Jason Hartwick is the owner and head steelhead guide for Steelhead on the Spey Guide Service. Born and raised in Sacramento, CA, where he learned to fly fish 20 years ago, Jason hooked his first steelhead on the nearby American River and has been crazy about steelhead ever since. Although he grew up in Sacramento, Jason considers Northern California’s Trinity River his home river. He has been fly fishing for fall, summer and winter steelhead in the Trinity River watershed for nearly fifteen years — captivated by the variety of steelhead fishing the Trinity provides fly anglers throughout the year.
While Jason has been an avid fly rod steelheader, his interest intensified eleven years ago when he discovered two-handed (spey) rods. He found that the spey rod made steelhead fishing much more enjoyable… and a heck of a lot easier! Increased casting distance came nearly effortlessly and allowed him to cover more water, while the longer rod made mending line a breeze! He embraced the spey casting techniques and with new enthusiasm honed his steelhead fly fishing skills.
As a fly tier with many years of experience on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers, Jason’s fly patterns are influenced by the conditions found on those rivers. In the late summer and fall, water levels are often low and clear and floating lines are the norm. The flies used in these conditions are tied with just enough flash to grab the fish’s attention. Natural subtle materials, such as peacock, pheasant and wood duck, are blended together to create flies that will entice a steelhead to strike in even the clearest of waters.
When not on the Trinity and Klamath Rivers, Jason also spends time on the coast of California and Southern Oregon pursuing winter steelhead. His fly tying skills are not limited to the subtle summer style of steelhead fly. For the tougher winter conditions, Jason also ties bright marabou tube flies and weighted tube flies designed to fish the sometimes big, off-color waters of these coastal rivers.
A natural teacher, Jason’s love for fly fishing finds its highest expression when he instructs others in the art of pursuing steelhead with a two-handed fly rod. Older anglers are amazed at how little effort is required to make casts that cover more water than they ever could with a single-handed rod. They also discover how less effort casting translates into more time on the water. If you have yet to experience the thrill of steelhead fishing with a spey rod, Jason strongly urges you to give it a try!