steelhead tactics question

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by DanTennant_22, Jul 7, 2006.

  1. Big Tuna

    Big Tuna Member

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    Adam,
    When you cast upstream, do you strip line in as it drifts in front of you? It seems like you would end up w/ significant slack until the line begins to drift/swing below you. Not sure if that makes sense.
     
  2. Panhandle

    Panhandle Active Member

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    Tuna, it totally depends on the water, sometimes strip, sometimes stack, sometimes mend upstream, sometimes downstream. The focal point is that you use that time from the upstream cast to the beginning of the swing, to have everything set-up. By the way, I will respond to your PM tomarrow, I've been pretty busy. I might run in to you.
     
  3. Big Tuna

    Big Tuna Member

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    I generally cast down and across when I'm swinging. Last winter I was fishing a cerise marabou tube and was casting pretty much across the river (it was a narrow stretch of river:D ). My fly would land just the other side of a current seam on the far side. Because it was so bright, I could track it through the water. I was amazed to see the huge bow in my line, despite the fact that I threw a couple of big mends. That bow literally rocketed the fly on the swing and my fly was about half way across the river before I could get the bow out and get the fly swimming properly. I determined the fly was moving way too quickly through a lot of holding water. The moral of the story is that I need to learn to fish the way you're describing. Given my mediocre line-handling skills, it could be a challenge:beathead: Thanks for the tips.
     
  4. Panhandle

    Panhandle Active Member

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    A good way to learn what your fly is doing is to go to a hole you fish often and swing a gigantic- bright colored fly through it so you can see what happening. I think most people would be amazed as to what their fly is doing in contrast to where they think it is. I use a big pink trailer trash.
     
  5. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Skwala,

    Calm down, man. It's the weekend. Productive people have better things to do than check their computers. My excuse is that it's too hot to take the bike ride I was thinking about earlier this morning, so this low-energy activity and a cold beer seems just right at the moment. Some may be out fishing and regale us with fishing reports later tonight.

    Dan,

    I'm don't know why it matters, but I think you're swinging, rather than nymphing, even tho you have some nymphing gear (the indicator) attached to your line. I've never heard of fixing an indicator to a sink tip line, but that doesn't mean it might not be a good idea.

    When I'm trying to swing slow and deep, I also cast quartering across and upstream for the express purpose of getting my unweighted fly near the bottom. Now there are faster sinking tips available, and when I'm using one of those, I may aim my initial cast more straight across or slightly downstream, depending on the water depth and current speed.

    When I'm fishing the swing, I cast to set up my fly to swing across suspected or known holding water. If I nymph, I cast to drift my fly straight downstream through a deep slot or pocket that looks like it would hold fish. So my initial cast is made very differently, depending on my intended fishing style.

    I don't know diddly about nymphing for steelhead, but when I try it I use a floating line, not a sink tip. I use either a weighted fly or a split shot on my leader if the fly is unweighted. I also cast quartering upstream, and usually across, when nymphing, but I also strip line in as it drifts back downstream toward me, then feed it out as it drifts on by - the hypothesis being that if I see the line tip move, or the indicator if I use one, I have less slack to deal with in tightening my line to whatever I'm hung up on. So far, these have all been things other than steelhead.

    When I'm fishing the swing with a floating line, I cast either straight across or quartering downstream, depending on the water situation at hand.

    Pretty much as you describe, I usually will throw a mend when my cast is in the air or as it lands in the quartering upstream and across condition. Then, depending on the nature of the currents, I'll make another mend, sometimes two, just as my line is setting up to begin its swing across the current. Often the strike comes just as the swing begins.

    As B Tuna mentions, it can be instructive to know what the fly is doing after being cast out upon the water. When my fly and leader, and or part of the line, cross a current seam on the cast, I draw the fly back into the edge of the current seam and then mend, so that it too, begins the downstream drift along with the line. In a perfect world, cast, and river, there would be no bow in my line. I normally fish in imperfect situations, and a small amount of bow doesn't seem harmful, but a big one just blows away the cast as useless.

    I don't fish the dangle for steelhead - - unless I've a compelling reason to believe that it may get a fish to strike. I've caught more steelhead than I can count, but I can count the number of steelhead I've caught on the dangle on my fingers, so I have long since discontinued that GENERALLY unproductive part of the cast. If you read the water well, you can usually make a good calculated guess as to whether it's remotely or highly probable that you might draw a strike on the dangle. When I calculate that it's remote, I don't bother, and leave all those remote probability fish to you habitual danglers.

    Sincerely,

    Salmo g.
     
  6. Panhandle

    Panhandle Active Member

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    Nice Salmo:rolleyes: ..... "productive people have better things to do". I have two kids, including a 2 month old, work 40 hrs a week, and still manage to fish at least once a week. Lame statement guy. I was simply pointing out a fact on the nature of this forum and others. :thumb:
     
  7. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    OK, perhaps I could have been more diplomatic and said that others who will post to this thread are pre-occupied with matters that are of higher priority at the moment.

    Anyway, by coincidence I checked in and added my 2 cents worth.

    I find it interesting that so many anglers nymph fish for steelhead now. I guess I spent so much of my steelhead formative years fishing water that was fly fishing only back when fly only regulations prohibited weighted flies and any split shot on the leader. So nymph fishing really wasn't possible on those waters, unless it wasn't necessary to sink it significantly. Or maybe I'm a natural born swinger. NTTAWWT.

    Sincerely,

    Salmo g.
     
  8. steelheaddreams

    steelheaddreams New Member

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    1. Re the dangle, if the water is fresh or if fish are moving or aggressive, I will always let it dangle. If you revel in the thrill of the first millisecond of the hookup, the dangle is some of the best action insofar as they are often killer hits. I rarely let it hang more than 3-5 seconds. If the water has been thrashed or the conditions are lousy (bright sun, low H20), I will do an abbreviated dangle or none at all, instead focusing on keeping my fly in the sweet spot area where fish are more apt to be biters. Also, fish on the dangle often seem to get hooked in the roof of the mouth, so you need to be proactive after you hook one.

    2. Re nymphing vs. swinging, I agree with all the comments that "it doesn't really matter -- do what you enjoy and what works." If you can get away with it, I prefer to swing as much as possible insofar as the tight line makes the initial hookup all the more exciting. If the fish are finicky, my experience has been that the odds go up the more you approximate a perfect dead drift. So, under those circumstances I will tend to cast slightly upstream with some solid mends right off the bat to get the fly down and floating relatively drag free. Whether I'm doing a true swing cast or some kind of hybrid nymph-type drift, I always left the fly swing across the current below to complete the drift. More than 50% of my fish are hooked as the fly swings at the 10 o'clock position.

    3. Re sink tip v. floating line w/ split shot, I've come full circle over the past year and now use floating line and split shot almost exclusively, except when I'm fishing with a 2-handed rod. Why? In clear water or with finicky fish, I'm convinced that sink tip will put some fish off the bite. I watched Teeny's video a few years ago which showed him fishing steelhead viewed via underwater camera. I was astounded how visible the sink tip component was as it bounced downstream off the bottom; I was amazed he hooked any fish (he did, of course). But, if the water is colored or the fish are aggressive, I don't think it matters which way you go. Also, with a sink tip I think it can be more challenging to control what is really happening at the terminal end and to get an effective mend. As far as the spey rod, I hate having sinkers flying around my head, so I still use sink tips on that....
     
  9. TallFlyGuy

    TallFlyGuy Adipossessed!

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    I agree with salmo on the dangle. I've caught numerous steelhead, and not one has been on the dangle. If you are catching alot of fish on the dangle I would presume your fly is swinging way to fast throught the holding water. When it does finally slow down it would appear to be on the "dangle" but is really finishing out the swing and slowing down.

    Most of my fish come after I have cast at lets say a 45 degree angle, Then I do a big mend keeping my rod tip slightly pointed up river waiting till it comes under tnesion. After it comes tight, I slowly drop my rod following the fly and line all the way to the bank. The bottom 2/3rds of the swing is where 90% of my hook ups come.

    Just my .02 cents.

    Tall
     
  10. Panhandle

    Panhandle Active Member

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    Tallfly guy, that would be an incorrect assumption IMO. Most of my fish come in the midst of the swing, but I've also caught alot on the dangle and strip. This occurs 90% of the time in water that is 40-50 degrees, and rarely in water above 55. Dangle my man:thumb:
     
  11. inland

    inland Active Member

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    I catch several fish each year on the dangle/hang down. Sometimes a little action to the fly seems to do the trick. It seems to be more related to the hydraulics and water depth...where the fly comes to a 'stop' near the holding lies.

    Tall- your description of how you swing: Is that when fishing tips? Or do you always lead/follow and lower into your presentation irreguardless of line type being used?

    William
     
  12. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

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    I have often considered this for several reasons: an unweighted fly always moves and looks better in the water especially being jerked around by a little split shot just above it on the leader. And I agree better mending with the floating line. I have never persued this aggresively as I stick with what works: wet fly swing. It takes a while to ge the confidence to do something new.

    Here are my questions: Say I am fishing summer runs in low clear water this summer. How long a leader would you use and how far from the fly would you stick that itty bitty shot?
     
  13. TallFlyGuy

    TallFlyGuy Adipossessed!

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    Inland, it is when I am using tips. It's not what I do all of the time, but it is what I do the majority of the time. If I'm crashing into the bottom I won't point my rod so far upstream when doing the lead/follow. It should also be known that I am using a spey rod when mending. Much better for line control and mending, in my opinion. I rarely use floating line, I Just don't have confidence in it.
     
  14. inland

    inland Active Member

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    Tall,

    Thanks for responding. Steelheaders that don't catch too many on a swung fly should really pay attention to what you wrote. Especially when fishing tips for a deep slow presentation. It's nice to read somebody has put some thought into the game beyond 'chuck and hold on'. The difficulty of the 'wet fly swing' is getting your fly to do what you want, where you want, for as long as possible. Getting the apex of the swing just right. The point where the fly turns and begins to swim once under tension. How fast or slow you bring it across. Minimizing the mending through raising/lowering leading/following to keep the fly on track with out impacting its movement through jerks or long pauses as the mends catch up to the current speed.

    William
     
  15. steelheaddreams

    steelheaddreams New Member

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    I rarely use a leader longer than 9 -- 10 feet. It can be unwieldy to cast all that mono, particulary if you're short casting. So, I would stay in the 6 foot zone and go longer, up to 9 or 10 feet, if you know you have fish in front of you that are non biters (and most definitely use flourocarbon). As far as split shot, I generally put it about 25 inches above the fly. If you're fishing a fast drift --e.g., nymph style in a chute right in front of you -- you should shorten that distance to perhaps as little as 18 inches. My rationale is (i) you need to get the fly down fast to the sweet spot, and (ii) when the fly is moving quickly through the water the fish are less likely to be turned off by sinkers -- they just hit out of instinct. Conversely, in slow(er) water I will often move the sinkers back as far as 3 or 4 feet. Another thing on sinkers, start fishing a run with the absolute minimum and be sure to explore the water not just laterally but vertically.