Steelhead line schemes?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Steelieblue, Dec 3, 2002.

  1. Steelieblue New Member

    Posts: 86
    Issaquah, WA.
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    Hey!

    I was reading about fly lines on the link on this site regarding different setups for steelhead lines. I am not familiar with the evolution of such setups or the impetus for them. Is it mainly to avoid exhaustion? How do these systems work. I have heard such things as shooting head systems but really don't understand them. Any help on how to rig them would be greatly appreciated. I know there a lot of experts prowling so thanks for your help in advance.

    Good luck on the water

    Josh
  2. KerryS Ignored Member

    Posts: 6,705
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
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    Some steelheaders make their own lines because the factory built lines do not work well for winter steelheading where heavy sink tips and long casts are the norm. Over time, certain combinations have been found to work well with most rods. However, the true line builder will keep adjusting his lines until he has achieved the optimum line for his particular rod.

    I am currently working on a line for a Lochmor Z 15'4" 10/11 spey rod. I will start with a belly section of 14 weight DT 35' long. This will be attached to .032 running line. I will be using 15' 166 grain sink tips with this setup. What will happen here is the belly section will probably be to long and I will begin to trim it until I reach the length that works best for this rod.

    Here is a link explaining the technique to building custom lines.

    http://speypages.com/custom_lines.htm
  3. Rob Blomquist Formerly Tight Loops

    Posts: 1,343
    Mountlake Terrace, WA, USA.
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    I'm not quite sure what you are looking for in an answer.

    For winter steelheading, lines like a SA, Cortland or Airflo 13' Type 4 sink tip, don't get deep enough in rivers like the Sky. It takes something like a 20-30 foot sink tip to hit the bottom with a fly.

    So some of us move to using integrated shooting heads, where a shooting head is bonded to a running line, and others of us use 26-40' shooting heads with a sepearate running line.

    The integrated shooting head costs about what a regular line does, and the seperate heads cost about $30 a piece with the running line being $20 or so.

    One running line can support an infinate variety of shooting heads for several line sizes or water conditions. So those of us that are willing to learn to cast a shooting head will gain diversity and a pretty good money savings over an integrated head. The integrated head is easier to cast, so many prefer them.

    After one builds a shooting head setup, things get a little weird, and then one trys all sorts of things as the shooting head. First its an old double taper line, the some LC-13, then some lead core trolling line, then maybe small pieces of titanum cable stolen from secret Air Force Bases.

    It can backlash however, and it can get ugly. Some Shooting Head afficinados have been found mumbling to themselves "why can't I get this to shoot farther?" And they are found with wet spaghetti as the shooting line. The only recovery for these guys is to take them out on a trout stream in the summer and let them use a 3 or 4 weight rod with only a floating line, 12 foot 6x leader, and dry flies. It works, sometimes, but they never get back to the old days. All they can do is toss dry flies for trout, the glory days of winter steelheading are gone.

    Rob :COOK
    ---------
    Genetic pollution damages wild
    stocks, bonk those Hatchery Zombies!
  4. o mykiss Active Member

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    I have heard that one approach on a shooting head set up is to attach a floating belly to the running line, put a loop on the terminal end of the belly, and then use interchangeable sink tips to match the line to the condition. Tight Loops, is this the type of system you're talking about? Or do you fish with full sink lines as the head, i.e., where the fly line attached to the running line is a full sink and there is no floating section? If you fish a sinktip version that incorporates a floater section, how do you figure out how much of the floater to use?
  5. sinktip Guest

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    Tightloops,

    Curious as to what type water you are fishing on the Sky if you are needing to go to "20-30 fot sinktips to hit the bottom". I'm guessing you are fishing the deep rip-wrap slots like above Cougar Flats or the North side downriver from IRS. There is no doubt that in low and clear conditions, like we have now, these areas hold fish. For the majority of winter fishing though, I would think 20-30' tips would be way too much for the bulk of the fly water on the Sky.

    For normal flows, up to around 3,600 cfs, I find that a 15' Rio or Airflo Type VI is all I need when coupled with a 4'- 5' leader and either a size 2 or 1/0 hook or a 1 1/2" aluminum tube fly. For some slots, I will switch to a 12' section of 550 DWE if I need a little more depth. At higher flows and if I am floating, I will usually string two rods: one with a 15' type III for fishing the soft water (especially if there is reduced visability) and one with a 16' section of 550 DWE.

    I should note that I am fishing 15' speys so I have the ability of a large back mend to help get the fly to the rocks. I will also vary my angle of cast up to 90 degrees to match the depth and use the step down after cast method to gain a second or two extra sink before tension. In my pre-long rod days though, I still would never fish anything heavier than a Teeny 300 cut back to 17'.

    Since I rarely fish those deep deep slots, I am curious how they produce for you. Glad to see someone plying they with a fly. I just always left that water to the gear guys.

    sinktip
  6. SeaClarki New Member

    Posts: 45
    Seattle, Wa.
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    kerry, where are you finding 14 weight DT lines? I am having trouble finding DT lines heavier than 9 weight from the major line manufatures.
  7. Philster New Member

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    There is an old saying that goes "you can choose your gear to match the water, or choose your water to match your gear" What they left out of that saying is "and you can alter your techinque to make whatever you have work reasonably well almost anywhere". I agree, with you sinktip about not needing more than 15 feet of tip, of varying densities, for steelheading under ALMOST any condition for the way I fish. Lots of folks just cast quartering downstream, and for them, 15 feet or leadcore may never be enough. Fishing far off or close in, upstream casting vs. straight across vs. downstream... Personal technique, many times born out of the frustration at having the wrong gear, is something really experienced folks sometimes leave out of the discussion when talking gear. I feel that the best fishers I've met have one thing in common. They started out as kids , with inadequate gear (rocks for sinkers, too small or too large hooks, etc.), and had to find ways to make things work. Once you get that mindset it stays with you...
  8. KerryS Ignored Member

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    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
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    Cortland used to make them. Now, I think you can only get 12 wt. from Cortland. I had some from a few years ago and I am about to go on a search for more.
  9. Philster New Member

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    If you want to save yourself some money, time and effort, you might try just getting a cortland Saltwater Big Game line, and cutting off the light tip. You'll have a 35 foot head, a very nice running line(fatter than windcutter, you can mend decent lengths of it) , and the only loop or splice will be where you attach your sinktips.

    The "fly shoppe" in Oregon used to market them as Launcher Lines. They stopped when all the ready made interchangeable tip lines flooded the market.
  10. Rob Blomquist Formerly Tight Loops

    Posts: 1,343
    Mountlake Terrace, WA, USA.
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    Well, guys, I don't know what you fish so that you can get away with 15' sinktips. I really like to fish the Sky in the winter, its not too far from my house, its not too crowded to find a quiet hole to fish, and there are a good number of steelies, and its not illegal to fish for bulls.

    I do fish with both a Airflow Multi tip with its Type 6 tip, or a SA Sinktip with its Type 4, and a spool with running line on it, along with Cortland Type 3 and 4 shooting heads. And in another pocket is a 5' Airflo Poly Leader, Extra Fast Sinking. And the fly box has everything from light wire Alec Jackson spey hooks, to Tiemco 7999, and Mustads with 10 wraps of .035 lead wire.

    I choose my method of attack for every spot I fish. If the Cracker Bar isn't loaded, its the shooting head with a Type 4 sink tip. If I am fishing the High Bridge hole, it's the same. If I am out at Buck Island, its the shooting head again and either the 3 or the 4 depending on weather.

    If I start to get wrapped on boulders at some nameless location, I will switch to the 15' sink tip, and if I don't get snagged enough on the drift, I want to try to get my fly deeper. On smaller rivers like the Pilchuck or the Upper Stilly, the shooting heads stay in the car. I just still can't imagine having another year like last year, where I was out every weekend, and didn't even get a bump, and then I head that I need to fish deeper.

    Now, don't take my word as gospel, as I have not hooked a steelie in the winter yet, and my summer numbers are low enough to be laughed at.

    I have just been told that the 2 biggest problems most fly fishers have with winter steelhead is a fly that is too small or too boring, and a fly that is not deep enough, so my system is to remedy that. And I understand that "deep enough" is said to be "if you are not snagging the bottom, you are not fishing "deep enough".

    Besides, I have too many winter patterns, so I want to clean out my boxes this winter. You will certainly hear if I am sucessful. I am just a listening, thinking, fly fisher that likes to tinker with tackle.

    Rob
    ---------
    Genetic pollution damages wild
    stocks, bonk those Hatchery Zombies!
  11. sinktip Guest

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    Rob,

    I agree with you on the allure of the Sky. It is my home river and although I travel throughout the NW to chase my addiction, it is the Sky that I keeps the shakes and night sweats from hitting too hard. I fish it at least once or twice a week and much more when the conditions are prime.

    You were not the only one with a tough winter season last year on the Sky. I went until the first week of Feb. without a hookup and finished the season with only two LDRs to show for my time. I already have the monkey off my back for this winter season so I am hoping it will be better.

    As for the 15' tips. I agree with what you were told about getting down if you are going to catch fish. My goal is always to be clicking bottom but not hanging up. You can do that with a 15' Type VI but you need to work at it depending on the water. By work at it I mean things like 1) large initial upstream mends, 2) casts to 90 degrees of the current, 3) step downstream after the cast and not before and even 4) slip a little line to allow the fly to sink before it comes under tension. I use all of these except 4 daily. I am usually too lazy to do #4. This is the same reason I fish a long bellied spey line as I don't like stripping and shooting line.

    Keep at it and you will be rewarded. A shame we can't chase the March April wild fish anymore ont he Sky as they are so much more responsive to a fly than their hatchery cousins.

    Tight lines!
  12. Philster New Member

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    Hey sinktip and Rob

    In winter, my cast is at least directly across, and most often upstream. I then try to mend every bit of the floating line upstream above the tip. I also step down after the cast and mend. This gives me quite a bit of sinktime. I also make big mends throughout the swing, and "follow" the line with the rod tip after each mend almost to the point of keeping the line slack. This really creeps the fly along.

    I personally feel the goofiest thing Trey Combs ever said was that "the fly is only fishing after it comes under tension". First of all, I've tailed way too many fish that took on the slack sink dead drift to believe that, and secondly, once 80 feet of line are out and fishing, water tension on those 80 feet make it near impossible to introduce enough slack line to make the fly truly dead drift. Mend big, and follow with the rod. You can get down.
  13. KerryS Ignored Member

    Posts: 6,705
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
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    Thanks for the tip. One of the things I didn't like about windcutters along with the long belly was the thickness of the line. I use .032 running line and it is almost to thick for my liking.