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Upper Sac Fishing Report Zone 1 June 3, 2012

Upper Sac Fishing Report Zone 1 June 3, 2012

Here is a short video of bamboo fly rods on the Upper Sac from Sunday.  In the first clip, you can see the trout rising.  This was shot in the middle of the day, a time which many guides will tell you that nymphing is the only way to fish the Upper Sac.  As you can see, this is not so.  Using the right dry fly pattern, with the correct attributes, will have the dry-fly-man handily out-fishing the tyro with bead head nymphs.
It’s easy to tie on a “Parachute Adams” and tell everyone that you were fishing dry flies, but that’s not what’s really going to work on the Upper Sac over time.  As stated earlier, to be a good dry fly man, you must find the attributes that the fish want in a bug.  The flies in the fly bin are not going to produce the same way as a well-tied fly that possesses the attributes that the fish see in their real food.

This movie clip shot on the Upper Sac demonstrates this.  Fishing in the heat of the day in Dunsmuir is no easy task.  Observing the trout, and seeing where he was feeding, along with what he was eating (binoculars are as necessary as your fly rod) makes for a one-cast, one-take experience.

Fishing bamboo on the Upper Sac, or any other freestone doesn’t mean you need a fly that floats high and dry.  It means that you need to have a fly that the fish will take on the first drift.  A fly that rides low in the water or a fly that needs to be dressed every few casts is not a nuisance when the trout will take it on the first well-presented drift!

This fish, and one other, were caught in full sun, in the middle of the day.   This run is easily 5 feet deep.  As I have stated earlier, fish on the Upper Sac are always looking up.  They need to in order to survive.  What took them to the surface were imitations that possessed the right attributes.

The rod I am now using for fly fishing the Upper Sac is my prototype of the “Fin”.  It is a great rod for this kind of river, and with 2 different tips will handle 2 different fly lines.  A really versatile performer for the dry fly man.

There are so many different insects on the Upper Sac that it is hard to have all of the imitations in your fly box.  What is absolutely amazing is the fact that often times the wild rainbows on the Upper Sac will take a fly tied to imitate a completely different insect because the attributes are shared between ties!

The dry fly man, with a good bamboo rod in his hands, can fish and catch fish consistently on the Upper Sac, just as long as his fly box has the right flies in it.


It’s Not the Fly, It’s the Tie: Patterns that Kill with Bamboo Fly Rods on the Upper Sac!

If you fish with bamboo fly rods chances are you may be a bit of a crank.   You want things to be just so when you fish the Upper Sac.  Choosing the right fly is one of the rituals.  The right fly is all to do with size, shape, and color.  Not.

Upper Sac Fly Box for Bamboo Fly Rod Fishers

There is one iconoclast in fly fishing, and that man is Bob Quigley.  He set the dry fly men on their asses.  Look at Bob Quigley’s flies.  Not “Quigley Cripples” or anything else that might end up in the fly bins of your local store with Quigley’s name on them.

Look at the flies that Bob Quigley ties himself.  The pattern is the score.  The vise is the piano.  The person tying is the pianist.  It is in the subtleties that genius emerges.  When Bob Quigley ties a bug, the genius is apparent.

Watching him tie is an “ah-hah” moment.  When you get it you get it.  It’s not the proportions, it’s not the size or shape or color.  It is the sum of the whole of the parts:  It is the attributes of the tie.

I have a dozen flies or so tied by Bob while he spent time at my shop.  They are reference flies.  They have been tied by one of the greatest men in modern dry fly history, and the man, Bob Quigley, knows how to fish.

These flies have the attributes of patterns that kill.  What they represent, how they float, how they react on the water, are so close to the naturals that the trout can’t tell the difference.

Are Quigley’s flies the silver bullet for success on the Upper Sac? Yes.

Are Quigley’s flies what fly fishers with bamboo fly rods should use?  Of course!

Most fly patterns are derivative. A nice copy of a nice fly.  Or a copy of a copy.  Not so with a Bob Quigley fly.  Herein lies the genius.  When Bob is at his vise, he ties and sees how the fly will behave on the water. The thousands of hours Bob Quigley has spent on dry fly water are unequaled by any other tiers.  Tough waters.  Fall River.  The Wood.  The Williamson.  Tough waters.  And his ties produce.

Dry Flies for Fishing the Upper Sac with Bamboo Fly Rod

Buying any of Bob’s videos will help any dry fly man with a bamboo fly rod.   Getting some of Bob’s flies will help you break the code when it comes to ties that kill.  Marrying Bob’s techniques with the bugs you see on the Upper Sac will allow you to have the bug that the fish want.

And contrary to what the guides say about fish needing to “look up”, rainbow trout are always looking up on the Upper Sac.  It is how they survive in their hardy environment.




The dry fly man, with bamboo fly rod and flies that kill, is the alpha male on the Upper Sac.



Bamboo Fly Rods on the Upper Sac Make Getting the Drift Right Easier

Fishing bamboo fly rods on the Upper Sac makes catching fish easier.  The fuller flex allows for easier mends, and easier roll casts.  Getting the drift right is more important than the selection of the fly in many cases.  Freestoners, such as the Upper Sac, have complex currents.  Many times the fly fisher has to cross three or more currents to get a drift down the far side of the river.  Being able to put mend after mend in the fly line is important.  The bamboo fly rod is perfect for doing this.

The Upper Sac has canopy on both sides of the river.  More often than not, a quick roll cast is the best way to get your bug to the other side of the river.  The self-loading properties of the bamboo rod make this exercise easy!  Unlike today’s composites, the bamboo fly rod has enough weight to it so that the fly fisher gets some feedback from the rod with little line outside the tiptop of the rod.  How much more weight?  Just enough.  Hollow built bamboo rods are light in the hand, easy to mend, and do a great job when fighting fish.

Often times the difference between catching fish on the Upper Sac and just fishing the Upper Sac is a good drift.

I don’t mean a drag-free drift.  I mean a good drift.  A good presentation is fly-first.  That way the fly has a chance to dance on the water for a short time before the downstream belly in your fly line needs to be addressed.  And fly-first, with an upstream aerial mend is even better.  The bamboo fly rod gives the fly fisher the time and opportunity to do this.  Feedback from composite rods is lacking due to their lack of mass.  The bamboo rod with its great feedback allows the caster to feel what his line is doing as he tries to manipulate it for the best drift.

While we are at it, lets talk about your line and leader on your bamboo rod.  There is a debate that occurs constantly concerning bamboo rods and whether the fly fisher should use a double taper fly line or a weight forward fly line.   The Upper Sac is a smaller river, and in most instances, a 40 foot cast will put you across the river and high up on the far bank.  The first 30′ of a DT 5 weighs the same as the first 30′ of a WF line.  The front taper of the two different style fly lines may be slightly different, and of course, at 40′ there is no rear taper on the DT line, but other than that, at shorter distances, where you don’t have the running line of the WF line outside the tiptop, the differences are slight.  I think there are more important things to worry about.

For the fly fisher with a bamboo rod, the level tip end of the fly line is something that should be dealt with.  The level tip should be rather short in order to carry the energy from the fly line to the butt of the leader.  Many times I cut 6 to 8 inches or more of the fly line.  And tapered leaders?  Forget it for the Upper Sac and bamboo.  The butt sections of most packaged leaders are far to thick and heavy for bamboo.  Stiff butts on leaders trap the energy coming from the fly line and don’t allow it to travel to the tippet.

Using the rule of 3 or the rule of 4 is important as well.  Matching the tippet to the size of the fly being cast is important too.  These principles were always important “back in the day” and are just as important to today’s bamboo fly rod fisher.  Divide the size of your fly by 3 or 4.  That will give you the correct size tippet for making the best presentation for the bug you are casting.

These are the important details when fishing bamboo with dry flies on the Upper Sac.

Next:  It’s the Tie, Not the Fly on the Upper Sac




My Opener on the Upper Sac 2012

The Upper Sac fishing season used to be restricted to the General Trout Season, or the last Saturday in April through November 15th.  We now have a Winter Season that covers the rest of the year.  But really 2 seasons.  I dress differently.  And fish differently.

The Upper Sac General Opener always finds the Upper Sac flowing high and fast.  The snaggers  nymph fishermen always seem to get out first, fishing the soft edges using enough weight,  hitting em on the head,  and using up all the neat catchphrases they have in every conversation.

I silently suffer through all of this because I know, one day, it will be my turn to fish the Upper Sac, on my opening day.  My opener is usually preceded by numerous conversations with an unnamed blogger about dropping flows, and “were there any mayflies on your shop door?”

So my opener was yesterday.  The flows were around 900 cfs at Delta.  The upper section was definitely wadable. The water was beautiful.  Tumbling diamonds sparkling in the sun.  Really.  Huge stoneflies fluttering around in the air and water.  Those fluttering on the water were lunch for the trout.  The unmentionable mayflies are on the water.

I tell myself that this is why I live in Dunsmuir, and suffer through the long, cold, wet, snowy winters.  A two-minute drive to the river.  And being able to fish the Upper Sac the first day it is fishable.

6 fish on and 3 to hand.  Bent bamboo fly rods and screaming Hardy reels. A couple of hours on the river.  Largest just under 16″.  And the bug they took?  What a surprise.




Raine Hollowbuilt Bamboo Fly Rods For Sale

There are some changes to the website.  The old catalog has been replaced with rods that are for sale.  Check in from time to time for new additions.  Classes have filled up.  The Upper Sac is slowly, slowly falling into shape.  This could be a great year for us DFO guys on this river.  I remember taking my older son out of his 8th grade classes to go fish a mid day hatch!  Mid day hatches.  Feeding fish.  Cloudy days filled with thunderclaps.  Wild Upper Sac rainbows.  Good stuff.

I have been remiss in my posting of the last two rod classes.  I will work on correcting that.

Another Friend Passes

My friend, Mark Latham, was a regular visitor to the shop and my home.  Mark and I knew each other for 35 years.  Last month he texted me from Texas.  He said he was going to visit my older son in Del Rio, then head back to California for openers on the Upper Sac and McCloud Rivers.

He died unexpectedly on the first of this month.

I was asked by his widow, Pam, to speak at his service .  She asked me if I would take Mark’s remains home with me for a service up here later in the year.  I agreed.  Pam wanted the service earlier in the month, but I was not available.

She asked if the 27th would work, and I agreed.  Sandy and I went down to Monterey County, and attended the service.  Afterwards, we visited Mark and Pam’s house and Mark’s son, Spencer, gave us Mark’s cremains.  We drove back to Dunsmuir on Saturday.  Late Saturday afternoon, we walked Mark down the back of the house to the river.  We put him next to Ted Fay’s plaque, and took this picture.

He got to sit on one of his favorite places on this river.  On opening day.  For the last time.

Goodbye, Mark.

Bamboo Rod Building Class February 2012

Dan traveled to Dunsmuir to build his first bamboo fly rod.  A Norcal Resident, Dan first learned to fly fish as a boy, and fished all the rivers of the lost coast for steelhead!

Dan chose my version of the Payne 100 as his build rod.  The 100 is a 7 1/2 foot 2 piece rod ideal for small streams, and in Dan’s case, bluegill as well!  Bamboo chosen is the oven tempered gold-toned bamboo that is the most popular look at Raine Hollowbuilt Bamboo Fly Rods.

There are some great shots of Dan splitting cane.  Using the 3 legged widget for straightening the strips make the job go by fast! The strips came out great.  At the end of the day, Monday, Dan had split and straightened enough strips for the butt and tip sections.  Tuesday morning the plan is to continue straightening strips for a second tip.

Tuesday, Dan was able to straighten the remaining strips, including a set for a second tip.  The planing  form was set for the butt section of a Payne 100,  slightly modified.  One set of strips was prepped, with great attention paid to making sure the strips were dead flat through the nodes.  The plane irons were sharpened, and away he went.

By late afternoon, Dan had finished planing out the strips for the butt section.  The strips were dry-fit and inspected.  All strips were deemed near-perfect, so he went on to prep the next set of strips for a tip section.

Wednesday had Dan finish up the planing on the bamboo rod tips and he glued up both sections on the Raine Better Binder prototype.  The day finished up with Dan gluing up the rings for his handgrasp.

Thursday was just like Christmas, and the package to unwrap was a brand-new bamboo fly rod.  Most of the day was spent cleaning up the two bamboo rod blanks, cutting them to length and fitting up the nickle silver ferrules.   Dan chose to blacken the nickle silver and the contrast with the gold tone bamboo is striking!

This class “bled over” a little bit.  Dan stayed through the weekend, did a little pruning on the wisteria out front,  and got a good start on a second tip.  After test casting his rod, Dan and I headed for the river to give the bamboo fly rod its baptism.

Parachute Team Wings of Blue United States Air Force Academy

This is not bamboo rod building related. It is a video of the Academy’s Parachute team. My younger son is the one at the beginning of the video with the full face shield. Just being the proud Papa.

Twin Simplicity Bamboo Fly Rods Shipping Out

Here are 2 bamboo fly rods leaving the shop this week.  Built for husband and wife, they are “twins”!  Both bamboo rods feature the new LDT option, giving the fly fisher a choice between line sizes.  These bamboo fly rods are medium flamed, with uplocking threaded barrel reel seats, with complementary redwood burl wood inserts.


Bamboo Rod Building Class November 2011

Mark M. has started building his bamboo fly rod here at Raine Hollowbuilt Fly Rods.  He chose the 8 foot, 5 weight “Upper Sac Special” for his first bamboo fly rod.  Below is the slide show of his build, as it happens.  As an aside, Mark brought his own Walton Powell Hexagraph rod, built for him by Walton himself.  Mark took Walton fishing on the Bitterroot years ago, and the rod maker sent him a rod as a gift!

Notice that during the bamboo rod building process that we lost electricity!  We were working by lantern light from 11 am to 5 pm on Wednesday.  Just shows to go ya that you can build a bamboo fly rod without electricity!  Mark signed his rod and plans to give it to his father for Christmas!