The Fish Magnet Gear Guide
Steelhead and Salmon Spey Fishing
By Dave Robinson
June, 18, 2017
Review for Rubber Leg K-Moal Fly:
Fishing for steelhead has been tough this past winter and continues to be hard going into summer as well. The super low water of 2015 killed smolts with warm shallow water. Netting is out of control. Weird ocean currents and pollution...take your pick! Steelhead numbers over the Bonneville dam are less than half of the ten year average.
The Grabflies crew has been catching consistent through all of this, but at a slow and reduced rate! So when Jeff posted a couple of summer run Columbia Gorge fish on his prototype fly I was more than intrigued! He shared his Rubber Leg K MOAL recipe with me and I tied some up in several sizes in the Klickitat and Methow colors and was ready when I got the call a week later. " Come on down, the river is twice too high and not many fish being counted over the dam but we have one day before the rain sets in again and we'll see if the K MOAL can produce for us".
Thursday morning found us on the Klickitat River at over 2000 CFS. Visibility was good but I figured it would be like finding a needle in a haystack with so few fish around and the water roaring through all of our favorite runs. I tied on a 3" K MOAL and it was the start to a very memorable day! The fly looks amazing in the water, the black cross cut wrapped rabbit keeps the white barred rubber legs moving like squid tentacles. The legs are tied in ahead of a hidden bead that gives the fly a nice shoulder and the whole thing is tied on a braided line so the fly undulates in the slightest current. Also, fish hooked, tend to stay hooked without the leverage of a stiffer fly. It casts, and sinks well.
The first run just a few minutes in Jeff has a quick grab.
Then at 7:30 the water exploded out in front of me to the cry of fish on from Jeff! From the way it fought and the size of the tail we were certain it was a nice size Spring Chinook but were blown away when it turned out to be a magnificent 16 pound buck Steelhead!
We ran up to a broad rock strewn tailout and a few casts in I get the loop I carry pulled out but no fish on. I try another identical cast with no response, so I back up a couple steps and start down again. Two swings later, another pull then nothing, then again, this time with weight clicking the line off the reel resulting in a high flying summer bullet! Alright! One each, it doesn't get any better on a tough river in the best of conditions.
After lunch, we hit it again and I'm soon rewarded with another vicious grab that happens so fast that I don't get a good hook set and the second jump it's off.
A ways down, another loop pulled out of my hand but no stickum.
That was it for the day, we were tired and wore out from standing in the fast cold flows but very happy with the results of the day fishing the Rubber Leg K MOAL.
So a little calculating and I figure all told, and including the first couple of fish Jeff caught, that in about one full day of fishing for two guys with the same fly, that five fish were hooked and 4 landed on the new K MOAL in tough conditions with few fish around.
Would this have happened fishing some of the other flies we use and love! Maybe? Probably? No saying really. However, what was really significant about the fish we caught was that one of Jeff's fish grabbed and ran with the fly, then came off. The very next cast, the same fish grabbed it again and was landed!
My Klickitat fish picked at the fly three times before committing to it. You could say that the fish was slow to commit to taking it but I think just the opposite. I believe it was basically a non-biting fish that just couldn't leave it alone!
The other three fish really slammed it and would probably have taken any decent fly with good movement and in the same colors. This is all very subjective, but I believe that the K MOAL will move a reluctant fish to bite. This is very important in tough conditions with few fish!
Rating by grabs I give the Grabflies new Rubber Leg K-Moal a 10 out of 10 grabs as a consistent producer. These days with fewer and fewer fish around and more pressure than ever, we need to use flies that will move a reluctant fish to bite more than ever.
As I am writing this review, Jeff is at the bench tweaking the design to have more contrast by experimenting with different legs, colors and tying techniques. When he is done, be ready for THE fly. It may well be a game changer on the level of the invention of the Intruder. I'm also excited about what this design will offer in winter flies too.
REMEMBER, YOU CAN CATCH A FISH WITH A BAD CAST, BUT YOU WILL CATCH MORE WITH A GOOD ONE!
See all of Dave Robinson's gear review articles (click here)
Learn more about Dave, and see some of the fish he catches (click here) - Jeff Layton/Grabflies