Grande Ronde HELP 11/2-11/4

Whats up Nate,

You should roll into my camp this weekend if you are down we are above staying above cable hole. You will see our smoke signals :beer2: and my red hyde.

As for flies, Princes and Octobers have been good nymphing, but half of my fish have been caught swinging Spawning Purples on a type 6 tip. My buddy had also been picking up fish on a classic spey with a type 8 tip. I would recomend hiking if you dont have a boat to water that seldom gets fished. That means water far from the road.


Zen Piscator

Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.
I've got to say that spawning purple has been a damn good fly. Its a snap to tie and looks pretty to the fisherman and clearly the fish. I can't say I've ever caught fishing swinging on back to back cast with any other fly.

The best help I can give is find unfished fish. If not unfished since they hit the river then just unfished atleast since the evening before. Put yourself on your A water first and don't leave until you have covered it well.


Active Member
Sorry for getting your post highjacked Nate, I thought I was providing a productive response to your question posed.

Hmmmmm? First off I'm from Oregon.... grew up there and learned to steelhead there. I didn't even use floating lines, with the exception of a few rivers, until I moved over here 4 years ago-- so most of my experience is using sink tips. Second, I disagree. Dead drifting a sink tip on the bottom (searching) is an awful like nymphing without an indicator. Why does it have to be bouncing off the bottom to be nymphing? Don't you ever nymph suspended? The fly is more dead drifting through the water column than it is swinging... hence nymphing, not swinging, but oh well-- O.K you're swing-- is that better? :eek: I also didn't say that you have to be waking or grease lining to be flyfishing---- read the post and smiley! The guy said he wanted to catch a steelhead on a fly rod. I don't think using a "float and jig" set up constitutes flyfishing..... my opinion. In all honesty, if you’re going to use that set up, it's a lot more efficient to use a gear rod, which is what he was doing. I'll be on the Ronde weekend after next, and guess what? I might even nymph for a little bit-- dead drifting with an indicator.ptyd
I personally like to swing flies for steelhead but I learned how to fly fish steelhead using an indicator and Nymph. The Key is to do what you like best and who cares what others think. If you want to have a better chance to catch some fish I would fish the Nymph. You'll soon find that you will make changes to the way you fish by what you like best and not what others think is correct.

How can you make the comment that swinging a sink tip is Nymphing. First off if I cast strait out or at a 45 deg down stream with a tight line to the fly that is not Nymphing. If I cast at a 45 deg up and High stick throught the hole that could be considered Nymphing, but I can also cast up and dead drift the top and then tighten up and swing the bottom and I would be doing both. Just because your using a sink tip doesn't mean your always numphing.

And why is it that you can be a flyfisherman and fish an indicator and nymph for trout but if you do the same for steelhead now your not a flyfisherman. To me that is being a flysnob.
If I cast at a 45 deg up and High stick throught the hole that could be considered Nymphing, but I can also cast up and dead drift the top and then tighten up and swing the bottom and I would be doing both.
I think either way that is still swinging. With sink tip and a short leader (which most fish with a sink tip), I am pretty sure there is very little true dead drift occuring. Also depending on the water, a cast upstream may still be needed to a get a perfect swing. Ofcourse there are purists who would say otherwise but they are clearly holier than thou.

I think that nymphing gets a bad rap when people use indicators because that is pretty much exactly how the gear guys fish with floats. If you have a heavy fly dangling below an indicator than you are def. not swinging.


Active Member
I'm not going to argue with you, it's my opinion based on my defintion. When you are indicator nymphing, do you swing your fly all the way through to the hang-down? if not, you are missing alot of fish. That's how you swing a sink tip or flaoting line. Now, how you swing a tip is vastly different than how I do it. I rarely ever cast out in front of myslef or below. With sink tips I cast above my body, mend upstream, prep the line for the depth and speed I want, then swing it through the run.

I don't know why this would be a confusing concept:confused:. If I cast a sink tip like a describe above, especailly a type 6 or more, and follow the line with a dead drift- searching the bottom for fish, that is more nymphing than swinging. Swinging is neither a dead drift nor forcing the fly through the swing, but rather a steady pace that activates movement in the profile of the fly therefor moving a player. What is being described with this slow dead drift presentation with a fast sinking line is hitting a fish on the nose. Better yet, if I was to throw an active pulsating pattern on, it would not get the required movement in the profile to move a fish with the technique described. I could certianly throw a nymph on however and pick up fish with this technique--- kind of like nymphing without an indicator on a sinking line. In fact this is primarly how I trout fish. You don't need an indicator or floating line to nymph in my opinion.
You don't need an indicator or floating line to nymph in my opinion.
I agree 100%

My point was that nymphing gets a bad rap because of the modern forms of nymphing such as a heavy fly and a strike indicator.

I believe that many of our founding fathers who we think of as purists would have cast upstream and mended and "nymphed" as you described if they thought it would hook them to a steelhead.

I realize that there are uber purists who think everything should be dry flies to visible, feeding fish. I realize purists come in all forms and types but I am talking about the S River founding fathers we all read about in the books written in the Pacific NW (Wahl, Lamire, Combs, et cetera)

They would never have accepted a huge heavy fly (essentailly a jig) floating below an indicator (essentially a float) and that setup is what the purists I am talking about have a problem with.

Like I say, they would have nymphed with a weightless fly and a sink tip if it was a particular piece of water that needed that method to reach and hook a fish.

The original definition of nymphing was fishing sub-surface period.

You know what I am saying?


Be the guide...
Nothing wrong with a weighted fly below an indicator if that is your cup-o-tea. At some point it might be more practical to switch to a gear rod if the indicator becomes more the size of a 'float' and fly more the size and weight of a 'jig'. But that is only a matter of being more efficient - not right or wrong. If a person likes the challenge of casting an awkward setup of an indator and weighted fly with a fly rod - more power to 'em....

Will Atlas

there is a fundemental difference between swinging a sink tip and dead drifting a nymph. I have no objections to either, but the presentation is dramatically different. True you might swing a nymph at the end of a dead drift, but in my experience most of the actually catching is done on the dead drift while nymphing. With a swung fly, tip or no tip, the fly is swimming sideways through the water column and the fish is pursuing the fly to take it. Not sure why we're all so caught up on this. Go catch some fish, however you like to do it
Nate the best way for you to catch a steelhead on a swung fly is to cover as much productive water as necissary. If you know there are fish in a particlar area then cover it with both on top of the water column with a floater or intermediate and then go down with a tip. Steelhead are either on the top of the water column moving (the best grabs come here) or on the bottom where they may or may not be moving. Fishing the in between will only get you stragglers and is less productive. This of course does not mean a Type 3 will not get down in a certain run and it may also cover the top of the water column in others.

Indicator fishing is very effective. However try not to nymph through runs that have fishermen swinging through them. Not that those runs cannot be swung through but rather you will have less hostility thrown at you. Nymph fishing through productive swinging runs will put fish down that are grabby and moving thus pissing off those guys who choose to look for that one or two grabs on the swing in a day. I personally use both methods but pick and choose what is more appropriate for each run.

Swinging nymphs on tips or a floating line is a great method. When fish are less grabby try a small neutral pattern like a burlap, spade or even a prince. They downright work and have been successful for me this year when fish are off the bite. You will never forget that first fish you get to the beach. Tightlines,
O.k., I'll leave it at this...

Can you nymph with a sink tip?
Yes all fishing of sink tips is "nymphing".

Again, "nymphing" gets a bad rap amongst purists because today "nymphing" usually means "jig with tampon".

80 years ago "nymphing" was fishing under the surface in any way.

It is complicated because of semantics.

"Swinging" is a form of nymphing where the fly is presented differently than "dead drift".

"Dead drift" is easier to achieve with a strike indicator hence their popularity.

Strikes are easier to detect with heavier fly (When floating below a "tampon"), hence their popularity.

As long as your setup is legal you are fine by me. I am only trying to clarify.