5 wt for steelhead [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: 5 wt for steelhead


josko
06-17-2006, 05:41 AM
My guide keeps telling me my 5 wt (10' TFO) is not stiff enough to set hooks on steelhead, and that I'm missing fish because of that.
I feel fine with the rod in terms of casting and fighting fish, but would like feedback on whether a rod can be too light or soft for steelhead purely from a hook setting point of view. Thanks in advance.

sean
06-17-2006, 07:16 AM
How often is the guide sharpening your hooks? That is the culprit on missing fish 90% of the time. You do not need much hook setting power at all if your hooks are razor sharp. All it should ever take with any rod is just a lifting of the rod to hook the fish.

I sharpen mine at the start of the run and everytime I bump anything with the hook.

-sean

t_richerzhagen
06-18-2006, 09:14 AM
is the rule. You can check by sliding the hook point across a nail. If it digs in, it is sharp enough, if not sharpen.

As to the 5 wt., how big are the fish? You want to be able to land them fairly quickly, if you are going to release them, and that may reqire a heavier rod.

Charlie
06-19-2006, 08:36 AM
I agree about making sure your hooks are sharp. I also agree with Ted about landing the fish. I would be willing to bet I could land a 10lb. steelhead on my 3wt trout rod. However, the amount of time it would take to do it would probably increase the likeliness that the fish would not survive. I seldom use a rod lighter than a 7wt. for my steelhead fishing. A 7wt. rod will also give you some extra hook setting power in case you do, for some reason, have a dull hook. A 7wt. also makes a good Bass rod for the summer months when the steelhead opportunities are not so numerous. :biggrin:

Charlie.

juro
06-19-2006, 08:58 AM
A winter GL steelhead is fighting in water just above freezing and could be subdued on a 5wt, but a hot skamania or western ocean run steelie would end up dead from over-fighting or you'd never turn it.

As you already know a head-on strip set doesn't involve the power of the rod anyway so unless you are doing the orvis highset I think the important thing is whether you are killing the fish or not.

.02

Spock
06-21-2006, 03:31 PM
5wt is too light for steel, just as charlie said a 7 would be worlds better for both you and the fish

josko
06-21-2006, 07:19 PM
Yes, but is it too light to set the hook adequately, or is it too light to fight the fish quickly enough?
The question was whether a 5 wt is too light for an effective hookset, not whether it's politically correct to fight a steelhead on a 5 wt.

juro
06-21-2006, 09:12 PM
Point the rod at the fish and you can strip set on a tarpon :)

Adrian
06-22-2006, 07:41 AM
At the risk of sounding like the proverbial broken record, fly rods are designed to cast flylines and present flies. They are not designed for setting hooks or fighting fish. The guide should know better.

josko
06-22-2006, 02:33 PM
Well, now, guys, if I'm high-sticking (like I usually do when steelheading) I hold my rod tip way up, and it's tough to go from that to a strip-strike.
I get that slight hesitation and twitch the tip to see if it's a fish, and then set again if I'm sure it is.
If I were swinging flies, a strip-strike is a natural; but somehow, whenever I have time to drivce up to the GL's it's below freezing, water is cold, and the method of choice seems to be high-sticking.

Spock
06-23-2006, 11:18 AM
High sticking with an indicator, big fly and some shot on it?

shotgunner
06-23-2006, 06:48 PM
High sticking with an indicator, big fly and some shot on it?

are you really willing to pop the top on that can of controversey again?

i use a 10' 6wt occasionally and love it. i still think that individual rod actions play one of the largest roles with low water & light tippet, if you can call powerflex 3X light![its as light as i ever get] not real abrasion resistant but if its fresh its tough.... i can lean into a fish hard and normally stop him with out worrys. back to my weak point.. i've had my hands on a few 'fastfives' that were atually more of a seven... some of the older redingtons come to mind.. i have a IM6 6/7 that to me is a dryfly five... all blanks are subject to individual assessment.

lots of variables.... how big are the fish? i've never shied from a 6 lb trout in summer water, why would i back off from the same in cold water, only just up from the lake?

given a choice i would much rather fish a 9'6" 7 with ultra grn 6 lb but the same rod will part the PF 3X with ease... the six keeps me in the game long enough for a rush and a grin or two at least.

Spock
06-24-2006, 06:59 AM
I agree about making sure your hooks are sharp. I also agree with Ted about landing the fish. I would be willing to bet I could land a 10lb. steelhead on my 3wt trout rod. However, the amount of time it would take to do it would probably increase the likeliness that the fish would not survive.
Charlie.

Use the right equipment to do the job, so the fish survive and we all get to enjoy them.

given a choice i would much rather fish a 9'6" 7 with ultra grn 6 lb

Adrian
06-24-2006, 08:51 AM
Food for thought:

The fastest way to land (or lose) a fish that weighs less than the angler is with a handline.

Would that be a 0 wt?

shotgunner
06-24-2006, 09:30 PM
Adrian, i'm unsure of your intent... but a zero weight as a handline would perform well, considering the 12 lb core it contains.

Spock, why didn't you include the very next sentance of Charlies post when you quoted him? the one that reads "I seldom use a rod lighter than a 7wt. for my steelhead fishing." which confirms that he does occasionally. since a 6 is the next line weight descending why did you not admonish him on or about 6/19 when he placed the post rather than wait for me & mine placed on the 23'rd?

for the record, i agree that a 5 wt is to light for steelhead fishing 90% of the time. not sure what your finger lakes fish amount to but if they resemble any of our inland lake stock they run on the small side, a size that would certainly be doable with a five. i wasn't aware that lake Erie harbored that many sizable steel either? as i said [and you ignored] there are many variables involved. very rare to get big steel out of Lk. Superior tribs but i'd be willing to bet that they have much more steam than the Erie stock and are normally easily handled on a six. infact, thats the weight rod reccomended by many 'in the know' up that way.

"For smaller tribs (like yesterday) I drop down to a 9 1/2' 6 wt. and tie up a heavy butt mono leader, add weight if needed. For couple of larger swing holes a small trib may offer I then loop on a 5' - 7' homemade sink tip made out of a type six, mono core shooting head. posted by h2o on 12/19/04"

i suppose this poster dosn't know any better either or just dosn't care about the welfare of steelhead?

i'm always seeing people steered towards sixes for almost any trophy trout destinations, alaska, south america, and both islands comprising new zealand. tell me again how a six to ten pound trout is so much more powerful than a 6-10 lb trout? is that label 'steelhead' like a shot of nitrous? its not a shot of salt, thats for sure, not in these parts.

my pet peeve is when hard fast guidelines are attempted to be 'strong armed' into place re what acceptable tackle is, the story is not often that simple.

ctious
06-25-2006, 08:09 PM
i have found a 7wt works great..... but when you get into anything over 12 lbs it does feel alittle weak... I have fished with a 5 wt for them before... the truth is you will have a hard time landing them unless its under 6 lbs..

Any rod will set a hook!!! its what happens after that matters..

Greg Pavlov
06-25-2006, 11:14 PM
politically correct.
It's ................ [censored]

flytyer
06-26-2006, 12:55 AM
Although I personally would not fish a 5 wt for steelhead, I know some folks who have fished summer steelhead with bamboo midge rods of 6'-7' for 3 wt lines, and they not only hooked fish, they landed plenty of them. In other words, an experienced steelheader could very easily hook and land summer steelhead on 3 wt rods; however, in fairness I must also tell you that none of these folks use such light rods for steelhead any more. All of them now use 6-8 wts for summer runs. Likewise, none of them use rods under 8' for steelhead now with most using 12.5' to 15' 2-handers for 6-8 wt lines today.

Me, I've never used anything smaller than a 6 wt for summer runs and nothing smaller than an 8 wt for winter runs in single-handers, and 8 or 9 wt 2-handers for summer fish with 10 or 11 wt 2-handers my preference for winter fish.

But as has been talked about by several folks over the years, one can hook and land steelhead on rather light line rods; but if you are not very experienced in landing large, active fish on light line rods, there is a very good chance you will so exhaust the fish when fighting it that you will kill it. That is why most experience steelheaders use at least a 6 wt for summer runs (and an 8 wt for winter runs) while recommending 7 wts for less experienced fishers for summer fish (and 9 wts for winter fish).

Leo the guide
06-26-2006, 05:00 AM
My guide keeps telling me my 5 wt (10' TFO) is not stiff enough to set hooks on steelhead, and that I'm missing fish because of that.
I feel fine with the rod in terms of casting and fighting fish, but would like feedback on whether a rod can be too light or soft for steelhead purely from a hook setting point of view. Thanks in advance.
Hi Josko, I wonder as above about your hooks are they really as sharp possible and how and when you strike are you to late or early? Another problem when fly-fishing in streams is the slack of the line and leader! Often we have a lot of line in the water which gives us bit of lost time when we makes our strike.

Have a ponder about your techniqe and timing.

Have fun

Leo

trout5
08-20-2006, 08:03 PM
I fish for steelies and salmon with my 5wt.Mostley because thats all i have right now .lol This season im going to bump up to 9WT.With the 5wt i just set my drag and watch the bend on my pole.Other than that i have no problem landing salmon or steelies with it.

Jim Miller
08-20-2006, 08:29 PM
I fish a custom 10 foot 6 wt for steelies and light tippet salmon (read :hammered, spooky fish). With the extra length it has plenty of backbone to fight the fish AND protect light tippets. (down to 4lb for steelies & 6 lb for salmon)

Josko... next time we fish... try it for the day! ;)

FlyFishMich
10-05-2006, 05:03 PM
I like my 9'6", 6wt for indicator (bobber) fishing for steelhead with a floating line on smaller rivers. I am NOT fishing to spawning fish in the heavy spring flows and faster gravel areas but pooled up fall and winter fish. Fishing crystal clear water with 3X flourocarbon tippet I can still break a fish off before I break my 6wt. Or I can break a fish off that much faster with an 8wt. The rod should match the water. A 10' 5wt would probably have as much power in the butt as a 9' 6wt. Small water 5wt-7wt....Big water 7wt-9wt (or spey).

Josko, its not your rod, its the high-sticking (or too much slack line) that doesn't allow for a solid hookset. Line management is key.

jhicks
10-05-2006, 05:57 PM
On some of the rivers of southern Oregon and Northern California a 3 and 4wt rod is a great rod. That being said the average Steelhead running up those rivers is in the 2-4lb range. Using a 5wt on an Olympic Peninsula or BC river would be suicide. Not only because the fish are big and strong but the rivers are wide and you would be fishing 1/10th of the river. The Great Lakes rivers are of medium to small size and can be effectively covered by a good size 6wt. The fish in those rivers needs at least a six weight to fight quickly and release without building a leathal amount of lactic acid up in its muscles.

FlyFishMich
10-05-2006, 08:52 PM
I think what we also forget is the "average" steelhead (or noodle) rod used with spinning gear is usually a 5/6wt blank equivalent or less. I can assure anyone that my 13'6" IM8 Float (centerpin) rod would be fully loaded with a 5wt line, and yet fish can be whipped in fairly short order. I am, of course, referring to the 5lb-10lb average Great Lakes steelhead and not the PMW behemoths. Rarely does anyone hook a steelhead over 12lb-15lb in Lake Michigan tribs, despite what all the well known authors and guides will tell you. Out of the 100+ fish I release every year, I may be lucky to get 4 or 5 that eclipse the 10lb mark. Usually they are 4lb-8lb fish.

Jamey McLeod
10-17-2006, 06:33 PM
Rarely does anyone hook a steelhead over 12lb-15lb in Lake Michigan tribs, despite what all the well known authors and guides will tell you.

Dude,

You need to quit fishing those Grand tribs north of town. Don't you know there are loads of 20lbr's that hang on the bend just above Thornapple????? Right in front of that big lodge/inn looking place. From what I hear they mey be hanging just below town in the coming years also. get out and explore a bit, or live a life doomed by 6lb cookie cutters. :chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle:

FlyFishMich
10-17-2006, 10:43 PM
Dude,

You need to quit fishing those Grand tribs north of town. Don't you know there are loads of 20lbr's that hang on the bend just above Thornapple????? Right in front of that big lodge/inn looking place. From what I hear they mey be hanging just below town in the coming years also. get out and explore a bit, or live a life doomed by 6lb cookie cutters. :chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle:
Jamey, the problem is that I am not chuck 'n ducking with two flies, pencil lead, and 8' of tippet on a spey rod...but I am sure I could call it "flyfishing". I'll happily take my centerpin caught cookie cutters over anyone's steelhead dreams of 20lb fish on a regular basis in Lake Michigan tribs.;)

Dornblaser
10-23-2006, 09:33 PM
I am familiar with that TFO 5 wt. It is not beefy enough to handle Great Lakes steelhead without risking killing them. It's a nice small smallie or trout rod.

- David

FlyFishMich
10-23-2006, 10:34 PM
I am familiar with that TFO 5 wt. It is not beefy enough to handle Great Lakes steelhead without risking killing them.
Although I am not promoting the idea of regularly using a 5wt for steelhead, I will respectfully disagree that, in the right hands, a fish can be landed just as quickly as a 7wt or 8wt. The angler's ability to apply maximum pressure at the right times is more important that the weight of the line on the flyrod. Specifically, I am referring to smaller Lake Michigan tributaries under normal flows, not large rivers like the Joe, Mo, or Big Man. Lets face it, the first 30 seconds of a bright steelhead is mayhem, the kind of mayhem that it will matter little if you have a 14' 9/10wt or a 10' 5wt. Once the fish settles down then you just have to put the sticks to them. I can break 3X flouro pretty easily with a wimpy 6wt or fast action 5wt. The pressure that one exerts on a fish should come from the butt section of the rod, not the tip and most 5wts, particularly a 10 footer, have plenty of butt section to them. A lighter rod will protect tippet better than a heavier rod, thus allowing an experienced angler to apply more pressure than he/she would with a heavier rod. I will refer back to my earlier comparison with the light action spinning rods commonly employed in the Great Lakes tribs and also back to my light action float rod. I will happily demonstrate how quickly a steelhead can be landed on a 9' 5wt the next time you visit Michigan. You can, of course, bring a two-hander for comparison. Feel free to PM me for directions and times. Tight lines!

josko
10-24-2006, 04:18 PM
Again, the question was whether the 10' 5 wt was too soft for setting hooks while high-sticking. If I interpret the concensus of responses correctly , it seems that it is not, provided the hooks used are adequately sharp.

FlyFishMich
10-24-2006, 11:56 PM
Again, the question was whether the 10' 5 wt was too soft for setting hooks while high-sticking. If I interpret the concensus of responses correctly , it seems that it is not, provided the hooks used are adequately sharp.
The 5wt should be more than adequate to set the hook, assuming you are actually able to set a hook with your rod way up in the air...try mending more and keeping your rod lower which will enable you to set the hook better....as far as hooksets go...a 3wt can set the hook on a steelhead, as long as there is not too much slack in your line. Good luck!!!

AKSkim
12-24-2006, 04:24 PM
A five weight is a very fine trout rod. Period. If you practice catch and release for steelhead, this is not the rod to be employed. I have seen many a fly fisher use a 6 wt for steelies, but in my opinion you shouldn't use less that a 7 weight rod.

When not using my 14 ft, 9/10 spey rod, I am using my 7 wt, 10 rod.

I want to catch, but also release my fish. As time goes on, you will note I do not post fish caught, weather from trout on PA spring creeks, or salmon/steelhead. I try to remove the hook while they are still under water. If I have to use a removal tool for deep sets, I do it as quickly as possible.

Removing any fish in low air temp's stands a chance of freezing their gills.

steelhead281
01-26-2007, 09:40 PM
I fish in the Erie tribs from Oct to March. Always use a 7 wt. Almost alway use 4 pound tippet and size 16 or 18 hook. I hook and land fresh steelhead on every outing. With such light tippet I don't set the hook but rather gentle lift the rod and the fish sets itself. I can't imagine that a 5 wt. would work for hooking fish. I'll leave the landing quickly issue to others

Jim Miller
01-27-2007, 03:48 PM
tippet strength is the weak link.... no?
if you are using 3-5 lb tippet ..... won't the tippet yield before you put the max. pressure a 10 foot 5 wt. CAN exert?

8lb,10lb,12lb tippet is another story..... ;)

shotgunner
01-27-2007, 05:43 PM
That thoughts been rattling around inside my head since reading the post...LOL..

I'll leave the landing quickly issue to others... steelhead281

You'll land fish faster on a lighter rod with that fine of tippet. Been there - done that. Ironically its exactly why i purchased a 10' 6 wt, tired of trying to handle fish with kid gloves for fear of break off due to rod overpowering.

I wont fish tippet under .008 regardless... Dont like 'interior decorating' that well :)

FlyFishMich
01-28-2007, 02:55 PM
won't the tippet yield before you put the max. pressure a 10 foot 5 wt. CAN exert?
YES! Thanks for restating what I tried to explain much earlier in this thread. A 10' 5wt should make a very nice tool for catching and releasing steelhead quickly in low clear water on smaller rivers....big water and heavier tippets would make a great case for a 7wt or more. I think we all listen too much at what the flyshop owners tell us, so they can sell us another rod for another "specific" purpose:chuckle: .