I learned one important tip from my host, who's been fishing there for 30 years. Which was this. When swinging flies, and you get a take, don't set the hook! Just swing the fly without holding the fly line with your index finger. Set the drag as light as you're comfortable with. When a fish takes don't move the rod tip, don't set the hook, just do nothing. Let the line run off the reel right out the guides. Keep the rod pointed at the fish and let him hook himself. The fish will take, the drag will sing, and the fish will either hook himself or not. There's nothing much you can do except give the fish as little tension as possible so he can pull the fly back down to his lie. After 2 or 3 seconds it becomes apparent whether the fish is on for real or not, and then you can raise the rod and start tuggin'.
This tip increased my hookup rate a ton compared to my last trip in September when I was setting the hook on everything, and losing over half the fish that hit. This actually was a pretty cool way to fish. It was sort of relaxing because I could just focus on getting a good swing of the fly, and didn't have to be edgy to set the hook on a take. Much different than nymph fishing. When a fish took, you just let the drag buzz at first, which was pretty cool, because these half pounders are really fast fish.
Here's a little video from the jet boat I was lucky enough to ride in to get around. Thanks Johnny!
On the way home I hit the Pit river. This river was notable for 3 reasons.
First, it was a complete bitch to wade. It was running 400 cfs and the bottom, as is well known, is just boulders of widely varying sizes so there's no flat bottom at all, and it's full of holes. I fell in once and was a lot more careful after that. The current at that flow rate is very pushy, so if you lose balance, the current helps push you right along into the water. The water visibility is less than 2 feet so seeing the bottom is out of the question. Second, the river appears to be chock full of fish. I only had a morning to fish it but I caught 2 fish around 14" and a few small fry. Also had a couple more hard strikes that caught me off guard while fishing a nymph. I wanted to fish a streamer but ran out of time. Third, this place eats flies. Part of the reason I actually caught fewer fish than the river quality would indicate was that I was losing flies and split shot on the bottom with alarming regularity. Fishing a 2 fly rig with split shot and an indicator, I went through at least a dozen flies in a few hours.
The rainbows I caught here were the reddest rainbows I had ever seen anywhere. This was a beautiful spot to fish, but it's important to have your roll cast and wading game on.