Steelhead:Nymphing or Swinging

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by McQ, Feb 7, 2008.

  1. McQ New Member

    Posts: 7
    Woodinville, Washington
    Ratings: +7 / 0
    I have noticed more people are fishing egg patterns on the river out of drift boats with a lot of lead to keep it down. They like it and think this is fly fishing. I think it is gear fishing with a fly rod. I have nothing against gear fishing but I can't believe these people think this is fly fishing and are proud of it. They lob there lead weight or slinkie 25 ft. praying they don't hit there rod and then drift with the boat. The reality of this is that the person rowing the boat is actually the one doing the fishing if he is not on the money reading water they won't touch a fish. I prefer to swing most of the time. If they want to fish like this why not get the gear rod out and do it right. I would rather go down swinging than catch a fish on the fly rod like this because that is exactly what there doing catching a fish on a fly rod not fly fishing! I'm curious how many people have observed this on the river and what your thoughts are on Lob fishing!:confused:
  2. LBC nymphing beads with a spey pole.

    Posts: 249
    BFE
    Ratings: +9 / 0
    iagree, but Ive heard it this way as well..... "Do you want to become a professional caster or do you want to catch fish?"
  3. Les Johnson Les Johnson

    Posts: 1,590
    .Redmond, WA
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    I've been swinging flies for steelhead since the late 1950s. I've never "nymphed" with nymphs but have swung glo bugs on the Eel, Salmon Creek, Redwood Creek and the Matole when I lived in California for a few years in the 1980s. Being a traditionalist I only swing flies for steelhead. I do however use a variety of sinking tip lines, and heads to negotiate various river conditions. I do not like to toss a bunch of sinkers and a bobber on my fly rods. It certainly takes the joy out of casting a flyline in my view.
    Having declared myself a long time, dedicated "swinger" I have pretty well given up jawing at people who fish vertically with a nymph for steelhead. It is not illegal, thus can be pursued at the anglers discretion. It is not however in my opinion fly-fishing. I feel that if people really want to fish eggs (or nymphs) under bobbers and lead that they would be better served going to a centerpin reel and long rod like the folks to north in BC.
    I do understand that with the declining steelhead population anglers have lowered the bar considerably to catch a steelhead on a fly rod. Actually steelheading should be about the fishing and all it includes; the history, the lore, the marvelous places where steelhead live, the people who preceeded us and catching fish. Today I contend that it has been reduced primarily to just catching a steelhead.
    Good Fishing,
    Les
  4. kodiaksalmon Jeff B.

    Posts: 946
    Muskie country!
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Agreed. People fish Pixies and treble hooks and a spool full of 40 lb mono in Alaska, and lob cast it from a fly rod and call it fly fishing for salmon. Most of them just don't know any better, nor care to. I think it's just gear guys who want to feel the "romance" of flyfishing, and tell their buddies they caught a steelhead on a fly rod. It's not maliciousness; they just don't know any better, nor like I said, care to. I know it's annoying, but to correct them, or even politely attempt to inform them makes us out to be the elitist snobs they think most of us are. The lesser of two evils is to let them be. As Les said, it's not illegal.
  5. chadk Be the guide...

    Posts: 5,057
    Snohomish, WA.
    Ratings: +41 / 0
    I get tired of some dude trying to tell me what "steelheading should really be about" or what "fly fishing really is".

    Unless you are the WDFW, I could care less what you think about how I fish and why...

    (PS, i've only fished steelhead on the swing this year, so I'm not just trying to make excuses for my nymphing addtiction or anything...)
  6. Steelie Mike Active Member

    Posts: 1,600
    Camas, WA
    Ratings: +24 / 0
    Riveraddict, aka Ed Ward on Speypages posted an interesting view on this on spey pages. Basically his view that although different methods may not fit the definition of fly fishing, why not. They use many of the same principals of fly fishing and can just as entertaining to that particular individual. He apparently even admitted that at times he swinging spoons when the water at at certain conditions.

    I personally would rather catch a fish on a swung fly rather than while nymphing, however I would rather enjoy my day on the river and fish the most ways that increase my odds at a fish. Also a lot of time is wasted drifting from one spot to the other. Why not fish on the way? There are no slinkies involved though.
  7. Shortpole New Member

    Posts: 14
    Kirkland, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    While I agree with much of what is written above, as I also only swing for steelhead, I want to gain clarification on something about this debate that has always puzzled me. First, is there a difference between nymphing for steelhead and nymphing for trout? If so, does this have more to do with the history and tradition surrounding steelheading, or is it for a purely technical reason? Second, how many of you “swingers” only fish dry or wet flies for trout? I know that I love nymphing for trout, and feel it is a way to gain further understanding of a fish’s behavior (and obviously catch more fish). Anyways, this debate has always puzzled me to some extent. I guess I grew up swinging flies because that’s the way I was taught, but I never have felt strongly against people who want to dead drift either
  8. rick matney Active Member

    Posts: 1,301
    Bozeman, Montana
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    Casting slinkies on a 15 ft 10 wt spey hurts when you hit yourself in the head with them, and if your lucky the scented beads and balloon won't wrap around your head. :rofl: Don't forget to swing out the end of the drift.
  9. Steve Buckner Mother Nature's Son

    The following is a quote from Bill McMillan in the preface to Jock Scott's "Greased Line Fishing for Salmon and Steelhead". I think Bill nailed it...

    "There was, and still is, considerable confusion as to what synthetics, technologies and ethics should be included in the whole of a long and dignified fly fishing tradition. With the rapid advances in tackle technology it was easy to lose sight of tradition, and yet if fly fishing was to remain an historical whole, anglers were going to have to accept self imposed restrictions on their effectiveness. Still there must always be room for invention, and the difficult task of the fly fisherman of the 1950's, which continues even today, is to find and perhaps even define a balance between tradition and invention.

    The invention of the dacron sinking line in the mid 1950's allowed anglers to pursue fly fishing into the depths of rivers and lakes. Fly fisherman could immediately explore a whole new set of mysteries that had been entirely unavailable to the preceeding ages of fly fisherman simply through advances in line technology - not through any advance in either thought or skill. It was both exciting and a little disturbing if one put it to any prolonged thought. Was technology to replace the mental invention and skills the preceeding 500 years of fly fishing had been based on? This leap was so great in magnitude and so sudden! Curiosity overrode objections, and steelhead fisherman, especially, leapt headlong into a 20 year preoccupation toward fishing almost exclusively with sinking lines, solidly re-establishing the old myth that steelhead are bottom bound and refuse to rise. It was an especially unhealthy myth in that the steelhead himself was greatly misunderstood, and this great fish's reputation lessened some in comparison with the Atlantic Salmon.

    Eventually even the sinking line wasn't enough and a few anglers went as far as split shot, sometimes using as many as 5 cannonballs (a full ounce of weight) and with that a total schism from the traditions of fly fishing. Anglers hundreds of years before could have easily resorted to such devices if they had dared to defy the grace of casting inherent to fly fishing tradition. The pursuit of bottom fishing with a fly rod had seemingly reached its limits."
  10. PT Physhicist

    Posts: 3,592
    Edmonds, WA
    Ratings: +749 / 2
    Why not just let them fish the way they want to fish? Some guys are damn good at fishing that way. I do agree with you that the guy on the oars is really the only one fishing though. How they "do it" is not much of a concern to me.

    Also, I don't hear people who fish that way proclaiming to the world that they are purist flyfishermen. If they were I'd have a different take on 'em. I think they're just out fishing.
  11. Flyborg Active Member

    Posts: 2,313
    Kalama, WA
    Ratings: +604 / 0
    What about trolling? I heard that's real effective.
  12. Panhandle Active Member

    Posts: 4,103
    Selkirk Mountains, Idaho Panhandle
    Ratings: +23 / 0
    this place looks familair.

    Do a search and you could read 20 pages based on swinging/nyphing.. is it ethical? I don't give a shit. I primarly swing, but will nymph on occasion when the water demands. Nymphing is pretty fun, swinging is funner. For some people the opposite it true. Let's just leave it at that.
  13. Randall Clark Active Member

    Posts: 708
    Orygun
    Ratings: +220 / 0
    seems like what your describing here is a VERY small aspect of nymphing. Personally, I don't nymph fish quite like that but I do nymph...usually with a two nymph rig with a heavy nymph (weighted stonefly) and a smaller nymph (egg pattern or whatever suits me at the time)...many times the way I'm 'casting' would be more of a 'lob' but I really don't think of it as not flyfishing...sure, I could cast it with the traditional cast, but I value my keeping my skull intact...can't feel good having a heavy stonefly nymph hitting you in the back of the noggin.

    If you use the argument, "well, he's not using the flyline to get the fly out there", what about when you're trout fishing and the most effective way to catch a fish is dapping...would you not consider that flyfishing?

    also, I've heard a number of people say that swinging flies amounts to nothing more than flossing...(I'm not among those who think this)...what would you say to that? just trying to give a different perspective to this only because I used to have such a close-minded opinion on the matter as well...now? not so much.

    also, what would you say to those who utilize the Czech style of nymphing (a style that has been around for a really long time)? which utilizes the same type of 'lob' cast...

    anyway, there's my two worthless cents...
    Randy
  14. headstrong1 youngish old guy

    Posts: 369
    Cashmere
    Ratings: +5 / 0
    Not this again.
  15. PT Physhicist

    Posts: 3,592
    Edmonds, WA
    Ratings: +749 / 2
    15 takes in 3.5 hours. Not a bad morning phishing.:thumb:
  16. Ringlee Doesn't care how you fish Moderator

    Posts: 1,858
    Somewhere you don't know about, WA
    Ratings: +52 / 1
    While your post title is nymphing or swinging, I would call the lob more of a bonedogging technigue. Just dragging your rig behind the boat. I have seen it on the Kenai.

    This is why others call fly fisherman elitists. Are they having fun? Leave it at that...
  17. 1morecast Active Member

    Posts: 751
    Port Angeles
    Ratings: +51 / 0
    To each his own.. Wouldn't this be a boring world if we were all the same?
  18. Wayne Kohan fish-ician

    Posts: 1,029
    TriCities, WA
    Ratings: +99 / 0
    swinging, nymphing, bottom-bouncing, gear fishing with bait..... Who cares as long as they don't low hole me...

    Wayne
  19. chadk Be the guide...

    Posts: 5,057
    Snohomish, WA.
    Ratings: +41 / 0
    Fly fishing tradition often meant bonking native steelhead and frying pans full of wild trout.

    If they had the PVC lines, Sink Tips, graphite rods, etc - I'm sure they would have welcomed all of it.

    It all boils down to human nature. You don't like it when someone does something different than you do. Or if they think or value something differently than you do. I bet many of those 'legends' of old would think you are nuts.

    Fishing means something personal to each one of us. For some it has deep spiritual aspects, others deep traditional aspects, others its food on the table, others its sharing good times with friends, etc etc etc.

    But go ahead and be paranoid of anyone who has a different perspective than you and challenges your opinions and values related to fishing.....
  20. HauntedByWaters Active Member

    Posts: 2,750
    Bellingham
    Ratings: +105 / 0
    My angle on this isn't fly-fishing or not, it is WHAT MAKES SENSE.

    I have caught plenty of native steelhead on the fly and still get a HUGE thrill out of it, but it isn't like it used to be for me. The fly rod is no longer the most important aspect for me and I will GLADLY pick up a spinning rod and a float.

    To those who want to try something new and have A LOT OF FUN when fishing rivers that are hugely difficult to swing flies (there are a lot of steelhead streams in WA that fit this description especially on the OP) just get this setup:

    A short spinning rod rated to 14pound test. Short is good for the overhanging branches and things that can mess up small stream with steelhead.

    Get a matching spinning reel with a GOOD drag and load it with 20# braided line.

    Buy a float called the "Steelhead Stalker" or a clone of it. This float basically has a long pin the hangs vertically below it which acts as a keel, this means you don't need a lot of weight to keep it vertical like you do with foam floats which suck by comparison IMO. These floats are made of balsa wood and use rubber bands to attach it to the line. Attach float to braid.

    Below float attch a swivel and below that a couple feet of leader to you jig.

    Next, go buy some jig hooks like you would use for bass and tie up some jigs just like you would tie up flies. Tie them however you like, this is the same as fly fishing.

    Now go fish it and see how much fun it is; how much more water you can cover; how much better you can sneak around.

    While fishing, keep telling yourself, "It doesn't matter what I am using to fish as long as I am having a good time."

    I will bet you will have a GREAT TIME, especially when you hook a steelhead on your own jig pattern.

    This setup will out nymph ANY fly rig and it JUST MAKES MORE SENSE IMO. Casting is like butter unlike with a fly rod.

    If I am EVER fishing a river that I can swing and cover water effectively, which is most of the time, I use a fly.

    If I am ever fishing the kind of water where high sticking and weighted flies are imortant, I just grab my little spinning outfit and box of custom jigs.

    Catching steelhead on the fly is rewarding and feels great but to think that a steelhead caught in the manner described above is a lesser catch is just downright STUPID.

    In summary, to me it just makes no sense to lob a big float, a bunch of lead, and a weighted fly on a fly rod all day when you can cover WAY more water, WAY more effectively, with a nice little spinning outfit like the one above.

    My 2 cents.

    P.S. Another PLUS; a short 14# rated spinning rod (the kind for ripping bass out of brush) will land a steelhead WAY WAY faster than any fly rod I know of.