Steellhead Flies Natural Weighting [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Steellhead Flies Natural Weighting

06-27-2001, 12:08 PM
I've been weighting my flies the normal way with weighted thread and bead eyes but I'm thinking about becoming a purist.

So I have discovered that heavily silk flossed bodies provides good weighting and dog hair when weight is very heavy.

Are there other natural ways?
And where can I find dog hair except in Europe?

All help is appreciated.

Angie :)

06-27-2001, 12:24 PM
Sparse ties with heavy wire hooks ride low in the column all by themselves, I was surprised to hang up on a floating line with a long leader using a purple peril style fly tied on a winter hook. In other words, the way the fly is dressed has a big effect on this even when unweighted.

Silk bodies sound good, never heard the dog hair thing though... fox and badger is popular for wings in the atlantic maritimes for hairwings.

06-27-2001, 03:11 PM
I thought this is what sink tips were made for. I don't like heavy wire hooks. I think the heavy wire hinders penetration. I use light wire hooks, mostly Alec Jackson, and if I need the fly down I use a sink tip.

06-27-2001, 03:46 PM
Don't get smart with me, Sir! :)

I don't like using such heavy sink tips, shortens my distance, and you know how distance counts on the Skagit.

Hey, just curious what line set up are you using?

One day on the Sauk this year I saw some joker with such a horrible line system that he couldn't even get it out of the water. Or it could of been his castin ability.

I'm using the windcutter with interchangeable tips and I just LOVE IT!

06-27-2001, 04:00 PM
Hey! That joker was me. What gives here? I also use the windcutter. I find that a sink tip doesn't affect my distance. Of course I need to be able to cast for distance before it would have any affect. The key for me is to get the tip up on the surface.

06-27-2001, 04:36 PM
Although there's a lot more stripping involved, you can throw big sink tips using a head configuration. This is a good option for winter fishing, although like I mentioned before you need to pull in a lot of line between casts after a drift on a big river like the Skagit.

Can't have everything, big sinking tips - head, lots of stripping.

Long line Spey casts - lighter tips.

Best time of all - dry line, dry fly. Gotta love summer runs.

06-28-2001, 02:46 AM
Angie (06-27-2001 04:46 p.m.):

One day on the Sauk this year I saw some joker with such a horrible line system that he couldn't even get it out of the water. Or it could of been his castin ability.

Try to antagonize me ALL YOU WANT, I do not care! :)

06-28-2001, 07:25 AM
Angie (06-27-2001 04:46 p.m.):
One day on the Sauk this year I saw some joker with such a horrible line system that he couldn't even get it out of the water. Or it could of been his castin ability.

I have not modified a single post in the history of this discussion board, and I would really appreciate if I didn't have to start now.

It's great having another lady with us on FlyTalk, so let's talk about fishing Angie! Sounds like you take your fishing seriously.

You mentioned saltwater in one of your posts... do you fish the saltchuck for coho as well? (one of my favorite topics). I'll tell you if we had a fishery like that anywhere else in the world it would be the main attraction. I guess there is so much in the PNW that it's highly under-rated. I can't believe how many times I would go to Sekiu or Neah Bay and be the only flyfisherman out there on a kicker boat!

06-28-2001, 08:25 AM
What were you going for at Seiku cohos or those fun rock fish or are they sea bass, all I know is that they are fun, ugly, and taste really good.

I have two saltwater patterns that kick juju...

One is your basic herring fly with a twist (red flash on the breast makes it look wounded) and a jiggy white fly for them bass/rockfish.

What's the largest coho you've gotten trolling them kelp beds? I got a 7 pounder once, what a surprise!

I'm sorry you had to actually edit a post, it seems wherever I post, there is some stalker dude that follows me and says the grossest stuff. I can't believe anyone would do that. Maybe some men are just jealous of a woman fisherman. Who knows? My philosophy?

If it swims and fights, I'm going after it.

Maybe one day I'll find Aquaman.... Hee Hee

06-29-2001, 02:51 PM
I used to fish windcutters until i found out how limited they are in their ability to cast at long distance. A friend of mine is casting an average of 140 feet without shooting any line.. There is no way around it distance comes through skill and proper technique not products and gimics.

As for flies, i can only assume you are talking about winter fishing because there is no reason to use weighted flies in the summer. I recently caught 2 fish from 8 feet of water on the cowlitz both came all the way to the surface to take a fly.

For winter fishing flies can be dressed as stated above on heavy wire hooks such as the partridge M. Also sparce ties can also aid in faining depth tinsle bodies and hackle wings are a great way to go.. Also avoid bucktail or deer hair they are both very bouyant.

06-29-2001, 08:35 PM
Hey Roballen--

Can your buddy actually FISH at 140 feet? I've found that my effective line control in most runs is more like 70 or 80 feet max, so I have yet to see the point of casting huge distances. (Of course that could be a rationalization of my lousy casting). In all seriousness, I think most people can cast farther than they can fish, which may be why some of the most beautiful casters catch fewer fish than guys who keep it close. Maybe the temptation to let it fly is too great when you have amazing casting skills...maybe I will find out when I get those skills...


06-29-2001, 10:40 PM
An excellent point. My point was not that casting further translates to more hook ups or that casting extreme distances is a good idea for fishing. 140 feet is very likely farther than anyone ever needs to cast or fish but i know of a couple places where one coule easily fish such casts and control it., My point was that he casts further by his ability and proper technique not by using a shooting head such as the windcutter which is difficult to fish at ranges over 90 feet.. I found that for me the windcutter covered up a lot of casting faults. since i have quit using the wind cutter my casting has improved and i now cast further more easily with a DT than my windcutter. I'd be willing to bet than many people are in the same boat.

06-30-2001, 02:29 AM
Okay, I'll wade in...

I agree that longbellied DT or Spey lines are better line control tools for distance casting using conventional line control methods. But don't write off those shooting heads just yet...

I used to believe that you couldn't control heads at distance. I stuck to long-bellied Spey lines and got pretty good at casting them a long way as I believed that casting far with such lines gave me an advantage over others, especially people using heads. Heck, I'm even on record on the other BBs as saying that you need a long-bellied line, you can't control shooting heads etc.

Then I met Derek Brown, Per Stadigh and Dec Hogan. All are superb casters and anglers, all cast in different styles, and all demonstrated to me that you can in fact control those shooting heads quite well out beyond 100ft. To prove the point, Derek threw a full sinking 50ft head across the Thompson's Graveyard Pool a few years back and was able to do pretty much what he wanted with it. Per has written about his methods with 45ft heads and the Scandinavian casting styles on the ISC BB. And Dec chucked a Windcutter over 100ft across the Skagit last August to show me how he controls the drift. No problem.

Briefly, all three used a variation of the method skilled drift fishers use when bottom bouncing: rod tip up, keeping as much line off the water as possible and maintain a direct contact with the head. Once they have the line doing what they want they drop the rod and fish out the cast in the conventional manner. I should note that all advocated seriously examining the need for mending--on many steelhead runs, apart from a reach mend while the line is still in the air and/or an initial mend to straighten everything out, they don't monkey around with the line any more than they have to.

So while I once was a long liner and still enjoy long-bellied Spey lines and picking up and throwing those big casts on the Thompson's giant pools, these days I'm experimenting more with the Underhand method and 35ft - 45ft shooting heads. I'm still learing the techniques, so I can still cast farther with long-bellied lines, but I'm now out over 100ft with the heads and am finding that by employing the line control methods that best suit this line system I'm doing just fine.

06-30-2001, 05:44 PM

Interesting perspective on heads. I have followed the debate on ISC and agree that using Perís method, the Windcutter style lines can be effectively mended well out into the running line. I would also agree that many anglers, myself included, often put too much emphasis on mending through the drift.

For me personally, the decision on heads vs. long bellied lines comes down to one of convenience. I gladly prefer the ability to not strip and shoot on every cast over the extra distance and casting ease that a head offers. If I need to shoot, I still can but especially in winter, it sure is nice not to touch the line.

My .02

07-02-2001, 01:00 PM
I'm gonna disagree with you on that one Robbie.

Steelhead hold in close to shore no ifs, ands or buts... If they are holding out in the middle of the river they are in a deep bloody pocket that you're gonna need a big heavy fly to get down to them, because I doubt they'll notice a fly skimming the surface OR THEY ARE HOLDING IN A TAIL OUT and that's usually in the spawning beds and you shouldn't be fishing for them there in the first place.

I also wouldn't be calling them interchangeable sink tips on the windcutters shooting heads, I've cast shooting head concotions and they cast a heck of a lot easier.

As for long distance hooking a fish, unless that fish is suicidal you won't have as good a hook up as with a fish closer in. It applies with spoons also. Greater chance of a losing the fish.

As for using weighted flies for summerruns, of course you use them. What about glacier melt? What about deep frog water pools if it's too warm?

And remember Rob, I'm debating with you and when debating one person wins and one person loses, but the fun part is the DEBATE. :)

07-02-2001, 05:34 PM
I prefaced my original post by saying i was referring to summer runs!

water over 8 feet deep is not fly water. Unless your Jim Teeny ( insert slanderous but true remark)

steelhead are willingly move for 8 feet for a fly ( go fish the Umpua)

combine those two facts and you have no need to fish a weighted fly in the summer. I never fish weighted flies summer or winter! As for colored water there is nothing a weighted fly can do that a sink tip can't unless you are nymphing. And we all know how you feel about nymphing and i agree. One of the rivers I fish the most in summer is heavily influenced by glacial run off possibly more than any other river in Washington state. Even in the worst conditions i do not use a weighted fly and have good success.

While what you say about where fish hold in the river may be true on large rivers and winter steelhead. I find it to be completely untrue on smaller rivers and most summer steelhead streams. The winter run I caught on the Sauk 2 years ago took my fly about 100 feet from shore she moved about 7 feet vertically to take the fly which was unweighted and fished on a light sink tip. I had an identicle experience on the Hoh this last Feb.. Aggressive steelhead will move for a fly regardless of the conditions or water clarity. I have also found no difference in hooking to landing ratio between fish hooked at long or short distances.

As we are talking primarily about summer fish the spawning issue is a non issue.

I didn't post my message to debate anything. I just know from my experience and from what i have seen of others that the heavy, short bellied windcutter hides many casting faults.. They become readily apparent when you start to throw a double taper.
The reason that that is important to me is because when i started spey casting i told myself that i was going to learn to do it right. I simply think that often people learn what i call the windcutter chop. Which is fine if thats all someone wants to do but it wont work with a DT or long belly weight forward spey line.

PS. you will not catch many fish on the umpqua if you don't wade above your knees, or on the Deschutes for that matter.

07-02-2001, 07:16 PM
Angie (07-02-2001 02:00 p.m.):
I'm gonna disagree with you on that one Robbie.

<good stuff snipped...>

And remember Rob, I'm debating with you and when debating one person wins and one person loses, but the fun part is the DEBATE. :)

Yet in debate, there is not always a winner and loser. Sometimes there are two winners. This occurs when the exchange brings something to light from which both can gain.

I can name several pools where 80+ foot casts over 6-8 feet of water fished with dry lines and light flies on light wire hooks produces explosive strikes from summer runs, and the above mentioned Cowlitz is one of these.

I can also name much shallower, skinnier or otherwise surface fly looking water that won't produce a thing unless you're down and dirty.

IMHO there is no general rule that can be applied to every situation, only the fun of untangling the mystery of each and the total sense of accomplishment in the milestone of landing each and every steelhead on a fly.

Hope there are fireworks on your lines this holiday!

07-02-2001, 09:29 PM
I completely agree with Rob about the Windcutter hiding casting faults that later become apparent when you switch to a long-bellied line. I think a similar problem happens when one learns with a long-bellied DT line and then switches to a long-bellied Spey line. Because of the somewhat inefficient design of LBDTs, casters tend to put more muscle into things, especially when attempting extreme distance, and this causes problems with the more efficient LBSLs. I see these things happening all the time at the schools I teach in the spring as anglers switch from line-to-line looking for the perfect set up that will allow them to cast farther with less effort. The inevitable frustration is only lessened when we find a line they are comfortable with (which is usually the one they brought along) and go back to the basics.

07-03-2001, 09:37 AM
If you think about the physics of long distance hooking and the angle of the hook set, as I've said before, if you have a suicide fish, and most of them wonderful summerruns are, you're not going to get a very strong hook set. And I'd hate to say this on a fly fishing forum, but when fishing spoons the same physics apply.

I'm going to quote one of the members of this board. Kerry... "You can make fly fishin as easy and as hard as you want to." Only being at it for four years now, I'm making it as easy as I can.

When I get bored, like I did with gear going to fly fishin, I'll just switch to dry flies for everything (including winterruns LOL).

That's the beauty of fly fishing and all fishing you can challenge yourself.

As for Windcutters, I wouldn't mind going out and spending some dollars on a new set up. How about pointing me in the direction of a whole new system, please? I'd love to try something different.

As for brute strength in casting, (ever see Scott O'donald cast, what a nightmare) I put no muscle into it at all. It's all in your form and timing. Period.

As for the Deschutes and wading high... I still don't, but I know every pocket on that river, too bad it's too crowded now, I won't even bother with it.

07-03-2001, 10:22 AM
I agree spey casting should when done right take very little physical effort. The best casts i have ever made have all been after relaxing and not forcing it. However forcing it seems a natural response problems with casting but that doesn't make it work.

Angie if you want a new spey outfit for all around fishing I recommend the Burkheimer 9143-3 and an accelerator spey line. probably the 8-9-10. and find an old Hardy Marquis salmon#2.

I think the accellerator is about as good of a compromise as you can find in a production line. A little bit longer that the windcutter but is still easy to cast.

Angie you are right about the Deschutes but don't be discouraged the crowd is really only there for August and September. As soon as hunting season starts the crowds pretty much dissapear and they concentrate on the river upstream of maupin. There are still plenty of fish in the lower river where there are virtually no fishermen. I have caught steelhead clear down at moody as late as december 27th

07-03-2001, 11:49 AM
I always concentrate around Maupin down to Max Canyon and may take my drift boat down it in August if I can pull myself away from the Peninsula. Did you ever notice that the fish tend to be in those froggy pools on those 110 degree August days? I turn to spinners at that time but might be obliged to turn to a BOBBER for them this year.

Nothing like fishing in October during hunting season and have someone shoot a deer behind you. I wish I could afford the Oregon hunting license because you can bow hunt from the boat. Nothing like grain fed deer way better than our swamp rats here.

Now should I go up a weight like with the windcutter for my 9/10 weight?

Thanks for the advice Rob. I hate experimenting with lines, because it can be time consuming and frustrating.

Have you ever fished the MacKenzie for steelhead out of Eugene, it's a lovely river and has some wonderful hatchery browns that are dumber than posts. I developed a special pellet fly for them. LOL

07-04-2001, 01:00 AM
As they say in golf, "swing easy, hit far," and what's true for the ol' three wood is also true for the spey rod. Now, if I can just get my body to believe my brain, and not try to kill it every time... Enough golf analogies, I think I heard this is a fishing site. Angie, if you're looking for a whole new setup, here's my .02. I'm partial to any of the Sage 4-piecers (especially the new 9140 and 7136), and I usually fish an SA Mastery Salmon/Spey line. For tips, I cut back about 18 feet and fish either a 15' Rio tip in 130 grains or 165 grains, or for the 7-weight, I use the front 15' from an 8-weight type 5 steelhead sinktip. (This is expensive if you buy a new type 5, but I have a bunch of beaters left over from working in Alaska, and someone you know probably has some lying around if you don't.) As for reels, anything you can find that's big enough to hold these fat lines, go for it. Of course, the Hardy mentioned above is a good one. I personally have a couple of big Loops I like well enough, and the old Lamson 4 will work on the 7136. If you got a lot of cash, I like the Bauer M7 for the big rod, and the new Sage 3500D for the 7 weight--these double as good saltwater reels if you want to amortize the cost over several pursuits. (Maybe that's a cheap rationalization, but hey, any excuse for new gear...) Well, I'm not saying these are necessarily the best things for everyone, but they work well for me. I'm sure you'll hear a lot of different opinions--good luck deciding what your personal favorites will be.

07-04-2001, 07:49 PM
Hi Angie -

So you take an occasional step over to the "dark side" with spinners and BOBBERs, eh? }> Just kidding Angie, everyone has the right and privilege to fish the way they please within the bounds of the law. Certainly couldn't start the kids off with flyfishing or there would probably be no next generation!

Yet personally, I never want a steelhead enough to use anything but my fly gear. There are probably fish sitting in a well aerated rapid somewhere that would pounce on a dry fly at dawn or dusk.

One of those bright missles is antsy about being in this pool, and is going to be at the head of the class wound up like a spring just as it gets light enough to tie a fly without a flashlight.

As evening falls, one of those dour frog-water fish just might make a lunge at a sparse black heron with a little dark purple emphasis and a couple of strands of crustal flash protruding out from under the mallard wings.

I'll tie flies at the camp bench during the day, take a nap, etc - and fish the morning and evening with focused intent instead.

I agree that spin gear helps fool the fish easier, but I also think there are lessons in the spin gear's effectiveness that can be translated into flyfishing and need to resort to spin gear can eventually be eliminated, if that's what a guy or gal wanted to do. Not saying anyone out there has to do that, just that I want to do that more than catching the fish using other gear.

The fishing is more important than catching, and the catching improves when the fishing steps beyond conventional wisdom IMHO. But like they say, it's a free country and fresh roe is still a legal practice in rivers with native fish. It's all just a matter of personal preference I guess.

Me I just wonder why the gear is effective in a situation and try to match it - or beat it with fly gear.


07-05-2001, 01:16 AM
Angie, I never have fished the McKenzie or any of the Willamette valley streams. I hear good things from the Santiam rivers.

I did however spend 9 months working at Steamboat inn on the North Umpqua. Some people say it is difficult to fish I just thought it was interesting. Although it is a larger river than the one I grew up on it fishes about the same.

Angie I agree with you about testing with different lines for the rod I mentioned the Burkheimer 9134 I'd go with the windcutter or accelerator in the 8-9-10.
I plan on building a 9143 for myself in for my winter fishing and will likely go with the windcutter.

Also angie someday while your Near the Deschutes it would be worth your effort to explore the Klickitat. It has fewer fish but the native Klickitat steelhead are large by summer run standards and very strong. Stronger than the fish I have caught from the hoh or the sauk. That may be due to water temps but anyway it's a fun river.

If you talk to a lot of people who fish the Deschutes you'll hear about a lot of fish taken out of that frog water you mentioned. One thing I learned while on the Babine last fall.. Fish the water that your on wether you like it or not.. Don't turn your nose up at a slow featureless tailout just because it looks to slow, fish hold in all kinds of water.