help with steelhead wet fly swing


Active Member
I have not done too much steelhead fishing using the wet fly swing. I do find fishing with an indicator to be somewhat productive in the right water but in bigger water it does not seem to cover enough water and feels like casting into the ocean.

My problem is that when I wade out and cast across and slightly down stream, I am usually casting into deeper water. When the fly swings below me, the water is shollower and the fly tends to get hung up in the shallower water directly downstream. I have used flyies with dumbell eyes to turn the hook away from the botttom and this helps. My questions are: How can you get down in the deeper water without getting hung on the bottom below me?

and I have tied up some string type leaches with dumbell eyes but due to the fact that the hook is so far back, it seems it rides point down- is there any way to get the hook to ride point up on those several inch string leaches?


Old Man

Just an Old Man
I'm not to smart in this area but sometimes it depend on which way the eye on the hook is. Is it pointing up or down.

I have noticed that when I tie up flies like W/B's with a down turned eye the fly will float hook point up. And another thing why do you want to be on the bottom. Most fish are looking up for food or what ever and not down.

Jim... the one with little or no knowledge :beathead:


Fly Fishing in Patagonia: A Trout Bum's Guide
Try using a lighter line and/or fly, but cast farther upstream to give it more time to sink so you can still get down in the deeper water. When the fly swings around below you, the current will lift it up higher due to the ligher weight, and you won't get hung up. I usually case at least 90 degrees to the current, often more, and add some mends to allow it to sink. It all depends on the depth and speed of the water, so experimentation is a must. I usually keep trying to get deeper and deeper until i feel the bottom, then i know i'm in the zone. Hope this helps.

Steve Buckner

Mother Nature's Son
The depth that your fly will sink is dependent upon water speed (current), the weight(mass) of your fly, the weight(mass) of your sink tip and the density of your sink tip. In STILL water, remember that something sinks or floats based upon it's density, not it's weight (mass). The type VIII tip would sink at approximately 8 inches per second and the type III tipe would sink at approximately 3 inches per second.

However in moving water, the depth that the fly sinks is dependent upon the actual mass of the sink tip, the mass of the fly, and the current speed. Density is also a factor, but much less so in moving water. As a side note, larger diameter lines will also be "lifted" up to the surface more readily than thinner lines due to more surface area being pushed on by the water.

To further explain, you can have a fast sinking tip (type VIII and for this example, lets say it weighs 120 grains) that can be brought up to the surface if the current is fast enough. If you had a type III tip that weighed the same 120 grains, it will sink to approximately the same depth as the type VIII because of the current, despite the sink rate of the type VIII tip being over twice as fast. The downstream force of the water acts to pull the fly upward to the surface.

So to get your fly to the correct depth, you have to examine water speed, mass of the sink tip, and the mass of the fly. If the water that you're fishing doesn't have much current, you'll sink to the bottom with non-weighted fly using a floating line.

For this time of year, you want to get your fly deep and you want it to move slowly. You need to give fish in cold water much more time to see and react to your offering. Generally speaking, in cold water, fish are also less likely to move very far to intercept your offering. You're better off if you can get your fly very close to the fish.

One last note, you need to keep the slack out of the line as the fly swings so that you'll be able to detect the strike from the fish. Strikes are often very subtle and if there is even a few inches of slack, you may miss many fish. Concentrate on keeping a straight line between the rod tip and the fly. To minimize slack, keep your rod tip just above the surface of the water as you swing your fly.

Jim Kerr

Active Member
O.K. This is probably the toughest presentation in all fly fishing to master. First off because differnt people mean very differnt things by wet fly swing.
Second because most of the time we are using sink tips which make it difficult to tell EXACTLY what your fly is doing.
Sounds a little dumb maybe, but you might go to a shallow tail out when the water is running clear and tie on a big bright fly. Stand where you will be able to see the fly throughout the entire swing and just watch how various mends effect your bug. You will learn alot fast.

As far as getting down deep goes. Where I fish on the penninsula, the best and brightest fish generally hold in very shallow water. Watch any guide who has mastered side drifting bait and you will see the emphasis they place on shallow riffels, the inside bar of a pool, or the shallowest end of the tail out. These guys expect to hook 10 or more fish a day and they are not only NOT fishing the deepest water, they are ROWING OVER IT .
To my way of thinking the same applies for the fly. The most agressive fish are those that hang in these spots, and they are also the most likly to chase down and murder a swung fly. I generally fish a light type six tip and a fly worth crossing the river for, my fly normally fishes from 2 to 4 feet down and I concentate on runs less than 6 feet deep. Seems to work pretty well. Its kind of a long road however you do it. Good luck.

Latest posts