"All" there is to know about flyfishing for steelhead!!

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by mcoomer, Feb 2, 2004.

  1. mcoomer

    mcoomer New Member

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    Hello all,
    I have been checking out some tapes on flyfishing for steelhead and I now know "all" that there is to know on the subhect. First of all, if any of you have the chance to take a look at the 3M/Scientific Angler series on fishing for Pacific Steelhead do yourself a favor and check them out. Lani Waller is the host and does a very good job of passing on a lot of good stuff. Very good stuff!

    OK, so all I need to know in order to catch steelhead is:

    1) Read the water to determine where fish will rest and hold
    2) Determine the appropriate cast and mend to allow my fly to swing down and across the current at the appropriate depth and speed
    3) Learn how to judge water conditions so that I can choose the correct line and leader combinations
    4) Carry a good assortment of flies that will allow me to fish on top or will achieve the proper depth quickly in a variety of water conditions
    5) Become a proficient caster so that I can minimize false casts and gain accuracy in my casts
    6) Keep a log of the run a fish so I know what worked and what didn't

    I could keep going, but my hands are getting tired. Obviously I'm being a bit sarcastic here, because each of those things (and so many more) contribute to being successful, but if you had to narrow the list down to one or two items what would you say are the most important things to keep in mind when flyfishing for steelhead?

    Thanks,
    Mike
     
  2. Matt Burke

    Matt Burke Active Member

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    If I may, to reduce false casting one should learn to Spey. With one cast you are back in the water, dangling that fly in front of them instead of 9 feet above the water. All in all, good rules to remember. I try to consistently cast at the same angle where the start of my drift should be and methodically taking X number of steps each cast, working my way though a run. If no hits, start back at the top with a different fly/ different depth or move on to another run. But then again, my worst day Steelheading of zero fish has lasted 17 months so who the hell am I? Just another fly guy having a good time on the water.


    Matt Burke
     
  3. Hal Eckert

    Hal Eckert Member

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    "Take nothing but pictures leave nothing but your tracks"

    Good point Matt on the spey. I single casted 22 years for steelhead now spey the last 2 years and it is way more efficient way to cover the water and get your fly deep, plus easier on your entire body once you learn the spey mechanics. I'm hooked as they say, no way will I use single handers now unless my speys break. Heck one did this September I had to use my single hander all day and what a chore and realization that was showing how much more efficient the spey way is. My arm ached for two days after this since I had not casted a single hander for almost two years.

    Now when I grab a rod its always with two hands so I guess I am fully converted.

    What do I do with my 12 single handed rods though ?

    :(

    BG
     
  4. Stephen Rice

    Stephen Rice Senior Member

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    I have the same tape. it's pretty good too. One important thing to note is that even Lani Waller has days when he doesn't catch fish. Although Lani is pretty detailed in his techniques it seems to me they are the same as another proficient steelheader.personaly I think the only way to become a proficient steelheader is to have your butt on the water... every day! and on a river you know every inch of. I have been steelheading for only a couple of years and Have not caught a winter steelie yet. I think the one important thing in the whole mix is "feel" while you can obviously tell when a summer steelie hits alot of the experts tell you that when you get a winter steelie on the line half the time you don't even know it. I think with this comes with experience... experience that no professional or the like can tell you how it feels. I think anyone that works at it can tell the right water to read and the right things to do when fishing for a winter steelhead it's just the hook up that seems to elude alot of people. I have no Idea what that may be either and I think the pro's can tell you but you must experience it for yourself.:smokin
     
  5. mcoomer

    mcoomer New Member

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    The real lesson that I've taken from some reading I've done and the videos, is to take your time. Take your time to read the water, decide how your going to fish a run, and then fish it correctly and methodically. It seems that steelhead fishing is the type of game that will reward the patient flyfisher and annoy those who rush in. I can't wait till I get the chance to do it on a regular basis.

    Mike
     
  6. pwoens

    pwoens Active Member

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    oh yeah..that sensory issue with winter medal heads...what an art!! Of course there all always suicide fish but for the most part its a subtle take. I personally can not think of words to describe this subtle take that I typically experience with winter runs...all I know is once you figure it out, the better the chances of regular fish in the winter.

    One word of advice is not to fish textbook all the time. I utilize a few techniques I have watched or learned but I also utilize a few that have been learned by doing not reading or watching, that are definately not textbook and seem to work as well if not better? :dunno Its an art!! A Passion for sure!!

    ~Patrick ><>
     
  7. Philster

    Philster Active Member

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    >The real lesson that I've taken from some reading I've
    >done and the videos, is to take your time. Take your
    >time to read the water, decide how your going to fish a
    >run, and then fish it correctly and methodically.>Mike

    Wow Mike, I wish that were true where I fish... If I take the extra time to squint when I fart, someone will low hole me, and someone else will low hole him while he pinches his ween to hold in the pee so he doesn't have to leave the water :eek

    In winter, fish a type six head and unweighted flies(for 8 or 9 weight, type 3 for 10/11), spot the honeyhole, fish the honeyhole, if there is still nobody breathing down your neck, proceed to the top of the run and fish down. If you're snaggin' bottom cast at a sharper angle downstream rather than switch heads if you can get away with it.

    Phil the "damn, when I worked in fly shops I usually managed to get wednesday and thursday off, but now that I'm a stay at home dad I only get saturday morning... sunday too if the in-laws visited recently" guy
     
  8. luv2fly2

    luv2fly2 Active Member

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    here on the east side i watch the dam counts every day. there is no sense fishing if there are no fish. the temperature is a big factor. if the temp is above 68 degrees i fish for bass or cut firewood. if the sun is in the fishes eyes it might keep them from moving to a fly. i like to have them facing away from the sun.
     
  9. alpinetrout

    alpinetrout Banned or Parked

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    "In winter, fish a type six head and unweighted flies(for 8 or 9 weight, type 3 for 10/11)"

    Just wondering why you suggest reducing the sink rate when fishing a 10/11 over an 8/9?
     
  10. Philster

    Philster Active Member

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    Well, simply because the bigger lines sink faster. Depending on the line an 11 weight tip can sink 30% faster or more than an 8 weight tip of similar length. The reason I mentioned type 3 and 6 is that is what comes with the Rio multi-tip lines, and those are probably the most popular out there. Obviously you can use type 4 or 5 or whatever you prefer. Just get to know how it behaves and adjust your downstream angles to water depth or speed.
     
  11. alpinetrout

    alpinetrout Banned or Parked

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    Have you tested the sink rates of different weights of the same factory sink rate? I'm not saying you're wrong, but I've always found the larger diameter of heavier lines offsets the density and results in very similar sink rates among different line weights. There's always some variation, but generally speaking a 4wt Type III sinks at about the same rate as a 12wt Type III.
     
  12. Philster

    Philster Active Member

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    >Have you tested the sink rates of different weights of
    >the same factory sink rate? I'm not saying you're
    >wrong, but I've always found the larger diameter of
    >heavier lines offsets the density and results in very
    >similar sink rates among different line weights.
    >There's always some variation, but generally speaking a
    >4wt Type III sinks at about the same rate as a 12wt
    >Type III.

    First of all, yes I have tested sink rates of lots of lines in salt water, and in swimming pools. That's why I don't use lead core... First of all, modern lines are different. Mic out the diference between the diameter of a rio tip in 8 and 11 wt. It's not much different. Secondly tension on the line matters alot to sinkrate. Also alot of folks mistakenly confuse sink rate with maximum achievable depth. But yes I have found the heavier lines, as long as we are talking a significant difference, like 8 to 11, to sink alot faster.

    Try this. find a rocky bottom run and cast a 4 wt type 6 15ft tip upstream at a 45 to 60 degree angle and throw a big upstream mend into the floating portion. Do the same with a 15 ft type 6 11 wt. Same unweighted fly. Make sure it's a cheap fly :rolleyes Repeat until you are satisfied with the results.
     
  13. alpinetrout

    alpinetrout Banned or Parked

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    Thanks for elaborating. If I were you, I'd be bitching up a storm to Rio.
     
  14. Philster

    Philster Active Member

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    >Thanks for elaborating. If I were you, I'd be
    >bitching up a storm to Rio.

    Why? You are correct in saying that all things being equal a thinner line will sink faster. But all things aren't equal if the thinner line weighs 4 grns per foot and the slightly thicker one weighs 10. Any flyline company can control the amount of tungsten, or whatever weighting agent they choose to put into whatever thickness line they want. The limiting issues are the line getting brittle if it is too saturated with tungsten, and enough thickness to allow decent handling. Ever notice if you so much as sneeze a 5 weight type 6 line will wrap around your rod tip a gajillion times but an eight weight won't. It's all about mass, density, pliability, and a lot of other scientific words I have no right to use. Gotta control those to keep it fishable! The fact that the 11wt is almost as thin as the 8 is great in my book.
     
  15. alpinetrout

    alpinetrout Banned or Parked

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    According to Rio's own specs, a Type III is supposed to sink at ~3.5ips, a Type VI at ~6.5ips, Hypersink at ~8.5ips, etc. If one line of Type III sinks slower than another Type III that's a few line sizes heavier, then it completely defeats the purpose of rating them by type. What good is a Type X designation if it doesn't correlate to anything?
     
  16. Philster

    Philster Active Member

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    You have to take everything with a grain of salt and keep perspective. 30 percent (the original ballpark claim) on a type 6 is an inch to 1 3/4 of a inch depending on the companies claim (and they are all overstated). We're arguing over a very small amount per second, but even a half inch advantage in a six foot run is significant. Test it for yourself if you are inclined. I have. I'm not claiming to have never been skunked or catching fish hand over hand. I'm saying I've personally watched 11 wt beat 8 wt to the bottom of the pool time after time.

    Let's say you a are fishing a run that is 4 to 6 feet deep and using a type 6. Cast, mend, make sure you ensure no tension on the line as it sinks and count to 12. Are you on the bottom? First off, the number of folks who can keep significant tension off the line for 12 seconds is pretty small. The number who even would bother to is smaller still. So what's going on underwater?

    First of all, sink rate numbers mean very little in the real world. Current, water temperature, Thermocline in lakes, tippet length and fly size and or weight all play a role in a line getting down. The way the sinktip lands on the water (straight or in a clump), as well as where the floating portion of the line is behind the tip matter.

    One thing most people don't think about is STAYING down once the line is down? Think for a moment about what might help keep a line down. Would mass (grains per foot)help? What about the ability to deliver a massive fly through the air? Would mass help?

    Yes we are in wonderous age where flyline companies can change the density without changing the weight of a sinktip from type to type. Being able to say "6 inches" instead of "3 to 5 inches depending on line weight" (typically 4wt to 10wt), is great, and it is around 6 inches, give or take. Well actually it's around 4 inches in reality, but hey who's counting:rolleyes Get the mask on, get in a body of water and check things out.

    This is fun. Maybe next time you can convince me that a couple thousandths of an inch matter in tippet selection;)
     
  17. BOBLAWLESS

    BOBLAWLESS New Member

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    I belong to the steelhead aren't hard to catch school; they are just hard to find. And you don't need a lot fish, just the one or two that would make your day. You do need a spot of KNOWN holding water, somewhere where you have seen fished taken from and you, yourself, have either had strikes or hooked fish. Go to these spots my friend, remember and map them and hope they don't change. Fish them carefully, but always remember that there is a fish in there and so work it over and over and then go on to the next.
    Bob, the When I have fished all of the water out of a hole, I move on to the next.;)
     
  18. inland

    inland Active Member

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    "I belong to the steelhead aren't hard to catch school; they are just hard to find."

    Amen Mr. Lawless!!! That is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but.

    William
     
  19. Philster

    Philster Active Member

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    Hey Bob, I'm down with you. My initial post that digressed into a discussion of sink rates was essentially "fish a type six head and unweighted flies(for 8 or 9 weight, type 3 for 10/11), spot the honeyhole, fish the honeyhole"

    Simple indeed. Just add confidence:+
     
  20. Jim Riggins

    Jim Riggins Member

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    Lani Waller

    You know I have spoke to Lani several times, even though he is about to retire I'm sure if you called him he would graciously help you out. He has forgotten more aboout steelhead fishing than you and I will probably ever learn, plus it is awesome to talk to a living legend like Lani. It has been my experience that he will talk about just being apart of the environ and enjoying it and taking it all in that the actual catch, call him he's very easy to talk to. JIm
     

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