Small flies for salmon/steelhead - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 02:27 AM Thread Starter
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Small flies for salmon/steelhead

Decades ago, after my first reading of Arthur Wood's greased line technique, I copied him and tied sets of flies down to #10, 12. The usual conditions that would warrant use of something that small (low, clear, slow) have been met every time by having small (<8") fish take it -- repeatedly. Mr. Wood never mentioned such a thing in his letters. Beyond the discomfort of having to use a small tippit (in the event of hooking a steelhead), the fly never gets a chance to fish. I'm not referring to those few weeks when smolts are passing through. Then, any fly will hook them (seeing a 5/0 Ackroyd in a 6" smolt is enough to reel up and go elsewhere).
So my question to those that successfully use small flies -- How do you avoid the results I've described. Hoping to learn something here.
(I'd ask A.H.E. but he sits smugly indisposed )
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 09:54 AM
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A great question I have pondered myself many times without asking.

Waiting not so patiently (obviously) for replies

Thanks for asking
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 11:25 AM
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I started using small flies in earnest this past fall. My friend Steve Turner inspired the development of the small all black version of my waker the Ninja. I tied these on on #8 and #10 hooks. Most often I tie these on the short stout Mustad s80 (modern equivalent of the 3906), size 8, which is equivalent in overall length as #10s in other style hooks. I was very surprised at the immediate appeal these tiny wakers had on my local steelhead. Just as surprising is that I don't hook into very many trout on the tiny fly as, like you I feared could happen. Not sure why this is the case, but having small fish pestering my miniscule fly has not really been an issue for me.
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 11:30 AM
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AHE Wood

Unlike here in the US where the season on some rivers is open all year long, the fishing season Scotland is more restricted. Wood only fished during those months, and only his home water. Grant town on Spey is fairly high in the system. I suspect Wood also hooked his share of smolts. He just didn't write about it.

The secret to fishing is to fish where the (big) fish are.
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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the fishing season Scotland is more restricted. Wood only fished during those months, and only his home water.

Suspect you're right, JD. What I recall is that he fished Feb-May and hung it up to return to his other passion, gardening. His meticulous, detailed record keeping or his letters seem like they should indicate if he was hooking juveniles. Because he often sight or spot fished fished, he may not have been as likely to run afoul of them (although I would imagine Apr/May to be smelting months... maybe a Scot can chime in on that).

Thanks, Todd. #8s are as small as I've used in the fall... and not first (rather as a come back fly). I've tried the smaller ones once low, warmer water befall us (and commonly fish blind). If intercepting small fish only happened on one stream, I wouldn't think twice about it, but it happens on a handful.

Maybe wangs look like they are too low calorie affairs (foam?) for the little guys.
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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sorry -- that's 'smolting', not 'smelting' ... I get weary of correcting spellcheck's corrections
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 05:17 PM
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One solution is to fish where there are no small fish, I know, that sounds like a joke . . . but, a few years ago 4 of us fished a small Atlantic salmon river on the Kola . . . and using the exact same fly (size 14 Irish shrimp, below) landed 6 salmon. On my first swing through the pool, I had a tap, tap, tap and replied that I'd been played with by parr. I was told by the guide "no Bill, there aren't any parr here . . . that was a salmon". Next cast I landed a salmon.

Another year, fishing one of my favorite pools in NBrunswick we knew that the pool had several salmon. We saw them throughout the morning rolling. Nobody touched a fish. I had the pool in the afternoon and thought I'd change up and try a sink tip . . . and I started catching fish. After a while I wondered "what fly won't they take?" and ended up landing 9 fish by evening in the same pool. All fished deep. Flies from size 1/0 bunny leeches to a size 12 undertaker.

I normally fish larger flies (4s, 6s, 8s) but I always have 10s and 12s with me and there are many times, they're the thing that works.

A couple of friends are fishing Iceland this summer and have been told they must bring 10, 12 and size 14 flies . . . because "that's what works".

Size 14 Irish shrimp
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 05:37 PM
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Quote:
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Unlike here in the US where the season on some rivers is open all year long, the fishing season Scotland is more restricted. Wood only fished during those months, and only his home water. Grant town on Spey is fairly high in the system. I suspect Wood also hooked his share of smolts. He just didn't write about it.

The secret to fishing is to fish where the (big) fish are.
Hello.. Mr. Wood fished the Cairnton Water, on the Aberdeenshire Dee. I haven´t seen the beat, but I´ve spent 3 days on Little Blackhall and Inchmarlo, a couple of beats downstream. A friend of mine told me that Cairnton is pretty fast water, and shallow. Mr. Wood cast and mended his cast repeatedly to slow the fly down, letting the salmon see and react to the fly. The idea of fishing the fly near to the surface came to Mr. Wood on Ireland, in 1903. I´m sure our friends from Scotland will fill in the rest.. Yours borano20
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 07:12 PM
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I have fished Iceland for Atlantic salmon for many years and usually use flies sized from #8 to #12. I have caught a few on larger flies but that is very rare. The rivers for the most part are medium size and the water is very clear. On occasion we will use flies down to #14 to #16, my fishing partner had real good success this past summer using these very small flies. It's amazing how well these very small flies will hold, he landed fish up to about 16lbs where I was losing fish on size #10 flies. I often get parr right in the middle of a salmon pool or in water which is very fast and you would not think it could hold such a small fish. I think they often sit behind a rock or some break in the current. So it is often hard to avoid catching them, often when I feel the line start to jingle or tap from a small fish I will lift the rod and try and not hook the fish to start with if possible. However when I do hook them I will grab the fly by the eye and kind of invert it most of the time the parr just shake themselves off the hook. I also have a pair of forceps which I will use if that does not work, I usually just take my time and be gentle. I think there is no magic way to avoid catching parr or small fish when using small flies but in my many years of using small flies I'm usually able to shake off the fish as described.
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 07:37 PM
BULL DOG!!!!
 
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Easy......just tie small on a big hook....like the second fly in
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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 07:43 PM
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Bruce, I think you need to start posting more of your flies my friend


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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 08:31 PM
BULL DOG!!!!
 
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Mike those flies are so 2010
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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 09:16 PM
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I am not trying to avoid the small fish when using small flies. I simply fsih primarily for them with a single hander. If I am lucky to catch a bigger fish that is a bonus.
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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 09:29 PM
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Mike those flies are so 2010
Well then call me old school
I think those are great !!


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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 10:04 PM
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I enjoy hitching small flies up to size 16 doubles. I haven't found a way to not hook par, but when I do find that there are lots around, I will choose larger irons tied low water and pinch the barb.
What helps me get em off the hook ,
Not setting the hook,
Giving lots of slack so they can hopefully wiggle their way free from the barbless hook.
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