Wimpy fly rod lands huge fish at Rocky Ford Creek

Don Childress is lucky that he hasn’t had a yard sale in the past decades to get rid of unused fly fishing gear.

The Sandpoint fisherman says an old flexible fiberglass rod was the ticket to landing the trout of a lifetime in central Washington out of Rocky Ford Creek this month.

Childress grabbed and released a 30 inch rainbow from the fly fishing creek while sight fishing with a size 20 scud pattern on a 5X tip.

“It took a lot of luck to get it,” he said. “The real secret was a very soft 1980s Winston glass leftover that I never attached because graphite came into the picture.”

Rocky Ford, about 20 miles north of Moses Lake, emerges from the ground in arid lands as a product of irrigation runoff. The creek offers fly fishermen a 3 mile spring stream experience. Because the water surfaces at around 52 degrees at Troutlodge Hatchery, the creek does not freeze, making it especially appealing to anglers looking for open water and active fish in the winter.

Fly fishing is permitted all year round with single barbless hooks without bait.

But in the absence of a wading pool, it can be difficult to land rainbows of any size from the tule-lined shores, especially in the flat, glassy sections where thin spikes are used to avoid frightening. tough fish.

“After fishing the creek a few times and breaking some good fish because of my fast-acting rod, I had the blank tied up just for Rocky Ford,” Childress said. “While not a great casting tool, it certainly protects the 5X and 6X lightweight tips. “

Childress described the 9 1/2 foot fiberglass rod, which was popular in the 80s, as a very soft, almost wimpy 5 weight.

“Put it next to one of the graphite rods and wiggle them together and you’ll see the flex three times – you can feel it all the way to the handle of the glass rod. “

He said the virtues of the flexible rod were immediately apparent. “I was breaking fewer fish on hook-up and even while handling fish around weeds,” he said.

“You give up a lot of punch in the casting. I run a large open loop. I can’t throw 70 feet with it, but I can throw 50 and that’s enough.

It takes patience and discipline to fish for trout in the shallow waters of Rocky Ford Creek, no matter what rod you choose. After spotting the huge rainbow, Childress said he made around 30 casts. It used a 12-foot leader and cast about 20 feet upstream of the fish to naturally allow gentle but sometimes twisty currents to drift and deliver a mosquito-sized fly.

“The scud had no weight and there was no indicator so I couldn’t really see the fly,” he said. “I try to get it down close to the bottom before it hits the fish. I only had a rough idea of ​​where the fly was.

“Rocky Ford is almost like fishing in a lab,” he said. “I saw fish get out of the way of a fly and I saw them open their mouths and gnaw a fly.”

In this case, the rainbow lunker didn’t even seem to open its mouth. “He just moved a bit and shivered,” said Childress, who has fished for trout, rainbow trout and salmon all over the world. “I’ve seen this before, so I hooked up. “

There is an art of securing a hook on a 10 to 12 pound trout with what is equivalent to a thin, barbless curved wire attached to a fine point that tests to less than 5 pounds of force.

“I lifted the rod without holding the line,” he said, noting that he let the fish rest the hook against the flex of the rod and the low tension of the free-spool reel. “At Rocky Ford, that makes all the difference. I’ve seen big fish get broken just because of the tension in the line when you’re in the back.

Rainbow reacted to the hook in her lip with an immediate long sprint. “I let it spin on the reel,” he said. “Even when the fish got into the weeds, the flexible rod allowed me to release it without breaking. “

About 20 minutes later, Childress guided the rainbow to the shore. “It was way too big for my net,” he said.

Fishing partner Julie Kallameyn helped him land the trophy, where they measured it at 30 inches before snapping a picture and releasing it to test the rod skills of another fisherman at Rocky Ford.

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