So how do you get down in winter?

Discussion in 'Spey Clave' started by James Waggoner, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. I agree that's wading too deep in most conditions, but for the sake of the illustration, your waist deep because that's how deep the run is... it's right off the bank with trees to your back. So how do you controll the line correctly so it doesn't rise, short of feeding it line during the swing?
    "Why does everyone think the line rises during the swing?" The problem is most fisherman don't think or know the lines rising, and proceed through a run believing they have really covered a particutlar run but in fact have only really scratched the top water.

    In all sincerity please tell, I know I have lots to learn...So how do you do it? I'd like to learn to loose my dependency on sink tips in winter.

  2. If I were Wadin' Boot I might be able to write up how I think it works. As you know each piece of water is different and no run remains the same down its entire length as such each cast will and must be handled seperately. Not being a capable word smith like the Boot I can only offer to go fishing someday, look at each other's methods and learn from each other. Also I don't think you are going to get rid of your sink tips.
  3. Thanks Kerry, I agree every piece of waters different and rarely do we ever fish a piece of it with only one current flow. Realisticaly the flows most of us fish are heaviest and deepest away from us and shallow and slow as they near us, knowing that, the factors are a matter of I adjust for the heaviest part and get hung up when it gets too shallow or plan for the shallow slow hang down and mend like a mad man and feed line to cover the deep part, I always try to opt for the middle, mend to get some added depth and then speed the fly up by leading it to avoid the hang up on the hang down.

    Would love to fish and learn with you sometime,

  4. With every steelheader I fish with, my theory seems shifts a little on what tip setup, where the cast is placed, to walk with the cast or after my thoughts have changed over the years. Lately I am trying to fish tips that allow me to fish my flies all the way to a full hang down, and most of the heavy tips that I have been using aren't allowing me to fish all the way until things are straight down. So I guess I have been fishing shallower, lighter, and slower, and the results have been eye opening. Obviously this won't work in all situations, but opening my eyes to new types of steelhead water has been cool and fun.

    Ask me about 'how I get down in winter' two weeks from now, and my story may be different.
  5. I get down off of a duck or the Old Lady.. And I nymph in the winter time. With tiny flies,a bobber and a "BB" shot for weight.

    And to top it all off I DON"T fish for STEELHEAD. They are a waste of time. Just Browns and RB's. Where I fish they are RB's not Steelhead.
  6. If you're fishing 12'-16' feet of T-17 and only occasionally ticking bottom, you may want to spend some time working on controlling that rig rather than adding more mass. In general I fish standard Rio tips (150gr), and unless I'm fishing something specialized, I don't really feel the need for more than my type 6 tip.
  7. So please tell, aside from getting the tip staight and headed down stream whats the secret?
  8. Try different casting angles and try to make it so there is no "tension" on the line as it's getting ready to get swung. Play with different rod angles hold it up or down, off to the side. Watch closely where the line enters the water and compare how those parts of the line are moving in relation to the belly (is it being dragged by the belly for instance).That just flat out takes time on the water and watching both how the line behaves during the swing "setup" and as tension is being applied. Also, don't be afraid to experiment with different kinds of mends. Some water requires upstream mends, others downstream, while some don't require any. Also most folks that fish that I see often fish water that is too fast. The walking speed water you are looking for is where the *fish* are, not where you want to cast to or where you are standing. More often than not (and I'm just as guilty), folks cast too far into the current and end up with their flies not swinging effectively in the water that holds fish. But note, that does NOT mean you don't need to be able to cast long distances. Lots of runs will have dead water separating you from the fish which requires you to cast far, then make downstream mends to avoid having the fly get pulled....
  9. James W.,

    How I get down in the winter is changing a bit from when I began and SA Hi-D was the fastest sinking commercial fly line available. Then I tried shooting heads with 12 - 14' of lead core in them, a la Glasso style. Then SA High Speed Hi-D came out in 1977, and we thought we'd discovered the bee's knees of sinking fly lines. SA HS Hi-D is about a type 3 in current fly line nomenclature. Throughout all that, I almost never used a weighted fly. And I hung up and lost scads of flies using that gear. I believe the term is called watermanship.

    This is to preface saying that I've never used T-14 or even seen T-17. I cannot fathom it being practical. I have a couple 15' T-8 tips I made a couple years ago and find that they keep me wrapped about the stones far too often. I'm finding that a type 3 and type 6 15' tip get most of my winter steelheading work done. I don't know how you can get a complete drift with the tips and weighted flies you describe using. I like to use the fastest sinking line that allows me to fish all the way to the hang down without hanging up. For me, that's a 15' type 3 or 6 tip in most steelhead holding water.

    Some of the above posts describe what I think are key to watermanship: angle of cast, distance, upon what water you cast, mending, and line management. If steelhead fishing were a weight-lifting and throwing contest, I'd probably fish for something else. My impression is that you're making too much work of the "gentle art." My recommendation for steepening your watermanship curve is to fish a floating line and a sparsely dressed fly with one or two coneheads at the end of a 10 or 12' leader. Your learning objective will be to hang up in prime steelhead holding water. I think you'll quickly learn that you don't need a half pound of lead or tungsten to put a fly in the winter steelhead zone.

    Good luck.

  10. Actually I typically use 8' of t-14 all winter, and rarely ever use anything heavier, but the question was prompted because I wanted to hear what others do...the 12-16' of t-17 I mentioned was for a particular run that I love to fish, and when it's high and really pushing it still produces some nice steelhead. I'm totally on board with the whole mending thing and I understand the principles and techniques well, I guess someone just needs to tell me...."FIND SOME SLOWER WATER YOU IDIOT!" The fact is the run I love so much is very popular and unless the river is near blow out I rarely get it to myself, so I like to hit it high and I'd have to say those are usually my better days on this run. Typically I use 8' of t-14 and just fish the edges but lately I've been thinking I'd try casting the addintional 40' to the current seam and swinging it into the edges where I typically find fish...I guess I'm just getting greedy and should just stick to the water I know I can effectively fish.

    By the way I don't recommend anyone use more sink tip then they can effectively mend and have always been an advocate of less is more, besides a belly in your sink tip is exactly what you don't want!

    Thanks guys, please keep the comments coming, I really appreciate all the insight and I'm sure others do too,

  11. Nail on the head,,,good to see some old school tactics come out,,,remember the single hand days of sink tipping, tension or lack there of was and still is everything:)
    It does not allways take heavy and more often then not drifting the swing is key,,,tapp some bottom to get a little head!!!!
  12. I fish type 3 and 6 tips as well. I rarely wade over mid calf anymore.

    Often I think I should high grade holding water more. I am sure that I still fish water that is a bit too quick.

    Go Red Sox,
  13. when you go out next time, try your usual swing then cast again, feeding a rods length of line and then repeat with 2 rod lengths of line fed into the cast. ???huh?? ...... if your are under tension, you have either stopped the progress of depth or you are on the rise. i find if your using more then 180 gr. tips you cant fish the inside bank, most likely hang-up city. Justin Crump struck a chord in stating the fact you miss alot of water... i only use airflo 200 custom cut tips, they sink faster then t14 and are pe looped, cake.......
  14. One of the most effective ways I have found to make sure I'm getting a good slow swing is to avoid trying to cast over to the other side of the river. If you're set up in a river right position, for example, and you have a nice slow seam with slow water on the inside and fast water on the outside, you don't really want to get your whole belly and sink tip out into the fast water. This will just make it so you have to cast way upstream and let the whole thing sink for a couple seconds, and then when it comes under tension the whole thing is ripping along which makes it hard to get a good slow swing.

    I usually just cast enough into the fast water to get the sinktip and belly all straightened out, then focus on keeping tension off the line so your fly can swim. Don't worry so much about where the fly is in the water column, just concentrate on slowing that swing down. This will often mean you'll need to manipulate the tension on the line by holding it back, or pulling it forward a little. Spey rods are great for this because you can create the "anchor" of the swing (off the tip of the rod) through a much larger area. Concentrate on what your fly is doing, and try to visualize that nice slow swim across the current. The longer you can hold it in a piece of holding water, the better you'll do.

    Hope this makes sense. I need more coffee. :)
  15. Makes perfect since, and that is pretty much exactly what I do, right down to visualiizing my fly...I was just hoping I could get some info to help me get my fly to do something extraordinary, which by now I understand is an impossibility. My problem is what your all saying I just want to get into that heavy water and down and it's not gonna work. I do know how to read water and mend, I was just hoping someone could open my eyes to a new way to do the impossible...swinging in pretty deep and fast currents. I'm not sure if any of you have ever found this to be true but some of the largest steelhead I've caught were in really heavy water, and the way I used to fish a heavy deep run was to get above the heavy water and just feed line into it, let it come tight and hold it into the current letting it come tight and slowly swinging it out and every once and awhile I got rewarded...Perhaps maybe thats the answer for that particular run dynamic, again I was just hoping to see if there was a way to systematically step and cast and swing this type of water. In the past month of adding FEET of t-14 and 17 I did learn something...I found out I CAN CAST 16' of t-17 with a 480grn head, something would have said a week ago was probably impossible. And yes, I'm a recent victem of that research article posted on the Polyleader thread...I just thought they were on to something.

    Thanks guys, for all the input I'll get back to shorter lighter lengths and watermanship.

  16. Well, you could always start messing around with a shooting head type setup. How about 40 feet or so of T-14 attached to a mono running line? Chuck and duck baby!
  17. I don't know how deep or heavy the water is your lusting but you can do some impressive stuff with a full sink head. Hydraulics lessen with depth, that floating head is killing your intent. Guideline S 2/3 digs hard. S3/4 are pretty radical. Known for STRONG turnover. Real eye opener to see these cast side by side with a skagit & tips.
  18. Get down, get down, get down. That's all you hear now days. Gotta be ticking the rocks. Put it right in their face. Like no one ever caught winter fish on the fly before T-14, or nymphing was invented? It's interesting to hear someone telling of the days when Hi-Speed Hi-D was the latest, greatest thing. I'm gonna have to go back a find that post again.
  19. 5 feet of 30 lb mono or wire between the tip and your line.

    Go Sox,
  20. Bconrad,

    That shooting head thing is something I may have to try again with a spey rod.That's what I grew up doing with a single hander.A 30ft Hi D head with amnesia running line. It made you think about where you threw it because once it hit there wasn't a whole lot of mending to be done. Probably not much more than a type 3, but without the floating fly line to impede its sink rate it GOT DOWN just fine. That thin diameter running line just slices through the water and gives almost no resistance. Huck that puppy upstream a bit and,let it swing down in front of you,maybe a slight pull back mend to straighten it out and let her go. I caught a bazillion fish on the that set up. Crude but effective when you figure out how to fish it. Really a lot like fishing a lure, which is kind of what these shorter and shorter skagit lines are trying to do essentially.

    Pretty soon we will be back to fishing 15-30ft heads with mono backing again, full circle baby.


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