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Old 10-04-2020, 02:59 PM   #1
fishhawk1
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Default Is it legal ...

Is it legal to fish that Squirmy Wormy fly on Deschutes? It is sort of like an old school San Juan Worm, but with rubber instead of chenille. I have heard it is legal, I have heard it is illegal. Was at a Portland area fly shop today where they claimed they fish the Squirmy Wormy, recommend it, and sell it for use on Deschutes. Hmm. ODFW closed today, but will call weekday to see of I can get the lowdown direct from the fish & game official guys. Anyone know conclusively if legal or not?

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Old 10-04-2020, 03:16 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishhawk1 View Post
Is it legal to fish that Squirmy Wormy fly on Deschutes? It is sort of like an old school San Juan Worm, but with rubber instead of chenille. I have heard it is legal, I have heard it is illegal. Was at a Portland area fly shop today where they claimed they fish the Squirmy Wormy, recommend it, and sell it for use on Deschutes. Hmm. ODFW closed today, but will call weekday to see of I can get the lowdown direct from the fish & game official guys. Anyone know conclusively if legal or not?


From the regulations, definitions Page:

Bait: Any item used to attract fish that is not an artificial fly, lure or attractor. Molded soft plastic or rubber imitations of worms, eggs, insects, bait fish, crayfish, etc. are considered baits. Scent is not considered bait.

Deschutes reg:
Bait allowed only from Sherars Falls downstream to upper trestle (approx. 3 Mi).
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Old 10-07-2020, 11:13 AM   #3
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

As shown above, it appears it is not legal in most of the river. I'm not sure you'd ever be confronted for it, but aren't there a whole lot of other productive flies to choose from?
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Old 10-07-2020, 02:47 PM   #4
fishhawk1
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

I have never fished the Squirmy Wormy. It was pointed out to me by the fly shop, and I paused thinking it might be illegal as I have heard that bass and trout type plastics are illegal. Your question, "aren't there a whole lot of other productive flies to choose from?" Yes.
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Old 10-08-2020, 09:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snapt View Post
Bait: Any item used to attract fish that is not an artificial fly, lure or attractor. Molded soft plastic or rubber imitations of worms, eggs, insects, bait fish, crayfish, etc. are considered baits. Scent is not considered bait.
"Artificial fly: A fly is a hook, dressed
with conventional natural or synthetic fly
tying materials. Tied in conjunction with
other materials, wire (lead or other) used
to weight the fly and dumbbell eyes or
beads (metal, glass or plastic) may be part
of the fly. A fly does not include sinkers,
molded weights, spinners, spoons or similar
attractors"

I think you could make a strong case for it being a fly. To tie the pattern you use a fly hook, fly bead, fly thread, fly materials. Tying is the key point. You're not just threading a bass worm on a hook.
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Old 10-08-2020, 10:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snopro View Post
"Artificial fly: A fly is a hook, dressed
with conventional natural or synthetic fly
tying materials. Tied in conjunction with
other materials, wire (lead or other) used
to weight the fly and dumbbell eyes or
beads (metal, glass or plastic) may be part
of the fly. A fly does not include sinkers,
molded weights, spinners, spoons or similar
attractors"

I think you could make a strong case for it being a fly. To tie the pattern you use a fly hook, fly bead, fly thread, fly materials. Tying is the key point. You're not just threading a bass worm on a hook.
I wouldn’t argue that it is a fly, just is a fly that would be illegal on the Deschutes. I’d suggest using a rabbit strip instead of the rubber worm.
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Old 10-08-2020, 12:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

As someone who has fished this fly for years, I should keep my mouth shut.

However...

I asked this question myself a couple years ago after talking to Amy at the Deschutes Angler who thought it was illegal. I understood her thinking, it is made of soft plastic, but my thinking is its only a material that is part of a fly. If squirmies are illegal, what about pat's rubberlegs? what about a chubby chernobyl? It's also legal practically every where else that is "fly fishing only" out east, so I decided I would ask someone from ODFW to make the call.

My initial e-mail to ODFW:

I was having a discussion with a fellow fly-fisherman the other day, when she pointed out that flies that are made out of rubber/latex to imitate aquatic worms may fall under the definition of "bait" instead of a "fly". Later I went back and looked at the fishing regulations, and I was not sure if I agreed, because under ODFW regulations, when soft plastic is described as "bait" it also mentions it being a molded imitation. These flies are not molded, they are made with a piece of synthetic rubber or latex, sort of like a noodle, usually from a toy, that are tied to a hook with thread, and then wrapped around the hook. Sometimes other conventional fly tying materials are added, like beads, or animal fur. I also would like to point out that the materials these flies are tied with do not have any impregnated scent, like powerbait would.

Attached are two photos for reference.

These flies are very popular in the eastern US, so I was hoping for some clarification on their legality in Oregon.


ODFW's (Mike Gauvin) reply:

Officially, these would still fall under the artificial fly category. However, I do agree that as technology advances and new methods emerge the lines between flies and lures does start to get blurry.



Thanks for bringing up the question.



So, my interpretation is, if the squirmy material is part of the fly, and you lash it down with thread and wrap it around the hook and especially if you add other materials like a bead or dubbing, it's a fly. If you just glue squirmy material to a hook, it's a lure (I have seen worm flies like this before for sale out east).

So now I use it without guilt in Oregon. While it can be a very effective fly, it does not work every time. In fact, on a full day of fishing, the majority of my fish usually are caught by other flies, but my biggest fish usually takes the squirmy. My biggest redband, and biggest brown out east came from a squirmy. Because it seems to excite big fish, and because I always seem to be able to catch something with it, it's usually the first thing I tie on if I'm not sure what to use.

I'm not sure why these flies took so long to catch on here, I suppose because a #14 elk hair caddis would catch all the redbands you wanted on the lower Deschutes for decades, and now with the change in water people are branching out. Next time you are out there, pick up some rocks in slower areas, and you will be surprised at what kind of aquatic critters you find. There are definitely annelids and small leeches in the Deschutes, probably more now with the warmer soupier Crooked water.
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Old 10-08-2020, 01:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DustyGrass View Post
As someone who has fished this fly for years, I should keep my mouth shut.

However...

I asked this question myself a couple years ago after talking to Amy at the Deschutes Angler who thought it was illegal. I understood her thinking, it is made of soft plastic, but my thinking is its only a material that is part of a fly. If squirmies are illegal, what about pat's rubberlegs? what about a chubby chernobyl? It's also legal practically every where else that is "fly fishing only" out east, so I decided I would ask someone from ODFW to make the call.

My initial e-mail to ODFW:

I was having a discussion with a fellow fly-fisherman the other day, when she pointed out that flies that are made out of rubber/latex to imitate aquatic worms may fall under the definition of "bait" instead of a "fly". Later I went back and looked at the fishing regulations, and I was not sure if I agreed, because under ODFW regulations, when soft plastic is described as "bait" it also mentions it being a molded imitation. These flies are not molded, they are made with a piece of synthetic rubber or latex, sort of like a noodle, usually from a toy, that are tied to a hook with thread, and then wrapped around the hook. Sometimes other conventional fly tying materials are added, like beads, or animal fur. I also would like to point out that the materials these flies are tied with do not have any impregnated scent, like powerbait would.

Attached are two photos for reference.

These flies are very popular in the eastern US, so I was hoping for some clarification on their legality in Oregon.


ODFW's (Mike Gauvin) reply:

Officially, these would still fall under the artificial fly category. However, I do agree that as technology advances and new methods emerge the lines between flies and lures does start to get blurry.



Thanks for bringing up the question.



So, my interpretation is, if the squirmy material is part of the fly, and you lash it down with thread and wrap it around the hook and especially if you add other materials like a bead or dubbing, it's a fly. If you just glue squirmy material to a hook, it's a lure (I have seen worm flies like this before for sale out east).

So now I use it without guilt in Oregon. While it can be a very effective fly, it does not work every time. In fact, on a full day of fishing, the majority of my fish usually are caught by other flies, but my biggest fish usually takes the squirmy. My biggest redband, and biggest brown out east came from a squirmy. Because it seems to excite big fish, and because I always seem to be able to catch something with it, it's usually the first thing I tie on if I'm not sure what to use.

I'm not sure why these flies took so long to catch on here, I suppose because a #14 elk hair caddis would catch all the redbands you wanted on the lower Deschutes for decades, and now with the change in water people are branching out. Next time you are out there, pick up some rocks in slower areas, and you will be surprised at what kind of aquatic critters you find. There are definitely annelids and small leeches in the Deschutes, probably more now with the warmer soupier Crooked water.
Very interesting, thanks for posting. Could someone post a pic of one of those squirmy wormy flies?
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Old 10-08-2020, 02:34 PM   #9
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The first one is the version I tie. It takes only a couple minutes to tie and is good for euro nymphing. The second one is a version that is probably illegal.
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Old 10-08-2020, 03:10 PM   #10
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The first one is the version I tie. It takes only a couple minutes to tie and is good for euro nymphing. The second one is a version that is probably illegal.
Thanks, so one or both of them legal on the Deschutes according to what you were told by ODFW?
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Old 10-08-2020, 03:18 PM   #11
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The fly with the bead is legal, the other fly is probably not.
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Old 10-08-2020, 06:20 PM   #12
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

Side note. If you take a break from fly fishing for more than a year or two all the names of flies are totally unrecognizable.
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Old 10-08-2020, 06:25 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by DustyGrass View Post
If the squirmy material is part of the fly, and you lash it down with thread and wrap it around the hook and especially if you add other materials like a bead or dubbing, it's a fly.
Exactly. As per the regs since it is a fly it is not bait.

I do think they need to take another crack at writing the bait, lure, fly, definitions.
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Old 10-08-2020, 08:13 PM   #14
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

yes we all know in our hearts what a fly is and isnt. fly fishing is fishing with flies and not just a fly rod and reel.
if you want to stretch the regs. to make bait fishing legal so be it but then dont say you are fly fishing. you are just fishing.
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Old 10-08-2020, 09:40 PM   #15
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snopro View Post
"Artificial fly: A fly is a hook, dressed
with conventional natural or synthetic fly
tying materials. Tied in conjunction with
other materials, wire (lead or other) used
to weight the fly and dumbbell eyes or
beads (metal, glass or plastic) may be part
of the fly. A fly does not include sinkers,
molded weights, spinners, spoons or similar
attractors"

It's been awhile but on the Deschutes I did have this exact argument with a young OSP cadet and had to cite the definition of an artificial fly. The cadet contended that the rubber legs on my stonefly nymph caused it to be 'bait".
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Old 10-08-2020, 11:20 PM   #16
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So what's next? Spinner baits on Spey rods? How about Pork Rinds under an indicator? Give me a break! There's a reason soft plastics are not allowed in no bait areas. I've caught plenty of fish on pink soft plastic worms while fishing with gear and it's been my experience that salmon and steelhead take those soft plastics just like bait! Sometimes taking them very deep.

If you are trying to shorten the learning curve to fly fishing success then you might as well go to a trout farm for crying out loud!
There are plenty of places to fish your soft plastics. Keep them out of no bait and fly fishing only areas.
Tie MOAL leeches out of hot pink chenille or zonker strips to get the pink worm effect. Looks great in the water and is not bait.
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Old 10-09-2020, 01:34 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Shane Stewart View Post
So what's next? Spinner baits on Spey rods? How about Pork Rinds under an indicator? Give me a break! There's a reason soft plastics are not allowed in no bait areas. I've caught plenty of fish on pink soft plastic worms while fishing with gear and it's been my experience that salmon and steelhead take those soft plastics just like bait! Sometimes taking them very deep.

If you are trying to shorten the learning curve to fly fishing success then you might as well go to a trout farm for crying out loud!
There are plenty of places to fish your soft plastics. Keep them out of no bait and fly fishing only areas.
Tie MOAL leeches out of hot pink chenille or zonker strips to get the pink worm effect. Looks great in the water and is not bait.
If that's the case, why don't we just go to all natural materials...no synthetics at all? Do you ever fish flies with rubber legs?

I always find it interesting when people start talking about "new age" materials and how it shouldn't be allowed in fly fishing, like it's against some unwritten code. Yet, here we are using technologically advanced graphite rods, plastic lines, etc....pretty comical.
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Old 10-09-2020, 09:12 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyjunky View Post
If that's the case, why don't we just go to all natural materials...no synthetics at all? Do you ever fish flies with rubber legs?

I always find it interesting when people start talking about "new age" materials and how it shouldn't be allowed in fly fishing, like it's against some unwritten code. Yet, here we are using technologically advanced graphite rods, plastic lines, etc....pretty comical.

No I don't fish any flies with rubber legs but so what?

Soft plastics have been around a while now and I fished Berkley Powebait "Steelhead Crawlers" a lot. IMHO they outperformed bait in many drift fishing scenarios. Soft plastics are deadly effective and should not be used in no bait areas.

It never ceases to amaze how people want a short cut to fly fishing success by going the easy route.
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Old 10-09-2020, 09:51 PM   #19
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It never ceases to amaze how people want a short cut to fly fishing success by going the easy route.
No doubt. It all went to hell when hooks with eyes were invented. Snelling a hook kept the riffraff out of flyfishing.
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Old 10-09-2020, 10:08 PM   #20
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No doubt. It all went to hell when hooks with eyes were invented. Snelling a hook kept the riffraff out of flyfishing.

Indicators too! Things is, you go the path of least resistance and you miss out on a lot of great things in the sport.
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Old 10-09-2020, 10:11 PM   #21
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I can do without gut leaders and silk lines, sounds like a pain in the @$$.
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Old 10-09-2020, 11:53 PM   #22
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I can do without gut leaders and silk lines, sounds like a pain in the @$$.

I've never used gut leaders but I have used silk lines. There is no line better for a delicate dry fly presentation. Problem is that silk lines are extremely impractical. After a day of fishing with them you have to take the silk line off of your reel to dry and clean. You clean with turpentine and then redress the line with Muscilin.
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Old 10-10-2020, 07:35 AM   #23
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

This all points out the ODFW's vague rules and arbitrary interpretations.



If there is a good reason for the (soft plastics = bait) rule, then it shouldn't matter if the plastic is tied on with thread or threaded onto the hook.



I see a big difference between rubber legs on a Stone fly and the entire body of the "fly" being made of plastic.
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Old 10-10-2020, 08:43 AM   #24
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It's been awhile but on the Deschutes I did have this exact argument with a young OSP cadet and had to cite the definition of an artificial fly. The cadet contended that the rubber legs on my stonefly nymph caused it to be 'bait".
Has anyone actually been cited for rubber legs on a fly or "tying" a squirmy worm on a hook?

If so, how was the case adjudicated?
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Old 10-10-2020, 02:17 PM   #25
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

if its designated flies only then no rubber should be allowed. or you have the argument going what is too much or where it is.
if its designated fly rod only where the bait and line is cast from the rod then its another thing i guess. but getting too complicated. you either want flies and fly rod only, or no bait for a restriction.


if you want rubber baits on your fly rod go fish the open sections of a river.
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Old 10-10-2020, 03:19 PM   #26
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This all points out the ODFW's vague rules and arbitrary interpretations.



If there is a good reason for the (soft plastics = bait) rule, then it shouldn't matter if the plastic is tied on with thread or threaded onto the hook.



I see a big difference between rubber legs on a Stone fly and the entire body of the "fly" being made of plastic.
So would you consider a d-rib body fly or midge made from micro-tubing bait? I e-mailed ODFW and they made the call. I don't see how it's vague anymore. If it's tied on and wrapped around the hook, with additional materials like a bead or dubbing, it's a fly.

I have used this fly for years and I have never gut hooked a fish with it. It's not the "gut hooked fish on every cast" fly people who don't use it are making it out to be. For those of you who are worried about what is and isn't fly fishing, shouldn't you be using a 15 foot rod made of greenheart with horsehair line, no reel, and a fly you tied on a hook made from a needle yourself? Graphite rods with plastic fly lines on a reel and nylon leaders seem a little unfair to me. Anything else isn't really fly fishing.
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Old 10-10-2020, 06:09 PM   #27
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So would you consider a d-rib body fly or midge made from micro-tubing bait? I e-mailed ODFW and they made the call. I don't see how it's vague anymore. If it's tied on and wrapped around the hook, with additional materials like a bead or dubbing, it's a fly.

I have used this fly for years and I have never gut hooked a fish with it. It's not the "gut hooked fish on every cast" fly people who don't use it are making it out to be. For those of you who are worried about what is and isn't fly fishing, shouldn't you be using a 15 foot rod made of greenheart with horsehair line, no reel, and a fly you tied on a hook made from a needle yourself? Graphite rods with plastic fly lines on a reel and nylon leaders seem a little unfair to me. Anything else isn't really fly fishing.

No I would not consider D-rib or micro tubing to be molded soft plastic.


The fact that you had to email ODFW to be sure and there is a difference of opinion between fishermen reading the same rule, proves the rule is vague.
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Old 10-10-2020, 06:23 PM   #28
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

what they do it should be clear. then we can debate it or complain about it to fish and game.
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Old 10-10-2020, 09:07 PM   #29
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

Interesting thread and a good question. Would a foam bodied Salmon fly upset the real fly fishing purist? Or how about a lead bodied , mylar wrapped , rabbit fur Zonker . Isn't that closer to a lure than a fly? Both are legal in Oregon Fly waters and the Deschutes which in not a fly only water. I would have expected to be ticketed for fishing a rubber worm fly on the Deschutes until I read this thread. Cannot imagine it would be much fun to cast.
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Old 10-11-2020, 09:33 AM   #30
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Cannot imagine it would be much fun to cast.
It's tiny, not a bass bait. Weighs less then most of the stonefly nymph patterns.
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Old 10-11-2020, 01:25 PM   #31
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

I've caught my share of fish on squirmys. usually in an unnatural pink, with a small bead head.

I've also used the same fly with chenille, in the same pink and I think I've done just as well. I don't fret over it, I use either one if that is what is in the box. Never gut hooked a fish on either.
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Old 10-11-2020, 07:57 PM   #32
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The total number of extant and potential new fly patterns is so vast as to be incalculable. Is it really necessary to parse the regulations razor thin to slip in a rubber worm to fish premier fly water? The resource is ever-shrinking, faced with increased predation pressure and diminishing habitat conditions. Try thinking of the future instead of today's ego trip.
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Old 10-16-2020, 08:54 AM   #33
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I've also used the same fly with chenille, in the same pink and I think I've done just as well. I don't fret over it, I use either one if that is what is in the box. Never gut hooked a fish on either.

I cannot recall if the first iteration of the 'squirmy' - the San Juan Worm - caused as much consternation.

(It likely did as fly fishers are known as an opinionated lot )

If the welfare of Deschutes trout being abused by the squirmy is the concern I would suggest these additional measures:

a) no rods lighter than 4-weight to avoid playing trout to death, especially in this era with the river running warmer.

b) no trout out-of-water for pics

c) no trout nets with abrasive netting

I could list more but I gotta run....to Maupin!
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Old 10-18-2020, 09:42 PM   #34
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

If you look at a lot of the flies used on the Deschutes, they have some form of soft plastic or foam. Stone flys and nymphs mainly. I have picked up several hundred flies out of trees and off bushes in the Warm Springs to Trout Creek and plastic is very prevalent on a lot of them. The best one was a chain of 5 plastic jensen eggs
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Old 10-18-2020, 09:59 PM   #35
Shane Stewart
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

Let's bring these back








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Last edited by Shane Stewart; 10-18-2020 at 10:01 PM.
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Old 10-19-2020, 07:48 AM   #36
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

I talked with a LEO in the Hood River area a few years ago and asked if a Kok-a-nut (not a fly but has fly material with a small section of rubber worm for a head) was legal in no bait waters and he said without hesitation "NO" that the rubber made it "bait". He also said if a fly has to many rubber legs they are instructed to right a citation for bait.
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Old 10-19-2020, 08:22 AM   #37
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

I wish the fly was sitting next to a ruler so we could judge the size. Can't tell if it's tied on a size 14 or 14/0.
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Old 10-27-2020, 02:00 PM   #38
ajfishfinder
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

Some 45+ years ago I discovered one of the best artificial flies ever made. It was simply a cheeto run up the line then snugged back down onto a bare hook. Now that I think about it, I guess it was food so probably classified as bait. As a kid on the banks of the Metolious with nothing but a spinning rod and box full of spinners, it quickly became a fly for fly fishing only. Oh ya, it works really well just above or below the bridge by the store---if fact it works just a little bit better than the "popcorn" fly.
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Old 10-28-2020, 10:45 AM   #39
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Default Re: Is it legal ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DogZilla15 View Post
I wish the fly was sitting next to a ruler so we could judge the size. Can't tell if it's tied on a size 14 or 14/0.
The squirmy is usually around 2 inches long. Hook size is usually 10-14, a nymph or jig hook.


This fly was controversial when it debuted in the eastern US, but it's pretty much an eastern fly shop staple. Same with the mop fly. The western US has been slower to adopt competition/european style nymphing techniques and flies.
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