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Old 10-11-2005, 08:56 AM
peter-s-c peter-s-c is offline
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Question The swing's the thing

OK, the run's about 100' long, about 30' wide, about 8' deep at the deepest and starts with a chute that runs through a neck, dumping abruptly into a hole then slowing down and broadening as it tails out. Shallower riffles to the right, huge back eddie and frog water to the left of the run after it clears the neck.

While standing at the head and to one side (the only decent place to stand), cast slightly upstream into the shallow top of the chute using 8' of T-14, 3' leader and a VERY heavy fly (2" Waddington + nickel plated lead eyes). Fly plunges to the bottom and occasionally hits.

After the upstream mend, the rod is held far back and high, dropping the tip toward the fly, maintaining a light tension and allowing it to sink. The fly is basically dropping back and down while facing upstream, moving slightly left to right. As the rod completes the drop and is pointed at the fly, full tension comes on the line and the fly begins to move more left to right and rises. The backwards motion is almost stopped. Near the end of the swing, some slow strips are introduced to swim the fly onto the dangle and raise it in preparation for the lift.

Any alternatives to this? It's basically a vertical presentation, going deep as quickly as possible, then running the fly the length of the run, going across only when there's no line left to feed into the drift with the dropping rod tip.

The problem as I see it is that for much of the drift, the fly is presenting its ass end to the fish as it's dropping back and down. It is swimming, but slowly resisting the current. Perhaps a decent imitation of a weak prey item, but not much of a profile presented. perhaps this approach should be run shallower?

I always find these sorts of features easy to fish with a nymph but tough to fish with the swung fly so this was about the best I could come up with.

Last edited by peter-s-c; 10-11-2005 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 10-12-2005, 10:02 AM
peter-s-c peter-s-c is offline
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It's interesting that this thread has received very few views and no replies.

While gear and casting threads get the attention, fishing threads seem to end up stillborn. When we go to claves, it's always "casting and gear", never a presentation about fishing the swung fly.

When we transition to the two-handed world, whatever our backgrounds, nymph fisherman, float rodder, C & Der, fishing the swung fly effectively has to be one of the most challenging aspects. Especially when we're tackling water that isn't ideal for swinging.

A good steelheader but newbie two-hander, knows where the fish are, but does he know where his swung fly is? Does he know how to pick the best line system for his water? Does he know how to adapt it when his rig isn't ideal? etc. etc. etc.

I was swinging flies for steelhead and trout before I got my first two-hander yet I still feel that I have miles to go in managing the swung fly.
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Old 10-12-2005, 10:46 AM
wrx_canoe wrx_canoe is offline
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effective swings

Hi Peter,

This is my first fall with the two-hander and having just attended the Grand Clave I would tend to agree that spey guys focus a lot on gear and casting.

With a long background in float fishing I'm finding it very trying to get effective swings with my fly in the strike zone.

In terms of the situation you describe is there any way to present the fly broadside (a la grease line technique) yet still keep it slower than the current speed?

When I used to float fish 99% of my hits would come with a float 100% dead drifted...no drag, no twitches or anything. From all I've learned so far not too many speyers dead-drift flies, unlike we do when dry fly fishing...

I definitely think more attention should be focused on different fishing situations and how us two-handers can most efficiently cover water.

I find it really frustrating when I think I've covered a whole pool and then a float guy or spin fisherman walks above me and nails a fish in the first few casts.

Are there any good DVDs on two-handed presentation/fishing techniques...not just casting?

Preston
Toronto
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Old 10-12-2005, 11:17 AM
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Peter I would say in your situation you are chosing bad water to swing in. Plunge pools using do not provide the right kind of water to effectively swing a fly in. If a guy wants to swing flies part of the game is learning the water that is most effective to fish via the swing. A vertical presentation is not a swing. I also cannot think of too many situations where casting the fly upstream will get the fly into a good swing presentation. Even 90 degrees can be much.

Sometimes the best thing is to lengthen your casts and decrease your swing angle. You are still covering the water in close but the shallow angle provides much better control of the fly. One apsect of the need for distance casting I feel is overlooked. I do not know how many fish I have missed by not putting myself in situations where I can better be in contact with the fly the whole time. It becomes more important the colder the water is. Cold water steelhead takes can be very subtle. Alot of guys get into the 90 degrees thing while working a run and thier presentaion is horrible. I am a big advocate of reducing swing angle whenever possible.

Yes you do have to edit water if you are committed to the swing and guys who float fish will outfish you in most situations.

As far as references Trey Combs covers the topic in his books. Dec Hogan's DVD has a decent section on technique. It is really a practiced art.
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Old 10-12-2005, 12:32 PM
peter-s-c peter-s-c is offline
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Sean

I know what good swing water looks like and this wasn’t it – that’s a given. I’m just not prepared to walk by it and leave it to the float rodders or the nymphers. I’m prepared to invest some time in developing a vertical presentation for the swung fly so that this sort of water can be fished effectively with the swung fly. There’s too much good “vertical” water for it to be passed up, especially when the temperature plunges. It occurred to me after my last post that my biggest problem may have been my choice of fly. The fly I was using was a sculpin imitation that would work best on a broadside presentation. What I was doing resulted in an ass-backwards, vertical presentation under light tension, until full tension came on the line and the fly began to swing out more or less broadside. It’s only at this point that the fly would’ve been effective. The entire vertical part probably was a waste of time.

There is a fly that’s ideal for the ass-backwards presentation – the good old egg-sucking leech. Leeches swim in a head up attitude and their heads don’t move while the rest of them wiggles like mad. They’re not good swimmers either so in a decent current, they’ll be dropping back. A well designed fly that’ll swim head-up, on the end of some T-14 to get a good vertical droop, will let me swim that fly backwards down a slot, just like I would a nymph, then swing it out at the bottom of the drift as the fly comes on full tension. A swimming nymph pattern or standard woolly bugger might work as well.

Preston

Our problem in the GL area starts with the fact our rivers get colder quicker and stay colder longer than those on the Left Coast. The Greased Line Swing was based on a floating line, shallow presentation for out west on their warmer rivers. Adapting this to a sinktip system on colder river systems to me, seems problematic at best. In colder water, fish are less apt to move to the shallow running fly. Compounding this problem, some of our best cold water fish holding zones aren’t good swing water so we’re out flogging unproductive water while the nymphers and float rodders get the good stuff.

On the standard greased line approach, the fly is cast across and a bit upstream then mends are made to sink the fly and to keep it working broadside. Then it’s allowed to swing out as the fly moves downstream of the fisherman, as the current gets hold of the belly of the fly line. When we try this on our colder rivers using a sinktip system, the initial mends sinks the fly, then as full tension comes on the line as the current gets hold of the floater section, the fly is lifted and the speed increases – not the best presentation for a bottom hugging, cold fish. This is one of the benefits of using T-14 and a weighted fly as it tends to hold the fly in the zone a bit longer.

This problem of maintaining the slow speed and a broadside presentation at a constant depth was the main reason for moving to full sinking heads as opposed to sinktip systems. I can apply a greased line approach but at depth instead of high up in the water column. Since bottom currents are slower, given that the full sinking head is entirely in these currents, the speed and depth should be better to controlled. Any sinktip system, even one that employs T-14, will eventually move the fly at or faster than the bottom currents as the belly is dragged across in the faster top water. The full sink head does not suffer that problem so it should work better when things get colder. This will be my first full season employing mainly full sinkers (I’ve fished them occasionally in previous years) so we’ll see if my theorizing is valid.
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Old 10-12-2005, 09:17 PM
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Most of my explanations of the swing were geared towards wrx_canoe as he said he was having some trouble. It was not aimed at you.

I am looking at the second book which is where our disagreement comes in. I still say the second captures the essense of what Wood was doing. Since have not read Scott I guess we are at a standstill and should move on.

If you have not noticed I am now 5 hours from your great lakes fishery so I am more part of your scene than the PNW and in the coming months will be more fully injected into it. So get used to me


***I deleted a bunch of unecessary ranting. I apologize***

-sean

ps . Oh and I got all your posts and no one ever dumped on your casting weight model. Other posts yes but not the casting model.

Last edited by sean; 10-12-2005 at 10:54 PM.
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Old 10-12-2005, 09:49 PM
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BLACK FRANCIS BLACK FRANCIS is offline
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i'm sure this will be misconstrued as ganging up on Sean, but these are entirely my thoughts. brother you are making some pretty bold asumptions about an area you have admittadly never fished. you are going out of your way to argue with Peter and that much is clear. how about spending some time being constructive and trying to answer his question? saying you should leave that pool alone is no help. i'm sure Peter thought of that answer himself. we don't necessarily have that many pools to choose from and one that's holding fish is worth working on. how old were you in 1988? how many years have you been fishing with flies? sorry, but you asked for it. leave your attitude outside and come into the GL FORUM with a positive outlook and an answer or don't bother comming.

Peter has a reputation of being quick to answer. sometimes he gets himself into trouble for this and sometimes he deserves it. he has left the speypages site because of this. he has also been responsible for some of the most lively discussions ever there and no doubt made a lot of folks tune in just to see how it turns out. i don't even know him and have only met him a couple of times so don't go saying i'm coming to my buddies defense. like him or not he CONTRIBUTES. we don't need silly arguments about pointless topics.

this thread really had nothing to do with greased lining, it just got mentioned as a possible solution to Peter's problematic pool, in parenthesis no less.

i originaly didn't respond to this thread because i didn't have time. now i am just disgusted.

if anyone would like to bash me for my thoughts bash away i'm not hiding and i can take a punch. i probably deserve one now and again anyway. this is supposed to be a community but sometimes i feel there is a lot of hostility where there should be help. flyfishing has always had a snobby attitude to alot of outsiders and this sure ain't helping. you know where to find me.

Peter if you would like to post the question again i will try to help, but my guess is this thread will come to a quick end.
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Old 10-12-2005, 10:33 PM
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No bashing from me here. You are going to have to do better than that

I agree I got a little out of hand towards the end there. I deleted my posts.

I did answer Peters questions. In that situation I feel there is not a way to get a good swing through. You either resort to other methods or move on. If you want to stick to the swing the reality is you are going to be passing up water or wasting your time trying to swing in water that is not condusive to it. I feel that is the facts no matter where you fish and I see tons of anglers fishing water with the wrong methods. It never works out in the end. I can thnk of many ways to fish it and swinging aint one of them. I choose to limit my steelhead fishing to the swung fly so I would have passed the water up. That was my opinion. I think how Peter was fishing it it would be very hard to be up takes unless they were aggresive fish.

My issue comes from the fact that it seems you cannot argue an opposing viewpoint at all. I would think seeing Toni hitting all those fish that it would be a reminder that methods from outside your region may be helpful to consider. Like when/if I do fish a GL area of course I am going to be interested in the methods employed in the area. I may not like the approach and choose not to pursue it but you can be damn sure I will learn about it. That is what makes a good all around angler.

As far as fishing experience I have only been at it 6 years and have never had a gear fishing stage. I lived in a region I could fish all year around and get more time on the water than most, all exclusively focused on steelhead. You work in a shop so I bet I fished more in a week than you could in a month. I also had excellent mentors and learned from the best. I still got a lot to learn but am at the point where I feel I can contribute to others what I know. There is a lot to learn and you never figure steelheading out, you just get better at hedging your bets. Spey casting I have been at for < 3 years and I hate to toot my own horn but I have met few that are as accomplished with the spey rod in such a short time. Goes back to dedication and my ability to learn and listen. It all depends on what you put into it and I am very passionate about the sport. I was invited to the catt clave to present this year but am unable to make it. Was looking forward to meeting BF and Peter. Looks like it will have to be at the Newaygo clave or next summer.

I apologize for coming off grumpy and mean. I just miss steelheading and am stuck on the wrong coast.

From now on I will preface my posts with "In the PNW what we found worked was..."

Also put me on the list as hating to see Peter go away from the speypages. We were wondering what happened to him. He always made for a lively discussion and a lot of posts.

-sean

Last edited by sean; 10-12-2005 at 11:01 PM.
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Old 10-12-2005, 11:14 PM
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Peter,

If I am reading you right...you are casting to a point that allows the fly time to gain depth. Once you feel the depth is gained you are bringing the fly under tension with the fly butt facing downstream and a VERY shallow swing angle, left to right. Once the rod tip is let down, and you are out of 'reach', the line comes under full tension where the fly starts to rise as it continues the remainder of it's shallow swing.

At what distance, perpendicular, are you bringing the fly under tension? 25' feet out? 65' out?

Just glancing at what you are describing reminds me very much of Bill McMillan's deep wet fly swing method using a floating line. You are just doing it with tips or a sinking head. Without actually seeing the water currents you are talking about it's all but impossible to offer any west coast advice that might be of value.

My very limited GL experience showed a lot of water that just isn't the Kindergarten type of stuff so prevalent out west. To dig into the ability to properly swing the fly will require a lot of playing around to get it just right. Where it drops into the holes. Being able to control the line through swirls and uneven currents from the drop offs. That was my impression. You are already well aware!!!

My advice, FWIW, is to not worry about keeping the line straight. Induce some belly to get it to pull across while you are lowering and leading. When a swirly takes and develops a bad dog leg maintain the tension and let the business end do what it must. I have found that an erratic swimming fly, one that follows those complex currents by changing directions or even being pulled back upstream from a nasty belly, is still effective. Once my fly is set into motion I don't waste a lot of time fixing the hinke parts of the line during the swing. Every time you do you are moving the fly. In watching this from a high point I quickly realized that many times it means your fly is actually stopping, waiting for the line to go again that you just 'fixed' with a mend. Constant mending to fix these problems results in a 'dead' swing. The fly really never swims long enough. My personal feelings are this is not a good thing in being able to move a fish.

But your being able to drop a fly backwards, UNDER TENSION, with a very shallow swing...actually feeding it down their throats...is a damn effective method in water that only allows such presentations. A very common thing on the N. Umpqua and it's mega complex pools. Many of it's holding slots and pools are less than 25' across and you are standing right on the edge. A very shallow swing angle indeed. It sure as hell isn't a dead drift presentation. But as I said before I like to add a little belly to make sure the fly is pulling to one side as I drop it back down. The change of direction and rising fly is sometimes the key to getting a fish to move. If you place the fly just right...where it is being swept right across their nose and at the same time moving up in the water column...predators can't help themselves.

If there are backeddies use them to apply your pivot point on the swing. Make the seam water your pivot point. Set up the presentation and let it do it's thing. It isn't pretty thats for sure. Monkey around with it until you feel you are getting what you want. Sometimes it will take multiple casts, in the same spot, to get the water currents to flow just right...and bang you are hooked up. It isn't my favorite type of water to fish but by all means it produces once you learn how to get it to swim just right. Or more realistically if you have the patience and take the time to fish these 'weird' places rather then just run off to the cake water.

William
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  #10  
Old 10-13-2005, 02:14 AM
SSPey SSPey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inland
When a swirly takes and develops a bad dog leg maintain the tension and let the business end do what it must.
William
I think Wm's got it. I'll echo it: If a swirly stalls the swing of the fly, and introduces a belly, let it. Keep the tension at that point.

and I'll add this: Eventually the swirly will want to whip back the other way, which causes a stalled fly to race laterally across the stream. You can lessen the blow. At that point, feed some line. The fly will travel more slowly L to R across the stream. It may even fade back a little. That's good! You're now in a broadside presentation - milk it! Feed line under light tension! I don't mind if the fly speed isn't constant, but I don't like the whipping.

Words on presentation through hydraulics always fall short, perhaps why so few have replied to your query. But I deal with your problem a lot on the North Umpqua (a great teacher, all rivers combined into one). The best way I've found to observe and work on this particular problem is to skate dries. The surface currents are different than what's beneath, yes, but you'll gain a visual sense of how swirlies, mending, and feeding influence fly movement and presentation in complex currents.
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  #11  
Old 10-13-2005, 06:31 AM
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BLACK FRANCIS BLACK FRANCIS is offline
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Sean, speaking of getting grumpy, i am guilty as charged as well. we in the GL region have taken such a beating over the years for being bobber drifting knuckle draggers that we can get defensive. i apologize as well. as far as horn tooting goes, if it's merited toot away and i beleive it is in your case. i would also say the same thing about myself, even the same number of years with the dh'er in hand. i only recently started working in the shop and anyone will tell you i fished way more than my share when i was a commercial tyer or even when i was back in the print shop years ago. check out Rick and Jerry Kustich's GL book. you would be hard pressed to find more dedication anywhere. now that's horn tooting! it is too bad you can't make the catt clave as it would have been a real eye opener for someone from the west, and i was looking forward to meeting you as well. we all need to work together and i am extending an open invitation for you whenever you can make it.

on to the question. William did a darn good job of getting it right. these spots are very common over here and as Peter said originally you have to invest some time in figuring them out or you will find yourself fishing the same three pools all year. Wm's explanation of the swing was very acurate. i would add by saying that after the initial cast at about 90 degrees the the fly will sink and the moving part of the line will begin to swing. from here you will need to controll that part of the line on the back eddy/swirly. i try to use very small mends that don't disturb the fly but keep the swinging end swinging and the belly straight and keeping pace with the swinging end. these spots are a lot of work but can be worth it, especially if it's holding a ton of fish. another thing may be having a fly that will get the fish to come to it, lots of movement and enticement or some sort of proven attraction. this seems to be the type of pools that the very experienced swingers get fish out of. on monday Charlie and i fished through a very similar pool and nothing hooked and then Rick K. came through and hooked two fish, landing a ten pounder for his efforts. i moved through this spot way too fast to get to the "better" (read easier) water downstream. this is a pool i will never walk past again if it's open. i have seen him do it before on even more difficult spots, deep fast slots that most people would only try to dead drift. this is very inspirational to us commited to the swing in the GL.

Rick Kustich did a presentation at the Salmon River clave on how to swing rather than on how to cast. he will be doing it again this weekend on the Catt. it is definitly the hardest part to learn. but not everyone in the spey community is obsesed with casting. much less so in the GL area where we don't necessarily need to be distance casters. i urge anyone in the area to come and see this presentation, details are available in the Catt clave thread.
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Old 10-13-2005, 08:18 AM
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I did not think about fishing it Mcmillam style. Peter if you want I can mail you my copy of Nill Mcmillan's book "Dry Line Steelhead". It can be a tough book to find a copy of but a good read and talks about fishing methods using a deeply sunk fly with a floating line like inland is talking about.

Let me know and I would be happy to send it out.

-sean
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Old 10-13-2005, 09:31 AM
peter-s-c peter-s-c is offline
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No problem Sean, I deleted my grumpy posts too. I’ll PM you my snailmail – thanks for the offer. When you get your butt over here, drop me a line and we’ll see if we can hook up.

Thanks for the replies folks.

Digesting all the good info:

I did use some belly to keep things moving. My casts ranged from 20’ (little more than the tip out of the guides) up to about 80’ as this feature was fairly long. The main current is not complex so up to about 50’, it was pretty simple matter of a slightly upstream cast, big mend, rod back and high, then drop the fly down into the current under light tension.

The problems mounted when I went beyond 50’ (I couldn’t move any further downstream without taking a bath) so I had to cast into the frog water/back eddy on the far side of the run. After the mend, the line would be pulled into an “S” shape as the fly was still in the slow stuff but being yanked out. I had to delay the drop a little bit until the current had straightened most of the tip and the fly had reached the fast water.

The bottom end was straightforward as I simply let the fly swing round normally. However on the longer casts, as my side had some interesting slack water at the bottom end, I would start stripping line back slowly before the swing had straightened out, so as to swim the fly through the slower water on my side.

After rereading my original post, the light bulb lit that I needed to use flies that presented a good profile with this bass-ackwards drop. The fly I was using only started working profile-wise after the bottom end swing commenced. Next time out I’ll be fishing both leech and swimming nymph patterns since both swim head up, presenting a stern view to a waiting fish, and will naturally tend to drop back in strong currents.

I’ve used this dropback method a number of times before but my success rate has been spotty, probably because of poor fly selection. I’ve found that using a dropback swing sinks the fly very rapidly, however, the fly must have at least as fast a sink rate as the sinktip or it’ll end up in a “U” with the fly well above the sinktip for at least part of the drift. The fly has to sink like a rock. Some tungsten putty or a couple of splitshot above the tippet knot would help a light fly. Now that I think of it, all of my successful outings with this method involved using some weight at the tippet knot.

Skagit style T-14 tips lends themselves very well to this approach thanks to the fast sink rate and the pronounced droop off the floater belly. I also could’ve used an S4/5 Guideline head in this run however I probably would’ve had difficulty contacting any fish that were holding closer to the head. However, the Guideline head probably would’ve done a better job at the back end of the run.

After watching Toni’s demo last April and trying his rig, I sold off all my long, mid and short belly lines to both build a set of Skagit heads and buy a whole mess of Guideline heads from Jack Cook. Right now I’m probably Skagit fishing 25% of the time and Scando Underhanding the Guideline heads about 75% of the time. I’ll have to get in the habit of carrying both sets of heads with me when fishing new waters so I can change up as circumstances demand. I should’ve brought the heads with we so that I could’ve worked the pool both ways.

Last edited by peter-s-c; 10-13-2005 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 10-13-2005, 11:15 AM
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Peter,

A very common presentation situation on the Ump when you are stuck on a wading position is to slip line into your casts. Try to avoid from throwing into the far eddy, keep the fly in the current chute (might have to adjust the angle downstream to keep from hangin up) and slip the line under light tension.

I am doubtful the fly is going to magically make the difference. Certainly fishing bugs with lots of motion should help. Stripped rabbit.

A couple of questions for you:

When you are fishing these spots how much line do you strip between casts? Or how much do you step down between casts?

Are you knowingly covering fish that are/should be holding there? Meaning you know exactly where the sweet spot(s) is/are plus the secondary holding lies. How many casts do you make in those sweet spots before either lengthening line or stepping down?

William

Nick P (BF),

It was that particular book that motivated me to shed my petty prejudices against the GL region. It opened my mind and I realized what a fool I had been. You guys have some INCREDIBLE fisheries. Steelhead are steelhead. They will take the same presentations they do out west.

Only two problems. I just can't get myself to leave the PNW rivers in the fall to head back east to fish for your fall runs. October out here is just too good. When your spring runs get cooking so do ours. Once again I am caught in a dilemma. One of these years I will finally pull the trigger and go on a journey in the fall.
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Old 10-13-2005, 11:48 AM
WayneV WayneV is offline
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Fly to try

Peter here is a fly that I've found works going bass-ackwards. I've used it fishing blown out rivers, bounced off the bottom in fast runs or swimming. Likely its thought by steelhead to be a crayfish.

Hook - Streamer - sized appropriately, you choose; big=good
- tye a dark bit of maribou as a tail in at the hook bend and pointing back wards away from the hook eye, maribou should be about 1/3 the length of the hook long
- tye in lotsa weight (lead wire?) on the hook shank, make the wire more bulbous near the hook bend
-make the body a bright color of chenille, orange seems to be a magic color, make the body tapered with the wide part of the taper near the hook bend
- tie in a large silver tinsel rib wrapped along the body length
- palmer the body with the longest hackle you can find
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