soul-searching right now; need encouragement - Page 3 - Spey Pages
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post #31 of 45 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 04:53 PM
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It would be easy to be flippant and say something about a fish swung up are worth more than those caught other ways, or some philosophical justification for feeling that way. But the truth is, I turned sixty last fall, and I've been fishing since I was about five. I've caught a lot of fish. I still love to catch them, but have to admit, they are only a part, and maybe a small part, of the reasons I fish.

Somebody said it previously- spey is the least effective approach. Maybe you're not there yet. I don't mean that in any derogatory way- I couldn't care less about how anyone fishes if they are mindful of the resource. Maybe you need to fill your catching jones a bit before you dive into spey fishing. One of the hardest things to learn is where the fish are- especially now with so few fish. Doesn't matter how well you cast, how well you set up the swing, if it doesn't pass in front of a fish. And even then, the fish has to be a more aggressive fish. Fishing some other gear might help you catch more fish sooner, and learn more effectively where they hang out.

That said, my dad won a spinning rod/reel when I was a kid. Having no interest in fishing, he gave it to me. I used it about three times and put it away. I have no interest. If Im not flyfishing, there are things I'd rather do. So from a pure fun standpoint, I'd really suggest just accepting the slow learning curve, don't count other guys' fish, learn about the rivers, the environment, work on your casting, enjoy naps and beers- ok, possible the reverse order- along the river.
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post #32 of 45 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 05:25 PM
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"Catching fish all day is boring as sh#%!!" That must be why many of us dream of the Skeena, the Bulkley, and the Kamchatka Steelhead Project. I completely get your point, but I did have to laugh. Just a little. Many very good responses here. Good luck to our original poster. I think that the tribe is definitely on to something here about the right water and gear fatigue. My local river has a lot of slot water that is obviously hopeless for swinging flies. The scarce swing water adjacent to the slots gets run over by 15 boats before noon. It's all good, though. But I do think that the 1 to 20 ratio may not be terribly far off, assuming a skilled Spey fisherman on good swing water and a skilled bobber guy on good bobber water. The bobber thing is by nature deadly, enabling dead drifts in very specific areas, and does not require the level of skill of Spey casting. That is why the guides do it. Rookies can catch fish.......
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post #33 of 45 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 07:46 PM
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Do as I say, not as I didn't

In response to this problem, I had something in mind for many years. Due to the existential sloth that keeps so many of us living lives of quiet desperation, I never acted on it. But I offer it for your consideration.

You need a fishing partner with the same mindset and interest in hooking steelhead that you have. (It will save some money if you're both the same size.) You both need basic swimming skills. You'll need one to share, or two neoprene diver's suits, and a scuba mask, and a weight belt.

See where this is going? In likely steelhead holding places, you take turns hanging out under water, observing, and perhaps filming with a GoPro, while the other fishes with an assortment of lines, sinktips, leaders, and flies of assorted densities. Coach each other as to where to cast, how much to mend, whether and when to pulse, retrieve, skitter. Share everything that you see and experience.

If you do your testing in empty water, you'll learn a lot about what it takes to position your flies at the level where you think that steelhead would be. But if you do it in water that holds steelhead, you'll learn too how the steelhead react to your lines and flies. Will they ignore them, flinch, drift elsewhere, nip or make short pursuits? That would be diamonds on top of gold.

The cost won't be much compared with the steelhead fly tackle you already have. If you think that the time you spend under water observing is wasted, you aren't remembering the frustration of countless hours of fishing for all you're worth and not catching a steelhead, or learning diddly about why you're not catching.

And if you film it, next year, you and your buddy may be on the fly fishing film circuit!

Last edited by Nooksack Mac; 02-26-2019 at 04:52 AM. Reason: Addition
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post #34 of 45 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Nooksack Mac View Post
In response to this problem, I had something in mind for many years. Due to the existential sloth that keeps so many of us living lives of quiet desperation, I never acted on it. But I offer it for your consideration.

You need a fishing partner with the same mindset and interest in hooking steelhead that you have. (It will save some money if you're both the same size.) You both need basic swimming skills. You'll need one to share, or two neoprene diver's suits, and a scuba mask, and a weight belt.

See where this is going? In likely steelhead holding places, you take turns hanging out under water, observing, and perhaps filming with a GoPro, while the other fishes with an assortment of lines, sinktips, leaders, and flies of assorted densities. Coach each other as to where to cast, how much to mend, whether and when to pulse, retrieve, skitter. Share everything that you see and experience.

The cost won't be much compared with the steelhead fly tackle you already have. If you think that the time you spend under water observing is wasted, you aren't remembering the frustration of countless hours of fishing for all you're worth and not catching a steelhead, or learning diddly about why you're not catching.

And if you film it, next year, you and your buddy may be on the fly fishing film circuit!
I did do alot of this last summer, plus forcing my wife to stand on a bridge and film, report. Making all-white flies, testing in swimming pools, hot tubs, etc. I still have a wetsuit from surfing, and a homemade weight belt from snorkeling and spearfishing (how much lead did I ingest making that? Yet, it didn't have effect any me on). I'll do more though! And the run that kicked my ass; I'll check it out this summer and see it's bones. I guess I was using 12 feet of T-11 on the second trip (10' on the first trip). Maybe 12 feet of T-14 will get it down. I'll do more snorkeling and maybe buy a drone. Since that fateful day, I've been watching the Scott Howell video where he uses a heavy fly when needed and throws a downstream mend. IDK if I really want to depart from actual fly fishing, but it was very interesting still. One great tip on this thread is to fish the runs that are suited to flyfishing instead of suiting your flyfishing to fish the deep runs, which might make it no longer flyfishing and at that point, yes, I would probably just by a jig rod. THANKS, Nooksack Mac for the great advice! I'll do more snorkeling and before the water gets low. DS
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post #35 of 45 (permalink) Old 02-26-2019, 01:34 PM
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Scott Howell

Scott Howell is one of a hand full of local guides who fishes/guides the swung fly on the Rogue. I have his Skagit Master II dvd & have had several opportunities to watch clients fish under his coaching. He knows his stuff. I even tried the bullet weights like he uses. I reserve them for extreme conditions, but I like the way he carries those flies all rigged up like that. He is one of those guys who thinks outside the box.

I know a guy who fishes really heavy T-16 & T-22 tips. He did a lot of research & kept notes when he was figuring all this stuff out. It works for him. Personally, I don't feel the need for long lengths of T-14 to get down. I do have a 12ft T-14 tip, but I rarely have to use it. It has been my experience that if you set it up right, and mend right, you can get down with less weight,,,,most of the time.
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post #36 of 45 (permalink) Old 02-26-2019, 11:20 PM
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You'd have to be crazy not to question your sanity when winter steelheading using any method!!!
I was asked by a center pinner how I was doing fishing the "starving stick" one day last December before he came in behind me and hooked a fish. I'm still laughing over that, hell it still burns too.
All I've got to show for this winter's fishing is one good grab and a couple src's and I've driven across the rockies twice for that. I won't even let myself begin to add up the cost. Heck I'm venturing so far beyond crazy I'm deep into downright stupid territory now!

But I like it cuz it's fun and if I'd have brought my float rod on either of those trips I sure as **** would have broke down desperately and got it out which is why I left it home beside the spinner and the spoons.
So hey we're all just humans testing our faith. I have faith that my first steelie on spey will blow my socks off judging from the feel of the lone grab I've had.
Fish however you want and enjoy(ethically of course). Your spey rod will be there waiting, ready to forgive when you come home stinking of lead, rubber worms and roe.
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post #37 of 45 (permalink) Old 02-27-2019, 12:28 AM
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Scott Howell is one of a hand full of local guides who fishes/guides the swung fly on the Rogue. I have his Skagit Master II dvd & have had several opportunities to watch clients fish under his coaching. He knows his stuff. I even tried the bullet weights like he uses. I reserve them for extreme conditions, but I like the way he carries those flies all rigged up like that. He is one of those guys who thinks outside the box.

I know a guy who fishes really heavy T-16 & T-22 tips. He did a lot of research & kept notes when he was figuring all this stuff out. It works for him. Personally, I don't feel the need for long lengths of T-14 to get down. I do have a 12ft T-14 tip, but I rarely have to use it. It has been my experience that if you set it up right, and mend right, you can get down with less weight,,,,most of the time.
You’ll think I’m nuts JD!! But I just ordered another sinking skagit from Steve Godshall for another rod! The skagit head is all Sink4, and I’ll run either a 12.5’ of T-14 or 10’ of Z-19 (sinks a little quicker than T-17) just for certain situations..................or Chinook

I remember once it saved me......everyone was nymphing and gear fishing for Atlantic’s and couldn’t buy a hit. I threw that line and rig on and 3 casts later, bang.

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in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

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post #38 of 45 (permalink) Old 02-27-2019, 02:03 AM
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As I read the many posts, I first thought, wow, there is a touch of openness and reflection I wouldn't have seen in Speypages 10 years ago. It doesn't feel like a gathering where the one who shouts the loudest with the most emphatic convictions wins the marbles of discussion.

Also, I also heard echoes of this quote: "Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after." ~ Henry David Thoreau

Also, I heard shades of this quote from Joan Wulff: "“Stage One is about numbers,” she says. “In Stage Two, it’s catching the biggest. Stage Three is about challenging yourself, catching ever more difficult fish, like a permit instead of a bonefish (my add: or Steelhead on the swing). Lee Wulff taught me Stage Four, or giving back to the sport,” Wulff continues, referring to her late husband. “For Lee, it was promoting catch-and-release. My Stage Four was about defining the fly cast so that anyone can master it.”

I was on the river Monday with my own tied fly, my own cut line, my custom 18 footer plus rod, just me and a fishing friend on a stretch of river that normally has 5-10 people on. Hucking that fly 120+ feet. I was satisfied I covered the river in the best way I could manage for a well earned day, with the tools tuned to my cast.

With that, I often finding myself being asked by other fishermen how I did that day on the river. I often tell them 'I wasn't even fishing'. I get amused when their heads cock sideways to that atonality, but a completely tonal note for me.
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post #39 of 45 (permalink) Old 02-27-2019, 09:23 AM
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There comes a time in you're fishing career when numbers don't matter anymore, there much more to it than catching fish, scenery, casting, friends etc.
When you reach this point you will go to the Spey, and it won't bother you to see others catch fish, you are not there yet my friend.
And to make matters worse, you are fishing beside gear guys, in rivers not suited for Spey. And with very few fish in them.
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post #40 of 45 (permalink) Old 02-27-2019, 10:18 AM
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Well spoken BC steel. It's this way ,I built the flyrod,I tied the fly,I stalked the fish and casted to it. The fish took my fly and was shortly brought to hand and released. I laughed with glee,and packed my rod away. Someone on shore asked why I was leaving ,what more could one wish for? Totally satisfied.
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post #41 of 45 (permalink) Old 02-27-2019, 04:17 PM
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same boat

Ill jump on this train and say i was/am in the same boat as you. this is my second winter of steel heading. when i first realized that i wanted to swing a fly for a steelhead i watched every video on youtube that had anything to do with two handed fishing. i decided to go swing a fly with a singlehanded rod up on the Trinity river with Daren from Trinity Fly shop and was able to learn a lot with respects to reading swing water versus other fly water. we would float over run after run that had i been on my own i would have stopped and fished and fishing with someone who knows the river so intricately allowed me to get first hand useable information about why a run does or doesn't fish. I ended up hooking a fish on my last cast i can still picture it jumping 3 times then turning straight up stream and running right at me only to pop off but that fish did me in. a week later i had bought my first two handed rod and was up on the rogue for one of Wills 3rd sunday spey classes. outside of a crazy fun day earlier this fall on the Klamath where i hooked and landed a huge number of half pounders have still yet to get a winter fish to hand on the swing.

Fast forward to last week, i jumped at the opportunity to spend a day fishing with Stuart Warren up on the Rogue and the plan was the same, cover a lot of the high water looking for specific runs or lie where fish are more likely to be moving thru. the day helped me reenforce some of the good habits or ideas i had about swinging flies with a two handed rod and cleaned up some of my bad habits both casting and with reading water. the day ended with two solid grabs and will keep me looking for my next one. so as everyone has said. its definitely a game of patience and practice and for me that continual learning game is what i love. but i completely understand you questioning yourself and why you do this.
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post #42 of 45 (permalink) Old 02-27-2019, 11:23 PM
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There comes a time in you're fishing career when numbers don't matter anymore, there much more to it than catching fish, scenery, casting, friends etc.
When you reach this point you will go to the Spey, and it won't bother you to see others catch fish, you are not there yet my friend.
And to make matters worse, you are fishing beside gear guys, in rivers not suited for Spey. And with very few fish in them.
+1. Amen brother.
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post #43 of 45 (permalink) Old 02-28-2019, 03:53 AM
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Hi. I have hooked steelhead on 7 of my last 9 outings. Swung fly only. I fish the Oregon coast on rivers most on this forum have never heard of. It’s about committing to the swing fly, and committing to learning your river at all flows. Then all of a sudden one day it all clicks and you catch fish all the time during February and March. Keep a detailed journal with flows and water temp. This info over time has become very important in my fishing. Have faith.


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post #44 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 09:29 AM
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I remember clearly the day that made me quit bobber fishing. It was a guided trip on private water. A coworker had asked me for a guide recommendation so he could take his brother out for a day, and I was welcome to tag along since the guide was a buddy of mine. Left largely to my own devices - the other guys were really green to flycasting and fishing in general, let alone getting a good drift - I did what I was told and had a good day. It wasn't til he made a comment about it that I ran my own tally. I went 9 of 17 (seriously - no BS), all watching bobbers go down. It was a wildly fun and exciting day. I still like watching bobbers go down, always have, hopefully always will. But it's not what I want to do anymore. I hate sitting there waiting for them to do so.

That said, I haven't caught a steelhead since April of 2017. It was a swung fish (https://www.speypages.com/speyclave/...1st-swing.html). I get a few days here and there every fall and spring to go out. Since moving home a year ago, I've gotten in 4 days on the water. My buddy - not the guide - smiles while I'm swinging and "following my religion" while he's picking up a fish or two every trip under a bobber. I do have to walk past a lot of water that he fishes but it seems like a nice trade-off for not chucking shot awkwardly all day long even when only getting a few days each season to go out.

As for me, well, I'd go not catch fish right now if I had the choice.
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post #45 of 45 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 05:06 PM
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Also, I would refer you to Ed Ward’s post “Swinging Winter Steel”

Just use the forum search. It describes a simple, and EFFECTIVE strategy for finding winter steelhead on the fly. Hint, becoming an effective caster is important.


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