Skating Indicators For Steelhead

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by David Dalan, Jan 16, 2014.


A Steelhead has tried to eat my Strike Indicator before

  1. Yes

    31 vote(s)
  2. No

    11 vote(s)
  1. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

    Kind of blurry, but the teeth marks are still visible on my skating fly.

    2014-01-24 21.12.14-1.jpg
    Irafly likes this.
  2. Olive bugger

    Olive bugger Active Member

    Maybe it is time to change to a floating dry fly.

    Doubt that a #20 BWO would be a good choice though.

    Just a rambling thought.
  3. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

    I'm working on it. I have some ideas. :D

    I firmly believe there are some fundamental problems with the basic design of most skating flies, especially the older patterns. I have my own (amateur) thoughts and I have been watching a lot of video of anadromous fish eating, or trying to eat, surface flies. And, since I love tying flies, I'm trying to fix the flaws I see. I've seen some patterns that are close to solving what I think the problem is...but I think I can do better. Maybe.

    Oddly enough I think any skater would have worked in this case, as it seems pretty clear the fish tried to murder it.

    Back to the secret lab!
  4. tkww

    tkww Member

    I've had it happen, and always in the middle of winter, never in warmer temps. What's up with that? But I've also always caught a (that?) fish within a cast or two on the flies. I've been fortunate so far in that I've never set the hook (and in theory spooked) the fish when it did take the indicator down.

    I was looking forward trying to skate/drift one up in a hole where it happened, but I didn't get a chance that season and by the next year the hole changed and didn't seem to hold any fish anymore.
  5. Olive bugger

    Olive bugger Active Member

    Just to share a bit of first hand information. Time was late spring or early summer. I do not recall. A bright warm saturday morning and I had ventured to my favorite fishing hole in a local river.

    Using a 5 wt rod and a floating line, I had taken and released several
    smallish fish. All were taken on dry flies and IIRC, were all bows.
    Time rolls on and it was time to head home to do some chores.
    I was still gainfully employed at the time and Saturdays were busy at home. With two growing daighters and an ambitious wife, what else.

    As I walked across the gravel bar, there was a low spot that the river flowed into and sticking out of the water about a foot was a stump of a tree root or limb. Reluctuant to leave, I decided to make one more cast. But, and there is always that ugly but, somehow I had broken off the fly at the end of my leader. Maybe the fish gods took it, I don't know. Anyway, I opened my fly box and there was the biggest, ugly PINK MARABOU fly I had tied a few days before. Why, I do not not know, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

    So, I tied it on my six X tippet, it was a rather large fly, perhaps a #8 or #6. I was more interested in how the fly would float and look than the turnover of such a small tippet. Since this was a back water pool, there was a very slow current moving toward the tree branch. Just as I was about to retrieve the fly, WHAM! The strike was vicious enough for me to feel it in my shoulder. I never did see the fish, but I am convinced to this day that it was a steelhead lying in wait under the tree.

    The reason for this long and dull narative is that the fly was floating, the fly was highly visible and that steelhead like trees in the water.

    While I subsbcribe to the theory that steelhead are most likely lying in wait at the bottom of the run, and a weighted fly on a sink tip or full sinking line is usually the ticket, sometimes a change of pace and a skated fly will punch the fish's ticket. FWIW
    Irafly and David Dalan like this.
  6. papafsh

    papafsh Piscatorial predilection

    Had it happen once on the Sky, I was doing the nymph/indicator drill with a pink colored indicator, when a fish came up after it. I reeled in and searching my fly boxes found a pink wog ,that I had tied up for an Alaska trip. I put that on and cast to the same spot and caught a nice steelhead!
    Kinda' made me consider putting a hook on all my indicators (bobbers) though I never actually did.

  7. Irafly

    Irafly Active Member

    When fishing in the Fall it used to happen all the time when I used round corky style orange indicators. It happened so much in fact that a buddy of mine and I decided to develop an indicator fly pattern. My attempt with closed cell foam never really panned out, but my friend managed to work a corky onto a hook effectively and then he used a plastic bead that he melted at an angle onto the top of the same hook. He ran the tippet through the bead and pinned the line where he wanted it with a toothpick. This allowed him to adjust his depth for the nymphs he was running below. The system worked great, now we just needed a take. At one point I worked my way up onto a bridge where I could spot fish for my friend. I talked him to position and on the first or second cast I watched a steelhead come up and take his dead drifted indicator. That was just flat out awesome! He hooked the fish and landed it.

    After that season I switched to a tear drop style two tone indicator and the steelhead have left it completely alone.
    Olive bugger likes this.
  8. Olive bugger

    Olive bugger Active Member

    Perhaps they take the round ones for eggs on steroids.
    Fish are opportunist and a big meal is always better than a skinny meal to them.
  9. PT

    PT Physhicist