Yesterday we made the long drive over to Ellensburg for the eight annual rendezvous on the Yakima River held at the Canyon River Ranch and conducted by Reds Fly Shop. For those who’ve not been over there, both are collocated in the heart of the Yakima River Canyon – a Washington State scenic byway; it is a gem in the heart of north central Washington. Ridges and river carved cliffs with bighorn sheep often seen in the distance.
We left the clouds and rain of Gig Harbor to arrive almost three hours later for clouds and wind – the latter a not uncommon feature of the area. But the clouds lasted only a few hours; by early afternoon the sun was out; brilliant white cumulus clouds drifted by, and we had a warm (60s) afternoon.
As always, Reds brings in a number of well-known speakers and presenters. Unfortunately, there are too many things to attend. And when combined with the opportunity to test cast rods from a number of different rods, there is more than enough to do when not stopping to soak up the views the peaceful setting. Personally, the highlights for me are the seminars along the river.
This year the river was running very high and while the speakers weren’t able to wade out for demonstrations, their shore side instruction was still worthwhile.
We attended a Tom Larimer riverside seminar on trout spey. Tom is a very well known spey casting guide and instructor, and currently National Sales Manager for G. Loomis. Trout spey is becoming more widespread and Tom was quick to demonstrate how much one could do with a three-weight spey (equivalent to a five-weight single handed rod). It looked intriguing – but more money to spend…sigh.
Ben Paull of Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics (OPST) demonstrated what the very short OPST Commando Skagit heads would allow with a single-handed rod when fishing on a tight river with no room for a back cast.
Joe Rotter, co-owner of Reds, gave a brilliant presentation and demonstration on the upper meadow on improving one’s casting – emphasizing among many things the keys of keeping tip tension and improving one’s back cast. Joe made an interesting comment that he’s changed the way he teaches casting lately as his own casting has improved. Watching how his videos have changed over the years and how, for example, he’s changed the way he teaches the double haul, show how much deeper his understanding of fly casting has enabled him to help others improve their casting.
Joe made a comment to us a few years ago in a private conversation was that one of the things he’s hoped for the rendezvous is that it becomes more inclusive to include competitors of Reds who have attended. He said the more fly fishing is celebrated the better it is for everyone. Spending a sunny day on the Yakima it is easy to understand that sentiment.
We left with the same regret we always do. Driving back into the rain made it that much more difficult. We will likely be over the mountains and into the Canyon this year. But for sure, we already are looking forward to Reds Rendezvous IX in 2018.