Salmon River 12/30 - Fly Fishing Forum
Great Lakes Steelhead & Salmon Amazing "Inland ocean" fisheries

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Old 12-31-2004, 08:55 AM
Shaq Shaq is offline
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Salmon River 12/30

Hit the Salmon River in NY 12/30. 335 cfs out of the dam. Rio windcutter, 15 foot type 6 tip. Tried all sorts of swinging popsicles with no result. Put on a #10 pheasant tail nymph and hooked 4 steelies. 2 briefly one skipper (4-5lbs) jumped 2x and ran all over the pool, and one 12 lber which came right at me and I never got a good connection until he surged and broke me off. One of the problems I ran into was that when fishing the deeper slots, my 15 foot sink-tip would drape across the bottom in the shallower spots. I need to experiment with short tips I believe. Any experiance with the shorter faster sink rate tips?
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Old 12-31-2004, 09:10 AM
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juro juro is offline
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Ed Ward, steelhead machine, believes in the shorter faster sink tip fished on Skagit style lines. His Intruder flies use small weighted eyes for ballast and are surprisingly large but speaking from direct experience, they really work. His handle is Riveraddict, try searching on his posts or for the phrase "intruder", "skagit", etc. There is a lot to be learned from everything he shares.

To deal with this myself I prefer to approach the lie from a postion where my line will stay aloft longer at the end of the swing (get more directly upstream from the seam), reduce the hangdown where it touches bottom, or switch to a lighter tip and fish slow in the seam teasing the fish to come to the take, or move to a new spot. I don't like to touch the bottom at all if I can help it, and although most of my fishing has been in the PNW I had pretty solid luck with steelhead on the swing in winter months.

I think the key is to learn to identify with the river in an entirely different way than one does with gear. Ed Link, who is a seasoned steelhead guide out of North Fork Idaho in all disciplines of fishing commented that spey fishing has opened a whole new dimension in the way he sees the river. I believe it's that new perspective, a new way of seeing water - that leads to success on the swung fly.

In one sense it's starting from square one again but the discovery is fullfilling and with patience and persistence fruitful. For every bit of catching the chuck and ducker might get the swinger makes up for in satisfaction per fish, each one remembered as a victory and soon enough the experience piles up to give the angler proficiency and consistency on the water. At least this has been my experience!
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Old 12-31-2004, 09:27 AM
h2o h2o is offline
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Morn'in Shaq,
Rain'in here in WNY this morn'in, should be hit'in there soon.
Give the RIO 7' sinking leaders in 5 ips to 7 ips a go or, make a 7'er from a type 6 shooting taper.

Fly selection, I have had much better luck on pressured waters with buggers, egg suckers, zonkers, deep minnows, sculpins, etc. in sz's. 4 down to 10 than I have the popsicles, spiders, etc.

When look'in @ western patterns think "summer run" for here of which the two most productive summer run wet patterns out west are buggers & muddlers. Save the popsicles for a trip to B.C.

Swing fly's/swing water tie up a few sz. 6 & 10 purple & white buggers. sz. 6 - 8 egg suckers, sz 4 -8 Zonkers , for the pockets, boulders, ledges,/ nymph water etc. try sz. 6 Emerald Shiner Clousers on a 2x -3x long bronze nymph hook with small & med. eyes, also all black with green K-Flash. Toss'em near the boulders and off the ledges............................and grab, shake, boom
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Old 12-31-2004, 09:36 AM
peter-s-c peter-s-c is offline
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One of the simplest ways around the "draping" problem is a lighter tip and heavier fly. As we all find out when we transition from nymphing technique to swinging, we don't want a sag in the tip sweeping lower than the fly.

Though it's not a popular solution, a long mono leader with BB shot, hung off of a fat belly, can be steered through slots and around boulders. It's swinging a fly using a nymphing rig (but no bobber). It's a method that's worked for me when I've been fishing waters like the Catt where one pool may be great swing water but the next one around the bend may not be. The shot can be added or removed to adjust for depth and current. I still use spey casts with this rig and still swing flies, but I'm using the shot to provide an almost 90 degree hinge from belly to fly that lets me steer it down the productive water.

Also giving some thought to splicing some leftover tips and sinking line so that there's some T-14 or T-8 stuck on the end of some T-3, to try and get the same result.
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Old 01-02-2005, 09:25 AM
dmas dmas is offline
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"Save the popsicles for a trip to B.C."


Sorry this is a bit off topic but I had to chuckle when I read this. The popsicle was my number one fly this year out on the western basin tribs. I went one stretch of about 6 trips this fall where I was averaging a pull an hour...all on swung popsicles. For a chop like me at least that is enough to convince me that they work here in NY. That said, I only use Marabou hackled patterns in stained or low vis water. If I want a long hackle fly in clear water conditions I will go to a Spey pattern. To my eye at least, the individual hackle fibers of a Spey look more lifelike in clear waters where as a Marabou hackled fly forms a tremendous silhouette but the hackles kinda blend together to form one pulsating unit. This seems to be the ticket in low vis conditions...for me at least. I'll also use bunny flies for the same reason.

As far as the traditional west coast patterns are concerned. I think you could open up Combs and pick out any fly in the plates and have success with it. As always, the key is to match the fly to the conditions. I tend to fish bigger water relative to most great lakes tribs so patterns like Cook Marabou's or Glasso Speys do fine for me. I'd agree that on smaller more pressured tribs they won't be as effective.

For whatever reason I get a charge out of catching fish on flies that I read about in Combs etc. Maybe it adds a bit of romanticism to my fishing. Or maybe it just gives some sort of a connection with the great rivers and fisherman out west that I have read about but yet to experience.

tight lines
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Old 01-03-2005, 06:51 AM
h2o h2o is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmas
"Save the popsicles for a trip to B.C."


Sorry this is a bit off topic but I had to chuckle when I read this. The popsicle was my number one fly this year out on the western basin tribs. I went one stretch of about 6 trips this fall where I was averaging a pull an hour...all on swung popsicles. For a chop like me at least that is enough to convince me that they work here in NY. That said, I only use Marabou hackled patterns in stained or low vis water. If I want a long hackle fly in clear water conditions I will go to a Spey pattern. To my eye at least, the individual hackle fibers of a Spey look more lifelike in clear waters where as a Marabou hackled fly forms a tremendous silhouette but the hackles kinda blend together to form one pulsating unit. This seems to be the ticket in low vis conditions...for me at least. I'll also use bunny flies for the same reason.

As far as the traditional west coast patterns are concerned. I think you could open up Combs and pick out any fly in the plates and have success with it. As always, the key is to match the fly to the conditions. I tend to fish bigger water relative to most great lakes tribs so patterns like Cook Marabou's or Glasso Speys do fine for me. I'd agree that on smaller more pressured tribs they won't be as effective.

For whatever reason I get a charge out of catching fish on flies that I read about in Combs etc. Maybe it adds a bit of romanticism to my fishing. Or maybe it just gives some sort of a connection with the great rivers and fisherman out west that I have read about but yet to experience.

tight lines
\

Funny.................that makes me chuckle too. About 7 years ago when those popsicle's came whizing through this area we were tying them up too. I get out a couple times a week all year, it's a poor steelhead fly for the catt. and other Erie tribs. Kings............they love the things put it front of there noses.

"open Combs book and have success with any pattern here"......................... We (myself & the fishing crew) got all hot & bothered over that book several years ago . I guess it depends on what you call "success". I like to catch a few fish when I go out. There are much better patterns to do that with here...................than are listed in that WEST coast steelhead book. This is the Great Lakes and it will always be the Great Lakes. I tied & fished the crap out of those flys back then popcicles, Lady Carolines & other speys, Ferry Caynons, etc. etc. For "Steelhead" not Kings the only Popcicle, Marabou Spider, etc. out of the hundreds I tied that C&R a few fish was a white & grey combo.

Popcicles are West Coast searching patterns for big water with few fish. Here the waters run less CFS as a whole and the Steelhead are plenty.

In my fishing they were no where near as effective as the above listed streamers and other local patterns like Rick Kustish "Bunny Spey" (Zonker). Looking at Peter's Great Lakes patterns on his site and having fished Steelhead over 20 years here, I would recomend them as being on the right track for here over Combs book. If I was going to take one pattern from Combs book and fish it here it would be the Boss but, with a marabou or arctic fox tail, and tie it on a lighter wire iron that does not rip a hole in there mouth like a saqlmon iron.

I am glad you are currently romancing Combs book and it's beautiful patterns. Been there................done that. I also fish larger waters. The gentlemans question was in regards to Steelhead on the Salmon river........................one of the more pressured rivers in the Great Lakes.

The advice I gave trying to help ................was good. This is and will always be the Great Lakes. It will never be the West Coast. Our fish will never see salt , they will never travel hundreds of miles up-river.

I bet if Mr. Combs wrote a Great Lakes Steelhead book..........................the swing patterns would be much different .................much more like there summer run and low water patterns.
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Old 01-03-2005, 08:18 AM
dmas dmas is offline
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No problems H20. I've been down this road before. I'll agree to disagree. Most of my fishing is done on the Genny. It's pretty big water for the GL. I'm casting two handed rods and often I am using tips. The runs I fish call for 70 foot casts and the fish are holding in runs sometimes 10 or 12 feet deep. Every fish I took there this year there came to a popscicle, an Orange Heron or a Bunny Leech (or Bunny leech Tube). I connected on every trip I went up until December. On the Catt this year I fished only twice early in the year in low clear water and took fish on a night dancer and rose one to a Bomber of all things. I missed the fish on the dry only because of my own mistake in reacting, but he wanted to eat it. I have landed fish in the past using dry flies however.

I too have been fishin for our Steelhead since I was a boy in the 70's. At the very beginning (believe it or not) I was first told that they would not bite in the streams, then they said that they wouldn't take a fly, then that they would only eat egg patterns, then that they wouldn't eat West coast flies or dry flies.

In the meantime I caught em on egg sacks, plugs, jigs, spoons, and every type of fly you could think of including classic Speys. I'm not trying to say I'm a great fisherman as I'm not, what I am really trying to say is that fresh run Steelhead, if present in numbers are relatively easy to hook...they are not picky.

I guess my point is that fish can be consitently had using classic patterns also. Hell they will eat just about any pattern if the proper fly is matched for the conditions. You don't have to believe me I guess but that has been my experience.

You may be right maybe the patterns you use are more effective under a wider range of GL conditions. For a while when I swung it was buggers and Bunnies exclusively and I still use them sometimes...so I know that they work well. I'll still indie fish with egg patterns on some of the smaller tribs in the winter time. It's peaceful and very rewarding in a different kinda way. But gone are the days when I need to go up to the LFZ petting zoo and bang double digits standing shoulder to shoulder. It's about more than numbers.

Sorry if I came off as sarcastic as that was not my intent. Normally I'm just a lurker on these boards for that very reason. It's just that I had my best fall ever swinging flies and the majority of the fish came on a Popscicle. It's not a magic fly it's just the fly that I had confidence in at that time so I kept fishin it.
Don't believe me if you wish but I'll keep them in my box.

tight lines
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Old 01-03-2005, 09:18 AM
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juro juro is offline
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dmas, et. al. -

I look forward to exploring the GL rivers with spey tactics and a swung fly - for the satisfaction of it all. I hope to hook up with all of you guys and hopefully we can exchange a little of what we all know for each others benefit, have a good time and prove as many myths and theories as we disprove.

To me fishing is about satisfaction - not numbers. I do OK with the numbers, but stick to the techniques that make my enjoyment at peak level.

What makes one angler satisfied may not make another, but it's all good.
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Old 01-02-2005, 11:03 AM
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blindcurvw blindcurvw is offline
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Same Problem

Shaq,

I too was at the salmon river on Thursday and sounds like was having the same issues as you.... Haven't been steelheading in a couple years and made a last minute decision to hit the river, so didn't get all the gear I wanted into the car. Its a 5hr drive from VT so leaving at 2am not sure my brain was awake yet either... Ended up only having a 15' fast sink tip line.

Found the line worked really well on the lower river runs w/ big casts and big swings across the faster and deeper tailouts. Turned a couple fish in lower tressle and lower compactor pools on black/blue buggers. Had some snag-up issues in the shallower tails and runs but not too bad as long as the current was strong.

I spent the last couple hours of the day up in the FFO section and this is where I started to hate the sink tip. The pool right at Bridge St. was loaded w/ fish and fishermen but I wasn't able to get into a great position to fish the main seam. Secondary currents, eddies, and other disruptions to the current were making it impossible to get my fly in the right orientation/drift. The sink tip would drop beneath the faster current quickly but the floating portion would not. Found it very difficult to get a good dead drift and there was a definite "S" shape to the drifting line. This made it hard to detect hits and even more difficult to set the hook. Plus, like you the line was getting snagged on everything...

Seemed as though the chuck and duck guys w/ split shot or bananas were better suited to get a good drift and most of the guys in that section of the river were hitting fish every 10 or 15 minutes.

I ended up landing a single 12lber out of 3 hits. All my hits in the FFO only section were on sz 10-12 nymphs (Hare's Ear, Bead Head Olive Caddis, and Golden Stone). The one I caught was on the golden stone w/ a mylar covered abdomen on a swimming nymph hook. Caught it at towards the end of the day when I finally realized the best way to get a good drift w/ the sink tip was to make short 20' casts straight upstream, retrieve all of the line save 5-10'' as it drifted back towards me, then follow drift with a high rod tip position (line nearly vertical in the water column as it drifted past my position). This didn't allow me to fish very far into the current so was only fishing the very slack side of the seam; but, I didn't manage to get a few hitsland a fish w/ this technique. Based on the relative success of this technique I think having an ~5' fast sink tip would have been a better setup.

But then... I haven't flyfished anything besides freestone creeks for brookies or ponds for bass and pike in so long it might have just been me....
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Old 01-03-2005, 08:08 AM
Shaq Shaq is offline
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Blind Curve. I ended my day in the Altmar pool. In my experience, unless there is nobody there, there are only 2 spots to use the tips and those are both sides tailout. I spent most of my day in the wires and that's where I hooked my 4 fish. Where in Vermont are you from. I am from Saratoga and a buddy and I make an annual pilgrimage to Vermont every year for the "Free Fishing Days" in June. We have fished the White, the Winooski 2x, the Battenkill, and next year we may try the Lamoille.

Anyways, in my opinion, we are at a disadvantage because of our travel time to the steelhead. I do most of my experiomenting in my head and if the ideas don't work right away, especially on day trips, I am sunk and either have to stick with what I have or revert to the old tactics.
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Old 01-03-2005, 08:11 AM
h2o h2o is offline
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Some more thoughts in regards to fly patterns..............................now that I have had a cup of coffee. How many patterns with white or white & grey tones were in Mr. Combs book ? As I remember ( I gave the book away..........really) very, very few. Why ?...................out west white is not a top color. Yet, in the Great Lakes it is one of the top Steelhead streamer colors. Emerald Shiners, Alewifes & Smelt are top baitfish for Steelhead here. I don't remember many in Mr. Combs book.
Some of the best local spey & streamer patterns that have been developed imitate the above and are more sparse & realistic, than patterns used out West. I remember only a couple smaller soft hackles or spiders of the buggy nature in his book and they were tagged "for very low water". Yet, here it's is common to swing a size 6 - 10 buggy soft hackle, in Hex, Slate Drake, Hares Mask, etc. tones in froggy fall water.
There is less searching here. In my opinion as a whole streamers or speys need to match local baitfish or bottom dwellers a bit closer, tied a bit more sparse, realistic, smaller, etc. for more success. Especially after the first few runs, because of pressure, flows and the fact that your not searching for them somewhere between 50 and 150 miles in-land.
Larger popsicles fished in the Great Lakes work on early fresh run fish............fair at best compared to other G.L. patterns. I am sure you don't but, most end up swung in front of a King or buck Steelhead on a redd....................and yea, they grab'em.
I very much appreciated and enjoyed tying some of the finer dressings in Mr. Combs well done West Coast book. Popsicles although fast & simple to tie, were not one of them. For the Great Lakes I would take as far, as impressionistic, simple patterns a bugger or zonker over them any day.
Nice Great Lakes Steelhead patterns .......................check out Matt Reads "surf series" in Supinski's book Steelhead Dreams along with others tied / designed for the Great Lakes.
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