Jig & bobber [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Jig & bobber

02-02-2005, 01:10 PM
. . . or a "nymph and strike indicator," if that's more acceptable terminology.

I've fished a couple smaller rivers that don't have much wet fly swing water to them. The winter run steelhead hold in slots and pockets. Last year I began comparing the jig & bobber spin fishing style with nymphing with a strike indicator. I haven't done a lot of conventional trout fishing in rivers, so I don't have much nymph fishing experience, and the few times I've tried it, I used a sink tip because I was comfortable with the technique. I talked with one fellow who also fished a river where the wet fly swing wasn't producing anything. He also noticed that spin fishers using jigs and bobbers were catching fish, so he began using weighted flies and large strike indicators and began catching fish on that river.

That's my introduction. So this winter I've tied these marabou flies weighted with the small nickel plated lead dumbell eyes. They are less than 1/16 oz., maybe about 1/20 or 1/24 oz. I never liked casting weighted flies with a single handed rod, but so far haven't found the practice as objectionable with a two handed rod. I'm just using 8 to 10 feet of 8# test leader, and so far am really impressed how deep these flies get. I'm not hanging up a lot, but enough to let me know that the fly is swimming where it needs to be. The lead eyes swim the fly with the hook point riding up, so I haven't lost many, either.

So far, only one small steelhead and a couple DV/bull trout to show for it.

I was wondering if others of you have used the same or similar method to fish water that wasn't suited to swinging flies. What gear, technique, and results?


Salmo g.

02-02-2005, 01:40 PM
Very common in the GL basin using trout nymphing techniques. Many prefer it as their main method of fishing for steelies. Some guys use them off of two handers and I've tried it a few times too. Though I found that I didn't need the bobber, just steered the fly through the slots and got hookups.

Rick J
02-02-2005, 02:10 PM
The technique can be very deadly - so much so that a group got together and managed to get it banned on the North Umpqua. I prefer to swing but as you say some water is not conducive to this technique. You can tumble bug without the indicator but the main use of an indicator is not to detect a strike but to keep the fly at a constant water depth for as long as possible. Without the indicator you cannot fish as long a drift as effectively as you can with the indicator as it is more difficult to maintain the depth you want. If you are really trying to just bounce bottom then you don't need the indicator but the indicator lets you vary what depth you want to fish and it may often not be right on the bottom

02-02-2005, 02:34 PM
Having observed this technique, as it is quite common in my area, I keep asking myself "why not just use a spinning rod"????? After all, they were designed for slinging weight.

To do this with a fly rod, even a 2 hander, is a lot of work! Not only the stripping in of line prior to the cast, the cast itself, which for a single hand rod requires numerous water hauls and false casts, but all that stack mending?????? feeding line into the drift??????? And these guys will very seldom fish river left, as it is a pain for a right hander.

I dunno, I'm just not getting it I guess. I always thought a big part of the joy of fly fishing was the gracefullness of the cast, the relaxation and tranquility to be had from it all. I could go on, but what's the point?

If simply catching a fish were all I cared about, and this was what it took to do it, I would opt for a spinning rod setup.

Oh, I forgot. From a drift boat you can bobber fish either side of the river. I call it bobber fishing because, as has been pointed out, you can fish at a constant depth. Is that not what a bobber is for? And I suppose if you are a guide, it is much easier to put a fish on a client's line using this method than to try and teach mending as a means of depth control. Especially while rowing a boat.

02-02-2005, 04:08 PM
Having observed this technique, as it is quite common in my area, I keep asking myself "why not just use a spinning rod"?????

I would argue that a fly fishermen who both swings and nymphs, matching technique to the appropriate situation, will often be more productive than a guy fishing gear. As mentioned earlier, there are certainly situations where swinging is ineffective as much as other situations where nymphing is ineffective. And JD is also correct that nymphing does require a fair amount of skilled line handling. IMHO that learning curve is steeper than the learning curve to swing effectively.

02-02-2005, 04:21 PM

My one word message is to short so I am adding this sentence to icrease the size of my message to appease the site administrators. Please ignore.

02-02-2005, 06:19 PM

When I lived on the Skagit, I had the same answer as you. As a consequence, I've found I'm not so versatile an angler, but I'm working on it.


Yeah, a spinning rod is better suited to the technique all right, but then when you come across a nice piece of swing water, you've got the wrong rod.

Maybe I'm missing something, but what water hauls and false casts? With the 2-hander, I strip in the usual 3, 4, or 5 strips of line that I shoot on the cast, set up, and cast, and it's out there fishing again. At the moment, I'm liking some of the built in versatility: I fish dead drift a bit, and then swing the fly around if the situation permits. I took one of the DV on the swing.

I also prefer the gracefulness that fly casting can be, and found that my 15' sink tips were the compromise that most closely resembled the "state of grace" I was after. However, uncompromising grace in fly casting requires a fly line of uniform density, either floating or sinking, and an unweighted fly. Without compromise, a stickler for graceful casting will catch very few winter steelhead. Those require the use of either a fly that sinks or a section of fly line that sinks. For what it's worth, the lightly weighted flies I'm presently trying don't seem to be compromising the spey casts much.


Salmo g.

02-02-2005, 07:36 PM
We all adapt from the "ideal" of floating line/swung fly as conditions dictate. I do know a few that swing flies on the surface for spring steelhead here in the PNW, but they're a rare and eccentric breed :wink:

The rest of us search for a compramise that retains the most esthetic enjoyment along with increased effectiveness. In many small /pocket water steams with limited opportunity to swing flies effectively, this would seem to be the most appealing prospect.

Another option would be the shorter, faster sinking sinktips of the Skagit style (6' of T14 or Type 8 11wt) that get the fly down fast and keep it there. I personally find either of these two as, if not more, esthetically enjoyable that fishing the long 15' tips that have been the norm as long as I've used 2handed rods as in either case the management of tension on the fly allows the angler to control depth more effectively than with the longer tips.

What SalmoG seems to be describing appears more of a dead-drift/swing comb much as Lani Waller described in his second tape Advanced Flyfishing for Steelhead, casting upstream and mending to provide a deep dead-drift (or nearly so) then pinching off for the swing.

I've fished this way many times in the upper stretches of the OPs rivers. I found lots of holding water (pockets downstream of mini beaver dams - rootwads, etc) that was unfishable with the downstream swing but fishable with the upstream dead-drift technique. When I was hiking the backcountry along the Hoh or Queets and finally found some good water that would hold fish, I often adapted with something very similar to what SalmoG describes.

Does this mean I'll be nymphfishing the Skagit or Sky??? Probably not. SalmoG already stated his preference, and I too enjoy swinging flies more than any other presentation technique. Thats why I'm usually found fishing rivers that accomodate that technique. But that doesn't mean I won't adapt if exploring a river with a different character that my local favorites.

My .02

Brian "Will Cast Upstream when Necessary"

02-02-2005, 08:06 PM
Salmo G,

I grew up on and cut my fishing teeth on the Rogue River in Oregon. Nymphing heaven, that river is. I never enjoyed fishing the dead drift/nymphing style. I do enjoy waking a dry fly and will employ this technique when I encounter "pocket water" that isn't conducive to swinging.


02-02-2005, 11:32 PM

For winter run steelhead? If so, good for you. I'll gladly follow you through the pocket, though.


Salmo g.

Brian Simonseth
02-03-2005, 02:30 AM
Salmo g.



02-03-2005, 02:33 AM
its passe. ;)

02-03-2005, 08:21 AM

Most of my winter run fishing is on the Skagit or the Sauk and although the Sauk may have some water that one could wake a fly it has far more water for the swinger. The Skagit, well we all know that bobber fishing is not allowed. :hihi:

02-03-2005, 09:52 AM
Yeah, like the unnamed publisher Steve Raymond referred to last night who commented on Flyfishing in general. "It's ~so~1990s" :chuckle:

02-03-2005, 10:28 AM
Much of the best GL waters aren't that great for swinging. You either adapt your methods or walk on by. To get around this, I'll use mono and shot but no bobber, swinging the fly through the pocket water by letting the mono leader droop off the end of the floater belly. That "right-angle" droop lets me steer it around obstacles, plus get the fly down very fast for the short length of run that I'm working.

02-03-2005, 01:10 PM

Exactly, either adapt or forego the opportunity.


When all my winter fishing was on the Skagit and Sauk, I think I used a weighted fly only once at one spot on the Sauk that existed for a couple seasons. Both those rivers are generally better suited to the wet fly swing.

One thing I was trying to express is my favorable impression about the depth I can attain with a fly that isn't that heavily weighted. And with a level 8# leader, it seems like the fly stays deep enough on the swing to fish effectively. A sink tip has density working for it on the swing, but its relatively bulky diameter works against it on the swing, and it takes good watermanship on the mend to make it swing deep and slow.

I don't experiment all that much. I wanted to share my observations with those of you who might compare or contrast them with your own experiences.


Salmo g.

02-03-2005, 01:30 PM
Strike indicator: used to help indicate when a fish is striking a line that is slack.
Bobber/Float: used to suspend terminal gear at a set depth.
Fly Casting: weight of the line loads the rod and is cast.
Bait/Spin Casting: weight attached to line loads rod and is cast.
These terms seem to get mixed up in these debates.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Rogue it is only the Upper Rogue that is known as nymph water. On the Middle and Lower river swinging and skating are predominant.

02-03-2005, 03:36 PM
For those of you who are not familiar with the Rogue it is only the Upper Rogue that is known as nymph water.

Not anymore. If you haven't noticed the stuck a big plug in the upper river. However, one of my favorite areas of the Rogue to fish was below Gold Ray dam. There is some beautiful water in that section of river. One could swing or nymph in that section. Your choice.