Big rods on small GL rivers - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 05-03-2005, 12:15 PM
peter-s-c peter-s-c is offline
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Big rods on small GL rivers

We do a guided trip once a year on the Saugeen but thanks to high flows and murky conditions, we did the Bighead and Beaver instead. These are smaller spate rivers with fairly steep gradients for southern Ontario rivers. It's mostly pocket water and small pool fishing where most casts are under 50'. I took a short 8 wt. with me as well as a Windcutter Skagit conversion and a set of 12 wt. Airflo shooting heads (35' and 28').

The guide had advised that a single hander would be better but since I had sold all my steelhead single handers, it was the 8124 or nothing. I had tied up some big, ugly flies on 2" Wadingtons with dumbbell eyes to chuck with the Skagit system and I was looking forward to some pocket water chucking with them.

The Bighead is more of a boulder garden than the Beaver so I used the Skagit system there. With the big uglies, I was getting down quite well and the 10' of T-14 steered around the boulders quite nicely. However, our guide advised me that the Bighead isn't a big fly river and perhaps I should drop back 15 yds. and punt so I used a good ol' black BH bugger instead. The change up in flies made a big (not good) difference in depths reached and while I lost big uglies to the bottom of big troughs, I didn't lose any buggers in that way. The T-14 without the big ugly, didn't do a good job of getting deep along the troughs and shale shelves. To fish the fast pocket water well, the combination of a very heavy fly and T-14 seemed to be the ticket.

Short casting was fine (a mix of water loaded and conventional) however, I didn't like all of the loop joints clanking out of the guides -- something to consider when short casting with these multi-joint Skagit systems. I was a bit nervous of getting a hit with a loop in the wrong spot. To compound matters, the 8124 has a fairly small ceramic ring tiptop that doesn’t like loops in lines. Hayfork tip would be a better solution.

Near the mouth, the Beaver has some deep, fast pools with large standing waves at their heads. Even at the tailouts where I was fishing, the current was moving at a fast clip. It got obvious real fast that the Skagit system was hopeless as the top current just grabbed the floating belly and yanked the tip up – all my mends notwithstanding. So I switched up to the AirfloT-7, 28’ head and a number of good things happened. As the thin T-7 cut through the water pretty quick, it got below the fast moving top water and into the slower currents underneath. It stayed deep throughout the swing and would occasionally hang up in the deep tailouts, proving that it was getting down.

As the Beaver was really moving and high, most fishing was done from the bank or a rock close by. Backcast room was near zero. This is where the compact stroke of the Underhand approach had it all over the broad sweep of the Skagit water load. If I had made my usual Skagit casts, I would’ve been banging the rod tip on trees and whipping the D-Loop into the bankside veggies. The short Airflo head coupled with the Underhand cast let me send out decent casts with not much more than a tip flick. I only ever whipped the veggies if I got anxious and blew the anchor. One of the nice aspects of a light Underhand head vs. a heavy Skagit head is that it only takes a short rod motion to send the light head flying. In tight, the less whipping about, the better.

As far as managing the big rod on little water, I never felt handcuffed. The Airflo head would cast nicely even with just a little bit of line out and it was routine for me to start fishing just a few feet beyond my rod tip. The Skagit system would do the same but the loops weren’t fun and the short casting was more like flopping -- T-14 flies when you get it moving but it isn’t pretty. The Airflo head got the nod for really tight, short range casting plus it could get out to about 80’ across the bigger runs with preciously little room behind me and very compact rod sweeps. I stayed with the “smaller” flies (tied on 2/0 Deep Water Salmon irons) when using the Airflo so I never got a read on how well it could manage a big ugly but since the Scandinavians shoot big copper tube flies with their shooting head systems, it should be OK. While the Airflo heads are not designed for spey casting, the 28 footer casted very nicely and I never felt at a disadvantage when using it.

All-in-all, apart from the boulder garden, I fished more precisely, over a broader range of distances and depths with the T-7 shooting head than with the Skagit setup. However, it was obvious that the Skagit setup was the ticket in the boulder garden, where the floating belly let me mend the line around them. Often, I'd slide the belly and a bit of T-14 over a boulder to drop the fly in behind it. Though I haven't tried one, the compound sink rate Scandinavian heads + heavy fly might work in a boulder garden as well.

Last edited by peter-s-c; 05-03-2005 at 12:19 PM.
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  #2  
Old 05-03-2005, 07:37 PM
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Dornblaser Dornblaser is offline
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Hmmmm. Except that we do not have the steep gradients nor the very deep pools - OK, our rivers look nothing alike. Nonetheless, those short 11' - 11'6" work well on some our Lake Michigan tribs. And, we don't need to get to submarine depth either.

I am beginning to like 11' 7 wts and 13' 8/9 wts. I just wish that the steelhead would do the same.

David Dornblaser
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Old 05-03-2005, 08:47 PM
peter-s-c peter-s-c is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dornblaser
Hmmmm. Except that we do not have the steep gradients nor the very deep pools - OK, our rivers look nothing alike. Nonetheless, those short 11' - 11'6" work well on some our Lake Michigan tribs. And, we don't need to get to submarine depth either.

I am beginning to like 11' 7 wts and 13' 8/9 wts. I just wish that the steelhead would do the same.

David Dornblaser
"Steep gradient" is a relative term -- these rivers are steep compared to what I normally fish but aren't steep by western standards. Same with "deep pools". From what I saw on the Muskegon, a sub would've been handy.
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Old 05-15-2005, 08:11 PM
Jamey McLeod Jamey McLeod is offline
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short rods and lines

Kind of feel like I needed to pipe in here. In the last few days I have been eyeballing either a teeny XD 500grains@35ft, or the TS 550grains at 30ft. Planning to fish it one my Loop Green Line 9116 on the Muskegon. I had been fishing the Skagit 8/9 with 10ft of T14 weighing in at 690grains@37ft, so weight shouldn't be a problem. I have no problem making 70-80ft casts with it, which in some spots are needed on the Mo. I do seem to notice (as Peter mentioned) that in the faster runs, the floating portion pulls the T14 up. My main concern was the shortness and lack of taper in the Teeny lines. The 35ftr didn't seem like it would be too far from the skagit length wise, but at 500grains, I wonder how well it will load it, the 550 seems like a better option weight wise, but 30ft seems like it could be trouble. Also, without a "spey" taper (long tip), is there really any possibility of maintaining a nice loop on the forward stroke? There is the idea in the back of my head that I shouldn't expect anything pretty casting wise and just appreciate it for what it does.

And Peter, I am thinking of the stuff like you, your buddy and I fished that evening before the clave. There is also some water a bit below there that is the same depth, but much faster.

Last edited by Jamey McLeod; 05-15-2005 at 08:21 PM.
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Old 05-15-2005, 08:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peter-s-c
"Steep gradient" is a relative term -- these rivers are steep compared to what I normally fish but aren't steep by western standards. Same with "deep pools". From what I saw on the Muskegon, a sub would've been handy.
Sorry, I was thinking WI even though I was saying Lake Michigan tribs.

A nuclear hunter sub would indeed be handy for the Muskegon.

David Dornblaser
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Old 05-16-2005, 03:29 AM
peter-s-c peter-s-c is offline
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Jamey, I have successfully spey cast a Teeny 200 on a single hander but my only comparison in longer, heavier heads would be the Airflo full sink heads I've used. They have a 6' front taper, hardly good from a spey perspective, but they do spey cast pretty decently. Length is more critical IMHO.

I want to be able to lift and fire -- not go through a bunch of gymnastics to get the full sinker up out of the water. Four things fit into that, rod length, wading depth, height of caster, and current flow. So on my Loop 7116, because it's short and I'm short, I don't like to go more than 30' for my full sink heads, and for the really fast sinkers, 28'. At those lengths, I can lift and cast the needed distance without having to roll it up first. 35' is too much for me to lift and cast on the 7116 without either stripping a bit of it in or rolling it up.

I realize the shoter head detracts from overall casting distance, but I can reliably cast 60' - 70' with 30' full sink head on the 7116 using the snake roll, Circle, or Double -- and probably a single too though I haven't tried that one yet -- without having to roll it up first.

Rio has put out some new 30' heads that might be worth checking out. I haven't had my hands on one yet so I can't say what they're like to cast but they sound interesting. For the shorter heads, I'm working in the 400 to 450 grn. range for 8 or 9 wts.

I was out Monday evening with the 7116 and a 30' intermediate cut from a DT-10-I that I received on an ebay reel purchase. It has a 10' front taper so it's closer to a good spey taper than the Airflo heads. In a walking pace current, I was occasionally hitting bottom in about 2' of water with an unweighted fly. I had no trouble lifting & casting it in one motion on the little Loop. These heads do get down.

Last edited by peter-s-c; 05-16-2005 at 03:39 AM.
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Old 05-16-2005, 06:52 AM
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Loop

Peter,

Is the Loop 7116 a true spey rod or is it a switch rod? Does it do well with an out of the box line like a Delta or WC?

Thanks,
David Dornblaser
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Old 05-16-2005, 01:15 PM
peter-s-c peter-s-c is offline
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To me, it's an Underhand shooting head rod. I'm comfortable lifting 35' to 40' of floater or sinktip with it, after this it gets a bit fiddly, probably because of the light tip. I have managed 55' of floater but I wouldn't want to fish it this way. It'll cast a shooting head, Underhand, overhead, any way you like. I've never tried it with a Delta but I have fished it with a the full Windcutter 7/8/9 and it wasn't pretty. Removed Tip 2 and it was then very nice.
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Old 05-16-2005, 06:51 PM
Jamey McLeod Jamey McLeod is offline
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I also noticed that Rio's DC lines have a "handling section" making the head supposedly 38ft, I was thinking of looking into a 600grain. I have tried casting lines in the 500grain range on that 9116 and don't care for them.

Peter, did I read that you also had the CND Alantis 9/10? What kind of feedback can you give on that?
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Old 05-16-2005, 07:56 PM
peter-s-c peter-s-c is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamey McLeod
I also noticed that Rio's DC lines have a "handling section" making the head supposedly 38ft, I was thinking of looking into a 600grain. I have tried casting lines in the 500grain range on that 9116 and don't care for them.

Peter, did I read that you also had the CND Alantis 9/10? What kind of feedback can you give on that?
I have the 11/12 wt. not the 9/10. The Atlantis is a very powerful rod but it's also demanding. It'll handle a lot of grains (as much as 650) without breaking a sweat. The rod makes you a better overhead two-handed caster as it won't let you get away with being too sloppy. It feels a lot different compared to the Loops -- it really feels short as there's only about 9' of blank beyond the handle. That takes some getting use to. The handle is long for it's overall length. That's not a bad thing as it's ideally suited to the job, but it does feel odd when you first cast it.

I think the best way to sum up the Atlantis is that it can overhead cast as far as longer rods while giving you the fish fighting capability of a shorter rod.
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Old 05-16-2005, 09:01 PM
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if getting deep on the Mo' is needed buy some guideline heads, the s3/s4 and s1/s2 with 7' of t-14 will tickle the gravel.

remember when using guidelines you need to cut them to fit your rod. always, always cut from the rear (attached to running line).

these lines will improve your depth charge submarine fishing 150%.

if you want contact info shoot me a PM or e-mail.

Last edited by mjyp; 05-16-2005 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 05-16-2005, 09:38 PM
peter-s-c peter-s-c is offline
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You'll be hearing from me about these lines by next season. Right now I'm playing with homemade heads cut from spey/salmon lines that I'm picking up cheap off of ebay. Sort of a "proof of concept" trial. When I'm satisfied with the results, I'll be laying out the $$$$s for a set of the real thing.

I have one Guideline floater already and it's a great head. I was using it on the Manistee when we were out with smolt.
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Old 05-16-2005, 09:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamey McLeod
Peter, did I read that you also had the CND Alantis 9/10? What kind of feedback can you give on that?
I agree with Peter's description of the Surf-tamer but the 9/10 Atlantis All-Arounder is much more accomodating to shortline work ala Skagit and underhand spey applications with 38-42ft heads due to it's different flex and load.

I liked it coupled with the Rio Skagit line (7/8) as well as the shorter underhand lines in recent tests after the guys out west clued me in on it. It also throws a great overhead loop, it's original intent.
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