jon hazlett

jon hazlett

Medford, OR

My guide philosophy of fly fishing is to entertain, educate, and inspire. And each day on the water is met with varying degrees of the aforementioned. Everyone fishes for different reasons, and it’s every guide’s job to identify what those are. Over time, I believe most guides will end up with clients who have similar philosophies.

Southern Oregon became home for Jon after a brief stint guiding in Alaska and Colorado. Most notably was a year residing in Gold Beach, OR, where the Lower Rogue and a Spey rod came together in harmonic fashion. Over time, guiding took him to all over Southern Oregon and Northern California in search of a year round program, chasing steelhead and trout.

Since then, he’s had the opportunity to introduce hundreds of fly-fisherman the merits of two-handed casting through guiding, classes, private instruction, and regular appearances at the Sandy River Spey Clave. He recently worked for four years at the Ashland Fly Shop under the title of “Angler at Large” where he conducted classes, taught private instruction, produced videos, wrote articles, and guided local waters.

Currently, he continues to guide local waters in the Rogue Valley, where he teaches private instruction and classes. He resides in rural Medford with his wife, daughter, son and lots of critters.

hometown

Medford, Oregon

home waters

Rogue River

local fly shop

Ashland Fly Shop

target species

Steelhead and trout

perfect setups

Sage IGNITER 6126 w/ a RIO Skagit Max 475 (10’ sink-tip): it plays slightly bigger than most 6 wt Speys and is the perfect combination of power and feel. It’s my new favorite summer steelhead rod!

Sage X 7120 w/ a RIO Skagit Max 525 (up to 13’ T-14): great all-around weapon of choice for steelhead, excels in tight quarters but has the horsepower for longer casts on big water.

Sage X 7140 w/ a RIO Scandi 460 (15-18’ mono leader): An absolute laser beam casting set-up for traditional flies and skaters. It’s the combo I use in most of my casting videos. Also, with the new RIO Gamechanger 4D Skagit 525 and 12-15’ of T-11 or T-14, the extra length of the 14’ rod lifts the line out of the water with ease, and absolutely blasts it out across the water with little effort.

Sage PULSE 3110 Trout Spey w/ a RIO 3wt Trout Spey (22’ @ 265 grns): I am absolutely in love with this combo! It only took one cast to figure out this line was made for this rod. I have fished with a mono leader and VersiLeaders, and both cast very well. This is a set-up I can’t put down!

career highlights

I love “Top 10’s”, so here we go:

10. Mel Krieger called me a “show-off” for using a 4-weight for my FFI Casting Instructor Certification test. Most use a 6-weight. I passed.

9. I never crashed a jet boat with clients on board.

8. I lost my raft once but recovered it downstream a couple miles. (see story below)

7. I met Dan Marino my first year guiding in Alaska. He’s a nice guy and really likes whiskey.

6. After getting berated by a fussy client from New York about fishing a Chernobyl Ant, who said, among other things, “I hope you didn’t pay for that fly”, I said, “Actually, I tied it. And you’re going to fish it, and you’re going to like it!” We got along great after that. I didn’t get fired.

5. I guided a one-eyed angler who caught a one-eyed steelhead twice in three casts. True story. What are the odds of that!?

4. I grilled a large trout on the lodge owner’s deck, which overlooks the river where that pellet fed, truck trout met its demise. It tasted terrible.

3. I’ve had the same pair of Dr. Slick Scissor Clamps for over 10 years. That has to be a record.

2. I’ve only been married twice, which is well below the fishing guide average!

And the # 1 highlight of my fishing guide career… being a Sage Ambassador, of course!

conservation work

There are some great organizations in my area that are run by some real heroes of conservation. My contributions to groups like Water Watch and Native Fish Society, and Rogue River Keeper, to name a few, have been in the form of donating guided trips to their auctions. If you have a worthy cause that involves fish conservation, feel free to ask for a donated trip. I haven’t turned one down yet!

philosophy on fly fishing

I really enjoy the whole process of fishing: the gear, the preparation, the challenge, the technique, the great places it takes me, and the company involved. It’s the total package that makes it such a worthy pursuit.

I don’t think fly-fishing is a superior method, it’s just another method. I am always amazed, and it’s happened many times, when someone says, “yeah, I don’t fly fish”, as if they were apologizing for using other methods. Big deal. Is it fun? Do you enjoy it? Well than great, that’s all that matters, as long as you are respecting the resource.

My guide philosophy of fly fishing is to entertain, educate, and inspire. And each day on the water is met with varying degrees of the aforementioned. Everyone fishes for different reasons, and it’s every guide’s job to identify what those are. Over time, I believe most guides will end up with clients who have similar philosophies.

one tip to improve one's fishing

Dry fly fishing aside, try to visualize what your fly is doing. Ask yourself these questions: What am I trying to accomplish? Am I properly rigged to do it? Am I standing in the right place? What is my casting angle? Did my fly get to where I think the fish are holding? What adjustments, like angle, depth, mends, or tension do I need to make to get the perfect drift or swing? Analyze, experiment, and adjust until you get it right. See the unseen.

perfect day

The perfect day for me involves swinging flies for steelhead, good company, some grabby fish, and lots of laughs. Throw in some celebratory Whiskey and life is good.

a good fishing story

Several years ago I was fishing the Rogue with a single client. I had anchored my raft at the top of the run on some ledge rock. We had made it almost to the bottom of the run when the wind picked up. I glanced upriver to see that my raft had broke free and was suddenly floating mid-river, unmanned.

I quickly realized that swimming or wading to the boat was not an option. I grabbed my guy’s Spey rod and made a couple long casts into the boat. I hooked it on the second cast, but broke it off.

We watched the boat go by us and ghost ride the rapid below. Both oars were in the water, Spey rods were not strapped down, and there was no way to chase it from our side of the river.

We ran uphill to the nearest house. I knocked, and a lady answered the door. I told her what happened and asked for a ride downstream. She was running late for work, but said that her dad could give us a ride. An eternity later, a really old man came to the door, and we told him the story and asked for a ride. After locating his slippers and keys, he started the truck and walked back in his house. We were in full panic mode at this point. If we didn’t intercept it by the next bridge, we were totally screwed.

Finally, he emerged from the house. God only knows what was taking so long. Did he forget to take his pills? Was he just messing with us? Didn’t want to miss the Showcase Showdown? Whatever the case, I was somewhat relieved to be heading downstream. Based on the distance to the bridge and timing of it all, we had a chance.

We started down his driveway about 5 mph and reached a top speed of 7. My client looked at me and just laughed. At the end of the driveway, the old timer put his truck in park, got out, and checked his mail. My client looked at me again. He wasn’t laughing this time. I wasn’t either.

Finally on the main road, a 45 mph zone and top speed of 27, we were on our way. You could cut the tension with a knife at this point. As we approached the bridge, I could see my boat about 100 yards above it. There was no room for error. The problem, among other things, was the steep rocky bank under the bridge was going to be sketchy.

The raft was heading river right, and before the truck stopped, I jumped out started running that direction. I scaled down the cliff like Tom Cruz in Mission Impossible, and just as I got to the river, the eddy pushed it to the other side. Fortunately, there we a couple guys fishing over there. I yelled, “there’s beer in the cooler of that boat if you can recover it!”. They managed to find a dead tree limb about 20 feet long and hooked my boat with one of the branches.

I ran across the bridge and met up with my client and those two guys. We drank every beer in that cooler. And by some miracle, both oars and all other equipment was in tact. The old guy? He didn’t stick around for the celebration. Wheel of Fortune was not to be missed.

contact information

Email: jon@speylesson.com