Monday afternoon I traveled Eastbound, to that little slice of Oregon where the Pacific Time Zone yields to Owyhee Time as my friend Justin calls it. A land where onions litter the side of the roads, and massive brown trout yard themselves out of froggy water to grab midges during crisp fall mornings.
The sun didn’t rise till well after I did. I had to put a light on in the trailer to make my horrid breakfast of a bean and cheese burrito from Trader Joes – I forgot a spoon for my oatmeal and figured my stomach would do just fine with a cup of instant coffee and a ton of fiber.
Once the sun did finally make its presence known, I strung up my latest favorite from the quiver – the Echo Shadow ii 4# – and set out to get my tight-line nymphing fix. I had only visited this lovely desert tailwater once before, but I quickly remembered that the fishing out there in the Owyhee Time is different.
The river is quite froggy in spots, and my standard tungsten nymph rig was much too heavy for the drift. It seemed every cast I too was getting an assortment of tailwater salad on my flies – it was kind of frustrating. Unfortunately I didn’t have a ton of time to spend on the water that morning, so I decided to just stop above an exceptionally froggy section of water, and appreciate the view.
And that is when I saw them, the sippers, cruising around the lake-like water, having a much more balanced breakfast than I just had. Yummy midges. Then I had one of those moments where I realized I just didn’t have that fly box, and my current line was setup for nymphing ( a mono rig ). I did however have a 5# line on another reel, so I figured I’d at least give it a try.
After swapping out reels, I tied on the only fly that was somewhat midge emerger-esque, a size 18 soft hackle with a black body. I then snuck down to the water’s edge below where the fish were working, and began dry-fly presentations with my 10’6″ rod upstream.
It was awkward at first, but I slowed down my cast to match the rod/line situation, and eventually was getting some good casts out there. The fly was much to small to see, and was quickly under the film, so I instead tried to focus on my leader and where I thought the fly would be in the drift.
Amazingly, somehow, someway – after many “drifts” through the same water, I saw some movement where I thought the fly would be, and I set the hook.
The fight on the long 4# was a blast. This fish was definitely past the upper limits of what I thought I would ever catch on this rod, and it put a deep bend in the Shadow ii a number of times as it ran up and down stream. Fortunately the hook set was deep in the upper jaw, and kept the tippet well away from its’ teeth.
I’m still amazed and stoked with how the rod performed when outside of its nymphing “sweet spot” and truly against a fish much more suited for a 6#. The fight was wonderful, and I walked away after catching the one fish with a massive smile on my face. I’m smiling right now writing about it in fact.
While no rod will be a perfect match for any situation, I must say that Echo has put out a very versatile rod in the Shadow II, at a great price point. Walking back to the rig I found a massive hopper on the side of the road, and chuckled to myself thinking that my rod could totally toss some big hoppers too.
Echo Shadow II
Now that the self-congratulatory portion of this post is over, I wanted to say a few more things about my experience thus far with the Shadow II. So far I have fished this rod in a variety of streams around Central and Eastern Oregon, and it accompanied me and caught many a fish on rivers around Whistler B.C. last month. In all occasions I have been quite pleased with the performance of the rod.
My first “Euro Rod” was a Grey’s Streamflex, which I adored, but was stolen from me in Utah years ago, and I must say the Shadow is just as good as the Streamflex, if not a little bit better. The Shadow, when paired with a mono rig as described in Modern Nymphing is a powerful combination. The sensitivity of the rod allows you to detect the slightest of takes under a tight line – almost as neat as feeling a take when swinging a fly in my book.
As such, if you are in the market for a “nymph” rod, but one that can even perform in other tasks when needed – you would be hard pressed to find a better value than that of the Shadow. Definitely head to your local fly shop and give it a cast, or find one you can try out on the water.