The low/clear water myth...

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by sleestak240, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer

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    So Jeremy, for you, does more pressure mean you will be fishing a smaller or less intrusive fly? Or will you go bigger? Or something else?
     
  2. troutdopemagic

    troutdopemagic Active Member

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    Lately i've been fishing black and blue in clear water w/ dark skies, without any flash. One of the few big pulls I got on the Sky this season was when fishing a 2.5" black/blue tandem tube with the flash clipped out. That was around 2300CFS and clear as a bell and really cold. Same on the Sauk, got a good pull with black and blue with very little flash and overcast skies. If the sun is on the water, I'm a big fan of reds. Purple and red or bright red/claret/black tubes. If I'm fishing low in a river system, I fish pink or pink/orange almost exclusively regardless of conditions.
     
  3. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer

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    From the sounds of it, you are basing your view of the puget sound rivers on one trip through the area years ago. Might not be the best basis.

    Certain rivers do seem to always run the color of chocolate milk (the Puyallup under I-5 comes to mind).

    On the other hand, I've fished the Sky and Snoqualmie several times the last few months, and I haven't been out there under the conditions you describe once. The rivers have mostly been low and clear with several feet of visibility, or if anything the slightest tint of that nice steelhead green we all like. In fact, I'd say the rivers have been, for the most part, too clear.

    Also, I don't think water clarity (or lack thereof) is necessarily an indicator of water quality. I swam in the Nisqually plenty of times growing up--nothing wrong with that water. I think it colored up more because it comes straight off a glacier.

    Anyway, just a few thoughts on a couple of your questions. I'm sure there are some geologists or hydrologists around who could give much better information as to the differences between rivers in various regions of the state.
     
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  4. Hillbilly Redneck

    Hillbilly Redneck wishin i was fishin

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    In the winter when the water is clear it is often also very cold. Big flies will "wake" up the fish. That's why spoons work good in these conditions. Summer time is a different deal. The fish can be very active. Smaller is better so you don't spook the fish. There are exceptions to every rule. I find summer fish 100 times easier to catch with a fly rod. Also, when I see the edges of the river start freezing... I stay home and drink bourbon.
     
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  5. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

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    i think we can learn some things from what gear anglers use, but at the same time we shouldn't read too much into it. spoons and spinners have actions that really cannot be recreated in flies.

    of course, i have always tended to move where i fish in low-clear conditions to glacial rivers that will still have some color during cold snaps.

    also imagine a 1 inch fly compared to a 3-4 inch fly. for a 25-35 inch fish that difference is pretty small. fish what you have confidence in and look for unpressured fish. pressure makes fish as dour as cold, clear conditions.
     
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  6. Jeremy Floyd

    Jeremy Floyd fly fishing my way through life

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    More pressure means I would be more likely to be dead drifting something more natural (summer) or soft hackled (winter), and smaller.
     
  7. BDD

    BDD Active Member

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    A friend and good steelheader did not believe in the small, dark fly in clear warm or cold water temperatures. He called them stick flies because they didn't move much in the water but rather floating down the river like a stick. Many of the most famous, traditional flies are like that. You folks who like them, keep fishing them. I prefer some size, profile, movement, flash, color, and weight in my flies to catch fish. However, I understand that the gaudy flies of today would probably draw sneers from those of yesterday but they didn't have the reduced numbers and increased pressure that we face today. Still, I'd trade all the fancy new stuff of today for a chance to fish some of their waters with their primitive gear any day of the week.
     
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  8. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

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    I'd fish anything if I could have had a shot at the falls on the mouth of the Deschutes before the dams, or the Sauk when my Grandpa fished it in the 20's, 30's and 40's. I think there were so many fish, that finding a player was pretty easy. Well, easier.
     
  9. golfman44

    golfman44 Active Member

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    Small and dark has worked for me in the summer. Purple and baby blue mixed in too

    s7_321813_999_01.jpeg
     
  10. DanielOcean

    DanielOcean Steelhead Virgin

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    This thread is about steelhead not coho.
     
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  11. golfman44

    golfman44 Active Member

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    Dustinsilvers
     
  12. grady blk

    grady blk New Member

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    After reading this thread, I got to experiment'n. I have had luck on big blade colorado spinners in gin clear slow low water as a gear guy
    Here is my version, with a flash & with out, the flash sure pops
     

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  13. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

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    Those "stick" flies are often store bought and tied all wrong. When I started seeing the boxes of some of the best tiers in BC I realized how the classics are often tied all wrong with far too many materials. Those "stick" flies when done right should dart around erratically like a small fish making all the other materials wiggle. Tie a very sparse but very long buck tail clump in there for the tail and wing and you will maximize this effect.

    Most of the classics I see have far too many materials. Like 4x too much. Tie a General Practitioner and do everything by a quarter of what you think, 4x less hair, 4x fewer wraps et cetera. Tell me that thing doesn't look fishy as he'll and ride in the water like a life form.
     
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  14. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

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    I wonder if what ruined the use of old time hair wings was the use of calf tail. Seems WAY to stiff for a hair winged wetly, even thinly dressed. I think a hair with thin roots (Skunk is my favorite) and stiff tips gives good action. Tied in reverse and the teased back it has lots of spring (stays up) and plenty of wiggle. Squirrel is pretty good too, the tips soften up and flutter.

    Only thing I use calf tail on anymore are Chernobyl Ants or other obnoxious dries.
     
  15. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Jeremy has it right in that one of the most significant factors in low/clear water steelhead fishing is the amount of pressure the fish are receiving. Typically the most aggressive fish are traveling fish; with low clear water the fish tend to hold up (with short burst of traveling typically during low light periods). As a result during periods of low water we are fishing over fish that have been in the same stretch of water for days to even weeks. It is not long before those fish have seen a pretty wide range of gear and may have stung more than once. Those situations showing the fish something different/new can be the key to success.

    One of the biggest mistakes I see in low/clear water situations is the failure of anglers to recognize that potential holding water has shrunk dramatically. The water that may have been extremely productive a few days earlier can be completely barren of fish in those conditions. In the steelhead game the trick to consistent success is being able to recognize that 10% of the water that will hold 90% of the fish and too spend the majority of your time on that water. That river reading/fish finding skill far out weights fly choice. Under low/clear water conditions the importance of that river reading skills is even magnified.

    One steelhead presentation that is rarely talked about that absolutely shines in low/clear water situations is an aggressive fished streamer. Those streamers not only appeal to much the same instincts that the gear anglers spoons do such a presentation is almost always something the fish have not seen. This approach has produced most of my better days with flies during the winter and all of my largest fly caught winter fish.

    Curt
     
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  16. 1morecast

    1morecast Active Member

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    :cool:
    SHHHHH.....