Two Handed Season
IT BEGINS AND ENDS IN THE DARK:
Dark skies, dark coffee, and dark pavement slipping behind. You follow the river, searching for an opportunity to outflank a creature whose genetic knowledge of these waters eclipses your own. The coffee goes hot to warm, the skies go black to dull gray and you realize a song you can no longer stand has been blaring out of the speakers on repeat for ten minutes straight.
The break appears; a barely discernable space between two cedars which drops into a forgotten access road. The road ends at a creek mouth which dumps into the mainstem out of sight from the state route. Outside, the moist cold and tree-farm fresh oxygen flush away any lethargy from the drive.
Rigging, rigging, rigging. The agony and ecstasy of choosing: heads, grains, tips. Inspecting it all like an extensive sound check before a big gig.
And then it is happening: cold, pure and beautiful. Post glacial deep green water grips your waist, reminding who’s in charge. With both hands you grip the conduit; a rod, a line, a fly. The rhythm begins; a cut-time three count, a thin veil of water rises and falls as line races past itself. Gray sky turns a washed blue as broken cloudbanks remind that winter is at the door.
Other trucks line the public parks and roadside turnouts, their pilots hammer the water in view of one another. But today is about a secret solo hunt for the Wild Ones.
Returning promises; nature’s oath maintained that come hell and high water, these particularly noble steelhead make it each season through a gauntlet of gillnets, downriggers, and hatchery brood, finally turning off into thickly forested exit ramps.
There is something about them. Each one in the stream an ecological treasure; each one landed a singular contact with the divine.
There is also something about the way two-handed fly fishing simply feels: the connectivity, the immersion and the final collision of fish and fly is deeply addicting. Whether swinging for steelies, switch hucking for bulls, classic Spey casting for classic Atlantic salmon, or busting micro T-snaps off the shore for bluegill on a summer day -- two-handed fishing is soul fishing: Total attention, a meditative focus, keeping both hands on the wheel.
The fly’s gentle cross-stream swing halts abruptly. Tug, tug, set and the violent dance is on. Bursts of light reflect from within the river, like a submerged Mylar balloon animal as she fights this final impediment: you.
Slipping loose the hook and marveling at her psychedelic shine and sentient eyes, you consider the notion of a two-handed approach in life. With both hands, you position the fish for re-entry into her universe. She glides gently away to a upstream boulder garden, leaving only the space between your hands. You realize that this small space might well be your own soul, which you hold for a few seconds longer.
Back to the truck. The coffee is cold but the cab soon warms. The sky and forest blur to the same hue with the day’s end.
It begins and ends in the dark.
Being in the R&D department Jesse has plenty of time to make sure he is ready to put his best foot forward before stepping into the river. When choosing to swing a classic dry line for steelhead, this is Jesse's go to setup.
From NorCal to Alaska, Jason makes his living swinging flies to fish. Having the right gear for the job makes life easier and yields better results on the water. Currently he is chasing bright wild steelhead on the Smith and Eel rivers on the swing.
From the boreal forests of eastern Canada to the volcanic watercourses of Iceland, the glacial fjords of Norway and the road-less taiga of the Kola Peninsula, a 14-foot for a 9-weight is the most versatile arrow in my quiver for Atlantic Salmon.
Feeling the Swing
How you hold your running line can drastically effect your sensitivity and lead to increased encounters.
Swinging Soft Water
Not all steelhead swim up the far side, learn how to fish the soft traveling water.
At Sage, we are anglers and we are craftsman. We are not just a brand, we are workplace, on an island, in Puget Sound. In an era when mass production and mass marketing has infiltrated our lives and our passions, we view our craft and our calling differently. We build the world’s best rods and reels, one at a time, using our hands and hearts. Each rod we make is constructed in our factory with proprietary materials, custom componentry, Made-in-the-USA carbon and a precise process that passes each flyrod through 23 sets of hands and hundreds of steps on its journey. We make things in the same spot where we’ve built up our business during the past four decades. It’s a great place with good fishing. It’s where we call home and where your rod or reel was born.