Steelhead question

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by pwoens, Nov 12, 2003.

  1. pwoens Active Member

    Posts: 2,570
    Spokane, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +5 / 0

    edit: the subject line header was not meant to be in response to Nailknot specifically as it appears, but the whole snagging issue in general.

    enough with the snagging questions/comments!! All I was after was a simple answer of wether or not an indicator would assist my old man in catching his first steelhead. I personally took two solid years of chasing these beasts with the swing or drift technique before I finally figured it out. I have never once snagged a steelhead not have I ever used a strike indicator?? So everyone back off and leave this snagging issue somewhere else.

    If you can contribute to the indicator thought, please do so. Thanks to all the thoughts above :thumb

    ~Patrick ><>
  2. wet line New Member

    Posts: 2,313
    Burien, WA, King.
    Ratings: +0 / 0


    After a long and frustrating period of time trying to catch steelhead on a swinging fly with any consistency I have come to the conclusion that for me at least an indicator is going to be the ticket for more success. Perhaps I am tainted from my days of high lining with a drift rod and caught my share of fish using corkies and yarn. At the least I can put a weighted fly down where it needs to be and fish the water I know where the fish are holding. Snagging is not an issue as I see it. I have caught enough fish with corkies and I don't remember any of them being foul hooked! I see no reason why a weighted fly and indicator would be any different.

  3. sinktip Guest

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    Winter takes are softer as a rule but you will still occasionally get the yank that tries to seperate your rod from your hand. If you are fishing a tight swing though, you should be able to feel most of your takes without problem.

    Summer fish are a whole diff. story and while undoubtedly there are some fish that softly pluck the fly, most hit it with a fervor. It makes no difference if they are east or west side fish. I just returned from the Snake and every fish we touched hit aggressively. That included one big boy that snapped the fly off on the hit.

    Indicator fishing is easier as it allows you to compensate for lack of technique and it does work. Steelhead deserve better in my book though so I refuse to use it.
  4. Roper Idiot Savant

    Posts: 4,198
    Glenraven Ranch
    Ratings: +679 / 1

    I have to admire Pat and his Dad for two reasons, first to see a son care about his Dad enough to look for answers to help him catch steelhead. Second for Randy's dogged determination to catch one. Yup, I like the Oens's!


    Good things come to those who wade...
  5. sinktip Guest

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    I would not be so quick to change over to a sinktip on the eastside. The Ronde is cold and a tip is wise. The Clearwater cooled down with the cold spell but might be worth a floater if it warms a bit. The Snake is still at 47-48 degrees and at least as of last weekned, floaters were outfishing tips. The D is still floater temp. Smaller tribs, if below 45 degrees are best fished with a tip.
  6. sinktip Guest

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    I had no idea that Leland was so productive :rolleyes
  7. troutman101 Member

    Posts: 702
    Seattle, WA, USA.
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    A skilled steelhead fisherman will have the same numbers in catch rate but his method causes the fish to chase the fly. Swinging a fly either under or on the surface in my opinion, the ultimate challenge for all of you flyfishermen. Nymphing for steelhead is more productive. This is especially the case for spawning steelhead or fish holding on the bottom.

    I brought the snagging vs fishing only because this was the major topic at the party last weekend. Many of you were reluctant to hear the possibilities of beginners that would not know the difference between snagging and a steelhead moving a foot or two to take a dead drifting fly. The fact is, many of you guys have only fished for steelhead for a couple of years sucessfully.

    I can only help out with the thought that maybe it is best to adopt the skill of having a steelhead take your fly on the swing where you know for sure that it was because it chased it. Not to say that I do not dead drift a fly. I will if I can see the fish and watch the fly. No indicator present. My sucess rate is still fine, by my standards. It isn't a numbers game, more of the experience and the thought that you really are doing it right. I don't care what YOU do either way because it is all about ME anyways.
  8. KerryS Ignored Member

    Posts: 6,535
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
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    After reading a lot of the posts here I am incline to say the softness or hardness of a steelhead's take is subjective to each fisherman. Not sure what we are comparing steelhead to. I have never had a problem with knowing when a steelhead has taken my fly. And I have had more winter fish absolutely demolish a fly than summer fish. This is my experience and may not be the same experience others have had. I have more summer fish hit then winter fish. I believe this is because of warmer water and more active fish. Once or twice I have had 2 different summer fish hit during the same swing. At least that is what seemed to have happened. Again. I think this whole thing about subtle takes and not so subtle takes is subjective.
  9. sinktip Guest

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    I would agree with you. I wonder if some of it is people new to swinging a fly not keeping the fly under tension? If the tension is not there than you are eseentially dead drifting all be it for a shorter period. I see a lot of new steelheaders over mending and with each mend, there is a short period of no tension. If the fly is always under tension, you are going to feel the take even if it is the classic slow cold water "is that a rock or a fish" take.

  10. troutman101 Member

    Posts: 702
    Seattle, WA, USA.
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  11. KerryS Ignored Member

    Posts: 6,535
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
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    You may have hit on it there with the tension thing and mending. I rarely mend more then once. I see no reason to have to make mend after mend if you are doing the classic swing. Someone mentioned the depth and speed of the swing. I feel these to be the most important aspects of swinging flies. My thoughts are the depth is controlled by the type of tip used and the speed of a swing is a matter of understanding the water you are fishing. Knowing how far to cast and how much mend to throw in at the top of the swing. On many drifts I don't mend at all or perhaps just a small upstream toss.

    I see people that think they need to cast to the other side of the river to fish effectively. The main thing I learned from watching and talking to Dec Hogan was to not cast further then you are capable of casting. To many try to cast further then they can effectively cast, leaving coils of line at their feet and hanging out the tip of the rod. This results in lack of tension during the swing or a dead drift like you were talking about.

  12. sinktip Guest

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    We are in agreement on mending. I throw an upstream mend when the fly hits the water. The degree of initial mend depends on the depth I want to fish and the exact place I want the fly to start the swing (i.e. setting it up 1' inside a seam). I will also when fishing tips, often step downstream after the cast rather than before. This gives the fly an extra second or two to sink before it comes under tension. Any additional mends after the initial will only impact fly speed and not depth. If anything, they will pull the fly up in the water column. For this reason, unless there is a pocket I want to let the fly hold in for a second or if odd currents create a large belly in the line, I rarely if ever mend again.

    The other thing I see people do often is not let the fly hang down long enough. In their hurry to cast again, they pull it out of the downstream position and thus miss some of those following strikes. I try and let it hang around on the hangdown for 4-5 seconds and then even though I tend to fish longer bellied spey lines, I take a slow strip or two of line in. Especially for summer fish, the hit can come on this short strip.

    All this talking about it has got me ready to go fishing. It is time to put the 7 weight and floater away and get out the tips and the big rods. :)

  13. KerryS Ignored Member

    Posts: 6,535
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
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    I need to fish badly. Haven't wet a line since my trip to the east side. Reading your account of OC holding steelhead court has me suffering horrible withdrawals. That and "my river" being blown it has not been a good fall. This weekend is going to be spent on the Skagit looking things over for later in the season when the river clears. Next weekend I travel in search of chrome. I need to stand in cold water and watch as a good cast unfolds across steelhead water. I need to watch as the line attains that slight arch and the fly dances near the bottom seeking the aggressive fish that will feed my addiction. I need to get on a river.
  14. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,118
    Dillon, Mt
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    I feel your pain on the condition of your river. Was up there today for a look see and the Sauk looks very clay colored and Skagit above Rockport is still not that clear. There were a few people fishing at Swift Creek but didn't stop to see what was up. But we did dabble a few flies in the N/Fork but the river is full of Chums now. I guess that we have to blame the bad luck on something so this week it's chums.

  15. chadk Be the guide...

    Posts: 5,057
    Snohomish, WA.
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    Kerry and Sinktip - thanks for the great descriptions of the classic swing technique. I definalely haven't mastered it yet and appreciate the informative posts. It will give me some things to think about next time I give it a shot. That said I also see no problem with myself and others who like to fish for steelhead via other methods as well. I think what might help many of us is to make sure we are fishing the right technique for the given water conditions\depth\speed\temp etc and not getting sloppy about presentation. For example if you try to nymph and swing at the same time (I see this alot), you end up not nymphing as well as you could and not swinging as well as you could. Learning the proper (not in the traditional sense, but in the techincal sense) presentation for the specific technique you choose is important for any hopes of consistency.

    I'm not sure if I'm making any sense, but I just wanted to say that I appreciate the details regarding proper presentation and common missuses of the classic swing, and want encourage others to chime in on proper ways to fish other techniques as well. Especially when fishing for winter\spring steel, where the numbers of fish are low (depending on where you are of course), and they don't tend to move far to strike, we can't afford sloppy presentation if we want something other than occassional luck...
  16. glowbug New Member

    Posts: 23
    Sammamish, WA, usa.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    The only appropriate way to catch a steelhead is with a silk floating line spun from the butt of a japanese catapillar tapered down to a long twisted sinew leader derived from the dried muscle tendons of a black tail deer. Where as the hook was sharpened and formed from a robins scapula and a monarch butterfly was used to entice the steely to rise. This is how the indians did it and that is why steelhead like the color orange. Anything else is simply unethical. All snaggers will burn.

    Sacajuwea did not, and I repeat! did not use an indicator!

    And this is all I have to say. :reallymad
  17. papafsh Piscatorial predilection

    Posts: 2,182
    Camano Island, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +53 / 0
    >The only appropriate way to catch a steelhead is with
    >a silk floating line spun from the butt of a japanese
    >catapillar tapered down to a long twisted sinew leader
    >derived from the dried muscle tendons of a black tail
    >deer. Where as the hook was sharpened and formed from
    >a robins scapula and a monarch butterfly was used to
    >entice the steely to rise. This is how the indians did
    >it and that is why steelhead like the color orange.
    >Anything else is simply unethical. All snaggers will
    >Sacajuwea did not, and I repeat! did not use an
    >And this is all I have to say. :reallymad

    And pray-tell, how exactly did the indians get Japanese catapillar's?, and since when did silk anything ever float?, and is a twisted sinew smaller and lighter than a silk line?, mmmmmmmm?

    (you ff elitest.);)