Winter steel...All I have is a 6 wt

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Alexander, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. Derek Day Rockyday

    Posts: 567
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    It can be done. It will be stressful, for both you, and the fish.
  2. Davy Active Member

    Posts: 2,021
    SIlverton, OR
    Ratings: +16 / 0
    you can do just fine with that 6
  3. Red Arch Active Member

    Posts: 176
    Lower Mainland or Interior of BC
    Ratings: +37 / 0
    Personally I would go up to the 8. What a lot of people seem to be forgetting here is that really the rod weight is more a reflection of the flies, tippets, and lines you need in order to be effectively fishing. A 6 weight is a good all around rod, but is it and your casting able to deliver the heavily weighted flies and tips/polyleaders/versileaders to where the steelhead are?

    There is a reason guys fish giant streamers on 8 weights. It is not because the rod cannot handle the fish, but the rod is more efficient at casting the fly, and they spend more time swinging the fly near steelhead then just in the water...
  4. troutdopemagic Active Member

    Posts: 408
    Lake Stevens, Washington
    Ratings: +134 / 0

    Hahaha you've obviously never worked retail. Because nothing is more appreciated then people who abuse return policies. Seriously, what kind of advice is that?

    Anyway, in response to the actual thread, in my opinion, a 6 weight is "undergunned" for winter steel, its not that 6 weight can't handle a winter fish, which it probably can, its just that it won't do so effectively and risks the life of the fish unless you really know what your doing with big hot fish in big flows. In addition to that, its not the most effective tool for delivering either heavy indicator rigs or or large flies and tips over and over again all day. I'd reccomend a decent mid range 8 weight setup. Echo/TFO/Redington all make good priced 8 weight rods and Lamson/Echo/Sage all make good cheaper reels.
    Danielocean likes this.
  5. underachiever !

    Posts: 691
    suburban hell
    Ratings: +484 / 0
    If I was picking from a whole variety of rods, a 6 wt wouldn't be my first choice for winter steel. However, if I was picking between fishing a 6 wt or not fishing, that's a pretty easy decision.
    Alexander likes this.
  6. Alexander Fishon

    Posts: 1,030
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    I know right? Was thinking the same thing...filthy.
  7. PT Physhicist

    Posts: 3,569
    Edmonds, WA
    Ratings: +728 / 2
    Good advice but if all you have is a 6wt are you going to stay home? If the idea is to go out and fish and have fun, what you have is more important than what you don't have. I've built heads for my 5 and 6wts that get me in the game. Chop a floating outbound back a few feet and attach tips.
    fish-on and Alexander like this.
  8. NateTreat Banned or Parked

    Posts: 60
    Lynnwood, Washington
    Ratings: +33 / 0
    Fishing for hatchery brats, you may be fine. That's more of a summer run type of rod, the flows are low and the flies are smaller. I would seriously consider picking up an 8wt for winter run, especially later in the season. Those native fish will pass out after the fight, like a lot of guys are saying. You will be limited in the water and methods that you can fish with such a light rod, I'd stick to soft water and hatchery fish with that one. You can also end up snapping the rod if you don't play them properly or use light enough tippet. Another rod in your arsenal won't hurt either, it's always a good idea o use the right tool for the jib.
  9. Alexander Fishon

    Posts: 1,030
    Ratings: +320 / 0
    I'd love another rod in my arsenal, heck, I'd love a few more in my arsenal. We're getting there, everyone has different priorities and is at differing income brackets. Fly fishing can be a spendy hobby. I'm doing with what I have and accumulate as I can. Thanks for all the tips and offers! Some of you will be getting pm's :D
  10. Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

    Posts: 2,308
    bellingham wa
    Ratings: +553 / 0
    It's a fine rod provided you are willing and able to make the decision to snep off a larger fish. If you can do that, go kill some brats.

    Fish the water you can fish as well as you can. I often think that I would learn a lot from fishing the one-hander. If my shoulder were better I'd do it. You should be able to cast 10 ft of t-8 or so. If you can do that to 40-50 feet you'll do just fine.

    Go Sox,
  11. Randall Clark Active Member

    Posts: 706
    Ratings: +217 / 0
    everything has pretty much been covered...if you do decide to stick with your 6wt, just don't be afraid to do two things: 1. Break off big fish (you'll know pretty quick), or 2. fight them fast and hard without worrying about breaking your rod (depending on your 6wt, a distinct possibility...not all 6wts are created equal). You've got some great offers here for loaners (mine still stands if you don't get anything else worked out).

    like Charles said, if you can cast 10ish feet of T-8 (or equivalent) 40-50 feet, you're in the game.
    Alexander likes this.
  12. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,551
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,685 / 0

    You've received an interesting range of views and recommendations, with a lot of concern expressed about the welfare of the fish if you use a 6 wt rod. As far as the welfare of a hooked fish is concerned, the limiting factor is you, not the rod. The second limiting factor is your leader tippet strength. If you have some skill in playing and landing fish and a heavy enough leader, you could safely land a 30 or 40 pound fish on a 6 wt rod, but it probably wouldn't be much fun. Heck, you don't even need a rod, just heavy enough leader, but that would take most of the fun out of the experience.

    I think 6 wt lines are pretty limiting at effective winter steelheading. If I had only a 6 wt rod to use, I'd cobble together a line that I could cast with it that would fish effectively. Something like 10 or 12' of T-8 spliced or looped to about 12 to 14' of 10 wt level floating line spliced to floating running line should both cast and fish efficiently and effectively. You're probably not going to want to use really large flies, either. But size 4 and 2 should cast on that line and rod and get the job done.

    And it wouldn't hurt to ask Santa to bring you an 8 wt while you're at it.

  13. Danielocean Steelhead Virgin

    Posts: 1,469
    Ratings: +646 / 0
    Have any of you guys actually worked a fish so hard that they died a little after retaining them. If so, does working a fish that hard to that point affect the meat if you decide to eat it. Obviously were talking hatch brats here.
  14. underachiever !

    Posts: 691
    suburban hell
    Ratings: +484 / 0
    Any fish I retain gets bonked and bled immediately so I can't answer that. It hasn't happened to me with steelhead but I know there's been a couple times when I've released a trout only to have it go belly up a couple minutes later. Both occasions were on the Deschutes and they were not keepers so I didn't eat them.
  15. Andrew Lawrence Active Member

    Posts: 733
    Renton, WA.
    Ratings: +100 / 0
    Any fish that I keep is quickly dispatched using either wood shampoo (a club) or mineral conditioner (rock). However, on one occasion in June 2009, I was fishing a run below Reiter (not the Cable Hole) on the Skykomish River when a chrome bright steelhead floated by. Later on, I talked to an angler in the next run above who claimed that the person who he had been fishing next to caught an early season wild summer run steelhead. When the angler finally managed to landed it, the fish was almost to the point of death. To this, he added that the man attempted to revive the fish, but to no avail. After 10 minutes, he released it. As one might expect, it turned belly up and then floated downriver. Upon inquiring about how long the fight took, the angler stated that he did not think that the fish had been played for too long.
  16. Jon Brengan flyfishing addict

    Posts: 395
    Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    I started with a 6/7 weight rod, fished all seasons and didn't know any better. I caught a lot of fish before I was given any advice on getting a heavier rod. So basically I don't think it matters all that much, except for your preference. Buying a whole new setup at this time of year can be a potential "present" if you have a good santa clause nearby. Just my two cents.
  17. Alexander Fishon

    Posts: 1,030
    Ratings: +320 / 0
    Man, seems like I need to become friends with some of your Santa Clauses... :D LOL!
  18. sleestak240 Active Member

    Posts: 104
    Ratings: +51 / 0
    I think one of the key things I didn't mention, is to ask yourself if you can CONSISTENTLY land 90% of the steelhead you hook on a 6 weight in the under 1 minute per pound category. I don't think most people can do that. Sure, it's possible to land a steelhead on a 6 weight, but you're unlikely to consistently meet that time category with one. I know I couldn't - and I consider myself to be pretty skilled at playing fish. I spent many years landing big trout on size 20 flies and 6X tippets so I feel that I have a very honed sense of the limits of gear and applying maximum available pressure to large fish. Last winter, I landed a 20-pound hen in 8 minutes with a two-hander...but I don't think I could consistently land winter steelhead on a 6 weight single-hander in what I would consider a reasonably consistent time frame.

    I've had several winter steelhead leave me feeling undergunned with a 7 weight single-hander. I was applying maximum pressure with 12 pound Maxima and had virtually no more usable leverage from the rod on fish digging deep into heavier currents.

    I guess I'll sway to public opinion and say it's alright during hatchery steelhead season, but once the odds of wild fish encounters goes up I think most of us would frown upon using light tackle.

    Hope you remove a few hatchery specimens from the gene pool!
    Andrew Lawrence likes this.
  19. Yard Sale Active Member

    Posts: 362
    The Hood
    Ratings: +154 / 0
    I bet you could land a steelhead on a 3wt if you really wanted. Just looks at the monster cat this dude stuck on a 5wt!

  20. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,551
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,685 / 0

    Never with steelhead. Once while fishing a cutthroat pond that I thought was deeper and colder than it actually was, I caught some trout that were obviously stressed from playing and handling. I checked the water temperature; it was 72*F, which is almost lethal just to live in. When a salmonid is stressed in temperatures well above its preferred range, lactic acid builds up in its blood. If it increases faster than it can be dissipated, then the fish will die.

    However, in this prospective instance of hooking and playing hatchery winter steelhead on a 6 wt, you could play the fish all day long without it developing lethal lactic acid levels. Therefore the more likely concern must be - relating to that other thread with the bogus study - that you will lead the fish into shallow water where it will bash its head on the stones and kill itself.

    Now, seriously, I appreciate that so many forum members express concern about the welfare of fish, particularly wild native fish. But it must be human nature to carry things to silly extremes. The rod wt is irrelevant. Here's why: what's relevant is angler skill and leader tippet strength. You can play and land a fish, of whatever size, with a straight line pull. So a rod pointed straight at the fish, be it a 3 wt or a 10 wt, is irrelevant to the operation. I'm not saying this would be as fun as playing the fish on a rod sized appropriately for the fish, but it would be interesting. But with the rod not being a factor in playing and landing the fish, it comes down to the skill of the angler and the breaking strength of the leader. Oh, and luck is also part of the equation, but that's always an element.

    And now, should you ever land a fish that dies of lactic acid accumulation, you should bleed it immediately to avoid whatever effect the acid might have on the flavor of the fish. And then ice the fish.