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Hey-

I have been fly fishng for a year and a half, and I frankly I am embarrassed to ask, but I don't know exactly what people mean by swinging flies for steelhead. Can someone describe it to me please? I have this preconceived notion but I would like some other takes on it. I am used to dry fly fishing for trout on the dead drift and standing at the head of large runs and fishing down with larger flies but not quite sure about this swinging thing. In a similar matter I don't know exactly what people mean by nymphing, I know how to tie on a nymph but how do people usually fish it, on the dead drift, swinging, or otherwise. While we are at it can anyone suggest a good casting video to pick up.

Thanks for all of the help!

Josh
 

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The steelhead swing is a slightly specialized version of the traditional wet fly swing. The fly is cast across stream or quartering downstream, the the fly is "swung" on a tight line in an arc across the current, ending directly below the angler. The "target" or "fishing" water is generally the area the fly will cover during the last two thirds of the swing. In other words, you want to swing the fly toward where you think the fish are, not away from them.

The swing is said to occur on a "tight" line, but you still may have some mending to do. Particlularly in steelheading, the object is to get the line and fly to sink to their maximum depth during the first third to half of the swing, then cross the current slowly, without rising too quickly as it reaches the end of the swing, which it will want to do. Even in trout fishing with traditional wet flies that don't generally need to be swung as deeply, slowing the swing is important. This is generally accomplished by letting the fly "lead" the line. You have to mend out any downstream bow in the line as it crosses the current, otherwise the bowed line will accelerate the fly and keep it from sinking (unless of course it turns out this is exactly what you want to happen; this is fly fishing after all, so it has to be complicated). Or place your original cast so that mending is nearly unnecessary (the preferred approach).

An effective steelhead swing is accomplished with long, heavy sink-tips and herculean casts up to 90 feet. It's about the only damned thing that works and it rarely does. But the traditional downstream swing can be an effective arrow in your trout quiver too. Soft hackles fished on a delicate downstream swing during a caddis hatch can be deadly, and deeply swung streamers wil sometimes take trout when nothing else is working.
 

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...has several mistresses.
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Youre no Idiot, you asked! You put pride and ego down and asked a bona-fide question! A strip, mend, swing, drift or run has it's basic science, but really it is a matter of perception and how it works for you! The next time Team Xstream sets out, you are welcome to come along if you like, watch, observe, ask, apply!

SAK
Xstream!
 

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I'm wondering if I have blundered into an easier way to get the swing right by not knowing anything. When I hit the river with people that knew how to do it, they told me my leader was too long and my fly was too heavy. But then I caught the fish and they didn't. I took their advice and went from 9 ft. leaders to 6 ft. and took lead off the body. I can cast it easier, but I haven't caught anything since I changed.

What if the heavier flies went deep, leading the sink tip, and on the long leader, were easier to keep down until the end of the swing?
 

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Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
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" But then I caught the fish and they didn't"...
Dude, if it aint broke, don't fix it.Trust your instincts. If the fish are lying you have to get it too them somehow, and that could include some pretty exotic things.To your question above I can only say, "what if you were right on to begin with?"
 

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Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
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Josh,
Ray had some very good suggestions. I would recommend Joan Wullf's Dynamics of Flycasting for the best in both basic mechanics and advanced techniques.She's truly a master and not just in casting but in teaching too. Don't forget that this game takes time, years. I have been flyfishing for over 22 years and I am still discovering and learning and exploring. I hope I never lose that sense of something new, and the possibility of bright fish.For Nymphing there's some good reading. Earnest Schwiebert's "Trout" a two volume set. There's "The Masters On The Nymph", if you can find a copy. And Swisher and Richards, "Selective Trout"- all have very good nymphing information. See if you can rent or borrow a video by Jim Teeney on his Teeney Nymphs and how to fish them. You could spend your entire fly fishing career nymphing, it's a huge aspect of the salmonid diet. The majority of feeding is subsurface and most acquatic insects are beneath the water's surface for almost all of their lives. There's allot going on down there.You asked about drifting etc. I use a nymph in allot of differant ways.You want to try something unusual; tie an unweighted nymph on your 9 foot leader and grease it like a dry fly and try to drift it like a dry fly without drag. You will be amazed at some of the things that can happen with that trick. Why don't you just go out and experiment for a while, without reading everything first, and see what you come up with in your own predatorial ways.That might be fun and just as valid as doing it "right".Have fun.
 

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Hello. Get any of the 3M Videos by "Lani Waller"
http://www.3m.com/market/consumer/scianglers/media.jhtml
These are the most awesome "Flyfishing for Steelhead" videos in existance. Jim Teeny's 3M video is pretty cool too. Lani's video is the bread and butter of swinging flies,etc. and Jim's video is focused on his specialized style of "Sight Fishing" for Steelhead.
I leared alot from those videos, watching them over and over. Spending 40$ sure beats 150.00 for a guide, but I'm still contemplating a class/guide with Dennis Dickson to learn more techniques and stratagies that the video doesn't discuss.
Also watching these videos over and over led me to a total of 7 Steelhead beached and dozens of hookups in a matter of months of learning to Fly for Steelies. Good luck.

Remember Patience is golden when fishing for "The Fish of a Thousand Casts" ... Took me 1300 before catching my first.

"Follow Me and I will make you fishers of Men"
Matthew 4:19
 
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