What has happened to "traditional" steelhead flyfishing?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by TomB, Feb 22, 2005.

  1. Charlie Erdman

    Charlie Erdman In search of steel

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    Some things to think about Tom:

    come over and fish some eastern wa rivers for steelies and try swinging flies (nearly impossible)

    as zen said, nymphing is the only way to go here for steelies

    I dont understand why some people get an elitist attitude with certain methods of fly-fishing?

    I have enjoyed reading the posts, as everyone will have their own opinion on the topic, so I like the intriguing post. thanks

    charlie
     
  2. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    Cuponoodle: no, it wasn't me this time....although strangely, the canoe I flipped on the upper sauk was red too. Scary stuff.
    -Thomas
     
  3. headstrong1

    headstrong1 youngish old guy

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    Swinging takes more skill to do well, and certainly can be just as productive as nymphing even here on the eastside. If you nymph and it works great. Small hooks are easier on the fishes mouth. If you've never tried it, catching a hot steelhead on the swing is a real thrill. I would argue more exciting than seeing your indicator stop.
     
  4. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    Please, what rivers are you speaking of? I have fished a few of the eastern rivers for steelhead swinging flies and have had a blast. If sink tips are not appropriate then I use a floater. In my opinion nothing beats waking a dry and have a steelhead demolish it.

    KLS
     
  5. sean

    sean Member

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    Tom I think it is a valid question and fun to rehash once a year. Let me borrow your flame retardant suit for a second...


    BS on that. Find yourself a really good gear guy and watch him. Some of these guys are way more skilled than most of us flyfishers.

    Bobbers are a crutch. I have nothing against nymphing for steel but at least do it without the god awful indicator. That is a challenge. For me I fly fish because it is the hardest way to bring a steelhead to the beach. I spent more than enough time as a kid watching a bobber. It just is not appealing. Bobbers screw up the best part of flyfishing...the cast. Why force a gear tactic into our style of fishing? Get yourself a bait caster and float.

    I swing 99.999% of the time. I feel it is the most challenging way to fish. You are bringing the fish to the fly and not the other way around. Nymphing is just repeatedly cramming the fly down the fishes face until after the 100th time it decides to take. I feel better knowing my fly was tracked down and taken by the steelhead...not me forcing it to do so.

    I can show you 1 guy good at swinging a fly for every 10 good bobber fisherman. It is not as easy as casting and mending and takes a while to learn the correct way to approach and fish a run. You can teach a guy to watch a bobber in one day. It takes several years to become proficient at swinging and I learn new things every day.

    Yes eggs can be a natural food source but that is the other great thing about steelhead. You do not have to (or need to) match the hatch. Steelhead flies open up worlds of creativity and it is satisfying to take a fish on a brightly colored spey or full dressed salmon pattern. These flies do not imitate a thing and that is the beauty of it. Steelhead are not just another rainbow trout and are one of the most regal game fish that swim. They deserve our best efforts and a hunk of yarn on a hook cut to an egg shape to me seems a half ass way to go after them.

    It is just sad to see a lot of new guys coming into the sport and treating steelhead as just another rainbow that they would find in Montana. They are much more than that and anyone who has hooked one knows this. Learn to swing a proper steelhead fly and while you may struggle at first in the end I think you will find it a most satisfying way to fish. I do not expect most people in this 'give it to me now' society to understand but one can always try.

    In the end like others have said it is whatever you want to do. I bear no ill will to a guy fishing an indy rig and believe everyone has the right to do what they want. I will not turn my nose up at you or treat a bobber guy with any disrespect on the river. Just treat the fish with respect (which Ibn did a great job of in his photos) and we are cool. If they are having fun so be it. I just think they are missing a great part of our sport. The history and tradition of fly fishing is highly important to me and I feel we may be losing site of it.

    Back to my bunker to hide for cover...

    -sean
     
  6. o mykiss

    o mykiss Active Member

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    I agree with this. Don't knock a gear guy until you've seen a few really good ones in action. But why are you more willing to respect the gear guy's craft than that of the flyfisher who nymphs?

    Yes and no. Bobbers make it much easier to detect a take, but they're a helluva lot harder to cast. I think someone who can gracefully cast a indicator/nymph rig has had to work pretty hard to master that skill.

    Nymphing doesn't necessarily have to be "cramming the fly down the fishes [sic] face". The nymphing technique is abused by some in that way, but the "traditional" swing can be too, if it's used to continuously run a fly past a spotted fish until you smack him on the nose.


    I agree to a limit - I think catching a steelhead nymphing is easier than catching one swinging. But merely because an average nympher can often outfish a good swinger doesn't mean that it doesn't take a fair amount of work to get really good at nymphing. I don't think nymphing well is nearly as easy as you make it out to be. A really good nympher has had to work to get good at his craft. See your comment above on gear fishers - show a little respect for the guy who has worked hard to become good at nymphing.

    Ironically, that is what makes your view of "traditional" techniques more like gear fishing than nymphing. Most "traditional" steelhead flies are basically lures.

    I don't know why I feel like being an apologist for steelhead nymphers, since as I said before I don't really like the technique myself and do believe that taking a steelhead on the swing is a lot more fun, but I'm willing to acknowledge that it takes quite a lot of skill to do it right and do it gracefully.
     
  7. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

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    O Mykiss - my thoughts exactly....

    And I point back to Bob's post about "traditions". I fly fish for the aesthetics, and because in many situations it is offers the least impact on the fish, and at times it is much more effective, and because I got addicted to taking air born trout off the surface with dry flies. Heck, if it wasn't for dry fly fishing, I may still be fishing gear 100% of the time. Being courteous, responsible, ethical, and environmentally conscious is more important to me than 'traditions'.

    "For me I fly fish because it is the hardest way to bring a steelhead to the beach. "

    I bet I could find ways to make it even harder for you. For some reason, I just don't buy this line of thinking... But if you are suggesting you appreciate the art, skill, and craftsmanship involved in our sport, then I would go with that.
     
  8. sean

    sean Member

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    Chad I can live with that. Much more succinct than my rambling. :)

    -sean

    ps I never said a bobber guy cannot be deadly at catching fish just like a good gear fisherman. They both take skill to get good and are quite similiar in approach. Just not my cup of tea.
     
  9. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

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    Tom's original post on this Topic was not accusatory or attacking, it was not controversial. he asked some good questions and a few people read him wrong and got it wrong, and responded inappropriately to the original thread.

    All one had to do was share their own side of things, not attack him for his topic; which, as a moderator here, I did not find offensive or disruptive in the least.
     
  10. Big K1

    Big K1 Large Member

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    The swing is the thing for me! Personal preference thats all. I use a 2-hander 100% of the time for Steelhead and indicators and 2-handers just seems wrong!
    Nothing beats the pull on the swing!
     
  11. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

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    Kevin fishes for "Lawn Trout" though :clown:
     
  12. Big K1

    Big K1 Large Member

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    Bob does to! Less hassles that way. It takes serious skill to swing a fly properly on the lawn. Hint on fly selection "Steelhead bee" :rofl:
     
  13. cuponoodle breakfast

    cuponoodle breakfast Active Member

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    The guy Monday with the canoe on the Sauk said he'd never floated it before, but claimed to know what he was doing. It appeared he did not know what he was doing because a.) he was on the Sauk in a canoe, and b.) he wrestled his boat down the bank from the highway only 1/4 mile up from a boatlaunch.
    The last canoe I saw on the Sauk was upside down with two very cold guys bobbing down river with it. My friend and I picked them up across from where the guy monday put in.

    As for traditional flyfishing, I don't care how you fish. Nymphing doesn't hurt the fish any more than any other method. To add a little more variety to your arsenal, try swinging small, thin bladed spoons.
     
  14. NorthernSteel

    NorthernSteel New Member

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    Thought I should wade in on this one. Personally, I have never even seen anyone nymph for steelhead, although I hear they do it a lot back east. With that in mind, on the one hand I am of the sentiment that whatever technique you wish to employ so as to catch fish is really your perogative. On the other hand I wonder why anyone would ever want to deprive themselves of the overall satisfaction, and sheer heart-stopping action of hooking up with a steelie on the swing.

    Personally, I have probably fished a dozen days in 2005. All of those days have been with a two hander of varying lengths and weights, and have yet to touch a Steelhead. Even if you told me that I would be guaranteed of a fish if I threw a bobber and egg, I wouldn't do it. Why? Because there is something magical about casting the spey and swimming a fly on a run that is just made for it. Catching a fish, well thats just a bonus...

    Just one mans opinion I guess.

    Thought I should add that the above opinion comes from a very biased source, I mean I love to swing flies so much I I predominantly swing wet flies to trout in the summer rather than throw a dry or nymph!
     
  15. Zen Piscator

    Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

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    Head,
    Its not possible to swing flies through a lie that is 3ft deep and 3ft wide and hope to catch fish. When u have cross currents and seems surrouding it, and exposed rocks infront and behind, swinging isnt an option. Its not possible to get a fly down deep enough. For example, look at this pic [​IMG] . The water that stripedbass44 is fishing in that pic is about half as deep is at is wide, or much more so as the pool reaches its head. A swinging presentation would put the fly infront of the holding fish for a time frame of about 1-2 secounds, and it would be right at the surface. There is almost no chance the fish will see the fly, and even lesser of a chance it would react to it, especaily in water below 42 degrees. Im not sure which rivers you are fishing, but most of ours tend to run between 50-150cfs. Have you tried swinging flies in that much water? Most of the fish choose to hold in the deepest pools, near wood and other struction, so getting the fly down to them with anything other than a tight line nymping presentation is often impossible. In what way does swinging take more skill that nymphing? Im not understanding that part of the equation.

    Kerry,
    Just look at the rivers within 50 miles of Walla Walla excluding the columbia and snake. Small water to say the least. The methow and grand rhonde, and klickitat are some of the only river i can think of that are even remotly close to me that are in washington where swinging could be effective. But hey, i can ride my frikin bike to some of the rivers where I can nymph up some tasty hatchery fish. Its pretty sweet when u can catch a steelie after school and make dad really happy with some bbq later that night.
     
  16. pwoens

    pwoens Active Member

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    I have to say that even on rivers such as the touchet and tucanon, I never use an indicator, I always swing or strip. Nothing against indicators cause I use them all the time trout fishing, but I would much rather swing for steel mostly cause thats the only way I know how to catch them

    personally, I see nothing wrong with using indicators. If you want to be a true "traditionalist", walk to the stream :clown:
     
  17. _WW_

    _WW_ Fishes with Wolves

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    Traditional Fly fishing? Define please…

    Traditions, such as they are, may best be used to describe a fixed point in time, or perhaps even better, an era. As environmental conditions evolve, newer equipment devised and different methods of presentation discovered to be effective, it can only be appropriate to begin a new chapter in the continuing perceptions of tradition. When desiring a return to or a longing for past traditions one needs to choose between which hash marks he is referring to. Or to put it plainly the traditions of which era? The 50s? The 80s? The 30s? The 1830s? or yes, even the 1990s? In biblical times fishing was traditionally done with nets and the thought of doing it solely for recreational purposes probably unheard of. And what traditions there were most certainly subject to be waived in the interest of survival.

    Once-upon-a-time it was deemed proper etiquette to present the fly only by casting upstream to rising fish, and only rising fish with a properly greased representation of what the hatch of the moment was. Although it’s obviously technically feasible to attempt this on the Skagit in February, I think I would rather stay home and watch Jimmy Houston kiss bass on the lips. Following tradition for tradition’s sake is better experienced as a study of the old ways for educational purposes. Do it to glean an understanding of where we have been and how it helped us get to where we are now.

    Ever notice that most Steelhead fly fishermen’s early attempts at tying result in shrimp patterns? Or egg patterns? Some traditions die hard. But when they do, new ones are forged.

    And never forget; tradition can also be an anchor, a ball-and-chain-like impediment to progress that sometimes not only benefits the fisherman, but the fish too. Tradition can be divisive, disruptive, and damaging to the sport. Holding one’s methods and preferences above those of others, a version of elitism if you will, does the sport no good. At a time when the very fish are endangered to the point of extinction in some cases, anything that brings division to the rank and file of recreational sport fishermen must be avoided. A sad thing indeed if the sport were to die from lack of fish while we argued the merits of various casting and presentation techniques. Far more constructive to direct your passion towards endeavors which benefit us all instead of expounding the virtues of this over that.

    And believe it or not, the fish once it decides to strike, is oblivious to your technique…trust me I know this from personal experience.

    Fishing, and fly fishing in particular was once defined by those who practiced it and enforced by those, who by virtue of owning the land, owned the fishing. Now it is defined by law and transgressions of this law punishable in court. We as the practitioners neither own, define, or enforce that which we do. Nor do we, except by the most impractical, obtuse, red tape laden, and inefficient methods, have any say in our sport. And for this great privilege we are charged an annual fee that seldom changes to reflect our often diminishing opportunities. And yet, I still consider myself fortunate to be able to fish when I can. Why this is will be fuel for another topic on another day.

    Having said all this there are some traditions that deserve continuity and preservation. Traditions that all of us need to revere and practice on the water. Next time you’re suited up in fleece, neoprene, studded felts, polarized lenses, breathable rain gear and casting space age graphite rods with precision machined disc drag reels spooled with Dacron backing, PVC fly line, and monofilament tapered leaders, (with or without strike indicator), try to practice a little tolerance, some courtesy, and try to enjoy the camaraderie of your brothers in the sport. Because when our fishing preferences are stripped of their prejudices and pretensions and exposed in their most basic form; we all simply cast a lure in the hopes of enticing a fish to strike. Everything else is just window dressing.

    ....WW (5.0)
     
  18. Jerry Daschofsky

    Jerry Daschofsky Moderator Staff Member

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    Well said, couldn't have said it any better WW. You have a seat in my driftboat anytime. ;) :thumb:
     
  19. Zen Piscator

    Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

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    Very nice WW. Most of what is being said here is banter between good friends. I would hope that a devision in favored techniques would not seperate people who are united for a common cause. I would have to vote your post as one of the best first posts i have ever seen.

    Peace,
    Andy
     
  20. Lostinwater80

    Lostinwater80 New Member

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    Damn WW! Very well said. thanks for sharing
     

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