The Experiment Day #1 - Fly Fishing Forum
Pacific Northwest Sea Run Forum No such thing as rainbow trout, only landlocked steelhead

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Old 02-01-2004, 11:22 AM
Leland Miyawaki Leland Miyawaki is offline
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The Experiment Day #1

I fished the Skagit friday after a night of heavy rainfall and wind. The level was 13,500 cfs and dropping at Marblemount. It was over 20,000 cfs at Concrete. The water was brown at the Mixer and we couldn't see our feet while knee deep. We had to cast from the willows and didn't catch anything. We moved upriver and spent the rest of the day above Rockport where the water was guacamole green but fishable.

We fished three upstream runs. John Farrar landed two dollies. My friend Ed landed one dollie and lost a small 4-6 pound steelhead at the beach.

I fished a dryline with a freshwater version of my beach popper. I turned over nine dollies and lost one (maybe, hopefully, pretty sure) steelhead about the same size as Eds. It smacked the popper hard, turned and ran into the heavy current and upstream before coming unbuttoned. Good thing my Hardy has no drag!

I found that if I fished my popper on a slow swing with no agitation, the dollies would simply roll on it. They were not the slashing strikes I get in the salt when they are actively chasing smolt but were all slow head/tail rolls. I figure the slashes will come when the fry are out of the redds in a few weeks. Still, not bad for the end of January in water that was only 39 degrees.

I'm figuring that one day, while poppering around for dollies, I'll run into an 18 pound aggressive native buck that's feeling a bit territorial and . . . ahhh, good 'ol steelhead bycatch.

Leland.
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  #2  
Old 02-01-2004, 11:40 AM
Smalma Smalma is offline
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Leland -
Based on my experience the lack of slashing takes is the norm when fishing the surface for Dollies. While there are expections on the whole they seem to be delibrate in their takes. The fish that get my heart pumping are those that stalk the waking fly - just something special about a fish with its dorsal sticking out of the water tracking the fly for 10 or more feet before taking - More like a shark tracking its meal than a trout taking a dry. The head to tail take of a drag free dry is also special and something most don't associate with Dollies.

A question about how your popper fishes - is it strickly a surface/waking presentation or one that dips below the surface and resurfaces? I have found that dry lines with grese line presentations or using divers very effective while fishing exclusively on the surface a more difficult way to go. Though as stated above the action can be heart stopping.

Tight lines
S malma
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Old 02-01-2004, 12:14 PM
Leland Miyawaki Leland Miyawaki is offline
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Smalma,

My popper is strictly a surface fly. There may very well have been some stalking and tracking taking place. I couldn't see very well. There was a stiff upstream wind and it was raining and hailing. I fished a two-hander and oftentimes it was hard to pick up the fly in the water as the light, distance, wind and waves all conspired against me. As the fly swung out of the seam and into the slack I saw the rolls. I want to strip and agitate the fly in the heavy water and bring them up. I believe the hookups to strike ratio will increase then.

I have another issue to deal with. My popper is not air resistant when I cast a single-hander but it is fluttering with my speycasts. Maybe next time, it won't be so windy and I can make some adjustments.

Leland.
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Old 02-01-2004, 02:39 PM
Smalma Smalma is offline
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Leland -
Getting the Dollies to make the final committment to take solidly on the surface is more difficult than with most fish. This might be due in at least part to their "stalking" the fly before taking. This diliberate track allows the to detact that something isn't right. Some days the refusals and short boils greatly out number any solid takes. However when I solve the presentation puzzle for the day the reward is consistent solid takes and high hook up rates.

As they become more keyed into the salmon fry migration the puzzle can be easier.

As you point out the fly design becomes an important aspect of this game. The fishability, profile and castability are all important and I find myself continually tweaking things. The "helicoptering" of the fly during casts has been a problem with many of my various fly design attempts. The best relief has come with improvements in leader design. I have found that heavier (stiffer)and long butt sections a big help. Also I often use heavier tippets than I normally would use for summer steelhead given the size of fly and conditions being fished.

Good luck with your experimentation. For me solving new fishing puzzles has becomes as full filling as the catching.

Tight lines
S malma
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Old 02-03-2004, 12:19 AM
Nailknot Nailknot is offline
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Thumbs up Cool!

Great report! Leland- what's the difference between your standard popper and freshwater version?
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Old 02-03-2004, 01:11 AM
Leland Miyawaki Leland Miyawaki is offline
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I'm playing around with a little darker barring and fatter profile.

Leland.
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Old 02-03-2004, 02:48 AM
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NrthFrk16 NrthFrk16 is offline
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Leland-
Try fishing the popper with an Intermediate or Hover Polyleader...I would not be surprised if the drowning action (under the surface...plop back to the top...back under the surface....plop back to the top etc. etc.) that these super slow linking leaders allow will induce the fish to finally take the fly.
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Old 02-03-2004, 01:17 PM
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Philster Philster is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Leland Miyawaki

I have another issue to deal with. My popper is not air resistant when I cast a single-hander but it is fluttering with my speycasts. Maybe next time, it won't be so windy and I can make some adjustments.

Leland.
Leland, I ran into the same problem throwing larger poppers for stripers on the American River on no doubt bigger rods. I don't think there is a solution. I think it has something to do with the way the popper leaves the water on the forward cast. With a onehander most decent casters either unconsciously or consciously give a little wrist snap right as the popper begins to leave the water. You can't do that with a spey, plus the popper is pointing any old direction at the time of leaving the water. Two tough issues to beat. At least your bug doesn't have a flat face to make things even more unstable in flight.
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Old 02-03-2004, 03:10 PM
Leland Miyawaki Leland Miyawaki is offline
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I'm gonna put an Airflo Floating Polyleader and taper it down quickly to a 25lb Maxima tippet and see if that works.

I'm definitely not taking ol' Sparkey's advice and turn it into a sinking fly. Next thing, he'll suggest tying a float ahead of the popper!

Leland.
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Old 02-03-2004, 10:17 PM
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But Leland, you will not be turning your fly into a wet fly by any stretch of the means. By varying the retrieve, you will allow the fly at key times in the retrieve to bob below the surface and then bob right back up...

Hmmm...maybe I will just have to give it a try...but will I post my results???

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Old 02-05-2004, 12:55 AM
Nailknot Nailknot is offline
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Gurgler

I've had luck with foam layered gurgler style for dipping and diving- but I'm working the fly with a one hander. Working the fly with a spey is something I haven't tried yet. I've noticed the "dolly stalking," too, even with sunk flies. With the stories of big bulls taking large whities up top while poor whitie is cranked in skipping the surface- maybe we should be dragging 12" salt water attractors for the biggins
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