Loop Dropper? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Loop Dropper?

11-19-2001, 12:23 AM
In light of the tube fly post, I am soliciting feedback on your prefered method for line handling techniques in reguard to hooking fish. Do you prefer to carry a loop in the AHE Wood tradition, or keep the line tight on the reel? How high of an intial drag setting do you carry? Do you keep a high or low rod tip?

My frustration this year has to do with an abnormally high percentage of lost to landed fish, only landing roughly 35%. It seems that no matter how well the fish appeared hooked, they kept coming unpinned. Since taking up two handed fishing 8 years ago, I have used the high rod position with the line tight to the reel. When I rose a fish I would just drop the tip to give the slack, however, over the last 8 years I have probably only averaged 55% landed and I know others do better, much better.

I have been fishing Alec Jackson's spey hooks for at least 3 years now, so nothing different here. The only change for this year is switching to the Sage 6126-3 as this rod is a fair bit softer than the old 7136 and 9140.

Just curious?


11-19-2001, 03:15 AM
55% sounds about right to me. Thats about what I have managed this year. That with floaters and tips and regardless of fly size or hook style. There may be methods that help land more fish to a very small degree but the inevitible fact is a lot of the time they just come unbuttoned.

11-19-2001, 03:46 PM
I used to hold a loop of line but I found that when a fish hit I would just clamp down on the line out of instinct. This of course did not let the fish turn and resulted in a lot of lost fish. I now just set the drag light on my reel. My Hardys are already pretty light drags. This does require me to pinch the line to the cork whenever I make a cast so that it doesn't go out during the casting motion.

I do hold my rod tip high when fishing dry flys and then lower it when the "alligator rise" approaches!

11-19-2001, 06:07 PM
The AJ Spey hooks are beautiful, but I found them to be wonderful conservation devices -- I lost fish after fish while using them.

Since I switched to the Bartleet salmon hooks, I haven't had as much trouble. The Bartleets look almost the same, and, for me anyway, seem to hold the fish better.


11-19-2001, 06:11 PM
William, couple of thoughts. Gather your a Spey Rod guy so to assure your hookups keep your rod tip low to the water and ahead of the line swing. As in 'greased line' fishing the pressure of the water against the line will almost always set the hook for you.

I keep the line wrapped through the middle three fingers so I can feel the line tighten up when the fish's weight begins to effect the line swing (trust me, 99% of the time with the tip low and ahead of the line swing you'll feel him). Then a slight tug off to the side (towards the bank, not up in the air!!!!) and you've got him.

If the hooks keep coming out (I've had this problem in spades in the past) go to a lighter wire hook. Trust me it takes a hell of a fish to straighten out a #1-#4 light wire hook. But the light wire, with its fine point, will drill home, and stay home barbless or not.

11-19-2001, 07:23 PM
I still have quite an inventory of the Bartleet hooks, maybe I will go back to them. The reason I left the British hooks was due to their inferior finish and steel quality when compared to Japanese hooks.

Normally I would not get too fretted about losing fish, as I find most of the thrill on the take. I really started thinking about it when a good friend went 13 for 13 on a five day trip to the Clearwater a week and a half ago, including releasing a 39" hatch buck, however he fishes tubes about 90% of the time. I also realize that we can't land every one of them, and some of us will take our turn, evening out the law of averages, losing fish so someone else can land theirs!!!

I don't really think that the loop will make that much of a difference, but maybe I should not have let that black cat...or walked under that ladder...or...


11-19-2001, 07:25 PM
Inland--Here's my .02 on this subject, which is one I have spent a great deal of time thinking about. My guess is that your dificulties are more related to the hooks than your technique. Everything that makes the AJs such beautiful hooks tends to work against them as far as getting fish to the bank. The sweeping, triangular bend, short point, upturned eye and long shank, from a physics standpoint, are extremely conducive to the hook twisting free during a steelhead's gyrations. I love how these hooks look so much that I fished them for years, and felt a lot of the frustration you have experienced as far as "closing the deal." The solution? Ugly hooks. In particular, the Tiemco 5262 "crappie" hook is, in my experience, absolutely deadly in #4 and #2. Since I started using these hooks, my landing ratio has increased 50%. Also, as mentioned above, short shank hooks used with tube flies also hold fish well. Although I don't fish a lot of tube flies, I really like the Tiemco 2499SP in #6. The Tiemco 8089 is another good choice, though in my head to head tests, it's not nearly as good as the 5262. As you have noticed, these hooks are all quite small. I've also found that the smaller hooks find better purchase and hold better than big hooks. For some reason, I spent many years believing that the 2/0 and 3/0 would hook better, but my journal, and the opinions of many other fishermen seem to show that a trend towards smaller hooks results in more landed fish, not to mention less injury to the fish. I think it's because a big hook tends to hit bone with the point and slide off during the fight, while a small hook more easily gets into the gristle and skin at the corner of the mouth.

As far as technique, I like to hold the line between my index and middle finger so I can feel the grab, and tell the difference between fish and rocks. When I feel a take, I let the rod take a pretty deep bend, then set the hook towards the bank. (This is with dry-line, wet fly as well as sinktips, where my tip is low to the surface anyway.) In other words, it's more of a horizontal action than vertical.

Well, hope this helps. Again, that 5262 will shock you with how well it holds. Of course the style and size may force you to be a little more creative with your tying to get the fly shape and action you want, but it's worth it. Oh, yeah, one other thing that seems to help: with either eye up or down eye hooks, use a turle not. That way the line pulls in a direct line with the shank of the hook. This seems to add a few percentage points to landing fish also. What forced me to do all this experimentation (which eventually led to these conclusions) was a stretch of lost fish much like what you've gone through. I think I lost 11 fish in a row on the Skykomish with big AJs, and was nearly at wits end. Went to the little 5262 tied with a turle knot and went something like15 for the next 18 fish I hooked. Hope you get the same results.

Good luck,


11-19-2001, 09:49 PM
A quick note on the AJ Spey hooks...

Alec last spring came out with the Steelhead Irons which are a heavier wire, shorter shank version of his standard AJ Spey. Plus he also has added 1 1/2's to his standard heavy wire line where before only 3's were avaliable. These new 1 1/2's are just becoming avaliable to the shops right now.

Plus last spring he came out with a new lighter wire hook known as the River Dee Hook. The bend does not have nearly as much of steep bend to it plus it is a longer shank.

I have yet to trie the River Dee's but think they would make excellent dryfly hooks and I've heard nothing but good things in regards to the durability and the holding ability of the Steelhead Irons.

11-20-2001, 12:25 AM
I will surely look into the tiemco hooks.

In looking through my hook box, I picked up some Daiichi 2161's in size 1. I compared them to the AJ 1.5 and the bend and gape is almost identical with a shank that looks to be just under .375" shorter and a few thou heavier in diameter.

In theory this should help reduce the lever and lessen unpinned fish. Anybody with any experience using these hooks?