Anyone else moving away from the skagit system this winter?

Discussion in 'Spey Clave' started by James Waggoner, Oct 22, 2010.

  1. flybill Purveyor of fine hackle, wine & cigars!

    Can't say that I've intentionally moved away from Skagit lines, but I definitely don't enjoy casting them as much as I used too. Got a 480 Compact Skagit for my Beulah 12'7" and it rocks, but I really, really love my Guideline PowerTaper for it! Want to get an intermediate DDC line setup for it this winter.

    My other main rod and line combo, with be my CND 14'3" Solstice with a CND 7/8 GPS! It casts tips nice enough, at least the type 3 and 6 that I usually use, when you shorten up the amount of line you have out. One other plus, for winter fishing, is that since you have more line out to cast, you don't spend as much time stripping line in or getting your hands wet.. good in other places where stripping takes place, but not on a cold winter morning on a local "S" river!
  2. inland Active Member

    Posts: 600
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    James W,

    Until you see somebody (maybe you have?) that is really good with the method I have a hard time understanding how you can form any legitimate opinion of what it is/isn't can/can't do. I have fished enough with a true expert (and fished enough on my own) of the method and I can assure you it works in water up to 6' deep. Colored water. Cold water. Much faster water than you think. Done properly your fly is doing exactly what you think it is. This has been confirmed by visual observation from high banks under clear water conditions.

    I am not saying this method will outfish the modern skagit set up with bicycle chain tips. Nor a DDC. Nor full sinking spey lines. It won't. You have to edit the water and hope the fish are within your smaller slice of pie of water coverage. What I will say is nearly every place I fish on the rivers like the Skagit and Sauk with tips I will fish with the dryline. Confidently. But I do know my odds are lower with the dryline most days. But not every day....

    It isn't about catching fish for me. It is about how gratifying it is to catch the fish. Putting a wild winter steelhead to the beach on the dryline (with the deep wet fly swing) is the most gratifying for me in steelhead flyfishing.

    I will say the best conditions are high and colored. You want actively moving fish as close to the banks as possible. Low cold and clear will often find the fish out of range. Speaking in generalities as there are times and places throughout the various temps/turbidity/flow where the dryline will exceed or be extremely futile.

    Full sinkers single spey just fine. Brass tubes and 7" dee monkeys are simple to launch on a DDC with a single. It is all in the lift.

    William
  3. James Waggoner Active Member

    Posts: 776
    wa
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    William, I agree with most your post, I guess I'm happier with a larger piece of the pie...and yes high and colored is probably my favorite type of water, a situation I would never think to use a full floater and long mono leader. Like you said I've got lots to learn.

    James.
  4. Sean Beauchamp Hot and Heavy at yer 6

    Posts: 2,146
    Shoreline, WA, U.S.
    Ratings: +518 / 1
    i was upfront in the blue raft
  5. TomB Active Member

    Posts: 1,620
    seattle,wa
    Ratings: +58 / 0
    gotcha...thanks for going around me and leaving me that tailout....ended up not being able to fish it very well unfortunately....the water was up from when i did well there before. hope you guys had a good rest of your day. fishing seemed a bit slow for me probably due to the downward trend in watertemps that started the thursday before. did get one fish to eat a green butt skunk though.
  6. doublespey Steelhead-a-holic

    Posts: 600
    Bothell, WA
    Ratings: +23 / 0
    I love these posts - gets us all thinking a bit more outside the box.

    I know a guy who was waking floating flies for Dollys chasing smolt on a major "S" river in December. High water with fish close to the bank. Oops . . . had a Steelhead take the waker and haul a$$ before coming off.

    I've also caught quite a few winter fish in very cold water on intermediate and floating tips. They're in the softest flows very near shore if not disturbed - don't need to get down very far for your fly to be in the zone.

    You can fish what you want and still catch fish if, as William said, you edit your water and fish where your system is effective.

    And he may very well be able to fish the 6' deep heavier flows with his system. I don't dislike casting the Skagit enough to move away from it for these conditions, but that doesn't mean that other non-Skagit methods are a waste of time.

    There were lots of winter fish caught before Skagit lines came along. The Skagit's claim to fame wasn't how deep they would fish, it was more their ability to cast a waterlogged rat better than a longer belly line. Not saying you can't cast the rat with an XLT, just that it takes a superior caster to do so. For me, I like to fish the big 'truders and string leeches in winter. The Skagit setup I use accomplishes it better than any other system I've tried.

    Just my .02 - YMMV,

    Brian
  7. fisshman26 Member

    Posts: 360
    Trail, B.C., Canada.
    Ratings: +18 / 0
    I wish everyone would fish a skagit system..........year round!:thumb:
  8. golfman65 Guest

    Posts: 0
    Ratings: +5 / 0
    Did all that as well....I go back and forth between tubes etc....and like I've said, I enjoyed the line for the fall and early winter...fished it through the spring even...
    Some guys will tell you that it isn't about the fish but the experience of being out...yeah, I used to say that too..but NOTHING moves me like that hard tug and run of a steelhead....You can say..."Well at least I'm catching fish, (Bulls) and that makes the day better...True...as did I...but after much awhile as the winter/spring got colder and the fish were down...I got tired of trying to make that line do more then it was designed....begrudgingly went back to my skagits and started throwing heavy tips and big flies again...

    Funny started to happen...I started to get the steelhead fever again...I forgot how much fun it was to pimp out a cast 100+ with heavy tips and flies to a far seam with relative ease...Just started to have fun with it all again..

    I read how the skagit was designed for this but I think what is overlooked is that the skagit can not be beat by any other line out there that I know of for in close and pocket water fishing...high water or seams up against a bank...wading a tree lined shore or a deadfall where your casting is limited and there is no comparison IMHO...

    I love fishing all the lines, I enjoy the longer mid bellied ones...I don't really care for 70' or more as I don't like having to work that hard on a pivot or turn etc. all day..but even that may change...spring, summer and fall fishing when the weather co-operates and your not bundled up is one thing...winter is another...

    Just saying..
  9. doublespey Steelhead-a-holic

    Posts: 600
    Bothell, WA
    Ratings: +23 / 0
    Yeah Bruce - I used to say that about the LB's come early Feb.

    Unfortunately, too many white elephants in the soft water revealed that idea's fatal flaw. ;)

    Cheers,

    Brian
  10. fisshman26 Member

    Posts: 360
    Trail, B.C., Canada.
    Ratings: +18 / 0
    Brian one only needs to adjust their casting angle as you well know and have the patience to let it swim all the way in.
    Did you get over to the Clearwater/snake this year?
  11. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,606
    Your City ,State
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    I misunderstood the opening question. I thought the OP was going to ask where we will fish for winter steelhead since the Skagit is likely to close as soon as the hatchery run peters out. But moving away from my Skagit line? No. I am a reluctant Skagit enthusiast. Besides, I bought several short belly lines to practice with and learn to Spey cast with something other than my double taper and original home made Skagit head. But so much about the advantages of Spey casting is bullshit. While it offers some efficiencies over my former single hand rod casting and fishing, it's main advantage is the ease and effectiveness of fishing high bank and obstacle laden water. The longer the Spey line, the longer the D loop. The longer the D loop, the further I must stand from the bank or obstacles. Some very good water is challenging to fish even with the Skagit head. I may investigate the shorter compact Skagit, but there must be some limit where it is no longer fly casting. The only fish I caught this weekend wouldn't have happened without a 70' cast with rip rap and high brush at my back.

    Sg
  12. speyday Rod tubes in the overhead compartment

    Posts: 140
    Plainfield, IL
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Scandinavian style spey casting with a single spey type of cast allows you to fish only inches into the water with forest right behind you. The D loop is tiny, and very little of it actually goes behind you. For a clip, check out www.henrik-mortensen.com/?q=node/90 The bankside bushes are practically touching his shoulders. Dont let what you see in this teaser clip fool you..... He pays tribute to and overviews the regular spey casts, but quickly points out the advantages of scandi casting....look at the casts made at 0:25-29.......also, respectfully.....You may need to become a better caster and angler. I don't mean to be insulting; this is a constant learning and evolutionary process thats just plain fun. By the way, longer casts do NOT require bigger D loops. More powerful D loops will take out more line in another way. You see, The distance you can cast increases when you hold the shooting line portion in your hands and laying at yourj feet in the watercurrent. If you try and make a bigger D loop, you will not have the end of the skagit head hanging right under the rod tip; and this will drastically and surely destroy even a normal distanced cast. You must have the end of the head hanging below your rod or within a foot or so.

    Good fishing!
  13. Brady Burmeister Active Member

    Posts: 583
    OH
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    He didn't say longer casts need bigger D loops, he said longer lines (bellies) need bigger D loops.
  14. shotgunner Anywhere ~ Anytime

    Posts: 491
    45th Parallel NW Michigan
    Ratings: +23 / 1
    For anyone with a bit of interest for the DDC Intermediate heads they are, or at least can be, a very tiny transition from skagits. All casts will work fine, no need to learn new tecnique unless you want to. With a 'Cut to fit' belly your in control of how many grains your comfortable casting and fits your rod best for the job. One cut shortish has a shorter over all head than many Skagits when including tip length. 9/10 - 10/11 - 11/12 heads have plenty to all kinds of mass and turnover capacity to spare when substituting realistic lengths [10' and up] T-14 in place of optional tips.

    The line class numbers can cause questions.. when cutting to fit you basically consider 2 different head lengths. When cutting for a full length head the assigned line class number is generally the way to go. BUT when cutting for a short head you need to go up one line class size, then cut back down to desired weight.

    New for this season are 'Sink 2' [S/2] bellys for a bit more sink than the standard S/1.

    You can finally buy just the Bellies at 65.00 ~ Weight match factory tips already in your possession or lengths of your favorite T stuff.

    I feel the slowed swing is a considerable advantage. It doesn't take a new or fancy cast to deliver it, with the line cut to your weight preference and favored cast/s it will duplicate same presentation.

    At one time Mr. Meiser and Steve Godshall planned to offer intermediate Skagit heads, unsure what ever happend with that?

    This post is not meant as a comparison / promotion. I'm big on everyone making individual best functioning choices rather than some big ego asserting 'MY WAY IS BEST.. PERIOD' I've had a few people quiz me about these heads so guessing there are more out there wondering. Hopefully it may have answered a couple questions.
  15. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,606
    Your City ,State
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    Shotgunner,

    How does using a different head "slow" the swing? I don't find that the type of line I'm using determines the speed of my swing. The way I fish my line, whichever kind it is, controls the speed of my swing. I'm assuming that the principles and laws of geometry are the same in the midwest as on the west coast, but I don't get around much. I'm certainly not saying that Skagit is best or that there is only one way or one good way. However a lot of years and experimenting went into the development of Skagit style lines, and they are well suited to the type of fishing we face during the winter season. I'm open to, but haven't seen a reason yet to try a different line for winter steelhead fishing.

    Sg
  16. Brady Burmeister Active Member

    Posts: 583
    OH
    Ratings: +161 / 0
    sinking/intermediate heads/bellies are generally thinner than floating heads, making them "cut" more and not "pushed" as much, as well as not being affected by surface current and wind.
  17. shotgunner Anywhere ~ Anytime

    Posts: 491
    45th Parallel NW Michigan
    Ratings: +23 / 1
    Brady nailed majority.

    I can mend a Skagit fair on a short to medium shot but it's difficulty increases with distance. With these intermediates I tend to get whatever, if any, aerial mend possible, then if needed one good flip of the run line [sometimes also an intermediate] and possibly tail of the head before it's sunk. At that point it's on auto pilot and fishes through. Stripping in against current tension raises the head where you can lift into next cast easily, or worse case, one roll up onto the surface then go.

    Our water/s are pretty littered with surface conflicts. It seems simpler [for me] if I can drop my swing in below the faster surface current and seam confliction/s that strive to pull your head into pretzel shapes.

    Maybe a bit off topic, but I'd love to hear members thoughts on mending / manipulating Skagit heads?
  18. Brady Burmeister Active Member

    Posts: 583
    OH
    Ratings: +161 / 0
    I've been using tapered running lines. SGS mendmaster, cortland tapered, SA dragon tail. You lose some shooting distance but it definitely aids your ability to mend.
  19. golfman65 Guest

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    what shotgunner didn't mention ( or I didn't see it) salmo is the intermediate head actually goes just sub surface...it's about (my estimation) 20% slower through the swing then a floating line...it is noticeable and will keep your fly in the zone longer without the added mend...being subsurface also allows the fly to not be effected as much by surface chop...

    OK, again been there and done that..the intermediate heads and now sinking ones are very interesting..and IMHO an excellent choice in clear water with smaller flies...

    What intrigued me more is a line I heard they were coming out with or have this last year, which is a barely subsurface line for DRY FLY fishing, skating of bugs....That line could be wicked good IMHO for said application or grease lining....Never heard if it did come out yet or not though..
  20. James Waggoner Active Member

    Posts: 776
    wa
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    The new line I want to try this winter is the triple density compensated lines. I've got one ordered so I'll report my findings after some field testing and line stretching.

    James.