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scented flies.

1532 Views 24 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  BOBLAWLESS
I knew this would get your attention! I was reading Roderick Haig-Brown last night, a great winter's read. And he was debateing the idea of scenting his flies. As I understand it, from folks who knew him allot of years, he decided that it wasn't really fly fishing and abandoned the idea. I have been tempted but always felt that at that point, scenting a fly, I might as well just go back to bait fishing.
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It seems that the lines of fly fishing become more blurred as time goes on. I don't scent my flies but your question on this has larger implications, ie., "What is fly fishing?" While looking through my fly box I find synthetic this and synthetic that, materials etc. that I am working away from. That being said, I prefer my graphite fly rods, something that might make some of the pioneers of this sport turn over in their graves. So I am somewhat of a hypocrite. Some fly fisherman have decided that egg patterns do not qualify as "flies".

There was an article in the latest edition of Northwest Fly Fishing that discussed the use of flourocarbon leader material and what it has done to innocent wildlife. The article also goes on about the use of lead and how we contribute to the deterioration of the very sport we love.

So the only thing that I've decided is that fly fishing is pretty much left to the individual to decide what should or shouldn't be done. It will be interesting to see what others think on this topic.

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The use of materials or weight to control your fly or cammo your line delivering that fly may be a gray area for some. Add scent to a fly and in my book the lines been crossed. It's the type of attraction, regardless of delivery, that's of issue.
Thanks Skinny, I bet we could go on forever, and I promise you I won't let that happen, Chris wouldn't either.The part about being an individual decision, what a person does, that's always true. As conservationist fly fishers it's important that we consider our impacts. I do feel that as time goes on the lead issue will be more and more important and will be banned altogether. When I lived back east I noticed that every Great- Lakes area store sold spools of heavy lead, split shot, sinkers etc.All along the Hudson River valley and the Long Island Sound shores, the Atlantic Coast etc., The same is true here. It's done allot of harm to the environment over time and we're just becoming aware of it. there are some places where lead is forbidden. It's only a matter of time.Wildlife; ducks, geese, swans, shorebirds etc.,eat the stuff when they find it, mostly split shot, shotgun shot etc. Heavier forms of lead may be less immediately dangerous but do get broken down into the water and soil over time. Right now there are millions of tons of lead in our environment nationwide as a direct result of sportsmans activities.That's a dark legacy indeed.So we need to be aware of that. Im not sure that using a carbon graphite rod is quite as disqualifying as baiting a fly with scent, but I'll think about that one. I bet the pioneers of fly fishing were also the pioneers of modern graphite rodmaking and modern fly line technology.Having said that, There's always room for bamboo on my water, and I don't even own one.
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yes, fly fishing means something different to everyone and for me it means castng dry flies at winter Steelhead. Patience is important because you have be on the look out for rises.

I did have one other thought on this however and it deals with removing all scent from flies, and more specifically as it would apply to fishing for salmon and steelhead. As we're all aware, salmon and steelhead have an intense sense of smell.

I've read articles that mentioned how important it can be to avoid introducing unwanted man made substances when handling your flies, a common one being gasoline. How many times have you filled your truck on the way to the water, got out of the truck and noticed that your hands smelled of gasoline?

It got me thinking about dyes and other synthetics that we tie our flies with and whether or not they may have some effect on discouraging takes from time to time. Has anybody ever tried rinsing or washing your flies in some substance to nuetralize ordors?

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Good discussion topic, I agree that it begins to cross the line over to bait fishing. To me the whole idea of fly fishing is the challenge of attracting fish with something that mimics natural food (though I suppose that some patterns don't do that very well).

Also keep in mind that in Washington anything that attracts a fish with taste or sent is considered bait, and therefore cannot be used in selective fishery waters, such as the Yakima, Rocky Ford, etc.
scented flies. I did it... once!

Last summer I sprayed some Dr.juice on a black Wooley bugger and it killed the action and stunk up my fly box. Guess I got what I deserved. When I rinsed the bugger in hot water the black dye faded so I tossed it. :CONFUSED
I don't actually scent flies but I take some precautions that some really uptight types might consider scenting. As you know some white males have a natural odor that is offensive to fish and I believe I am one of them. To offset this problem I carry a no-scent soap that I wash my hands with before I rig my rod. Then I apply 1 or 2 drops of pure anise oil to my fingers and rub it in good. At that point I rig up, tie on tippets and attach the fly. The difference between using the oil and not is particularly noticeable when nymphing or fishing with a full sink line. We all come with our own pheromone makeup, part of the reason why some guys catch a lot of fish and others with similar skills and equipment struggle so much. I'm sure as hell not baitfishing. Ive
What does tobacoo do to flies? God, I'm almost afraid to ask.


"Little dick, big click, some say." BOBLAWLESS
Bob --

I suppose it depends on whether the fly inhales.
I can not say for sure but when I quite smoking, my own catch rate went up almost %100 when fishing in lakes for trout and bass. In rivers it went up some what but not that much. I have tried scents only while fishing the salt while fishing with a bunch of bait guys on a charter. I still did not catch anything at all. Of course they did not do that well either that day.
I've noticed that some soft plastic worms and tubes used in bass fishing have a petroleum/gasoline smell, and supposedly those fish prefer this.
When you get old the first thing that goes is your memory. I forgot what the second thing was.

Well I haven't smoked in over 10 years and my catch rate still sucks When I did smoke it sucked also. So I believe that it is whats on your skin that lets you catch fish.Some have it I don't. An example, I was fishing at Lake Como with a friend a lond time ago.We were using the same bait and rigging it up the same and almost casting it out in the same spot on the lake and he was catchig all the fish and I couldn't buy a bite.So what is on your hands could attract them or push them away.I have tried the soap thing,but it got in the way of my monthly bath.

Nice topic. I must point out one thing, all flies have scent. You are only masking one scent with another scent. Probably the most pure way to mask a scent is by the fish's own habitat. I have noticed over the years that if I catch one fish on a wet fly, I usually have a better chance of catching another. When a fish gets a fly in his mouth it changes the scent. When a fly is scrubbed into some moss on the shore line, it is well masked.

If you use a commercial scent you are breaking purist laws. If you aren't a purist and it is legal, by all means. I have never had BETTER luck by using commercial scents.

If you want the best scent, take 20 periwinkles from their cases and take them home and grind them into a juice/pulp. Then you will have the best scent ever. Especiall if you let the juice sit in the sun for 3 days. Just make sure to keep adding water to keep it from drying out.
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I have often thought about the smell of the fur and feathers and how they inflence fish. Have you ever noticed how much better a fly catches fish after the first fish? I call it getting the stink off when a trout slimes it. Also I will often rub my steelhead and wet flys on a slimmey river rock to get the human smell off.

Putting a scent on your fly (or any other lure, plug etc) to attract fish changes your offering to the bait catagory. The regs used to mention this. So putting Dr. Juice, Shrimp Oil, Ketchup etc on a wooley bugger and fishing it th Yakima would be againts the law.

I don't know where they would draw the line on scenting a fly . Is river slime ok but leaving a fly in my bag of cheetos for a few hour not? I think I'll stick with using river slime and eat the cheetos.
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River moss, rocks, and algae are one of the best scents around! Where legal, I've tried anise oil before on some lethargic fish and yes, I think it made a difference. In another instance, a good dredge of the fly through the river bottom did everything to wipe off the morning bacon and eggs.
I once had a couple colors of marabou which were foul and smelled terribly like chemicals after the fly entered the water. Of course, the fish results were bad too...Needless to say, those feathers ended up in the landfill.
Keep the lead off; and to each his/her own...
I've tried scenting flies and basically got the same results without scent, but that was in Alaska where fish bite more often that here. I'll throw in my 2 cents here. "Don't worry what the other guy is using as long as its legal. At least the person is out enjoying him/her self." My other sport, climbing, is fraught with others worring IF you did a particular climb in "style" or not. Lets just go out and have a good time and don't worry about this and that. Smell the evergreens, listen to the water, look for a bird that you might not have seen in a while or in my case(I'm partially deaf) listen for a song that your ears haven't heard but now you can 'cause the new hearing aids work well enough.
By the way if any of you run into a guy that doesn't respond to you if he violates some basic etiquette on the rivers its probably me, I really can not hear very good. So yell a little louder or walk up to me slowly and explain to me nicely so I can learn. I was told this at the Flysmith that there are etiquette rules. I did not know. I've always avoided crowds and fished elsewhere.
Sisu, its what America needs :CLOWN
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I am all for scenting flies for winter steelheading. There are only three scents I will use as over the years these have provided the best results. Granted these are a little more expensive than stuff you buy at Ted's and a bottle never seems to last very long but hey, its for the fish! My top three are:

2)Glen Morangie Portwood Finish
3)McCallan's 25 Year

Application instructions --
1) Open Flask
2) Take a good pull
3) Look at the fly
4) Pass the flask to your buddy
(repeat often as needed)

Anything else and in my opinion, you have crossed the line outof flyfishing.
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