presenting the fly: the shape of the J: how high up, how fast. water temp? - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-14-2019, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
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presenting the fly: the shape of the J: is our fly boring?

Random ramblings here: but do you ever wonder?

The other day the water temp was 52F in the great lakes trib.

To us here, this means active metabolisms and fish that should be more willing to chase and move; esp since they are fresh in from the lake.

I see myself and other anglers more or less automatically slinging on big hunks of t-18; and am starting to think that its a little too random of an assumption.

That got me to thinking about a discussion of results and opinions on the actual "fishing" of the fly. I am not a casting geek. I want the shape of my system to land the way I want it, and for the swimming of the fly and its profile---- and tension on it--- to be a good match to conditions.

This guide Jeff was stating that too often, we are putting huge tips on and going under fish that are suspended. That fresh steelies are used to looking up.

I remember one time swinging flys nice and methodically for atlantics with no results, and then this buddy of mine raced some flies at light speed as he was picking up to cast again...and 2-3 atlantics fell all over themselves chasing it down. Light Speed!

I wonder if my flies are too slow and at times are boring to the fish. Like that cat that needs a ball of yarn to behave 'just so' in order to get it to pounce. Otherwise, its 'yawn'.

A couple of years ago, I committed an entire guided trip to stripping flies to steelhead like we do for saltwater fish and got some modest results.

Another angler stated that racing the fly across the stream and just inches under the surface, even in deeperr water-----is good.

Others state that a deeply bent ark of the system moving it across the stream vs. down the stream is a good tactic for fish that need a stimulating presentation; i.e. a fast moving fly perpendicular to the current.

Another angler stated that in winter, that fly needs to swing for as long and as low and slow as possible to let the fish just stare at it before finally comitting.


So, the topic at last:

Do you give high, fast, agressive movments to your fly with big belly in early warm conditions for fresh run fish? Great lakes guys: are you always 'dredging' but still doing OK early in the year?

What I lack in skill --- I make up for with enthusiasm.

Last edited by speyday; 10-14-2019 at 06:52 PM.
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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-14-2019, 02:35 PM
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It's the game of finding what that 1 fish wants at that minute, in that river, in that run. I have a friend that does very well stripping streamers(just like fishing streamers for trout) for steelhead here in the PNW.
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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-14-2019, 03:31 PM
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I think you are onto something here. If the water is that warm (52°F), then the fish will likely move to a dry fly of high swinging wet fly.You could rig two rods, one with a dry line and the other with a sink tip or poly leader. Start with the dry line and see if a dry fly gets their attention. I have had great results mending downstream, creating a belly in the line, that speeds up the fly and causes it to swim across the river as if trying to rapidly escape being captured. Riffle hitches help with this as well for a dry or wet fly. Why not try the a dry line and mono leader first? It is so much more enjoyable to cast and fish and make elegant casts. Aggressive fresh fish are probably going to respond, especially umder low light and cloudy conditions. Save the tips for cold water when fish are likely hugging the rocks and less inclined to move very far for the bug. That is just my opinion. Take it with a grain of salt. At any rate enjoy the journey. It is so rewarding to unlock the mystery of what makes these fish tick, as Rifflehitch eluded to above.

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Bring the swing.
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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-14-2019, 06:37 PM
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In the U.K., & even more in Scandinavia, a collie dog fly is often fished fast and square across the top / in the top inch or two of the water and can often produce a fish which has ignored more standard presentations.

Even in cold water they can be fished from an intermediate or sinking line at a faster rate than usual (& some of the big ones for cold water can be over 6" long); also a Dee monkey fly (another long winged pattern usually tied on a short brass tube to get a little deeper) is a another very popular & successful fly which is either cast square in a fast current & allowed to pull across the flow swiftly or even stripped back - I have had quite a bit of success with this pattern, sometimes on a second run down a pool after an unsuccessful first attempt with a slow swung conventional dressed fly.

I would imagine that a steelhead, particularly if fresh run, would respond just as enthusiastically as it's Trans-Atlantic cousins.

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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-15-2019, 01:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speyday View Post
Great lakes guys: are you always 'dredging'?
hi ken.
no.
i rarely dredge. ever.
fly stays in upper 1/2 of water column.
swim the fly through the run.
quicker tempo in primo temps.
slower in cold water.
lots of dangle on edges in smaller streams like PM.
flies should have good "darty" movement on swing and dangle.
i don't use heavily weighted flies that just "track".
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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-15-2019, 03:57 PM
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In the Fall in West Michigan, I prefer floating heads and while I may use T-12 or T-14 from a boat as I am not swinging back into the soft stuff as often then, I swing unweighted flies as fast as I can, big downstream mend and make em rip across... They want to chase this time of year, let em hunt...

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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-16-2019, 01:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speyday View Post
Random ramblings here: but do you ever wonder?

The other day the water temp was 52F in the great lakes trib.

To us here, this means active metabolisms and fish that should be more willing to chase and move; esp since they are fresh in from the lake.

I see myself and other anglers more or less automatically slinging on big hunks of t-18; and am starting to think that its a little too random of an assumption.

That got me to thinking about a discussion of results and opinions on the actual "fishing" of the fly. I am not a casting geek. I want the shape of my system to land the way I want it, and for the swimming of the fly and its profile---- and tension on it--- to be a good match to conditions.

This guide Jeff was stating that too often, we are putting huge tips on and going under fish that are suspended. That fresh steelies are used to looking up.

I remember one time swinging flys nice and methodically for atlantics with no results, and then this buddy of mine raced some flies at light speed as he was picking up to cast again...and 2-3 atlantics fell all over themselves chasing it down. Light Speed!

I wonder if my flies are too slow and at times are boring to the fish. Like that cat that needs a ball of yarn to behave 'just so' in order to get it to pounce. Otherwise, its 'yawn'.

A couple of years ago, I committed an entire guided trip to stripping flies to steelhead like we do for saltwater fish and got some modest results.

Another angler stated that racing the fly across the stream and just inches under the surface, even in deeperr water-----is good.

Others state that a deeply bent ark of the system moving it across the stream vs. down the stream is a good tactic for fish that need a stimulating presentation; i.e. a fast moving fly perpendicular to the current.

Another angler stated that in winter, that fly needs to swing for as long and as low and slow as possible to let the fish just stare at it before finally comitting.


So, the topic at last:

Do you give high, fast, agressive movments to your fly with big belly in early warm conditions for fresh run fish? Great lakes guys: are you always 'dredging' but still doing OK early in the year?
All are different ways to catch a fish, or two. The more "effective" method, that will bring an angler more hook ups, is the method used most often.
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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-16-2019, 02:56 PM
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Put simply, I want my offering to NOT resemble other items drifting downstream. Neither in action or appearance.
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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-16-2019, 03:19 PM
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Given that the likely situation most of the time is that your you fly - whatever the situation - is getting passed up or completely ignored by %95 of the fish, you are looking to attract that one that is a little different - or as a guide I fished with once called “the village idiot”. A nicer word is “players”. But I feel like there is no telling what the village idiot is going to do in any given circumstances. Just play the odds like you are doing, but understand it is not really in your hands beyond that.

If you ever get a chance to watch a pod of fish (much easier with trout) respond to a swung fly it can be humbling. I’ve swung a nice juicy looking woolly bugger or leach through a pod of 40 fish and at times not one will bat a fin unless it physically gets bumped. It’s not like rising fish where if you drop the right fly on the right line you are going to get a grab unless the fish just ate a real one a split second before yours arrived. But if the village idiot goes for it you can be sure 2 or 3 sub-idiots will follow him to see what’s up. I’ve seen that again and again. So both getting skunked and having multiple fish go for it is really part of the same low probability activity in my book, and are both tied firmly to the village idiot random take.

Who knows what they are thinking about in this mode, but I’m fairly sure it’s not looking out for snacks. Maybe they are having daydreams about “swimin’ with bowlegged women”.
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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-16-2019, 05:59 PM
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I used to mend my line to slow down the swing. I don't anymore. If anything, I mend to speed the swing...especially into the hangdown.
A well known steelheader showed me this and I was happily convinced.
That is not to say I won't try to slow it down if in a fishy spot and not getting any reaction with a faster swing, it's just faster seems to hook more fish.
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post #11 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-16-2019, 10:52 PM
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One of my favorite presentations for lockjawed GL trib steelhead in prime water temps is a combination of casting a heavy ironed, sparse fly(usually some sort of long hackled fly or spey fly) on a long fine leader across or up and across stream(depending on water depth and speed), mending to get the fly down, then letting a small loop of fly line drift downstream of the fly and leader, and abruptly stopping the rod tip or swinging the tip upstream right before the dead drifting fly starts its swing. The current pulls on the loop and sends the fly racing down and across stream while climbing the water column toward the surface until it slows into a "regular" paced swing. Most takes come hard and fast after the initial burst of speed. Others will come on the dangle or on the first few strip ins of line after the dangle.
I am similar to you in that I actually prefer to "fish" my flies instead of chucking and chancing.
My approach is to try to trigger an impulsive reaction. A climbing insect or fleeing prey item in front of a predator is what I try to emulate so to trigger a feeding or chasing instinct.
What's more is that I'm covering lots of water quickly using 2, 3, and sometimes 4 methods in one cast/swing;
a deaddrift, a fast swing, a normal paced swing and stripping. I can essentiallly find what presentation the fish prefer and at what level in the water column. Not to mention the joy of casting and mending a full line while I'm at it. It can really make a difference when "traditional" swings dont get any attention.
I'm no snob when it comes to dredging though. I love casting and swinging all lines, but I am always mindful of trying to swing flies above fish.
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post #12 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-17-2019, 08:04 AM
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I enjoy the the questions "Speyday" posed as well as all the varied responses of the group. Most seasoned anglers have a few tricks up their sleeve to entice these fish. I like the cat and toy analogy. Similarly Harry Lemire mentioned a spider racing across a table top. Sometimes you want to bring out the predator in the fish by emulating a fleeing or distraught prey.

Fishing dryflies exclusively for summer and fall run steelhead here in the PNW, my buddy Todd and I have come to the same conclusion that sometimes a fast swing can bring that lightning-quick predatory response from steelhead. Sometimes I mend downstream to make the fly swing across faster and it has worked. Other times I slow it down with a backmend and a rod tip held high to known fishing lies. Both work.

But from my observations, faster swings will obviously elicit the more aggressive attacks. It may cause that ho-hum fish to transform into the aggressive player that everyone dreams about.

One method that dryfly anglers employ around here is the "twitch"/ the "chug" to create that injured pulsating prey atop the water column. It is along the same lines of thought not unlike emulating that fleeing prey when you mend downstream to make your fly swing faster. I don't prefer to twitch on my swing but I have played around with it enough that I know it is deadly effective (to be honest, I think it is more effective than just a straight swing).

Roderick Haig-Brown wrote about dryfly observations with steelhead and trout on his home river when mends were involved that manipulated fly movement.

Cheers,
Adrian
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post #13 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-17-2019, 05:38 PM
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Pacific salmon are especially keen for 'played' flies, from what I remember.
Boss or Comets in the tidal-sections and in the sloughs further up stream. Anywhere that doesn't have the current to set-up a steady swing.

For some reason, the purple egg-sucking leech has proved irresistible to salmon when they aren't supposed to be.
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post #14 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-17-2019, 07:39 PM
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I've begun to upstream mend less and less lately, more just to adjust for mixed currents rather than to slow the fly. Last winter, I played a lot with down stream mending on an intermediate skagit head, trying to achieve a slower broadside presentation, but didn't find any "village idiots" so not sure if it works or not.

Mend it!
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post #15 of 39 (permalink) Old 10-17-2019, 08:42 PM
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Related to this whole discussion, and something I think I must have brought up before on here because it has been kind of a running line of interest for me over the years, are the two philosophies relating to “mixing it up”. One of these is the “consistency” view, for lack of a better term, and is something that was expressed in Dec Hogan’s book where he gave some visual confirmation - namely the view that fish will often see your fly several swings before it comes close enough for them to actually respond, and that the fish do not like it if the presentation changes from one swing to the next and will get scared off the take. I’ve head Dec and other members of this school of though say things like the best presentation is one that “looks vulnerable.”

The other view which I guess we could call the “change constantly” theory is that the more presentations you show the fish the more likely one of them will elicit a reaction at that time and place, in the absence of any prior knowledge in a particular spot. Some experienced people advocate changing the presentation from swing to swing unless you have determined one thing to be working. One of my favorite guides will, for example, invariably point out to me if I do 3 or more swings in a row without changing up the presentation!

This view is, if not related to, then somewhat in accord with the idea that the state of mind of the fish when it grabs a fly is not always attraction, but anger or anxiety when it goes for the fly. Maybe you could describe this as the fish “feels vulnerable” situation. Of course it is a small step from there to the fish getting the hell out of dodge. But there is an often recorded phenomenon where a fish has been observed to sit on a lie for a long time with total indifference to any fly and any presentation, but when driven off the lie briefly or otherwise disturbed such as when a boat drives over it, will suddenly “wake up” and go after a fly and presentation it had already passed on many times. The idea there is that when the fish is in a very relaxed state it may be indifferent, but if something agitates it if may tend to reorient to a more combative stance in relation to its environment for a certain time.

I can’t say I have strong evidence one way or the other. I personally feel like I have had more success on slow days where I have been working very hard trying everything, but the numbers are not high enough to really tell, especially given the conditions change from day to day. Plus I may be remembering those days more due to the illusion I had something to do with the results. On days where I choose to be consistent I suppose I’d be more likely to just chalk things up to luck.

So which do people follow most often, consistency or constant change? I feel like all activities with low probability success rates are highly susceptible to domination by superstition or custom as opposed to anything that might resemble actual hard-core “Knowledge”.
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Last edited by Botsari; 10-17-2019 at 09:33 PM.
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