Scraping the bottom... [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Scraping the bottom...

04-26-2004, 12:57 PM
I see a number of posts about 24' Big Boy tips and compensators and the latest Type xx tips and it got me thinking, for spring steelheading do you really need to get down all the way to the bottom?

My own belief is that once the water temp approaches the mid-40's, you don't need to get much lower than 3' off the sub-strata. For March and April fishing I am much less concerned about dredging then I am for hatchery brats in December and January.

In fact, I suspect that heavy tips work against you as they don't easily allow the fly to cover the shallow water close to shore with out fouling. These lies, especially at first light, are important to cover.

Curious as to what others think.

04-26-2004, 01:02 PM
I agree and can't wait until June 1. Float and inter tips will make casting a lot easier. It will take a few minutes to get used to lighter tips, but I'll manage.

Matt Burke

04-26-2004, 01:14 PM

I agree wholeheartedly. I have always felt that if I'm hanging up on a regular basis, I'm fishing too fast a tip, including in the cold waters of December/January/early February. I want my fly to ride above the bottom, not on the bottom. Afterall, fish aren't lying on the bottom, they suspend themselves above the bottom, which I have always taken to mean that a fly right on the bottom is not going to interest a fish because it is below them.

beau purvis
04-26-2004, 01:23 PM
I also agree. I fished 12 days in feb and march of 03 with a 10 ft sink tip of type 6 that weighed 110 gr.Hooked 12 bright steelies.Did almost as good in 02 with same setup. Dont need to be deep.I want the agressive ones anyway.My fly only touches bottom if I let it linger too long on swing.If I feel fish are on the inside swing I will lighten my tip another notch to be able to swing shallower.I have a compensator but have not seen the circumstance yet where I felt I needed it. Beau

04-26-2004, 01:44 PM
I rarely use a sinktip after Feb/april. Usually I'm running a floating line up until October. There are some deep pools I'll drag them out for (when fishing summerruns). But I do agree sometimes you'll be overfishing the fish. Bascially dragging your fly under them.

But, also depends on the waters you're fishing to. Some places, the water is running "winter conditions" a good chunk of the year. Except for the recent dry years we've had. I know one year I swung a sinktip every trip to the Duc/Hoh since it was stained and flowing. But in recent years, have actually had some near gin clear conditions.

04-26-2004, 01:54 PM

Good input on letting the river dictate. I will tend to go with a heavier tip if the vis. is poor in spring or go with a tip over a floater for summer fish if the river is going out. My 2001 and 2003 trips to the Bulkley have been along these lines: <3' of vis and river coming up = light tips.

04-26-2004, 02:30 PM
I can't disagree with anything said here. The speed that the fly swims is much important in colder temperatures than is the depth.

Fish too heavy a tip is indeed counterproductive as you wont be able to fish in close below you as sinktip mentioned. Additionally, you'll lose time and your "fishing rhythem" (not to mention flies) when you have to be replacing tippet and flies much too often. You'll never get a grab if your hook is not in the water!

Edit: It sounds from what I wrote above that getting down is not important in cold water. It is! But if you're regularly touching bottom... you're too deep!

Brian Simonseth
04-26-2004, 03:16 PM
Number of years ago I sat on a hill side watching a buddy fish a run. He went from heavy tipís too a dry tip. The water was gin clear (you could see the fish from the hill side) The fish would move out of the way with the sink-tips on (sorry sink-tip) but the dry line was amazing fish would move 20 feet for the fly. Like torpedoís, a big education that day. Still using the same fly! We talk about this for awhile, we traded place and he saw the same thing I did. Dirty water is a new ball game, been fishing long time havenít figured that one out yet. Got some good ideas but nothing set in stone yet. And by no means do I have gin clear water figured out. Thatís why they call it fishing.

Every time out there is some thing different. Spending months on different river system is a classroom in it self. Different water conditions, river size etc. make me think how little I know about fly fishing. Thatís why I like going to all these Spey Claveís on different rivers and fishing with different people on different rivers.


04-26-2004, 03:31 PM

If it was easy, we would soon grow bored with it.

You are right on tips and floaters for some fish. OC and I were on a favorite river last November and given it was mid-November and the high air temp the day before we pulled into town was in the mid teens, I went right to the tip. OC stayed with his trusty floater and after watching him catch fish in front of and behind me, I switched too and then began to hook fish.

We ran into someone we knew later that day and he was saying that fishing was tough and everyone had switched to tips and were getting a fish a day at best. We just smiled :D

04-26-2004, 04:17 PM

I got curious and wondered about all the S rivers just for Washington State. This is what I came up with. I'll bet I'm missing something.

Matt Burke

Stehekin River
Sail River
Sekiu River
Sitkum River
Sol Duc River
Sooes River
Sanpoil River
Snake River
Salmon River
Satsop River
Sams River
Snahapish River
Solleks River
Sammamish River
Skookumchuck River
Spokane River
Skokomish River
Similkameen River
Samish River
Sauk River
Skagit River
Suiattle River
Skykomish River
Snohomish River
Snoqualmie River
Stillaguamish River
Sultan River
Spokane River
Sumas River

04-26-2004, 04:29 PM

I am touched that anyone even noticed that I changed my blurb. Actually was originally thinking about the usual North Sound S-rivers, then got to thinking about the Skeena and a river father east that starts with an S. This got me feeling bad for excluding rivers that start with B, D, C, and K.

Finally it dawned on me that S rivers could mean rivers that started with an "S" or be short for "Steelhead" rivers.

It is all good so I will let the reader choose.


04-26-2004, 05:23 PM

I popped the cherry on Sean's Carron with a poly leader I've put three fish on the beach dry with the poly this spring. So they will move to a dry line, w/a tip I don't know what would have happened.

The battery died in my digital therm, (so not temp reading), but I spent a couple of hour Sunday morning swinging a bomber at the end of a XLT. I wasn't confident, but wanted to give her a go, nothing came up but hey I was fishing.


check your PM

04-26-2004, 05:46 PM
I do not own either a "compensator" or a tip longer than 15'. I have, however, had some success with sinktips in the dead of winter. I am sure it had far more to do with being persistent than anything else. As a matter of fact I have a personal theroy that when the rivers are a bit off color the fish while moving upstream do so near the surface and I have caught more than a few on tips as I was giving the original mend. Now thats on the surface any way you cut it.
I'm headed out tomorrow to help a friend replace the screw in his "Bougle" and won't be back until after the first week of May. I trust someone here will hold a proper closing ceremony for the S&S C&R season:)

04-26-2004, 09:31 PM
Interesting thread. Got me thinking of fishing Lyman Bar about 3 years ago (I can say that because there is no Lyman Bar anymore) using a type 6 tip with no luck. For some reason I switched to an intermediate clear tip. I hooked and landed 3 steelhead within 10 casts of each other. This was by far the best I have ever done and have never come close to duplicating this. I figure my fly was only a foot or two below the surface.

Brian, tomorrow I try something different. Bring a floater.

04-26-2004, 09:57 PM
Don't need those stinkin' sink tips.


beau purvis
04-26-2004, 09:58 PM
Sorry to hear there is no longer a lyman bar! that was a nice place to fish.Last time I was there I tailed a very nice fish for Chuck.By the way, I believe he had an accident on a tug boat.anyone know how he is?very nice man!Hope he recovered OK.
Lyman was one of those runs where you wanted your fly to swing all the way in! I used a 10ft airflo polytip there so it would not hang up on the last bit of the swing.That was a place where you could spend a half of a short febuary day with confidence that a grab could happen on any pass.I did get a grab the last time I fished it. I did not realize it would be the very last time!Beau

04-26-2004, 10:06 PM
Don't need those stinkin' sink tips. RIGHT ON!!!

It won't be long until there will be hotpants and jailbait all over the river. Old Poppy can hardly wait.:smokin:

04-26-2004, 10:34 PM
Good thread sink tip.

It got me thinking about the only time I have ever used the 300 and 400 big boys. It was on the Dean River a couple of years ago and the fishing was a bit slow in the "creamy" water and I was forced to fish the heavy heads in heavy water. I was stunned at how effective it was. I have never before or since caught steelhead in such heavy water. The water temp was warm so if the fish were in the softer lies they responded well to dry flies so I ended up doing all of my fishing with a dry or super heavy tips. Everything in the middle seemed pointless.

Ever since I have looked for times that I could fish these heavy tips and the tech. that I learned for them but have never had a situation that would even come close to working. I know that on big water years they are indispensable in argentina for sea run browns and I am sure others must have a good use for them I just haven't come across them.

The heaviest tip I have used in the spring on the Skagit system has been a 15' type 6 and mostly have used a 3. Very cool to hear how light you guys are going and still able to find fish.

My wife and i showed up to the Bulkley for our honeymoon several years ago and the river was high and only had 2' of vis. Some guys that I know were buying up all of Oscar's supply of T300 and 400 and would have bought 500 if thet had them. The fishing was slow and the fish seemed to be on the MOVE. Acting on a old tip from a friend we fished very large and dark in color dry flies and never waded deeper then our ankles and cast a max of 30' or so. We moved a lot of fish. I say moved because the fish would boil and be gone more then I have ever seen. They seemed to be really squirting up river but we hooked our fair share and had a great week.

Very interesting biz this steelhead fishing. 400's in August in 55 degree water and dry flies in cold and dirty fall water. Fun stuff.


04-26-2004, 10:47 PM
Ol' Poppy better not go and get himself too excited. Thems be a long waysout.

Take care,


04-26-2004, 10:57 PM

My wife and i showed up to the Bulkley for our honeymoon several years ago

I think you might be my hero. :D


Listen to William for you have a ways to go until those particular trollups show up. Unless you can get over here by Friday and then there are some big Hotpants been seen around some of the local bars.

04-26-2004, 11:03 PM
I would have to agree with nearly all the previous comments. I think it is common for most fishermen and steelheaders in particular to fall in love with an approach (tow handed rods, particular lines, etc) and stick with it. In the process we tend to forget that we have a wide range of tools (our lines and rods - who has just one?) at our disposal each of which has their own strengths and weakness.

In my limited experience the trick to successful steelheading with the long rod seems to be figuring out the water that will be most successfully fished (let the fish dictate the water) and then apply the best tool (in this case the line) for the task. For winter fish -Holding fish seem to require a deeper persentation than traveling fish. Clear and low water requires a presentation in deeper or heavier waters while high and dirty often is the easiest in that fish are on the edges and readily reachable with moderate sinking lines.

I think some of the above is why some anglers have such a difficult time with hatchery winters - they tend to be either rapidly traveling fish or holding dour fish. The trick is adopting techniques to either reach the holding fish (float and jig -ugh!) or looking those easy to fish restriction points for those traveling fish.

I sometimes use heavier tips not so much to get down but rather to get to the desired depth while giving the fish a slow look at the bug. It has been easier for me to use a heavier tip presented at a more downstream angle to get the desired depth and slow presentation that using a lighter tip with a more upstream cast with more mending to get down (have a difficult time slowing the presentation down to my satisfaction). I do have to admit in part that is due to my limiting my fishing to a one handed rod.

Tight lines
S malma

Brian Simonseth
04-26-2004, 11:59 PM
Single handed rods bad:tsk_tsk:
Two-handed rods:devil:
Good points on hat and wild

05-08-2004, 10:21 PM
Hey Beau, Chuck is getting along quite well considering the extent of his injuries! He was in my camp for a weekend in February and caught a bright 10# steelhead. Not a complete recovery but a big step along the road there. As per usual he cooked food for all of us and brought way more than his share of fire wood for the camp fire. If Chuck is a friend of yours you are as Lucky as the rest of us who get to be in his company from time to time.:)

05-10-2004, 03:04 AM
mattzoid, some good stuff. how about the sinlehekin(sp.) river, well it is worth a try.

05-10-2004, 07:56 AM
Sinlahekin, great area. I came up with that list by going to the USGS site and doing a search of rivers in washington that started with S. Maybe Sinlahekin wasn't on there because it's a creek. I dunno.

Matt Burke

05-10-2004, 09:09 AM
Hey Beau,

As Moonlight said, Chuck is doing well and really starting to get around. The guy can cook, the food is awsome. I am looking forward to the time I can fish a run with him.

beau purvis
05-10-2004, 10:14 AM
thks for the response guys! Beau

05-10-2004, 10:42 AM
Ol' Poppy better not go and get himself too excited. Thems be a long waysout.

All I can say is "the anticipation is half the fun!

05-10-2004, 12:22 PM
Interesting inclusion in this thread. Almost all 'tri-tip' lines come with one; never pulled it out of its pouch as of yet.

Group experience using these tips?

Big K1
05-10-2004, 01:24 PM
Hi Fred,

I use a intermediate tip in winter when the water is high and dirty but is dropping. I'm just fishing the edges in 1' - 2' of water. Works pretty well.