McKenzie River fly fishing for beginner

Hello, first off I want to apologize for being this guy. I have never fly fished before, and would like to learn the art of it. I recently picked up a rod and reel and have done a fair bit of research. However, I am still stumped on what to throw. I plan to fish the McKenzie river mainly, in the Springfield/Eugene area.

So my question is, what are some good flies for me to learn on?

Also, I don’t want to ask for anyone’s spot, but could anyone recommend a good place that I could wade out a little and get into some fish?

I don’t care much about size of the fish, I’m mainly just in it for th experience and learning.

Thanks for all the information
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Welcome to the sport!

I’m not an expert on fly fishing by any stretch, I only know how I started a couple decades ago.

A friend took me to a casting pond and gave me some “basics”. Then I struggled on the water with reading the water and fly selection etc...

Yes, I and a lot of people on this board could type endlessly on about different flys for all the different situations, but I would seriously recommend going with a buddy or a person with experience with the long pole. As for where to fish, there are people on this board in the area that you are looking to fish that are fare more familiar on locations then I.

Short of that, consider a guided trip as a learning experience.

Early on, My son and I took a guided trip on the Deschutes and it was a great learning experience. Sure it’s expensive to rent a guide, but think of it as an all day fly fishing lesson. My fly fishing progressed by leaps and bounds after that trip. Heck, I have seen “expert” fly casters charge north of 100$/hour for casting lessons. So the 300$ or so for an all day trip (+lunch, grilled steak no less) seemed reasonable. A good guide ( and there re a lot of good ones in your area) will teach you more in a day, then you could learn on your own in months or years possibly. Some guides are on the water 150+ days a year, and some have been guiding for decades.That’s a ton of knowledge!

Good luck.

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My wife bought me an introduction class at Caddis Fly in Eugene as a gift many years ago. It helped immensely! Good idea to go out with someone who has experience. As far as flies on the Mac, elk hair caddis for dry fly or mega prince with a possie bugger dropper for nymphs. Really depends on the time of year though, swinging wet flies in spring is killer! There is a lot of info out there, research which flies are hatching what time of year. Royal coachman always works well most of the year, good luck!
Welcome to OFF @Speedymaru. Be sure to carefully release all native/wild trout unharmed. It's only a catch n' release fishery for those fish.

I'd also highly advise that you wear a PFD. That water is ICE COLD!

We'd love to see your reports and pics.

Tight lines, TD
Hobster has a good point.

A good place to start:
Caddis Fly shop in Eugene, is a classy shop. Haven’t been in there in many years, but was helpfully whein I was there.

Armitage Park is a good place to start close into town. When the water is lower there is lots of room to wade and there are a good number of small to medium sized wild cutthroat.

Elk hair caddis usually work pretty well for me there. I picked up a little pocket map of the McKenzie and the Middle Fork Willamette that has boat launches and spots with bank access marked. It also has a hatch chart for each river with suggested flies for each month. I got it at the Caddis Fly shop that Hobster and BB both mentioned. Everyone there I've talked to has been helpful. Jason at Homewaters Fly Shop has also been awesome.

Good luck!

Thank you all very much. I’ve been to the Caddis Fly Shop a couple times, that’s actually where I bought my rod. I’ll stop by there again and ask some more questions. I’ll definitely go to Armitage Park. Is there anywhere good to go now? Or is the water still too high?
@Speedymaru you'll want to wait quite a while; as this is going on nearby...

LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- Level 3 (Leave Immediately) Evacuation notices have been issued for those in the Row River 100 yr. Floodplain and Coast Fork of the Willamette 100 yr. Floodplain.

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office and Lane County Emergency Management said they have been monitoring river levels due to the recent heavy rains.

Lane County Emergency Management said they were notified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that water is being released from Dorena Reservoir at historic rates to avoid reservoir overflow, and the releases have already begun.

They said the rates of flow being released from Dorena will be higher than recorded in the 1996 flood.

The Sheriff's Office said residents who live within the Row River floodplain are being placed on a Level 3 evacuation notice and should leave their homes immediately and seek higher ground. Residents who feel unsafe due to rising waters near their home should take necessary action to protect themselves.

They said the release of water from the Dorena Reservoir will have the most immediate impact on those in the Row River floodplain. There will be a delayed impact on the Coast Fork of the Willamette River floodplain. Those who reside in this area are also being placed on a Level 3 evacuation notice and should leave their homes immediately.
Yeah, gonna be a while before the river will be fishable. Right now it's 14.4 ft. :oops: ideally it is good at 3 to 4 ft, but I watch the levels at Leaburg because of steelhead. I am itching to get in some spring fly fishing on the Mac but not gonna be happening anytime soon.
Armitage is a great spot to start, I have fished there for many years, even was on the front page of the Register Guard fly fishing there (was a cool picture). However, I usually fish on the other side of the river or upriver from the park. You can drive right up and it's free, lots of more water to cover and the access is way better. Remember since it is not stocked down there the vast majority of fish are wild cutties, so catch and release. It is fishable year round in that section of the river, but with lures and flies only (bait is never allowed there). There are some nice fish down there but I swear it hasn't been the same since the drought 4 years ago, but maybe it's just me. As Whip says, HAVE FUN!
Once the river is way down, go to the parks and boat launches. One day of exploring will tell you where access and wading is easier. Willamette below Dexter will drop and clear first.

It is easier to learn to cast with dry flies, but easier to catch fish with nymphs.
Get some Possie Buggers (google it) from Caddis Fly Shop and fish it below an indicator (float) with line length 1ft longer than river depth. Throw upstream, let the float naturally drift, then swing below you and hold. Those fish seam to like the swing. If the float moves only a little, set the hook! Good luck!
First, Focus less on which flies you’re fishing and more on how you’re presenting them. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the patterns and names, but as long as you’re in the right bug family, size and color, they’ll be watching.
Second, much of fly fishing is about accuracy both in where and how you cast. Techniques with/for seams and different water speeds can be very important for getting a fly in the right space to engage a feeding trout

Then there is reading the river, which I’m starting to think is a life long pursuit, because I am still only beginner + at it.

Everyone seemed to give some good advice on places, but I figured I’d chime in on technique. Casting accuracy and presentation are the most important skills. That includes line management and mending.

Read a lot, great books too. Also failing is the best way to learn, go often and fail often.
I started fly fishing and tying my own flies back when I was fourteen years old and living at the base of the Rockies. Hard to believe that was 40 years ago, but it was. In my twenties I was asked to give fly casting lessons to beginners at the regional conclave for Federation of Fly Fishers. Me and Lefty Kreh were the casting lesson guys at that conference. Talk about a humbling experience for me as a young man who thought he was a pretty good caster and knew what he was doing. Haha. Anyway, I have taught numerous friends and family members how to cast flies over the years. I concur 100% with the great advice our OFF clan is giving you. There is a lot of fishing experience on the site, and that it is shared so freely is an impressively generous resource to all involved. I agree most with comments that apply to casting accuracy and learning to read the water. As you get the hang of these two skills the rest is easier being a simple matter of learning the nuances through a combination of studying and trial and error. Maybe I missed it, but the one piece I do see missing in comments here is fly casting practice time. When you're actually in the water you'll be dealing with current pulling your line, current pulling on your legs, feet slipping on wet rocks, hooks catching in your clothes, line tangles, trees and grass tangling with your back cast, snags on the river bottom, wind pushing air born line all over the place, and so on. The time to learn to cast is when you are at home on dry ground when most of the variables have less power to interfere with perfecting your casting technique. Watch videos and read about technique and all of that, but put a dinner plate on your lawn and practise casting to it. Don't do it for hours on end, but 20 minutes a day, maybe 3 or 4 days a week before, or after work. Remember the movie A River Runs Through It? The boys were taught to practise casting in their yard to the rhythm of a metronome. That is a real thing and how I learned long before the movie was made. Once you have the basic rhythm and are able to keep your line horizontal in the air in front and in back with just a little fluff tied the end of the leader, then start increasing the distractions. Add a small fly at first, then a larger one, then later start adding a little steel shot weight to it. The lawn is the place to learn to roll cast, bow and arrow cast, side arm, and change casting arms. Practice casting from a kneeling and sitting position to simulate float tube, drift boat and fishing from concealed locations to keep clear low water fish from spooking. Even better is to practise casting on a pond in a park if there is a place to do it easily near work or home. You will find that getting the basics down accelerate your improvement while on the water fishing, and get you over the hump so much faster. It will make the overall experience less frustrating and much more enjoyable. Ultimately, you will be able to walk through current over slippery rocks while false casting and reading the river in front of you in prep to throw to your next fish without stopping. The idea being efficiency, the more time your fly is on productive water the more fish are going to be caught. I think you will find casting practise to be a mind cleansing experience similar to meditation. It can be fun, and it will make a big difference in getting to a place where fly fishing is an immensely fulfilling experience. One filled with peace, lots of fish, and increasing numbers of big fish. Good luck out there!
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Casting Call
Keyeat and Aervax are 100% CORRECT! I have been using a bug wand for over 50 years and all I can ad is PRACTICE,PRACTICE,PRACTICE. Tony
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Wow, thank you all very much for the great info. I’m looking forward to the water dropping so I can get out there. I’ll definitely go to my field and practice some casting. I actually just drove through leaburg the other day and stopped by the hatchery section to check it out. It looks like there’s some trails that lead to spots. I also spooled my reel. I’m getting pretty excited to get out there. Thanks again.
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What an awesome river to have to learn on. Thats a really cool river to have close to home.
I'll be on the water and will keep an eye out for ya!

Good luck and tight lines!

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