SAO Pages

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer fly fishing for Bass and Panfish

On Monday I had a chance to meet up and take good friend and client Dr. Nathan Mayl from Florida, and go out for a day on the water while he was in the Toledo area visiting family. Nate just got the new Largemouth bass rod from Sage and wanted to break it in on some Buckeye bucket mouths and some river small mouth.

Dr. Nate with 5 pounds of Buckeye Bass

We started the day by hitting the Portage River in search of Smallmouth Bass, Gar, and Carp. The river was very low, warm, and like the Maumee river the fishing was very slow. We managed a average sized river Smallmouth and a few other misses. The temperatures continued to rise as the morning progressed, so we decided to work on spey casting while we were standing on some open water. Later in the day we moved on to some large farm ponds in Wood County for a chance at a trophy bass.

Bull Bluegill that took a leech bugger pattern.

I decided on a pond that had a great reputation for big Largemouth and Bluegill, I knew they were their because this is one of my favorite ponds in Ohio with a real chance for trophy bass up into the 8 pound range and bigger. Needless to say we lost count on the number of bass and big Bluegill netted that afternoon. Hot patterns were leech flies and Dr. Nate's Florida snook popper's. Over all another great summer trip and a great time had by all.  Dr. Nate see you in the fall for steelhead season and thank you for a great time!!!

Another small gill on the leech.

Well, Pat is in the air on the way to California in search of Golden trout, and the rest of the guys are fishing or casting somewhere or another LOL!!! Me? well I have numerous fly orders to tie and I am finishing out the summer guiding schedule. We will be in Canada in a month and I have been tying like a mad man to get everything done for this wilderness trip. Thank you to everyone for their orders, phone calls, and emails regarding my fly tier of the year award from Orvis, I really appreciate it!!!

Salmon tube fly for Salmon in Canada..

Tight Lines,

Greg Senyo
Steelhead Alley Outfitters

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Day for Spey

As it goes for most of life so it goes with spey.....practice makes perfect.  Believe me, I needed the practice, but I'll let the other guys speak for themselves.

At any rate, we took the opportunity to get out on the water and throw some new rods and lines.  While doing so, our resident spey enthusiast Will Turek gave us some pointers on how to throw better lines.

When I had a few minutes between casting sessions, I grabbed the camera to see if we could capture some shots of spey in action.

Here Greg Senyo works on his Circle Spey.   As you can see he just made the cut on the bottom side of the "circle" and the anchor is in the process of moving to the upstream position. 
(Note: To see the photo in greater detail, double-click to see the full-size image...this will allow you to see the line much better)

In this next photo I captured a problem that Greg and I were trying to eliminate as much as possible in our spey game during the day.  When you haven't been casting regularly, it is all too easy to get a little relaxed in your casting stroke...which we both were demonstrating starting out.  Here you see the's very slight.....not like some of my casts that we didn't capture on film :)  The problem is a lack of a high rod stop on the forward stroke that develops a much more open casting loop on the forward stroke and prevents the potential of shooting long lines.

In this photo you can see a good stop (higher) on the forward stroke.   Although we don't have a lot of need for shooting long lines on Ohio tribs, there are times when you will need to and good form is a necessity in those instances.  Here you see Greg with a higher rod stop in the forward stroke than the previous photo that helped to produce higher levels of rod to line energy transference thus allowing more efficient shooting of line.

Here you see Will's near perfect example of a high rod stop with the developing tight loop that will not only allow for long lines, but also cuts the air more efficiently.

Another great demonstration of skill is found in this photo.  The "D" loop is foundational to the spey casts.  Without it you will not complete a fundamentally sound spey cast.  Throughout the morning, we worked on trying to put some energy into the "D" loop thereby loading the rod more efficiently and setting you up for a successful forward stroke.  It is a part of the stroke that needs to be felt, and here you see that Will feels it.  This is as near a perfect loop as you can throw.  When you can get the "V" in your "D" it demonstrates that the energy is building in the back of that loop.  Now if we could just do that on every cast.

Lastly, our fall is filling up very nicely and we are looking forward to some long rods with big flies and spey casting.  We hope that you are getting out and keeping the rods moving as we are.  We can't wait for some great steelhead action.

In closing, I am getting geared up for a great trip.  In just a matter of days, I will be in the high elevations of the high Sierra's in California fishing for Goldens, Browns, Bows and Brookies.  Two weeks of bliss :)  When I get back I will have enough video for my next film volume in the series called "The Adventures of Flybum."  Additionally, I will have hundreds of photos to share.  I look forward to sharing them with you either here or at the numerous shows Greg and I will be doing this fall.  See you on the water.

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson
Head Guide
Steelhead Alley Outfitters

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fly Fishing The Adirondacks part 1 - The West Branch of the Ausable

Few sights are as inspiring to the devoted trout fisherman as the glint of a free-stone mountain stream flashing through a pine forest , its fast runs and pockets gurgling and lapping as it feeds into deep, moving pools that you think ,.. are sure ,.. are absolutely positive, hold the monsters you seek. You know these monsters ... they're the ones that pepper your dreams and invade your waking moments, challenging your skills and calling for your communion. It is nature in all its extravagant beauty summed up in the pursuit of a beautiful animal in a beautiful place. And there you are in the middle of it , smelling it , hearing it , feeling it and... touching it.

This is what drives many a person into the middle of a river loaded with huge slippery rocks and boulders to balance precariously against the force of rushing water. This is what , we who do this , share in common. It is the anticipation of this that I carry with me as I head off the ridge and down through the forest , following the sound of the rushing Adirondack river. The Ausable , The Salmon , The Chateaugay, ... in this northern region of the Adirondack Mountains , these are the rivers that keep me coming back each year and compel me to seek their affirmation and hold their beautiful fish in my hand.

This month I had the chance to unfold in the arms of these great trout streams for some weeks and enjoy days without obligation or guilt as I sought the browns , rainbows , and brookies of the north country. Though geographically close to each other these three streams are considerably different. The topography changes quickly and dramatically between Wilmington New York in the heart of the high peaks region heading north into the St. Lawrence Valley.

The rivers change too.In the heart of it all, The West Branch of the Ausable is the central draw of the region. This fabled trout stream has been the stage for many of fly fishings' greatest stars ,and a host of the legends of the sport have fished it and known it. Lee Wulff and Fran Betters are two among scores that have sung its praises and written of its perfection, and Fran still maintains his home and his fly shop a stones throw away from the water in the town of Wilmington.

These days a steady flow of seasoned veterans as well as fledgling aspirants descend its banks and take their positions in the shadow of those who have gone before, seeking to share in the experience.Despite its alpine, freestone nature , during the high summer months the Ausable can get tough, as the water will inevitably warm somewhat , making conditions more challenging for feeding fish than in the peak time of June to early July. Still, with the right approach, it can be a wonderful thrill to take browns and rainbows from the pocket water, and fighting these particularly vigorous fish in the faster current is a real challenge.

Traditionally a dry fly bastion, the West Branch is very productive with nymphs as well. Later in the summer , Trico's and terrestrials will come into play. The diversity of food in this river is tremendous, and certainly an important part of what makes it so good. Mayflies ,Caddis and Stoneflies are all in abundance as well as a plethora of forest terrestrials. "Matching the hatch" , while still great , is not essential, as these fish will respond to a wide variety of offerings. More importantly than exactly what you use , is size and color.

Matching these factors to the fish will produce results all season. Unlike other fabled trout streams such as the West Branch of the Delaware, if you are fishing dries, it is not productive to wait for fish to rise as you may spend all day looking for a nose... best to fish your dries "blind". Fish holding deep will streak to the surface and crush flies and head back down all in one lightning quick motion.

In the middle of a very hot July I had good success with dry-droppers, drifting a very small size 20 beadhead Baetis nymph below Fran Betters' famous Ausable Wulff or Usual pattern , and most often the fish I took had the nymph firmly in mouth. Many fish rose to the dry but few committed to the take, though terrestrials such as a Chernobyl Ant or Hopper drew some savage strikes from bigger Browns.

The fish on the Ausable are in the 10 to 15 inch range for rainbows , and anywhere from 10 to 20+ for the browns. Every year some true slobs over 5 lbs. are taken, though they best not be expected. These browns are extremely beautiful and their coloration is more vivid than those taken from other surrounding streams.

On a cool rainy day in July as I release a rainbow back into the churning pocket water , knowing it would be my last of this visit, I pause to take in the sight. This gorgeous river and this timeless setting , is certainly one kind of trout fishing in its perfection!In Adirondacks part 2 I will share my pics of two other great rivers of the northland.

Tight Lines!
John Clouser - SAO Steelhead Guide

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fly Tying- Dead Egg Stealing Leech Tube Fly for Great Lakes Salmon

Recently I received several emails regarding recipes for tube flies for Great Lakes salmon and steelhead. So starting today I will be running from now on a bi weekly step by step tutorial for fly patterns and tube flies for Great Lakes Salmon and steelhead. Our first installment is a basic Salmon and steelhead Leech tube fly pattern I like to tie and have tremendous success with. I hope you enjoy our first installment, and here is your request for a leech style tube pattern. If you have a request for a pattern, email me at with a description and style of the pattern you would like to see..

The Dead Egg stealing Leech Tube Fly

Position a 1.5 inch piece of 3/32 OD tubing on your tube fly adapter or vice. Place on the tubing a single Dead King Egg bead made by Super Egg(egg hole must be drilled out with 3/32 drill). Attach 6/0 hot pink thread as shown in picture and build up an even section of thread the width of the egg, so that the bead egg slide over thread build up snugly. Place a drop of Zap-A-Gap on thread build up and slide egg over thread.


Attach 6/0 black thread and wind to rear of hook, leaving roughly a 1/4 inch of rear tubing for junction tube .


Add six strands of rainbow flashabou about 1.5 inches long, and a 1.5 inch section of purple Zonker rabbit strip securely to the tube. Add a drop of Zap-A-Gap(optional)

STEP:4 and 5

Attach a 3.5 inch section of black cross cut rabbit strip and wrap evenly over tube toward the front of the pattern and secure. ( See photos as reference)


Attach six more strands of rainbow Flashabou and position flash on top of pattern. The length extends just into the tail section. Second attach 1 purple marabou plume so that the feather covers completely around tube and secure.

Cut off excess marabou plume and form evenly wrapped thread head behind Egg Bead.
Add a drop off Zap-A-Gap to thread head and cut off tying thread. Allow to dry.

The Finished Pattern
Secure a 1/2 inch section of junction tubing to end section of the tube for your hook,and secondly slowly melt the small extended section of tubing left in front of Egg bead. The melted section should mold to the front of the egg. For this pattern I like to use the Diiachi x510 #8 hook.
As a side note our fall steelhead season is filling rapidly. please contact us as soon as possible if you are interested in a fly fishing guide trip with our staff. We are also taking prime 2009 Spring steelhead trip RSVP's already!! As you can see we have been all over the country fly fishing for trout and various warm water species, and tying tons of flies for the up coming seasons.
Below are a list of local fly shops we will be giving fly tying presentations and slide show/video presentations on trout and steelhead fly fishing before and during our guide season. We hope to meet and see some of you there..
October 11, 2008 @ Orvis Dayton
October 12, 2008 @ Orvis Royal Oak Detriot
November 8, 2008 @ Orvis Carmel Indiana
December 6, 2008 @ Colton Bay Outfitters Ann arbor MI
January 2009 @ Indiana on the fly show
More seminar dates to come!!!!
Thank You for your support!!!
Good fishing!
Greg Senyo

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fly Tying - Streamers and realistic tubes for Great Lakes Salmon

With every sun set that passes, we are another day closer to wondering Canadian rivers for Chinook Salmon, Pink Salmon, and Cross breed Pinooks. We also will have the chance to fool a few Early run steelhead and local trout that have followed the salmon up river to feast on their bounty.

Greg Senyo deciding on the right Minnow Tube along a river in Ontario, Canada.

If you have never fished for kings with a fly, switch, or spey rod you don't realize what you are missing! I have come to love fishing large and fat minnow and Flashy bait fish imitations on the swing for Salmon. Fishing in this manor really lets you identify your " players" because of their aggressive response to this bold and brave bait fish that has refused to leave the salmons turf. Strikes from this large toothy fish are murderous and unmistakable and the salmons personality as a predator becomes clear and very apparent with every take.

A school of Senyo's Big Eye Fat Minnow tubes ready for action.

Some of my favorites streamers and bait fish imitations are between 3 and 6 inches in length, and are constructed of translucent Salt water materials and wavy thick and long natural hairs. Bodies are constructed from synthetics such as Ice Dubbing and Estaz. To create profile and a pulsating action to the pattern marabou, Spey hackles, and gadwell feathers are added. Productive Colors include a host of natural tones in olive, black, white and brown, but my personal favorite salmon combo in Black/purple/blues are very productive and a must in my box.

Senyo's Purple/Black/Blue Big Eye Fat Minnow Tube.

Senyo's Big eye Fat Emerald Shiner Tube.

While tying streamers for salmon one detail is commonly over looked by Anglers and fellow fly tiers. Don't forget to take the extra step and add the Eyes!!! The visibility of the eye on the fly pattern is an instinctive trigger that predators such as salmon can't resist. The eye also gives the pattern a realistic and life like appearance. Most of the streamers and tube flies I like to tie are far from traditional, instead preferring the larger thread head to use as a base to epoxy realistic 3D prismatic eyes. The end result is a more natural looking bait fish with a accurate and defined head, body, tail, and the all seeing eye.

A set of three Senyo's Big Eye Fat minnow tubes.

With all the modern materials that are available on today's market and in our fly shops, it pays to create and experiment in constructing life like imitations of the bait fish we have in our river and lake Eco systems. The history in tying flies for salmon is quite vast and the styles are many, but there is no substitute for fooling and catching a salmon on a fly you have fun using and have confidence in....because it works!!

The spoils!!! A large male King that crushed a Senyo's Big Eye Fat Minnow tube on the swing.

Tight Lines
Greg Senyo

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tying flies for.....well everything!!

The summer to me is the busiest season as a fly tier. Now is the time we tie in bulk preparing for the fall steelhead runs on our Lake Erie tributaries. Numerous eggs, nymphs, streamers, tubes, and specialty patterns need to be tied for many eager fly angler's orders, our guide boxes, and numerous fly shops for the Fall, winter, and the next spring.
My Completely messy tying station after a 3am session.

Then add into the mix tying orders for our hosted fly fishing trips and fly fishing adventures and we are flat out busy!  This year will see a host of fly patterns for our Canadian trek for Salmon on the Great Lakes for Kings and Pinks, our 2009 Alaskan trip for silver salmon, Monster Rainbow trout, and a host of other salmon species. I simply can't wait to be standing River side on the Naknek River swinging big and bold Pink Bunnies, Marabou speys, and sculpins to Ocean fresh silvers!!!

A set of Senyo's Lazer sculpins for Silver Salmon
A set of flesh flies for AK.

Swinging Large emerald shiner patterns tied standard and in tube fly versions during the fall for Lake Erie steelhead has become an absolute obsession.  It is a preferred way to entice some of the most primal instincts and strikes from mirror fresh fish that produce gut busting runs with horrific leaps that only a true steelhead addict would come to love.

A school of freshly tied Emerald Shiner tube flies for fall steelhead run.

A school of standard tie Lake Erie Emerald shiners.

As you can see, between our summer guide trips, seminars, shows, clinics, and fly fishing odysseys we still find time to tie pretty much.....well for everything!!!

Chinook Salmon caught while swinging pink marabou speys in September.
I'll see the kings again soon, just a few short months!!!!

Good tying and fishing
Greg Senyo

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Backlog of Bronzebacks - Part I

For me, Summer time means two things. Time to catch up on all the work around the house that needs finishing before the start of the next steelhead season. And smallmouth bass.

When I moved back to home to Ohio from the West Coast I was aware of the amazing numbers and size of steelhead in the Great Lakes. Which was no small part in the decision to move home. BUT I had no idea the quality of warm water fishing was so good. Especially, for smallmouth bass. And fortunately for me, my boss and fishing partner Jerry Darkes is a warmwater fly fishing junkie with 20 years of experience. Not a bad guy to learn the ropes from when you're trying to catch a few bass!

Don't get me wrong, trout fishing will always be fun. But there is something about the hunt for bass that is akin to swinging flies for steelhead that I really dig. I will happily pound structure looking for small jaws long after giving up on searching for trout under an indicator. And smallmouth bass will take a swung fly to boot. It's hard not to like them for that very reason alone. 

In fact, smallmouth season usually starts with incidental catches while swinging for steelhead at the tail end of Spring as the air and water temperature warms up. Below is a pic of the first really nice river bass of the season, caught on a swung fly while steelhead fishing way back at the end of April.

Anyway, at the beginning of June (it's amazing how time flies) my buddy Dave was bugging me to take him fishing.  The original plan was to head over to the Spring Creek area of PA for an overnight trout fishing trip. A quick call over to Scott Fly Rod pro-staff member Karl Weixlmann had us changing plans in a hurry. The weather had finally broke and the smallmouth were in the shallows over at Presque Isle Bay near Erie. If you have never experienced the smallmouth bass fishing at Presque Isle, it should make the top of the bucket list.  Not only are the size of the smallmouth outstanding, but the location provides a unique fishing experience. Most fisheries that give up really big smallmouth require fishing from a boat - larger body of water, larger forage base = larger fish. What's so cool about Preque Isle is that you can wade fish and cast to structure along the bank or fish the vertical structure (water depth) of the bay. And on the lake side you can wade out as far as possible then sight fish back towards the shore to smallies on their beds. Simply an amazing smallmouth fishery. And, of course, one best explored with the expert guidance of an experienced guide like Karl. The only bummer is that the season is short, only lasting about three weeks. Like steelhead, when the fish are in you have to drop everything and just go!

Below you can see Karl wading the flats of Preque Isle Bay. It's just like saltwater fishing, but for smallmouth bass and a lot cheaper too.

Dave with a nice largemouth bass. Besides smallmouth Presque Isle Bay has largemouth, rock bass, carp, freshwater drum and everything else you can think of that swims in Lake Erie.

Dave with a nice four pound smallmouth bass, Karl is casting in the background. A combination of both sight fishing and blind casting is necessary to catch fish. Any way you look at it, a stout leader, 2-3" lead-eye clouser minnow, and fairly good casting skills are required.

Rock bass are a pretty common incidental catch while blind fishing for the smallmouth. A change in the ratio of rock bass and largemouth caught to smallmouth signals the spawning run is coming to an end.

Wind is often a factor, if not a problem. Successful catching means watching the weather and having a friend (or guide) who lives less than 20 minutes from the Bay. 7 and 8wt rods are standard not only for fighting the fish, which can go to 6lbs, but also for fighting the wind. If you look closely at the picture below,  you can see white caps. The day we went, it was blowing as hard as Karl had ever fished the bay. And despite that, we each caught at least a half dozen smallmouth in the 2-4 pound range. Worth a sore casting arm every time!

That's all for this post. Time to get outside and cut the grass before the next weather system rolls in. I'll post Part II soon. And hopefully, I should have a new adventure to add as well. Tomorrow Jerry and I are headed out to a sweet piece of smallmouth water we'll call "smallie creek" to get an afternoon of floating and fishing in before everything gets blown out again.

Until then, get out there and explore the excellent warm water fishing opportunities outside your back door.

Will Turek
SAO Spey Specialist, Steelhead Guide 
Landscaping enthusiast