerry didn’t end up getting his first steelhead but hopefully he learned all his brain could handle, had a good time, and will be out with us again. Maybe we can’t get him on a steelhead but springers are just around the corner!


Merry Christmas to me!

WOOHOO!!!! What an amazing weekend! And I still have 3 days off from work and 2 weeks from school!

We didn’t put our efforts in at the Cowlitz again, but we worked hard and were generously rewarded! On Saturday, it was just me and Jeff and despite my anxiety and nervousness (I’d rather Jeff ONLY run the boat, not try to fish and run the boat), Jeff had the hot rod and we hooked 5 and went home with 4 steelhead! Yes, one was a downriver summer run, but we still got our 4 fish. The first winter run to the sled, and we managed to limit the darn thing. :)

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Learn to tie rags!

Making your own rags
The best part of all the rain and high water is having more time to tie leaders! And when you’ve tied until your fingers are cramped, you can take your new leaders and rags and fish that high water to target some winter steelhead.

The ‘rag’ has been used for many years and has proved to be very effective time and time again for winter steelhead. Being able to fish a super buoyant, bright lure will definitely give you an upper hand when you just can’t wait any longer for the water to drop and clear up. Its profile and typical color patterns make it great for water with less than 2 feet of visibility and work well when fished solo, but are perfect when paired with bait. They aren’t the fastest or easiest to tie, but if you’ve got the time, they are well worth the extra effort; and for those of you who always make sure to dot your I’s and cross your T’s when fishing, you know how far a little extra effort goes.

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