How far?


Recreational User
I would walk back upstream about 50 feet, make sure my hotshot (#30, pirate) was set back about 25 ft from my side planer for the correct run/dive ratio, then I would work that bad larry back and forth through the lane the fish showed in.


I would ignore the riser and fish the same "comb the high percentage water" pattern I started with when I stepped in. If the fish didn't take, he didn't take.


Ignored Member
I would ignore the riser and fish the same "comb the high percentage water" pattern I started with when I stepped in. If the fish didn't take, he didn't take.
I think this is how I would play it also and hope my partner fishing behind me picked him up if possible.


the sultan of swing
For you Kerry the problem should be a no brainner, get your camera ready as WW will have this steelhead to the beach in less than five casts!!!


Active Member
Hmmm i like this - for me the fish rolled because he/she was trying to kick sea lice off the its side - or there are two and they are fighting - smaller male and so on .

it will take a 85 ft. cast quartered upstream on a floating line with 15 ft. leader - then i would throw a 10 foot circle loop as fast as i could over the tippet to help the weighted fly sink then start stripping line and mending like crazy to let it get down while it past right in front of me , then i would slowly start to feel the current against the line as it dead drifted past the fish at or near the bottom with no fly line under the water to spook the fish - just leader . it should dead drift right by it at 60 ft. 15 yards down stream if everything goes right . after a few of these dead drifts since it is 15 ft. down river and 60 ft. out i would try the rising fly ! same cast quartered upstream - mended for sinking and catching the dead drifted fly just before it gets to the fish and lift it while it is passing the holding area of the fish ! This is because i can not wade up river or change position - cliffs - drop offs - lazy .

Of coarse i would have two rods be them spey or single handers - one for floating line and one for sinking - one would always being broken down in half and stuck in my belt for when ever i needed it .


Active Member
Assuming you have fished your way down, and you are fishing an 80-100' cast, you have already covered the fish. My experience tells me to move on, but if no one is behind me, I'd probably go up 30 or so paces and cover the water again, after changing flies, as its been ignored once already. Depending on water conditions I'd probably go smaller and somber, unless thats what I was already fishing then I'd go bigger more flash and rip it by fast


still an authority on nothing
I'd ignore it. It's a half-dead silver. I can't see that far that fast, damn these graduated bifocals.
maybe take another pass through after I've worked down, in case I'm wrong.


Active Member
Kerry -
A great "what if" question. I suppose it would be not surprise that I would approach the situation a bit differently.

Assuming it is this time of year I would first mentail note the location of the fish; typcially such a "rolling" fish will be either a holding fish or a traveling fish. I would first assume that it was a holding fish and that its "lie" would likely b several feet upstream of where the fish showed itself. Typically I would be fishing a 24 foot 220 grain head so I would make a slightly upstream cast of about 65 feet make an immediate upstream mend allow the line to sink until it was slightly downstream of me and "fish" the fly streamer style. In my presentation I'm picturing both the location of the fly and the expected holding location. That first cast I would expect my fly to pass 7 feet or so upstream of the fish. I then step down a couple steps, repeating for 5 casts or so - expect the fish to take on the second or 3rd cast.

If no action I would carefully back out the stream move upstream 100 feet or so or to the dump-in riffle (which every is closer) changing the fly as I go and methodicially fish down through the water repeating the above cast. I'm now assuming the fish was traveling fish though I would make an extra cast ot two at where I thought the fish was holding. I would continue fishing all the way to the tail expecting other moving fish.

In the above situation I would expect at least one fish. Before leaving the area I would fish the riffle area focusing on teh inner edge of the "choppy water" in that 2 1/2 foot to 5 depths.

This whole "what if" discussion demostrates 2 of the factors that Iconsdre the most important for success.

1) understanding the fish and how they behave.

2) having a systematic and efficient approach to cover the water.

3) Having the stream craft and line control to understand exactly where and how your fly is behaving.

tight lines


I think Kerry's designing a Steelhead Speyfishing Video game for when there are no more fish in the rivers to chase. :)

The game is that you choose a river, then find a good flyfishing run. When you see a roller you have to figure out what fly, sinktip, and cast to use to catch it. Where to stand, etc.

Not a bad idea!

Have a happy merry,

I think Kerry's designing a Steelhead Speyfishing Video game for when there are no more fish in the rivers to chase. :)

The game is that you choose a river, then find a good flyfishing run. When you see a roller you have to figure out what fly, sinktip, and cast to use to catch it. Where to stand, etc.

Not a bad idea!

Have a happy merry,

Just to make things a little more interesting, the game is going to have instances where, say for example, a jet sled pulls up to the run and the occupants begin side drifting through the water that you are fishing. The pressure is on; you are going to have to get your fly to the fish before the sled either spooks it, or the occupants catch it.

Is this a sincere question or one to challenge folks not to overthink?

If the goal was simply to put a fly on the nose, I'd put on a floating line with a weighted egg pattern and 9 foot leader. I'd walk about 10-15 feet up river and cast to land the end of the floating line at that 60 ft point positioned upstream of the splash. I'd then walk down river, mending as needed to walk over the splash location. I'd use 9 ft of line assuming I wouldn't get the fly ahead of the line over the whole drift and assume the angle would leave 6 ft of vertical. This is if I wanted to achieve the goal of hitting on the nose, not how I would fish it.

If swinging, I wouldn't over think it too. My goal would be to make sure the fly was set up to start swinging 65-70 ft out (ie start of swing is 5-10 feet away from the holding location expecting the fly will be at its greatest depth at the start of the swing). I'd select a fly and sink tip that I felt comfortable got to 6 feet at starting swing. Its hard to say from your description because I think some has to be by feel. Waters having the same visual speed some time have different pull and that can raise the fly. I'd use instinct on the feel of the pull and my past experience where I hit bottom. My best guess is a 15 foot type 8 with an unweighted fly. I'd walk up river far enough where I would guestimate the first cast would swing the fly 10 feet in front of the fish and then swing and step at 2 foot intervals until water is covered. You didnt specify how many casts, so I would take advantage of the best feature of swinging and cover the water.



Ignored Member
Joe, serious in the form that we talk about doing some fishing. There are a number of ways to answer, none wrong. I kept my question vague in a lot of ways for a reason. To encourage discussion and an exchange of ideas. Some pretty good comments so far and a few that are, well..........................predictable.
Then I will give my best guess

I would say that steelheading in its highest form is visualizing in your minds eye where the fly is and whether its movement in the swing is at an enticing speed (pretty slow in winter). Being a nerd by profession, I won't seek to define the geometry which would be my proclivity. I would start higher up in river, visualize/adjust as needed.

Winter fishing for me is usually a skagit line with 5, 10, 15 ft sink tips and 3 foot leader. If I cast perpendicular to the current and mend upstream, I often notice it takes 10-15 seconds before everything is set up to start the swing. My skagit head is straight at the start of the swing and I imagine the sink tip still being somewhat J-shaped, for a little shorter final path than imagining the line fully extended out and drawing an arc path. With 10-15 second set up, I am hoping my fly starts at about 5 ft in depth. I don't think I want the fly to start the swing right in front of the fish because I can imagine it accelerating upon tightening up. So I want to start the fish swining further out in the river and coming across the fish's path. So setting the cast 5-10 feet further out in the river, setting up to sink for at least 10 seconds with at minimum a type 6, keeping the rod tip high and lowering in the start of the swing so the fly doesn't jump into action with a burst and covering the water through and through. That is what I'd do if seeing a jumping fish as described. I'd probably fish over the area at least twice with two very different flies (never leaving fish to find fish). I'd use an unweighted fly to start. My thought (right or wrong) is that an unweighted fly can be more lively if you can get it down to the needed depth than a heavily weighted fly. Again, when I feel the pressure on the fly, I would decide if I have right sink tip and fly weight on. I can't articulate the decision point for this, only feel.


I’m already fishing a shooting head with T-14 and I am sure I would have already swung it past him. I’d look at the water next and if I thought the pocket continued, I would continue down. If a buddy was next through the hole, I’d step out, let him know what color I had thrown to no avail and then ask what color he was going to use. Then I would go above him and wait to go back through picking a fly that was different than my previous or his current selection. I would continue casting as I normally would, casting a distance that covers water without breaking my rod. Consistent and methodical, keeping the fly wet and not drying off 15 feet above my head. If neither of us didn’t get a take, fuck ‘em, move to the next hole. Covering more holes in a day will produce fish more than hanging out in just one.