..Thoughts on TFO Deer Creek Spey Rods

Rob Zelk

I swing, therefore i am.
I have the 5/6 and love it, though its more of a true 7. A great little rod for the money. But I do have to say once you cast this rod for a day, then at the end of the day go pick up a GLX dredger, and you will feel a world of difference (hence the unimodulus graphite). But I do love the 5/6 since it has been dialed in, its a little cannon.


Active Member
Just a reminder to those that don't know this, Deer Creek is closed to all fishing and has been for 50 years or more.


Active Member
Deer Creek is the name of Mike Kinneys guiding company, a natural name to use on a rod series he helped design. I cast the 13' this last Friday when Mike was helping me with my casting on the Skagit. I liked the rod quite a bit, especially given the price. If anybody needs work on their 2-handed casting they should look him up. Worth every penny. I actually didn't think of myself as that awful of a caster, but pretty much every aspect of my casting came under scrutiny. Turns out, I've got some bad habits to break...
In one sense, the name is generic. Aren't there Deer Creeks in every state? More specifically, it's a fitting tribute to the Deer Creek that was and remains the natal stream for the native run of steelhead in the North Fork of the Stillaguamish. In West Coast terms, it's as important a shrine as the Junction Pool on the Beaverkill is to New England trout fishermen.

Yes, it's closed to fishing in its own right. That has delayed the inevitable. And when the last of the North Stilly native-runs have gone to join the passenger pidgeon and the California golden bear, some of us will still park behind the fire station and totter down there to look at the water and think of what was.
My god JB, you just can't get around yourself can ya?:eek:
I guess it is just the born-and-raised-fishing-the-Stilly-for-Deer-Creek-fish-locals-only-hot-blood in me. Or the it-was-so-much-better-years-ago in me. Or the fact that I reflect on better times fishing around the S Rivers and I am only 25!

Like an overly protective mother: good intentioned but probably just being an arsehole.
Like an overly protective mother: good intentioned but probably just being an arsehole.
I don't think so; all-be-it's been many, many years (far longer than you've been around) I 'remember' the size/strength of the run of 'special fish.' Then again, I remember what fishing was like 'pre-Bolt.' (Did I just age-date myself?):rolleyes:

Will Atlas

while deer creek fish are certainly a special race of steelhead, I've heard from old timers who used to fish the stilly that it has (or maybe HAD) a run of humongous late spring fish. those are the real mythical creatures.


Well-Known Member

In all likelihood, Deer Creek supported, and may still support some few, winter steelhead in its lowermost reach. The summer run developed to take advantage of most of the suitable steelhead habitat that lies upstream of the falls that are just a few short miles upstream. Migration barriers and headwater habitat differences are what separate summer steelhead from their winter run brethren in west side rivers. The number of winter steelhead that historically inhabited Deer Creek would have been quite small compared to the summer run. And I seriously doubt they were any more humongous than a similar proportion of NF Stilly winter runs. Historic memories are notoriously bad when it comes to topics like fish size.


Salmo g.

Will Atlas


I wasnt talking about Deer Creek in particular. I was referring to a conversation I had last summer with a fellow named Charlie Gearheart (sp.?) about the N. Fork Stilly. He's fished it for the better part of his adult life and was referring to late spring fish spawning in North Fork. He claimed that in the 1970s and 80s when the river was year round catch and release they would regularly catch VERY large, chrome bright wild steelhead as late as May. He's the only person I've ever heard refer to that, but then again people dont seem to talk about Stilly winter runs nearly as much as the Sky and Skagit systems.



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It's my understanding that that the sauk used to flow into the stilly around 5000yrs ago and was diverted by a landslide to it's now present drainage via the skagit. Take a close look at a map of the area, it certainly seems plausable. Anyways, if true, it would lend support to the notion that the stilly had sauk-sized fish...
During our fishing lives, hopefully at some point, we find a personal Shangri-La. For a few years in the late 80's and early 90's I lived mine: It was March/April on the NF Stilly. A few friends and I had the river to ourselves and routinely hooked and played a terryifing (euphimism for ass-kickers!) race of chrome winter steelhead. They were beautiful and large. The biggest steelhead I've ever hooked, but didn't landed, may have well been there. Fish into the teens was the norm.

FYI, Charlie Gearheart was my original steelhead mentor. We remain best of friends today.


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In the lower mainstem in the late winter and early spring we used to catch many of these large native stlhd as well, while I knew some could have been headed for the SF I always assumed they were NF fish. That as well was in the early-late 80's. Don't think I ever fish it after about 1990 and believe they began closing it around then. But the lower river used to remain open thru March as well.