Super clear water: How many steps between swings?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by golfman44, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. golfman44

    golfman44 Coho Queen

    Obviously in dirty water its just like 1-2 steps between swings but when the water is insanely clear would something like 6-7 steps make sense? To illustrate my point, here is a pic of a bull trout i swung up the other day:


    There is at least 40 feet of visibility in this water (to our eyes), and if you were only taking ~2 steps between swings, a steelhead holding somewhere in there would see your fly 5-10 times before it got infront of his grill. I assume this would drastically reduce the chances of a strike, right? Does me taking 6+ steps cause me to miss some fish? I love working water fast and prefer to do it this way so I can then swing thru the run a 2nd time with a different fly, but am wondering if I have been missing fish this way...

    ....Or am i over thinking this whole thing....
  2. JohnB

    JohnB Member

    One thing to think about is that the water often looks super clear when you are looking down into it, but if you were to put on a snorkel mask and try to look across a pool I bet the visibility would be surprisingly less. That said I know shit all about swinging for steelhead.
  3. Sean Beauchamp

    Sean Beauchamp Hot and Heavy at yer 6

    There is nothing wrong at all with 6 ( or more) steppin'! I wish more guys would. You have to keep moving and covering ground to hunt down an aggressive fish. I'd rather fish through twice quickly than once at 2 steps any day. I seem to end up following guys a lot who seem like they never move? Drives me nuts. Really really cold water MAY be an exception but i would rather take my chances and find that fish that swims across the river to eat my fly.
  4. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

    I rarely 2 step. 4 steps is the norm. 7-8 steps happens.

    I slow down in certain areas of certain runs, and when I feel something.

    Go sox,
    Andrew Lawrence and constructeur like this.
  5. 6 steps after one traditional swing and then that bitch is going broadside
    Jason Rolfe likes this.
  6. Danielocean

    Danielocean Steelhead Virgin

    After fishing with a seasoned expert on the Skagit Sunday I now will always take a minimum of 5 steps.It was made known right away that I fished too slowly so we corrected that. From what I understand casting 15 times at a potential non player is most likely a waste of time. Cast, step, swing, retrieve. If you did not find a player on the current swing then move on, and cover water. That is what I learned so we will see if that pays off or not.
  7. troutdopemagic

    troutdopemagic Active Member

    Most of the time I take 4-6 steps (obviously that varies based on river bottom conditions) in clear water. I figure that a player is going to see my fly and move to it in the first swing or he won't at all since as long as your bug is at the right depth, the fish is going to see it. I dislike remaining static and swinging water that might not even hold a fish. Keep moving and hunting for that player. About the only times I slow down is when I'm covering a bucket or place that gives me "feels".
    itsbenlong, golfman44 and Danielocean like this.
  8. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

    If it's really good water I'll only take two steps. I love to soak my ass in righteous water.
  9. Derek Young

    Derek Young 2011 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide Of The Year

  10. Tacoma Red

    Tacoma Red Active Member

    It's not how many steps you take it how you do it!

    Klickrolf and Jason Rolfe like this.
  11. Red Arch

    Red Arch Active Member

    If I'm alone I like to take my time dissecting the runs or pools. I'll start with the one fly and search every spot I can before stepping, and then follow cast 2 step 2 until there are interesting spots again. If I know fish hold there I work through at the normal 2 and 2 before going to the top again and switching up.

    Only If I don't like the water will I take 6 steps etc...
  12. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member


    Twice quickly, different flies is my strategy. The flies should fish differently, one bright and one dark. Also different sizes, one big, one small.
    Andrew Lawrence likes this.
  13. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

    I used to move fairly quickly through a run but now I am older and I don't wade as well as I used to. Clear water, dirty water doesn't matter much to me. I take a step per strip between casts which usually translates to somewhere between 4 to 8 steps depending on how much line I have out. That is the way I have been doing it since the beginning. Basically you are looking for players. A player can to move to the fly from a long distance and he or she may move to a fly on multiple casts. They may even take the fly multiple times without the fisherman even knowing it.

    If you can find some high ground above a run you know holds fish, sit up there and watch as somebody swings it. You well be amazed at what you see.
  14. Randall Clark

    Randall Clark Active Member


    Because of the fact that when I am swinging, I'm doing so with a dry line, so I cast from the same spot I finished my last swing and take 5-6 steps down during the swing to achieve more depth during the swing, so it's more of a product keeping the fly down for me, but regardless, I tend to move pretty fast through the water.

    for the record, I fish nearly as fast while nymphing as well (at least a bit faster than the majority of fishermen I see out on the Deschutes regardless of whether or not their swingers or nymphers).
  15. ChaseBallard

    ChaseBallard bushwhacker

    In clear water I'm all about the 5 or 6 steps after every other cast, element of surprise and all. I definitely like to slow it down in the tailout or other fishy sections though.

    Some of the best steelheading advice I ever got was instead of fishing a run once slowly, swing it through quickly, drink a tallboy of beer on the bank, then swing it again quickly with a different fly. Steelhead love tallboys.
  16. CLO

    CLO Boats and cohos

    I'm the opposite, I pound the water hard and usually make 5 swings through a good slot (or nymph dead drifts) before moving down a step. A fish won't come across the pool to hit a fly in cold water. Also I don't like blowing through runs if I'm wade fishing and would probably make less swings if I had the luxury of a drift boat. But seriously, screw steelhead I'm trolling for black mouth this weekend.
    Fishman likes this.
  17. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

    Wow! I could actually fish with a fair number of you. Most fishermen I observe appear to be camping while fishing. I've never caught more fish by fishing slowly through a run than by fishing faster. That leads me to believe that if the water is clear enough, a player will strike the first or second time it sees the fly. If it doesn't strike on the second pass, it's not a player, but it might be after 50 or 200 passes, but I ain't hanging around for that.


    If I'm not around, you can take 1 step per cast, or less for that matter. I really don't care. But if I'm following you through that pool, I'd appreciate it if you'd 10-step it, or I'll be going around you.

    doublespey and Danielocean like this.
  18. Darthmonkey

    Darthmonkey Active Member

    In clear water, the things I will change is fly, and leader length.
  19. TallFlyGuy

    TallFlyGuy Adipossessed!


    How big are your steps? I usually try to step down the length of a good sized steelhead. Around 3 feet. IF really low and clear, I still do the same thing, but maybe change up the fly/tip setup. If I'm in unknown water and "hunting" I'll usually go a little farther between swings...say 4.5 feet between casts. Works for me.
  20. _WW_

    _WW_ Fishes with Wolves

    I usually kind of shuffle continuously through the run when I'm fishing. About the only time I stop moving is when I blow a cast or get some kind of tangle or lose a fly and have to re-tie.

    I'm also pretty easy going and malleable enough to fish at whatever pace the guy in front of me is going at - as long as there is a pace...otherwise I may end up hooking your waders. You don't want yer waders hooked now do ya?