Dose Size Really Matter (When it comes to Flies)? - Page 2 - Fly Fishing Forum
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  #16  
Old 11-25-2003, 03:09 PM
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Russ,

Au contraire mon amie, methinks he who complaineth the most has the issue.

The difficulty of casting large patterns can be alleviated with a little practice - just joking .

I do agree that really large patterns can be a pain to cast, that is one the the brilliant things about Ed's choice of materials for the Intruder, they provide the appearance of bulk - without the water-absorbing tendencies of marabou and rabbit. That said, I tend to use the Intruders for close in work and with a powerful front taper line to turn them over. When I'm trying to cover distant lies with long belly lines I tend to go to my more stream-lined GP type flies - though still quite long.

As for big onesfrightening fish - I've seen small ones be ignored (by babes and fish!). As well, if I had to take someone's example as to what a good choice for a fly pattern might be - I will gladly follow Ed's lead.
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  #17  
Old 11-25-2003, 06:02 PM
Riveraddict Riveraddict is offline
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Does Size Matter?

In my experience the size of the fly that one is using is at least as important as color. In general, the rule to go by is the clearer the water, the smaller the fly. But size is also a subject of relativity. For instance, for Deschutes river steelhead I would consider a fly that is 1 1/2" long to be very large. However, such a fly on the Skagit would fall into the category of average, maybe even a bit towards small. All sizes of flies have times. places, and conditions where they will outperform others. If one's goal is to catch as many steelhead as possible then they should be carrying many different sizes of flies to best cover a variety of situations.
But,I learned a long time ago that for me flyfishing steelhead was not about catching as many as I could. If that were the case then I would have just kept on fishing with gear. A large part of the thrill that I derive from steelheading comes from the take of the fly, and believe me, there are some incredibly savage takes on large flies that cannot be equaled by any other method of fishing with a rod and reel, unless one is backtrolling plugs for steelhead while holding the rod in hand the entire time. Much as some folks rate the raising of a steelhead to the surface fly as the highest form of flyfishing, I consider the elicitation of an unmistakeably predatorial, violent, crushing take on a wet fly as the ultimate form of steelheading.

Oooops! Almost forgot. Why do steelhead take big flies. No one knows for sure, but my best guess, in the context of fresh steelhead (in the river less than 2-3 weeks), is as a representation of oceanic food items such as shrimp and squid. Judging by some of the takes that I have had on large flies, they are definitely NOT trying to just move the fly out of the way, they are trying to annihilate it. This, I think, falls in line with what a fish would have to do to a fast moving creature such as a shrimp or squid in order to be able to eat it - crush and cripple first, then ingest. Another notable fact - generally the larger the race of fish, the larger fly that they will take. This seems to relate, perhaps coincidentally, to the fact that as a predator gets larger, the larger the size of prey that it will consume. Look at the relationship of fly sizes compared to the particular races of steelhead for which they are used, in general. Deschutes = small fish, small flies. Snake = small fish, small flies. Skagit = big fish, big flies. Kispiox = big fish, big flies. Keep in mind here that I am speaking of these things in a GENERAL CONTEXT.
Are big flies more difficult to cast? You betcha. Are they worth the trouble? Naaaah!
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  #18  
Old 11-25-2003, 10:26 PM
roballen roballen is offline
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On numerous occassions I have had steelhead in the Washougal ignore small wetflies but chase down and inhale a 5/0 gp in very low clear conditions in the fall. Most of the time a fly that isn't interesting to a fish will just be ignored. Rare is the occasion will a fish spook because the fly is so big Very rare. It would be my opinion that if someone say a fish spook because of a fly the old rule of. "If you can see a fish the fish can see you", applied. Though the fish may not have spooked from seeing you it put him on edge then when the large fly came through he felt threatened enough to move. OR the fly hit the water hard near the fish and it spooked. In any case if the fish previously ignored a smaller offering then spooking the fish with a big fly is no big deal.

lets face it.. fish are not that smart. I think Kush nailed it with his first post. but thats just my opinion.
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  #19  
Old 11-25-2003, 11:04 PM
Topher Browne Topher Browne is offline
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If the length of Riveraddict's post is any gauge, the Skagit is still blown.....

Here's a little bit of devil's advocate for all concerned:

If one presumes that the fly, when fished on a swing, imitates a living creature, then fly size should NOT matter as long as the size of fly that one selects is fished at a speed that is appropriate for a living organism of similar size. This statement presupposes that a salmon or steelhead can see your fly in the first place.

How does one account for different steelhead or salmon caught from the same run on the same day with a wide variety of fly sizes? Some anglers prefer large flies; others prefer smaller flies. Yet they both catch fish in the same run, same day.

The answer must be: each successful angler is fishing the size of fly that he/she selects at a speed that is appropriate for a living organism of similar size taking into account any fluctuations in current speed and water temperature. In other words, presentation.

So I conclude: fish whatever size fly you like, but fish it at the "right" speed given the force of the current and the temperature of the water.

Perhaps, the question really should be, "What is the right speed?"
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  #20  
Old 11-25-2003, 11:44 PM
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Topher,

I think you are right - the fact that this thread still has any life is a sure sign that there is not much fishing to be had. I haven't fished since the 3rd week of October, when the Thompson stuff started. Now I have been very busy with the politics of fishing but I am Jones-ing so badly that I am REALLY looking forward to the casting clave at Carnation this Saturday.

This is a very sad state of affairs indeed...
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  #21  
Old 11-26-2003, 03:29 AM
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Topher Browne
Are you a Francis T Grant fan your answer could have come direct from Salmon Fishing The Dynamics Approach.

A thinking man's author
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  #22  
Old 11-26-2003, 11:43 AM
Topher Browne Topher Browne is offline
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W.G.,

I am a fan of Philip Green; I think he had the game pretty well figured out.

Regards,

TB
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  #23  
Old 11-26-2003, 02:21 PM
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Topher,

Yes, the Skagit has been blown since mid-October and it is giving those of us who call it our home river a serious case of cabin fever. Also, I think you are right on: it is the motion and color based on water clarity that counts, not the size of the lure.
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  #24  
Old 11-26-2003, 07:06 PM
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OC and I were over on the Snake a couple weeks ago. Ed said above and I would normally agree, small fly river. OC, as has been documented elsewhere here, put on a clinic using his usual assortment of size 4 and 6 patterns. After not being able to buy a fish for a few hours, for the hell of it I tied on one of the blind eyed 1 1/2 AJ speys I have been playing around with of late. Voila` I started hitting fish. Every fish I hit that weekend came to these relatively bigger patterns.

Does size matter? Probably but I think a lot less than we think. But hey, I feel the same about color so what do I know.
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  #25  
Old 11-26-2003, 07:20 PM
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One of the flies mentioned above.
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  #26  
Old 11-26-2003, 07:54 PM
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Topher
I think you're on the right track with the "speed" comment
Two incident's that I can recall that relate to size ( and one 2nd to speed also, happened to me on the Madeleine River in Gaspe ).The Madeleine is as gin-clear as the Grande riviere,Bonaventure or Petite Cascapedia
As it happens both were in LOW water conditions.In the 1st a 7lber charged from 70+ ft. downstream below the #10 fly to hit it !!!!!
In the 2nd incidence ,we had found a pool with about 50 odd salmon just laying in a still "swimming pool" Tried everything to interest them and finally got a 30lb class fish interested (or so I thought) in a # 12 Green Cosseboom tyed on a 4 lb leader !! I had cast near this fish and it rocketted towards the fly barely missing it !!!It was onlywhen this fish returned to its spot and I cast again to it did I realise that the tiny fly had actually spooked the fish and it was turning away,not towards ,the fly !! My fishing partner eventually tried a # 2 streamer and stripped it at high speed through the pool . A Salmon of about10 lbs nailed the fly on the first pass through !! So I guess there's only one concrete theory on Salmon ( and Steelhead ) fishing.
THEY ARE WHERE THEY ARE AND THEY'RE NOT WHERE THEY ARE NOT AND THEY MIGHT RISE TO A FLY IF THEY ARE WHERE THEY ARE !!
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  #27  
Old 11-27-2003, 12:31 PM
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As this discussions there are not any absolutes when it comes to steelhead and what they will or will not take. That said it has been my experiecnce that effectiveness of large flies verus smaller flies is success with larger flies is in part dependent on the river and fish conditions being fished in and for.

As a rule (there are lots of exceptions) in off-color water large has been better than small. It has become my belief that vibrations produced by the larger/bulky offerings can be a triggering factor, especially in high and dirty water.

In low clear conditions small has been the most consistent for me.

New fish, un-pressured and/or traveling fish seem to respond as well or better to large flies as smaller flies.

On stale fish, especially on those heavily fished, a change-up often is what will produce a take. In this case a large or even guady offer may be exactly what the doctor orders.

For sub-surface fishing a larger offering has become the first choice for me in most situations. For me large means something at least 3 to 4 inches in length. While casting larger flies can be an issue I have found that with careful thought and choices in fly design and use of materials some surprisingly large flies can be fished fairly comfortably. I'm an exclusive single handed rod guy that fishes mainly the Skagit/Sauk and fish with 7 weights or less rods. Obivously for me large flies must be un-weight and constructed with materials that don't absorb or hold water. That means I use my lines and careful presentation to achieve the desired depths and rely on mostly synthetic or carefully select natural materials for my tying.

One of the interesting aspects of the attempting to take steelhead on a fly, especially winters is there are room for a wide variety of approaches and completely opposite approaches (bright/dark, large/small, etc) can be equally successful. The only method/approach that consistently doesn't produce fish is to stay home!

Tight lines
Smalma
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  #28  
Old 11-30-2003, 01:14 PM
Riveraddict Riveraddict is offline
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Fly Size

Without a doubt, I agree that presentation is the most important aspect in flyfishing for steelhead, and fly speed is one component of presentation, and that larger flies can be swung effectively for steelhead at a faster speed than small flies. However, assuming that the correct presentation is being used for whatever size of fly is being used, my experience has shown me that fly size does matter. Yes, there are circumstances where it does not seem to make a difference, but when one steps back and looks at the overall big picture for a given condition, then a definite trend can usually be established. For example, the average fly size that I would use for fresh-run winter steelhead in February and March under the most commonly encountered water conditions is larger than the average size fly that I would use for summer steelhead in the same river in September during the conditions that usually occur at that time of year. The average size fly that I use for Kispiox steelhead in October is not the same size as would be used for Deschutes, Clearwater, or Snake river steelhead during the same time frame. The fly sizes that I select for clear water conditions are most often not the same sizes that I would use for murky waters. In steelheading, I think that one can definitely establish that certain sizes of flies work better for specific seasonal conditions and specific races of fish when considered in the overall context of the situation. Of course exceptions occur, but keep in mind the definition of "exception". I have way too many personal experiences that validate the importance of fly size in steelheading. Try fishing a 3 1/2" Intruder for three days on the Deschutes in October while your buddies are fishing size 4 Freight Trains, Coal Cars, and Purple Perils. During that time I didn't get so much as a sniff on my fly, while my compadres scored 4-6 fish apiece each day. On the last day of fishing I switched to standard sized Deschutes patterns and voila! caught steelhead. On an interesting note, is it coincidental that inland summer runs that come from streams that are rich in aquatic insects, usually an implication of prolific amounts of small sized insect life, are the races of fish that seem to prefer small flies? The Deschutes is the prime example. Compare it with the Grande Ronde, more of a freestone river with less aquatic insect life, and a river where larger flies (large-grasshopper and stonefly sized) can be equally effective as the tiny stuff. Of course this theory does not explain the Clearwater, a large freestone river where the steelhead also seem to prefer rather small flies.
Another thing to think about as far as each of us relating our personal experiences about fly size. Size is relative - to each condition , fishery...and individual person. One person's large fly may only be a medium to another angler. Also, fly size is not just a function of length. A 5" string leech is definitely quite long, however it has a very skinny profile. A 5" Intruder would displace 3-4 times the volume of a similar length string leech. I state this just to let everyone know where I am "coming from" when reading my opinions about fly size. When someone tells me that they are using a "big" fly and they show me a 1/0, in my mind an instant mental clip of the movie Crocodile Dundee appears, that scene where a would-be mugger pulls a out jack- knife and Paul Hogan says, "You call that a knife? Why that ain't a knife", sssccchhiiiiiinnnnggg! pulls out his Huge pigsticker knife and says "Now THIS is a KNIFE!" Like I said, it's all relative.
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  #29  
Old 12-01-2003, 01:27 AM
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RA,

I agree that all things are relative.

A couple of questions come up from your post.

1: If you are always fishing flies that seem to make the most sense out of the conditions, how do you know for sure that the other, smaller, flies do not work as well as the bigguns? With your knowledge of the resource I would wager that your number of steelhead hookups, throughout the winter season, would be remarkably similar if using a 2 inch fly compared to one three times the size. I would also wager that if you fished the same size and color fly for the season, the numbers would still remain even, or nearly so.

2: With the Intruder example given on the D, did you present the more traditional size fly exactly as you had been fishing the Intruder? Just curious.

In the whole scheme of this game I do believe that fly size sometimes seems to make a difference. I have my pet beliefs and set of hunches that I follow to address the conditions. But I also know that there is more than one way to catch these fish...

What I believe matters most is that good anglers know where taking fish hold under certain conditions and how to best present a conducive swing, at the correct depth, to that lie. The rest of it falls under 'black magic' as it seems we all have our formulas of what works and when.

Tight lines,

William

Last edited by inland; 12-01-2003 at 06:35 PM.
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  #30  
Old 12-01-2003, 10:19 AM
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I use flies that are sutible to cast with the rod I am using. In the years past I have tried very large flies but they are a bear to cast. Mostly now I use size 4 or 6. I catch enough fish on them to keep me happy.

Additionaly, I think the large hooks can do severe damage to the fish. If I were fishing only over hatchery fish I wouldnt be concerned, but most of my fishing is over a mix of wild and hatchery fish. I dont want to put their eys out with a large gap hook or take the chance of killing them.
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