What has happened to "traditional" steelhead flyfishing?

Andy D

Active Member
I hooked my first winter steelhead on a paint brush at a run called Skeltons on the Washougal. As it turns out on a 9'6" powell fiberglass 9wt that Bill built for my dad, this was probably 1986 or so.

Couple things to remember.

Bill's technique was to use lots of techniques

Also Bill did most of his fishing on small streams like the Washougal. I doubt he fishes the Skagit with a paint brush on the dead drift very much.
That's pretty cool.

More or less what I was getting at. There a lot of traditional techniques. Methods used to "traditionally" present a fly are different by region. What was used in California, SW Washington, Columbia tribs, Puget sound... etc. all vary to some degree. What one person considers traditional will be different from another. Getting angry over your own romanticized notion of tradition is a waste of calories. The fish don't care.
 

dustinchromers

Active Member
For me it's simple. There's many ways to present a fly to steelhead. It's no longer traditional or even fly fishing when the bobbers and shot come out.
 

Rob Allen

Active Member
That's pretty cool.

More or less what I was getting at. There a lot of traditional techniques. Methods used to "traditionally" present a fly are different by region. What was used in California, SW Washington, Columbia tribs, Puget sound... etc. all vary to some degree. What one person considers traditional will be different from another. Getting angry over your own romanticized notion of tradition is a waste of calories. The fish don't care.

That's true.. one of the things we sre dealing with, at least for me, is the very well deserved negative perception many of us have on the nymph and indicator method because of the way it was practiced on the North Umpqua..
 

Andy D

Active Member
That's true.. one of the things we sre dealing with, at least for me, is the very well deserved negative perception many of us have on the nymph and indicator method because of the way it was practiced on the North Umpqua..
How was it practiced on the north Umpqua that gave it that perception?

I always saw how it was employed from boats as the major negative perception. Mostly in how it allowed every piece of water to be targeted, not allowing fish resting areas. On certain waters I will agree with this.
 
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dustinchromers

Active Member
How was it practiced on the north Umpqua that gave it that perception?

I always saw how it was employed from boats as the major negative perception. Mostly in how it allowed every piece of water to be targeted, not allowing fish resting areas. On certain waters I will agree with this.
Basically a bank "angler" would sight a fish and continually beat the think on the nose with a "fly" under a float. Any steelhead will bite after being jacked around like that. Extra points if it's paired off or actively excavating a Redd. While I see no grounds to make nymph fishing illegal in general it has no place in fly only water.
 

Andy D

Active Member
Basically a bank "angler" would sight a fish and continually beat the think on the nose with a "fly" under a float. Any steelhead will bite after being jacked around like that. Extra points if it's paired off or actively excavating a Redd. While I see no grounds to make nymph fishing illegal in general it has no place in fly only water.
I have heard/seen that kind of spawner targeting described before. But that kind of degenerate behavior is not regionally or method specific. There are over excited swing anglers that target paired/spawning fish.
 

dustinchromers

Active Member
I have heard/seen that kind of spawner targeting described before. But that kind of degenerate behavior is not regionally or method specific. There are over excited swing anglers that target paired/spawning fish.
All angling tactics are prone to abuse. However, in general when swinging you are working down a run and not working sighted fish. The fish generally have to rise to take the fly as it's moving cross stream. Presenting a fly at dead drift right on the nose of the fish multiple times takes the player aspect out of the matter and the fish often strikes eventually. Furthermore, bobber fishermen tend to focus on how many they can catch where as swingers generally tend to feel that how they are caught matters. They aren't swinging cause it's wildly effective. They swing cause it's simple, difficult, and not all that effective. Someone telling me they hooked seven with a bead and float isn't impressive but let's me know there's fish around. Someone hooking a couple swinging let's me know there are players in the system and gets my hopes up that I too may luck into a couple.
 

gt

Active Member
If it were that easy I’d quickly lose interest.
i would not say that was 'easy', just a goal of steelhead fishing which i accomplished in both summer and winter. knowing where steelhead prefer to lie becomes a big part of being successful and most folks don't have a clue in that regard. fine with me as they pound unproductive waters and catch nothing. and when you match either my winter or summer fishing goal, write about your experiences and explain how 'easy' it was for you!!
 
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Rob Allen

Active Member
How was it practiced on the north Umpqua that gave it that perception?

I always saw how it was employed from boats as the major negative perception. Mostly in how it allowed every piece of water to be targeted, not allowing fish and resting areas. On certain waters I will agree with this.
Andy, im not sure your familiarity with the NU but I'll recap it to cover all the bases. Im sorry if i cover stuff you already know.

The NU is a fly only river for the 30 mile section in questuon. It was designated as such to reduce angler efficiency, so fewer fish would be caught.
The short section of river in question is called the camp water. It is less than a mile long but has numerous pools and can fish 8 or so anglers at a time. Each pool can be completely covered in 15 minutes, many in less than that. This section also coincides with the mouth of steamboat creek which is the major spawning tributary where large numbers of fish congregate waiting for rains to allow them access to the creek.
It is also somewhat of a cold water refuge critical in August.
Now people have fished the camp water for decades and it has a lot of fly fishing history and heritage attached to it. Many anglers seek those waters for that reason, to connect with the history of their culture.
In come horeds of bozos from California and literally invade the camp water. Groups of them come in and take over the whole section at first light , they each grab a run and stay for hours rotating with their buddies once in a while so that no one else can get in.
On top of that. Their typical gear consisted of. 3x tippet( to light for steelhead but sinks the fly fast) and multiple flies. Hamnering on the same fish all day long no matter what the water temps are. Then they brag about hooking 20 fish..

So between hogging the river and not respecting other anglers or the fish they developed a bad reputation for the technique among many of us.
 

Rob Allen

Active Member
Dead drifting and sight fishing. I did a lot of this on the Washougal growing up. Nothing wrong with it but i will say this, if you hammer one fish long enough you will eventually foul hook it and that's not ok.

If you spot a fish put a couple flies past it. If it doesn't take, move on..

My last ditch was always to twitch a 4/0 GP past them a cast or two then move to another spot.

The Washougal in the 70s and early 80s was pretty close to easy, especially in the fall. Most of the fish, if you didn't spook them would rise to a steelhead caddis. On the first swing.
You'd spot them swing your fly to them. All of a sudden they'd disappear, you'd have just enough time to think "darn i spooked it" then you'd see the mouth coming up, drop the rod tip. And hopefully it would be fish on.

I would in no way classify what we did on the Washougal in the fall as traditional steelhead fly fishing. It was just what worked well for that skinny water with too many hatchery fish in it. A couple runs would swing but mostly it was hanging caddis in pocket water.

Doc Browns, the clay banks, the stepflats, the middle pocket at the stair steps, straubs, steel bridge pool, bachmans, countyline, Fords..... those were the days...
 
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Albula

swollen member
i would not say that was 'easy', just a goal of steelhead fishing which i accomplished in both summer and winter. knowing where steelhead prefer to lie becomes a big part of being successful and most folks don't have a clue in that regard. fine with me as they pound unproductive waters and catch nothing. and when you match either my winter or summer fishing goal, write about your experiences and explain how 'easy' it was for you!!
Can I get a your autograph?
 

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