Who is actually fishing or fished a dryline for winter steel in the PNW?

Discussion in 'Spey Clave' started by golfman65, Nov 10, 2011.

  1. golfman65

    golfman65 Guest

    Would like to start a discussion on who swings a dryline for winter steel in our local rivers?

    Say Wa. Or. B.C. and youdaho..

    Notice it says swings OK....
     
  2. Panhandle

    Panhandle Active Member

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    Is it winter now? If so, yes.
     
  3. Andrew Lawrence

    Andrew Lawrence Active Member

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    That is my winter steelhead challenge this up coming winter / spring season.
     
  4. Evan Burck

    Evan Burck Fudge Dragon

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    I haven't yet, but I have a few runs in which I want to try and skate a fish up this season. I know of a few guys who have pulled it off (winter fish on skaters), and I have one spot in particular where I had steelhead eat an indicator on more than one occasion.

    As far as dry lining wet flies; not sure I'm ready for that one yet.
     
  5. Mayfly Aviator

    Mayfly Aviator Member

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    50% of the time fall/winter/spring (ie 11 months a year in Idaho)

    :ray1:
     
  6. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    I have and do during periods of lower water. I typically fish a long leader (~15 ft) and weighted medium or small flies (1-2.5 inches). I fish it on a tensioned swing after an initial mend and brief period of dead drift to allow the fly to sink. I generally cast at 90 degrees or quartered downstream. The particular presentation needs to be tailored to the conditions of the day and of the piece of water being fished. I have found it particularly successful in warm(er) low water (late season), and cold low water (cold snaps) but during cold snaps, only in shallow and slow runs where the fly doesn't rise too quickly and where one can maintain a slow swing. Two years ago 40% of my catch was accounted for by this technique--it was an El Nino year with warmer than usual and lower than usual water. Last year I used the technique less owing to higher water.

    (this all applies to the coastal and puget sound streams that i fish)
     
  7. Yard Sale

    Yard Sale Active Member

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    Are you asking about winter runs or fish during the winter? ID doesn't get winter runs correct?

    Not really sure what the difference would be between fishing a long leader and a weighted fly VS a sinking polyleader and unweighted fly.

    But I like this thread and am anxious to see what is said. Not really my deal yet, I'm happy to get winter fish on any type of swing I can, but someday.....
     
  8. inland

    inland Active Member

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    Odds of moving a winter steelhead on/in/near surface are just not good. Not impossible, however.

    Fishing the 'deep wet fly swing' a'la Bill McMillan is a great option. In the right hands this method can be VERY productive (when there are fish around of course). You will have to edit water carefully and stick with it. It is an extremely difficult method with a high reward factor. The better you get the more water you can fish effectively. And the more successful it becomes.

    Run as light a flure as you can get away with. 20-25 grains plus the dressing is plenty heavy. And you can cast them with very little change to your dryline casting stroke.

    William
     
  9. golfman65

    golfman65 Guest

    This is what I'm thinking as well...I got his book coming, am reading and re reading jock scotts...
    You know I've tried scandi's and little flies, heavy tips and big flies, the middle ground...I don't enjoy hucking the big heavies...when I'm fishing lighter I seem to catch more other fish..and I enjoy that style of fishing more then any other..
    William, I think your the one who got my thinking about this actually...

    I have a fall favorite and a carron that I chopped and made into a head so I can change up...the FF gives me the option of running lighter delta style tips if I need to...with the right water..I'll run the carron..with either I can work on the methods described and try and hone them...I find that a pretty fascinating experience...
     
  10. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    I have extremely few hours in with floating lines in winter, not enough to call a reasonable experiment. Using a 10' leader and a dumbbell eyed streamer I caught a bull trout in a river not known for having a char population. The tools/method has good potential in frog or slow water like the old Rancheree or Birdsview riffle across from Presintine on the Skagit. I remember talking with Pat Crane about one time he was out at Glasso's and spotted a school of steelhead in the Quillayute just below the Sol Duc. Some were rolling and exhibiting rising behavior. He said he wasted half a day trying to get one using a floating line and greased line presentation with zero results. And Pat was no slouch when it came to steelheading.

    Sg
     
  11. inland

    inland Active Member

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    golfman,

    A delta or windcutter floater would work just fine. Focus on places where you know the fish will lay in close- less than 50' from your wading position. Preferably less than 35' out from your wading position. Jock Scott's book describes the method quite well. Look for the chapter on fishing the sunk fly. Bill added the 'back mends' or stack mends so you can gain more depth. From there Rudd's description is actually a little clearer than Bill's on what to do. The key is lining everything up and getting that fly under tension so you can lead/follow and lower with the rod tip as you bring the fly around, keeping it as deep as possible for as long as possible....but swinging across the current.

    The majority of the water I have fished with the method required a cast from roughly 100 degrees to quartering upstream. Two to four backmends depending on how far up and how fast the water is flowing. Once you get the fly under tension, swinging and slowly rising in the water column expect a grab anytime. Including all the way to the hangdown.

    This isn't just a slow water presentation. You can pull these fish out of some heavy currents at times with this method. Including some very tricky surface currents that cause all sorts of problems.

    For starters look for 15' type III tip water with fairly even currents. You are better off to fish shorter, closer and under control then trying to cover 'out there', slightly beyond your control and lose the last 1/4 of your swing because the fly has risen to 8" deep (but sometimes they still come chomp it anyway). It will mess with your mind. You are truly scratching the edges. Where a modest cast of 70' with a sinktip is going to nearly double your water coverage in comparison. Thankfully plenty of winter steelhead, in the right water hold in this zone. The same zone we used to catch them with a single hander. Don't try to fish water deeper than 6' (unless the water speed is perfect then by all means get that fly deep and hold on). Don't be afraid to fish the same outside bends and high banks that are so popular today. Just edit the water so you know you have a chance. It could mean you are only going to cover 25' and be happy that fly is nice and deep as it approaches the steeply sloped river bed. All the better if there is a bit of structure in there! But realize some of this water is just too fast to get a decent swing and keep that fly down. Better suited to the weighted flure and T-heavy stuff. But you never know until you try!

    If you know some reliable taking lies that are in close and somewhat soft you will have success...once you figure out the casting angles and line control challenges.

    Considering the explosion of fishing pressure and river closures, let alone depressed runs on the open and increasingly crowded streams you may feel like you are fishing with one arm tied behind your back and blindfolded. Just stick with it and it will start to pay off. Accept you are going to be leaving money on the table. And be prepared to enjoy the fish you do get that much more- you are likely going to pay dues and earn them.

    Great fun!

    William
     
  12. Andrew Lawrence

    Andrew Lawrence Active Member

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    I pick up his book every now and then to re-read a chapter or two. To say the least, I have been fascinated by this approach for the last couple of years.
     
  13. Idaho steel

    Idaho steel Active Member

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    I fish floating lines and unweighted flies year round on my rivers. I can't speak for the coastal rivers having never fished them, but over here on the CLearwater, Snake, Ronde and Salmon, Floating lines are every bit as viable a method in the winter as sink tips. I can say this with a fair amount of certainty, since I used to fish skagit heads, heavy tips and big flies in the winter. If anything, my catch rate has gone up since switching exclusively to the floater. There are times and places of course where a sinking line can get you into fish that a floater won't, but the difference just isn't big enough for me to lose sleep over. I started using floating lines in part for the challenge, but also from a growing certainty that sinking lines just aren't necessary.
     
  14. ralfish

    ralfish Active Member

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    The greased lined presentation as described by AHE Wood isn't a deep water thing at all. Its just sub surface. The key is line control to maintain the sideways presentation throughout the swing. The fly turns near the end of the swing when the leader finally comes under tension. Knowing what kind of water the method works best in and relating that to where steelhead will lie in say sub 38 degree water is key to success. In water thats 38 and warmer a light hook is the ticket and will swim really nice under a slack leader. Colder water, you can achieve depth with a heavier hook and stack mends. Also pay attention to how you dress your flies. The key is maintaining slack to the fly, but not giving up line control to the leader.

    Personally, I enjoy a hybrid the greased line method and a typical wet fly swing. Floating line, long leader and flies to say 1/0 with 1 and 2 being the regulars. Controlling fly speed and presentation is important. There is certain water that I fish with quiet small tubes that are tied bushy, so they don't sink deep, right in close over structure that the fish hold in, that is in less than 20'' of water. Again, its important to read the water correctly and fish it appropriately. Get the big book by AHE Wood. Increasingly this is my method of choice for cold water steelheading.

    Here is a 22"X38" (mid 20s) fish taken last winter, click on the pic to see the fly...


    View attachment 45672
     
  15. speyforsteel

    speyforsteel Degenerate Caster

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    I've done decent swingin a floating line on da Skagit during the C&R season later when water temps
    are up a bit.
    I've gotten a few fish on the Hoh doing the same thing.

    I fish a floating line all season on the Wenatchee up till it ices over.

    To me winter fish need a bit higher temp than summer runs to be floating line friendly.
    I feel confident with summer runs right down into the 30's but the winter runs seem to like mid 40's or above.
     
  16. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    As I read these posts I realize most of the fish I've hooked in the last three years have been in water that was 4' or less, so there is no reason to believe that I would be putting myself at that much of a disadvantage. My first fly caught steelhead was a greased line presentation and I fished that way for a while( with very limited sucsess), but you got me thinking.

    I enjoyed Bill M's book a lot,and if I knew what I did with it I would re-read it.

    Great fish ralfish
     
  17. Derek Day

    Derek Day Rockyday

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    I've fished a dry line a bit the past few winters. I got a few fish on weighted leeches two seasons ago. Last winter, I got one on a dry line and an un-weighted fly--pretty cool feeling.

    In the february 2009 edition of Flyfishing and Tying Journal John McMillan wrote a great article on dry line vs. sink tips. He fished dry line for four years and a sink tip for the next four. He compared results vis-a-vis temp, current speed, visibility and depth of holding water. For those that haven't read it, it is so incredibly worth your time. Fantastic.
     
  18. Benjy

    Benjy Active Member

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    I'm only fishing for them with my tenkara set up this season so I'm pretty much un-one-up-able when it comes to winter steelhead.
     
  19. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

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    Benjy, for clarification, while fishing with that Tenkara rod (yes, now we both have to have a drink) will you be sporting the cutsom BENJY t-shirt from the "Epic Brown of a Lifetime" fame? If so, there simply is no one upping that killer combination.
     
  20. Rick Sharp

    Rick Sharp Member

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    Not really a dry line per se but I made a 10 floating tip for my airflo skagit compact and thought I'd try it while fishing the klick today with an orange bomber, had a steel hit the bomber half way thru the run. for what that's worth I thought it was pretty cool.
     

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