For the Deschutes, Larimer Outfitters recommends having two rods strung in the boat. A 13’ to 13’6 for a #7 weight Spey rod is perfect for floating line presentations. Some of their favorites include the Burkheimer 7125-3, the Sage Z-Axis 7136-4, and the Echo TR 7130-4. For the folks that like to play the “small ball” game, you can’t beat the Winston BIIx 6126-4. For sink-tip work, they recommend having a 13’ to 14’ for a #7 or #8 weight two-hander. The Burkheimer 8139-3. the Winston BIIx 8130-4, and the Echo DH 8133-4 get high marks.
For sink-tip work on the Deschutes, you can’t beat Skagit style shooting heads like Airflo’s Skagit Compact. Tom Larimer designed the Skagit Compact with Airflo.
For sink-tips, you’ll want to come prepared with a wide variety of tips for different river conditions. You should have some 12’ sink-tips in Airflo CCT200, or Rio T-14 and T-11. It’s also recommended to have 15’ to 12’ sink-tips in Type 6, and Type 3. Rio’s Type 6 and Type 3 sink-tips come as a 15’ tip which you can cut back from the front if you like a shorter sink-tip. Finally, a Rio T-14 sink-tip cut to 7’ in combination with a Rio Skagit Cheater can be deadly in certain runs. It’s a good idea to pack back up sink-tips in case you loose one.
For floating line fishing you have a couple of options. First is to fish a 12’ to 8’ Skagit floating tip with a Poly Leader looped to your Skagit head. The Rio Skagit Floating Tips are 15’ out of the package. Most folks like to cut them back from the front taper and put a braided loop on. The loop makes for a clean connection between the floating tip and the Poly Leader. Scandinavian style shooting heads like Airflo’s Scandi Compact in combination with a Poly Leader are also popular on the Deschutes.
If you are fishing Skagit and Scandinavian style shooting heads, you’ll need a 30lb. running line. Our favorite running line for the Dean is Airflo’s 30lb. RidgeLine.
It’s imperative to have at least 150yards of backing on the Deschutes. While Deschutes River steelhead aren’t huge, they use the rivers massive flow to their advantage. Make sure you have a large arbor disk drag reel with plenty of backing capacity. A few of our favorite reels for the “D” include the Tibor Spey, and the Ross Momentum LT.
For leaders and tippet, you’ll be using Maxima Ultra-Green in 10lb.
Contact the Gorge Fly Shop Team for recommendations.
Stocking foot breathable waders like Simms G3 Waders are preferred on the Deschutes. For wading boots, a felt or Stream Tread sole works well. Cleats are advised! The Deschutes is a big river with a wide range of wading conditions.
Layering is critical to staying comfortable on the Deschutes. A Gore-Tex wading jacket like Simms G3 Guide Jacket is essential to staying dry. Under your waders and rain jacket, you should have base layers and insulating layers made of synthetic material like Simms Waderwick and fleece. In the warmer months, you should be wairing lightweight clothing that dries fast. A waterproof bag like Simms Dry Creek Guide Backpack helps keep extra gear dry and organized in a jet boat or ATV.