winter steelheading with floating lines - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 124 (permalink) Old 09-18-2012, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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winter steelheading with floating lines

I been thinking about to try out some full sized spey lines because as of nos I been only fishing skagits and scandi heads. I simply want to try out some more traditional tools for catching these fish.

Most places I fish are small to medium sized rivers and short belly lines comes to mind. I also love my 11'9" scott arc 6wt, so I would like some pointers on the line choice. Any input on what leaders to use? Upstream cast followed with mends to get my fly deep? Would a floro leader benefit much to get my fly deep?

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post #2 of 124 (permalink) Old 09-18-2012, 08:02 PM
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If I were going that route, I would use a Rage floating line with appropriate Flurocarbon leader. I think heavy irons would be in order!

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post #3 of 124 (permalink) Old 09-18-2012, 09:29 PM
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I have had dryline winter success with the Ambush lines in 7, 8, and 9wt on my single hand glass rods. These lines have a 20' head so I cast across stream, make a pull back mend, and feed 5-7 extra stips of line into the drift and then swing across, often stepping down during the swing.

I've also used the CND 7/8/9 wt double taper on my Sage 8136 IIIe. Cast across, make a big back mend, step down during the swing.

My winter flies are bead head MOALs and Winter's Hopes tied on 4/0 and 5/0 Partridge Ms.

Have fun,
Todd
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post #4 of 124 (permalink) Old 09-18-2012, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by 808steelheader View Post
I have had dryline winter success with the Ambush lines in 7, 8, and 9wt on my single hand glass rods. These lines have a 20' head so I cast across stream, make a pull back mend, and feed 5-7 extra stips of line into the drift and then swing across, often stepping down during the swing.

I've also used the CND 7/8/9 wt double taper on my Sage 8136 IIIe. Cast across, make a big back mend, step down during the swing.

My winter flies are bead head MOALs and Winter's Hopes tied on 4/0 and 5/0 Partridge Ms.

Have fun,
Todd
A plus 1 on the two-hander method described. I use similar-sized Winter's Hopes and also Bill McMillan's Paintbrush on heavy wire hooks, Mustad #7970, sizes 1 thru 6. Long leader too.
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post #5 of 124 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 02:09 PM
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Question

I have a question regarding this technique if any of you care to chime in...

So if you are throwing heavy irons, casting at angles and making mends with the intent of getting your heavy fly down as deep as you can why not just fish a sink tip?

The only time I fish a floater in winter is if I see one I want to try and skate up or if its shallow and slow enough that I feel its the best "tip" for the job. I am just verry curious why some gusy through floaters all winter while trying to get the bug down as deep as they can? does it have something to do with the way the fly swims without a sink tip or something else... verry curious to hear what the thought behind this method is.

Tight lines and looking forward to winter steel!
Levi
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post #6 of 124 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 02:24 PM
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Levi:
For me, I just love casting and fishing a floating line. It's definitely a less effective way to fish in most winter conditions, except perhaps in shallow water as you noted and when trying to skate up a fish. It's an accepted fact with this method that once the fly gets deep, it stays deep for a smaller portion of the swing before hydrulics push the fly towards the surface. It's a matter of self-imposed restraint where the method is more important to me than potentially getting greater numbers of fish. It's just a personal choice and of course Bill McMillan's writings on the technique is what stirred in me the desire to pursue winter fish with a dryline. Fishing a sinktip is surely a more effective method due to the fly being kept in the zone much longer, I just find much joy with the dryline technique.

Todd
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post #7 of 124 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by 808steelheader View Post
I have had dryline winter success with the Ambush lines in 7, 8, and 9wt on my single hand glass rods. These lines have a 20' head so I cast across stream, make a pull back mend, and feed 5-7 extra stips of line into the drift and then swing across, often stepping down during the swing.

I've also used the CND 7/8/9 wt double taper on my Sage 8136 IIIe. Cast across, make a big back mend, step down during the swing.

My winter flies are bead head MOALs and Winter's Hopes tied on 4/0 and 5/0 Partridge Ms.

Have fun,
Todd
I am very confused here. To me it sounds like you're using heavy and godawful enormous flies to "get down" and using your floating line as a big indicator. To me this sounds a whole lot like glorified nymphing. I know guys that use this technique on the North Umpqua in the winter where you can't use indicators. Since I don't fish the NU much, I'd just as soon stick a thingamacator on my leader, tie up some heavy bead head bugs, chuck and duck. It's a lot less work and way more effective. It is still using a "dry line" to catch winter steelhead.
Or when the mood strikes to swing flies, I just throw on a 10' chunk of T-14 on my skagit head and a lead eyed bug and go to town.
I'm not bashing you or your method, if that is what you prefer, that's totally cool. But it sounds like you're going to great lengths to call what you're doing, anything but dead drifting big flies as close to the bottom as you can get them, just for the sake of saying you fish winter steelhead with a dry line. Maybe it's the bees knees? How many do you normally catch with this method over the course of the winter season? Just curious how truly effective it is.
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post #8 of 124 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notellem creek View Post
I have a question regarding this technique if any of you care to chime in...

So if you are throwing heavy irons, casting at angles and making mends with the intent of getting your heavy fly down as deep as you can why not just fish a sink tip?

The only time I fish a floater in winter is if I see one I want to try and skate up or if its shallow and slow enough that I feel its the best "tip" for the job. I am just verry curious why some gusy through floaters all winter while trying to get the bug down as deep as they can? does it have something to do with the way the fly swims without a sink tip or something else... verry curious to hear what the thought behind this method is.

Tight lines and looking forward to winter steel!
Levi
The same question can be asked- If all you are trying to do is fish deep, why bother with a sink tip and just swing a spoon? Better yet just side drift roe from a sled.

It is exponentially harder to fish the dryline with a deep sunk, SWUNG fly then it is to do the same with a tip. At least to do so with any effectiveness. You are already extremely limited by the water types that will fish it well. And if you stay away from front weighted jigs, sticking to 'irons' it gets even more restrictive. And if you do stick to irons you will find they don't hold fish like a stinger/detachable hook. It is all part of the game.
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post #9 of 124 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by flymonster View Post
I am very confused here. To me it sounds like you're using heavy and godawful enormous flies to "get down" and using your floating line as a big indicator. To me this sounds a whole lot like glorified nymphing. I know guys that use this technique on the North Umpqua in the winter where you can't use indicators. Since I don't fish the NU much, I'd just as soon stick a thingamacator on my leader, tie up some heavy bead head bugs, chuck and duck. It's a lot less work and way more effective. It is still using a "dry line" to catch winter steelhead.
Or when the mood strikes to swing flies, I just throw on a 10' chunk of T-14 on my skagit head and a lead eyed bug and go to town.
I'm not bashing you or your method, if that is what you prefer, that's totally cool. But it sounds like you're going to great lengths to call what you're doing, anything but dead drifting big flies as close to the bottom as you can get them, just for the sake of saying you fish winter steelhead with a dry line. Maybe it's the bees knees? How many do you normally catch with this method over the course of the winter season? Just curious how truly effective it is.
A deep swung wet fly on the dryline is NOT DEAD DRIFT fishing. Considering the lengths people go to, to be able to cast t-14 and the monstrousities that are popular today...

See if you can get your hands on a copy of 'Dryline Steelhead'. The method is fully explained as is the rationale behind it.

Bill does a good job explaining the method and how it was adapted from Jock Scott's writings about Wood and his way to fish the sunk fly. You can find that in 'Greased Line Fishing'. Both Wood's method and Bill's forward to the reprint.

To re-iterate the method isn't dead drifting and no-one is going to any lengths to try and call it something it isn't.
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post #10 of 124 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by flymonster View Post
It's a lot less work and way more effective.
That is precisely the point, in reverse, against the "MORE NOW" mentality that pervades much of fishing and life in general. It is something that I dabble in, primarily on smaller streams, where the holding water is sufficiently well defined that the difficulty of using this method to cover large swaths of water isn't a great liability. Yet it is still a lot of work compared to using a bobber.

Those sorts of conditions aside, there are times and places where a floating line and a stardard wet fly swing (not deep) is an advantage for winter steelheading, without all the work. If you fish a diversity of conditions, you come to recognize those situations ... as in, I just spooked a fish in water that slow and shallow???
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post #11 of 124 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 03:14 PM
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I would agree that grease line fishing is not anything like nymphing. It is a really enjoyable technique that presents the fly broad to the fish. But know you can use any kind of fly with this technique - if you do need to get deep I would suggest trying patterns on tubes or shanks that use smaller hooks - you can tie traditional patterns on these just as you can on full hooks - I really hate to see guys on the NU using 5/0 flies to try and get down as that size fly can certainly be detrimental to steelhead.
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post #12 of 124 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 04:15 PM
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Every hook can be detrimental to the fish. 5/0's are no more dangerous. This comes up every couple of months and the same old, same old. The last three fish I have incidentally killed have been on stinger hooks and shanks. Tiny stingers. Using that logic I can conclude the deadliest hooks are shanks and stingers, which happens to be the most popular today. But that logic is wrong.

Until you actually walk in the shoes, meaning USE 5/0's A LOT on STEELHEAD, then you can come to your own informed conclusion. Stop assuming they are more dangerous because so-n-so says they are. I have a very close so-n-so who has hooked hundreds of winter fish on the dryline with 5/0 hooks using the 'deep wet fly swing'. NOT ONE SINGLE MORTALITY. Far different picture then what group think says. But he has mortally hook one using a stinger.

What does that say?

Nothing.
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post #13 of 124 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
It's a matter of self-imposed restraint where the method is more important to me than potentially getting greater numbers of fish. It's just a personal choice and of course Bill McMillan's writings on the technique is what stirred in me the desire to pursue winter fish with a dryline. Fishing a sinktip is surely a more effective method due to the fly being kept in the zone much longer, I just find much joy with the dryline technique.
I don't think I could have described my feelings on this subject any better then the above quote. The first sentence is especially important to my thinking.

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How you get the line out and fishing is personal preference so as long as it works and is easy no one should care but the caster. MSB
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post #14 of 124 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 07:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inland View Post
A deep swung wet fly on the dryline is NOT DEAD DRIFT fishing. Considering the lengths people go to, to be able to cast t-14 and the monstrousities that are popular today...

See if you can get your hands on a copy of 'Dryline Steelhead'. The method is fully explained as is the rationale behind it.

Bill does a good job explaining the method and how it was adapted from Jock Scott's writings about Wood and his way to fish the sunk fly. You can find that in 'Greased Line Fishing'. Both Wood's method and Bill's forward to the reprint.

To re-iterate the method isn't dead drifting and no-one is going to any lengths to try and call it something it isn't.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but Bill does refer to the "dead or natural drift" as 1 of his 2 winter/cold water dry line methods. Of course it takes more concentration and skill to achieve depth than with a tip or weight and bobber, but the goal is still to dead/natural drift the fly as I understand it.

Actually, I believe a dead drift was the intended use behind his Paint Brush fly.

Brady

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post #15 of 124 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by flymonster View Post
I am very confused here. To me it sounds like you're using heavy and godawful enormous flies to "get down" and using your floating line as a big indicator. To me this sounds a whole lot like glorified nymphing. I know guys that use this technique on the North Umpqua in the winter where you can't use indicators. Since I don't fish the NU much, I'd just as soon stick a thingamacator on my leader, tie up some heavy bead head bugs, chuck and duck. It's a lot less work and way more effective. It is still using a "dry line" to catch winter steelhead.
Or when the mood strikes to swing flies, I just throw on a 10' chunk of T-14 on my skagit head and a lead eyed bug and go to town.
I'm not bashing you or your method, if that is what you prefer, that's totally cool. But it sounds like you're going to great lengths to call what you're doing, anything but dead drifting big flies as close to the bottom as you can get them, just for the sake of saying you fish winter steelhead with a dry line. Maybe it's the bees knees? How many do you normally catch with this method over the course of the winter season? Just curious how truly effective it is.
There is a component of the presentation where the fly dead drifts to attain depth, but it is not a nymphing technique. The fly is fished on the swing after attaining depth through the dead drift. A Winter's Hope tied on a 5/0 hook is about 2" long, maybe not larger in profile than many other modern winter flies. Yes, nymphing and swinging with T-14 IS more effective than swinging with a dryline. Swinging with a dryline in winter is just the way I like to fish, even knowing that I'm not going to get as many steelhead as folks who nymph or swing with tips. I'm not out to prove anything, maybe I'm just weird.

Todd
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