Winterizing the two hander [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Winterizing the two hander

Scott K
11-25-2002, 01:29 AM
The chill is in the air. The bite that dries your skin, chaps your lips, and freezes your guides. You crank the heater in your vehicle to take the chill off when driving to your next spot. The Hot chocolate sits in the cupholder anxiously awaiting your next sip. The hashbrowns are savoured in preparation as fuel for your long hard day. Fleece suddenly becomes a piece of equipment critical to your success. My favourite time of year; it's time for early Winter run Steelhead!

I've been busy nagging the local flyshop about ordering some of the newest/latest products on the market which I'm looking forward to adding to my arsenal (a DC'd graphite 3 Sage 9140-3 European action two hander) so I can "winterize" it. After purchasing a Rio Grandspey over a month ago, I'm adding on to it. Soon I should have some of those 12 foot, 7 inches/second Rio Polyleaders. I also recently nagged the local shop to see if they have ordered a bulk spool of the type 8 Rio sink tip. I've also been constructing (pretying) 15 foot leaders with significant 40 pound (maxima) butt sections for fishing floating line, long leader, and weighted, and heavily weighted flies in low/clear water conditions. Eventually I'll probably have to end up possibly making the cut in my Grandspey to add tips at some point. I'm also probably gonna invest into a back up pair of fleece gloves.

What are you doing in preparation for Winter run Steelhead?

What's your approach? What's your main piece of equipment? Lines? Tips? Flies? Have you started winterizing as well?


wet fly
11-25-2002, 10:37 AM
I have put away my floating lines for the year. After having such a productive past 3 months and fishing many rivers in two states and B. C. My longer dry lines remind me of many memories and good friends I have encountered. I preferr to cast shorter heads with the sink tips. I will pick up a couple of the new type 8 tips and try them out. I will also add some sinking leaders in the heavier water. In the winter I tend to stay home and fish the local waters. I will now only fish a couple of times a week as compared to every day in the fall. Jerry

11-25-2002, 01:28 PM
Water temperature was a brisk 41F the other day when I went out a few days ago.... Time to get out the tube of aquaseal!!

On the bright side was 1 fish landed and another hooked!! And another fish (and a hot one at that!) the next time out!! :)

But I have to expect that water to be a lot colder on those days when the fish are not to be found.. hence the goop!

11-25-2002, 04:13 PM
Hey Pescaphile, I know the sun won't be shining anytime soon where you are so standard Goo will be best, but when its sunny try the sun activated stuff truly sets up in minutes and seems by my standards too be as good or better for wader repairs. I ran afoul of some barbed wire and the fabric lost but a few drops of the Sun Cure and I was as good as new.

Glad to hear there are a few still paddling around. Tight lines and all that.

Peace in the valley

11-25-2002, 10:47 PM
First thing I did was put the 13 ft 8 weight away in favor of the 16 ft 11 weight stick. I use 11 weight tips on it and also carry a 15 ft tip of 550 gr. Deep Water Express and an 11 ft tip of 700 gr Deep Water Express for when the water is nearly in the willows. This is so I can get down to where the fish are and to slow the fly's drift as well. The 11 weight tips sink about twice as fast as the 8 weight ones.

The 16 ft rod also gives much greater command of the water, allowing me to fish a run more effectively.

The flies have also changed. I no longer carry skating and waking flies, not do I carry low-water feather wings. In fact, I do not fish smaller than a size 3 Alec Jackson Spey Hook in the winter. I now carry a box of # 3 and # 1 1/2 spey flies, a box that has some classic full dressed Atlantic Salmon feather wings (my favorite winter fly is a toss-up between the Glasso Orange Heron and the classic Purple Emperor feather wing) in #1 to #2/0, some dee wing flies on Alec Jackson #1 1/2 blind eye hooks, and a few bunny strip flies in hot pink, black, black and purple. I carry about 4 # 2/0 marabou spiders that have orange/yellow/red in the fly or purple/black in the fly.

Gone also are the 15 ft leaders of summer. they are replaced by leaders of 4 to 6 feet. This lets the sink tip take the fly down, but keeps the fly is fishing a little higher than the sink tip to prevent too much hooking of bottom rocks. Longer leaders take the fly too high in the water column.

The wool gloves come out, the neoprenes replace the breatheables, and the watch hat used in conjunction with a visor-style cap to keep the rain off my glasses when under the rain jacket is used instead of the ball cap of summer. More layers of clothing are also the norm.

11-26-2002, 08:14 AM
as the upper part of the river is still under the control of the dam. Water flow (until the spring kings get moving) is kept quite low (700-1000 cfs). So on the upper river you can still use light rods for winter fishing.

Once you get to Grants Pass and down, all the feeder streams have kicked to water flow up to 2,500-3000 cfs so larger/heaver rods/fly/sink tips are in order. Everyone thinks of Oregon as very wet in the winter; northern part of the State and on the Coast this can be the case.

However, in the Medford-Grants Pass area we only average a tic over 19" of rain a year. So fishing is normally in low-moderate gin clear water. Wad of snow in the surrounding mountains (Mt. Ashland will average over 200"a winter. But most of the snow melt ends up in 'storrage lakes' for summer irrigation. Will get a few major blows during the winter (it takes a huge storm-usually a "Pineapple Express," coming up from Calif.) to 'penitrate' the three mounain ranges that box in the whole valley from Ashland to Grants Pass.

In these situations you just head up above Butte Creek and the water will still be gin clear and low flows. Only one time last year where they dumped water like crazy and blew the hell out of everything. Couple of major storms had dumped a ton of snow in the Crater Lake area .... then it warmed up and the melt was very quick. Actually filled up the lake behind the dam in about 10 days (like added 30 foot of water!!!!! and it's a hell of a big lake).

Corp. of Eng. was concerned that the lake would over fill so they desided to dump water like crazy (really screwed up the entire river system over night). Raised the flows from about 1,000 cfs to 6,000 almost over night. Drove fish into back channels, etc., that they normally would have zero access. ........ then they shut off the water just as fast. To make matters even "better" (the hatchery is at the base of the dam) they didn't bother to tell the hatchery people what they were going to do.

Fish kill was monumental. Dumb fu..s

11-26-2002, 12:15 PM
Winter is already here in the great lakes, first two hander winter pilot test of equipment yesterday, all went well except for the fish but a beautiful cold snowy day on a GL winter steelhead stream price less. Thank god there was no wind otherwise it would have been miserable since the temps were in the low 30s.

Good luck with your winter season, but our weather here is colder than the PNW so perhaps we are the hardiest winter steelheaders.

Here is a picture from yesterday.

Its snowing again here now. God I love winter steelheading for the chrome warriors !!

11-26-2002, 09:33 PM
I don't use my two hander in the winter since I fish really small stream at that time, but wanted to mention over 200 visits to this thread, but only 11 posts. Wow - there is some serious surfing (lurking?) going on. THose secretive steelheaders...

11-26-2002, 11:26 PM
until you brought up "11." Don't know who that is, but never noticed the number of posts show up on the board under your name. Thought I was a chatty cathy until I say "PM's" numbers.

'We' raced to see who would hit 1000 first, he won, but I got the 10,000'th post. But by the new numbers, vis a vis Hal, I'm as silent as a lamb.

Gotcha Hal!;)

Hal sent me a batch of really cool looking Great Lakes 'egg patterns;' got them in the mail today. Will have to chat with him about some of the patterns for eggs they use "back there." Blue???

Very different from Southern Oregon; some very, very cool looking stuff!

11-26-2002, 11:59 PM

A blue and red spey fly is very good in clear water during the winter. I always have a few on Alec Jackson Spey Hooks in size 3 and 5. I tie it with a gold tinsel tip, blue tinsel rear body, royal blue front body, gold oval tinsel rib, red spey feather body hackle, blue dyed mallard flank face hackle, translucent red krystal flash underwing, and a pair of dyed red golden pheasant rump feathers tied horizontally (one on top of the other G.P. style). I call it the "Light Bar Spey" in honor of the blue and red light bars of the highway patrol.

11-27-2002, 09:10 AM
Loco Alto

Your right lots of lurking but few willing to make a cast into the thread. Wonder whats going on with all the PNW spey guys on the board. They and the NE saltwater crowd definitely have to be the two biggest groups. Your right about the spey on small rivers. On monday I fished a larger river, thats the picture above but you cannot really see the width of it in that picture and plus this is the lowest it has ever been at this time of year due to our lack of rain. I left that river and went to a smaller one with my 13 foot spey. This river has overhanging tree branches all over it. needless to say I wish I had my 9 foot 8 weight I would have been out of the trees more and watching not to break the spey on one of those low hanging limps.


Your egg flies have not arrived yet. Suppose with the new Home land Security mail procedures all packages coming out of Oregon are getting extra security checks. Mail seem to take a little longer from there to here. :devil: :hehe:

Let me know of your questions on the flies and the results.

As far as posts I don't count them anymore but will have to do something special for my 2,000 post which will occur this winter some time.

Remember to get some of that other tying material I mentioned to you? I think you will like the results once you get use to it.


11-27-2002, 08:30 PM
Polishing and and lovingly retireing my beautiful cane single handers and going through the annual process of retraining my Spey Rods. Seems that during summer and Fall when they are not in use they get very weird and won't let me cast them for several days after I start using them again.

I have a nice big four page Wheatley that is full of Steelhead Flys and a wallet full of tips from 95 to 275 grns.

I perfer to walk, as opposed to boating,and as such wear the breatheables for wading and rain proofing year round. Actually I am alot warmer since I started wearing the breathables in winter than I was when wet with sweat in the (god cursed)Neo's. But I'll bet it if you are boating then the neo's are better.

The single most important thing that I do for "Winterizing " is to start wearing good water proof gloves. This an evoloution of commerece! At present the best that I have been able to come up with are the Ice Bay by the same folks who make the Glaicer Glove. The big difference here is they are totaly waterproof as long as you keep your wrist out of the water and your rain coat over the tops you will have dry and in all likelyhood warm didgits(sic).

I also send my Breathable rain jacket off to the local cleaners for a shot of professional strength waterproofing , it can be done at home but its totaly painless and I think more cost effective to hit the dry cleaners on there big rain season sale.

Other than that I just spend as much time as possible keeping my rigging in the water.....

11-28-2002, 01:55 PM

I have to agree with your statement about Midwestern steelheaders being the hardiest of all. I don't know how you guys can do it in the wintertime! I grew up in Wisconsin and Minnesota and used to freeze my butt off in Oct & Nov while musky fishing....I can't imagine whats its like being on the river Dec-Feb! I guess the reward for being so brave is having the river mostly to yourself.....but gotta be tough to fish in those conditions!

11-28-2002, 07:58 PM

Yes it is colder here but it is wetter in the PNW so maybe they are about the same. Nothing like a cold windy rain to put the big chill on you in the winter. Snow does not bother me so much.

Mothing like being on a winter steelhead river in pursuit of the chrome warriors. Your right it is much less crowded here in the winter, which is one of the reasons it is my favorite season.

Tight lines this winter !