Skating/waking a dry success rate

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Luke77, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. Robert Engleheart

    Robert Engleheart Robert

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    in certain rivers, given conditions, I believe steelhead get very "trouty". The attached blog from The Trinity Fly Shop addresses this at the bottom of the page under the heading "Bussman's Holiday".
    http://trinityflyshop.com/blog/?paged=2
    Those of you who know Herb Burton know he's a straight shooter, no BS tolerated or given. The upper Trinity is a rich tailwater with unbelievable insect life and I think the fish quickly revert to their smolt phase and take advantage of opportunities when presented. While I personally haven't taken any on a traditional dead drift ( I did have one blow up a Bomber as soon as it hit the water, before it began to skate; naturally, I yanked it out of his mouth instead of waiting for the turn), I have friends who have though, and most of my fish come on small naturals (Golden stones, Caddis soft hackles & BHs in #14-16's) fished traditional nymph (no indicator) on the upper drift, then allowed to lift and swing. They often take on the swing or hang.
    Re: water temps, the T is pretty consistently below 50F, commonly 42-46F after Mid-October.
    G_Smolt; got any small skater patterns to share?
     
  2. ralfish

    ralfish Active Member

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    For many years I used to fish waked patterns under specific conditions quite regularly if those conditions were present. I thought water speed, temp, vis, bug activity etc were critical to success on the surface.

    I had good success with the method but it only made up maybe 10 - 30% of my fishing time over all. If various conditions weren't present I stayed with grease lining, dry line and wet flys or went to tips. Then five years ago I fished with a couple of guys that waked bugs exclusively for summer/fall run fish. We fished cold water that had no more than 16-24" vis at the best and consistently brought hot, knuckle busting aggressive fish to the surface. That convinced me that steelhead that spend an extended rearing period as paar in their home waters will readily come to the surface in pretty much any water condition, or at least in a far wider set of conditions that I had previously realised.



    That has translated to fishing a surface fly almost exclusively, certainly for summer/fall run fish but more and more including winter run fish. While some say the tug is the drug or a sunk intruder type offering elicits a savage strike, my answer to that is you are missing out. Its true that a large sunk bug will get a dour /stale/tired fish to grab that would otherwise ignore a waked bug. I prefer to let those fish rest. The hot ones that chase down an intruder will also come to the surface though..Watching a fish follow your fly and take multiple swipes at it as it comes across the surface leaves you shaking. The fish is doing its part , now its up to you to get it to commit and to keep it stuck. Seeing the different types of behaviours and takes and figuring out how to get the fish to commit has added several more parameters to the game.

    Its unbelievably cool finding steelhead that will take a dead drifted bug on top of that as well. Rare indeed, but not as rare as i used to think..

    As far as success goes or percentage hook ups to landing ratio, you have to be dialled in to how the fish are taking or behaving. If the fly is waking under tension its pretty easy but fishing a fly under a slack line requires a couple of things to happen if you are to have a hope of a solid hook up. For me thats the challenge and the fun part. Keeping your nerves steady and a calm head and not pulling the fly out of fishes mouth seems pretty basic, but i screw that up on a regular basis still...
     
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  3. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Well-Known Member

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    I don't fish dries or skaters much, but I agree with other posters that under the right conditions it can be just as, if not more, productive than fishing a wet fly swing. I'd fish them more if I weren't so lazy. I'd rather watch the scenery than watch my fly skate.

    Sg
     
  4. Creatch'r

    Creatch'r Heavies...

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    Well I'm aroused. Time to start wrapping skaters and daydreaming of cannonball eats.
     
  5. Luke77

    Luke77 I hope she likes whitefish

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    I'm with you Sean....I now know what I'll be doing my next trip out. Thanks Ralfish!
     
  6. Matthew Gulbranson

    Matthew Gulbranson Resident Swinger

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    Looking out at a nice sunny day has got me daydreaming about this again. Several of you have tossed out the phrase "if the conditions are right" then skating/waking can be more effective. If you care to share a little about some of these conditions I would appreciate it. I've only tried using dries a few times, but would like to give it another go this summer. I'm thinking that there are probably quite a wide array of conditions that work for fishing dries, maybe just highlighting some of your favorite conditions would give me a better idea of the ideal time/place/water for this pursuit.
     
  7. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

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    Another question for those who have had success skating flies as I've rarely done so.
    Are you riffle hitching your flies or are there other ways you prefer to skate your flies?
    Thanks,
    SF
     
  8. Jeremy Floyd

    Jeremy Floyd fly fishing my way through life

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    For me it would depend on the type of fly. If it is a foam head or a huge headed deer hair skater, then no because there is no reason to put the extra stress on your leader. If I am skating a pattern that barely stays up, or doesn't at all on it's own, then absolutely.

    Necessity calls for a riffle hitch. If you can get away without it, then by all means avoid it, because you are taking unnecessary risks.
     
  9. g_smolt

    g_smolt Recreational User

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    I have gotten fish on all of these, but the least succesful (for me) has been the Grantham sedge (2nd from bottom right). Deerhair w/no foam is a pain to keep up, and I don't like fussy flies - for me, they should fish without being high-maintenance. The check-legged fly at top is pure evil, and the little guy at bottom right is a murder weapon as well.
    [​IMG]

    Steelhead also eat mice. Fly shown in above pic, top right.
    [​IMG]

    Smallish (but by no means smallest) skater, with the teeth marks from a PM session.
    [​IMG]

    ...and one that didn't survive a morning beatdown by a pile of fish on an unnamed ID river. They tried to chew the tinsel off, too.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. JS

    JS Active Member

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    You have inspired me. That is pretty damn sick......I'm headed for the vice right now. The smallest thing that I generally skate is crystal caddis at least twice that size. Thanks for the food for thought.
     
  11. JS

    JS Active Member

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    What hooks are you using for your smaller foam stuff?
     
  12. skyrise

    skyrise Active Member

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    agree that wild fish are much more receptive. you B.C. guys are lucky. we in the Puget tropolis have to be happy with the cookie cutters. but they will come up at certain times. interesting about the small foam riders.
    gets me thinking. hmm.
     
  13. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    I caught my first steelhead on a dry nearly 50 years ago (a royal coachman bucktail derivative) and since then have had more than my share of success. In the process I have formed some opinions as to the "best" approach to success surface fishing for steelhead whether skating/waking or drag free presentations. Keep in mind the vast majority of my summer steelhead fishing and surface success has been on western Washington streams; specifically the north Sound "S" rivers.

    Whenever I can find summer steelhead that are still actively moving a surface presentation is a reasonable approach and often the best apoach. IMHO the best situation is when the fish are moving a few miles, then holding for short periods (whether a few hours or several days). Those fish whether hatchery or wild typically will respond to a well presented surface fly. Those conditions are typically found once flows have dropped some and stream temperatures have either risen or fallen into the high 40s to low 60s range. While it is always nice to have clear conditions anytime the visibility is above 30 inches it can be game on.

    While taking a steelhead on a drag free dry can be the ultimate thrill the hard reality is that at least here in Western Washington finding a regularly rising ("feeding") fish is highly unlikely - in the all my years on the water can count the number of times I have found one on a single hand (though in ever case they readily took a well presented dry). That said taking fish dry free is not hopeless; a dogged presentation of a drag free dry will produce fish it is just a very efficient way to cover water and find a fishing willing to rise. It is common in fishing a skated or waking pattern for a steelhead to show itself without taking the fly. Many of noted that those fish can often be taken when the fly is represented or with a pattern change. I have had some good success when I find such a fish on a drag free presention. The drill is after the fish shows itself to note its hold spot strip of 5 or 6 feet additional line and present the fly drag free so that it will start its drift several feet aove the feet and be prepared to extend the drift for several feet pass the fish. With this approach have taken a pretty decent number of fish drag free including lots of hatchery fish. One word of caution the angler will probably convert a higher percentage of those moved fish to hook ups if they stayed with the waking fly but for me the reward of taking the fish drag free more than offset catching a couple more fish.

    In very much old school in fly preference when it comes to my steelhead dries. My two favorite have to be Haig-Brown's steelhead bee and a grey Wulff though by always has some variations of bucktail coachman, muddlers, fall caddis and some sort of Lamire grease liner. I do agree with g Smolt that todays foand/or bomber patterns are easiler to fish and likely more durable I do think an angler is well advise to learn to fish those old school patterns well - the line control skills learned to fish those flies well - under constant line pressure while slowly swing across the currret will pay dividends regardless of the pattern fished (BTW those same line skills will improve your wet fly swing game).

    Maybe converting "takes" to hook-ups is the hardest part of the dryfly game. I find it helpful to remember that those summer steelhead are often pretty clumsy in their takes. The often miss the fly and tpically move quite a bit of water. In the excitment of moving a fish to the surface it is hard not to fall into "trout" mode and set the hook at the "splash". the result is the hook set is often prior to the fish actually taking the fly or will the fish's mouth is still open. The trick is to delay the strike until the fish has clearly taken the fly and started back down to the bottom - much easier said than done. The first rise or two of the season almost always results in a premature strike on my part. It helps if I can keep my nerves under control by fishing each cast as if I expect to rise a fish. By far the most difficult fish to hook is the one that takes more or less immediately downstream of the angler. The trick here is to either to delay the strike until the fish has clearly taken the fly and turned to the side or if you can not wait that long strike the fish with a long lateral rod sweep towards the near bank.

    Salmo g - one of the best ways to build a delay in your hooks set is to enjoy the scenery; of course that meanone misses the thrill of the take.

    I reserve a riffle hitch for my low water flies that I'm fishing grease line using either a triliene or loop knot for attaching my waking dries.

    The next four months depending on conditons are prime time of the steelhead surface game but I do have one word of caution - steelhead on the dry is very addictive. The one long lasting addiction I have from my 1960s days is chasing steelhead with surface flies.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  14. Andrew Lawrence

    Andrew Lawrence Active Member

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    Interesting conversation! Out of curiousity, does anyone tie their skater/waking flies on tubes? If so, would you wiling share any patterns?
     
  15. golfman65

    golfman65 Guest

    I have used tubes for about a year now (dry) some work better then others...these are ones I tied at first...I have moved to foam much more and swept back wings like gsmolts...

    there are many ways to do this...on the ones in the pic's I pinched the end of the tube and then heated the pliers holding it to flatten it..you can put a hole through the side but I've since found one through the bottom works better for my flies..

    I've also found they work fine without pinching the front but I still do on some as they skate better with some patterns..

    last but not least...my first steelie out of a river up north a couple three years ago was on a size 14 dry dead drifting it pictures 018 (Medium).jpg pictures 019 (Medium).jpg pictures 023 (Medium).jpg ...I put my spey rod down and was fishing for trout with my 000 wt. hooked and landed a small wild fish that was sipping yellow sallys off the top...was very cool...
     
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