Come Back Tactics for Winter Steelhead - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 12:49 PM Thread Starter
Put
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Come Back Tactics for Winter Steelhead

Wondering if any of the members have any suggestions for come back tactics to try when encountering winter steelhead that don't take the fly on the first encounter. I have had success and great fun using various come back tactics on summer fish, much less on winter fish in the Pacific Coast area.

Recently I had a light grab in one run and on a second run my partner watched a nice fish move to my fly and then back away. I tried multiple presentations and fly changes for both, including a second pass later to no avail. This seems common for me on winter fish. Just curious if anyone has had some success in getting a winter steelhead to eat after a first encounter, and if so what tactics seem to work more often than others.

I do know that it is less common for many reasons (fish are moving, less likely to move to the fly, etc.).

Thanks
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 01:40 PM
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If I get a grab but don't hook up, I mark the spot and return to it after fishing through the pool. I may change flies, or not; I can't say that it matters. But giving the fish another chance at a presentation has worked often enough for me to believe it is worthwhile.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 05:35 PM
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Take three steps back up stream and re-fish. If no success I'll exit the run and take a mental note of where the initial grab was at, wait 15-30 minutes for the run to cool off and then re-fish. Maybe one fly change if I feel like I absolutely know there is a fish there, but after 3 tries I feel like it's spooked and time to find a new run.

I hesitate to continue fishing through the run if I am potentially going to be spooking the fish that is now a known player by wading right in front of it.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-22-2020, 05:50 PM
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I have a question. When you felt the "light grab" what did you do within the moment?

I can only tell you what I have found over what is becoming a long period of time using streamer flies of any description for any species of trout and most salmon as well. My observation has been and continues to be that if I react by twitching the rod at all in reaction to the feel of a fish, upwards of 90% will not give another go.

It took years and countless disappointments before I was able to fully control my reactions to the extent of there being none until a fish is definitely pulling on my fly and quite likely has the hook.

I have also seen fish that either take a look or actually move away from a fly. Again it took years and countless wasted hours before I learned to write those fish off and move on to chance finding a more likely fish.

These things I am writing apply to all seasons not just winter.

There are those I believe that follow and out of curiosity tapp at a fly while having no inclination of a full on attack. I think I've had a few get stuck on my hook after repeated interactions with the fly. Yet those repeated interactions were only possible because I had #1 not attempted to hook the fish myself and #2 I did move well upriver and then work my way back to the known whereabouts of those fish.

That's the best I have to offer I'm afraid.

Ard
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-23-2020, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies and info. It sounds similar to my winter efforts, worth some time to see if they will come back either through a second presentation, possible fly change, step back, or possible second pass in that area later, but don't dwell too long on it. Keep moving and looking for that one winter aggressive fish. I guess maybe, really the same for summer fish as well, unless you have a proven player that keeps coming back. Yes, I have worked hard to not react, certainly have had my share while learning of lifting too early or moving the rod in some way. I don't think that was the issue in these cases. If I had to guess, and not being a steelhead, most likely these are fish on the move, or just really not that interested given the colder conditions. Anyway, probably over thinking it, but always interested in what others might have to say. Thanks again.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-23-2020, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Put View Post
Thanks for the replies and info. It sounds similar to my winter efforts, worth some time to see if they will come back either through a second presentation, possible fly change, step back, or possible second pass in that area later, but don't dwell too long on it. Keep moving and looking for that one winter aggressive fish. I guess maybe, really the same for summer fish as well, unless you have a proven player that keeps coming back. Yes, I have worked hard to not react, certainly have had my share while learning of lifting too early or moving the rod in some way. I don't think that was the issue in these cases. If I had to guess, and not being a steelhead, most likely these are fish on the move, or just really not that interested given the colder conditions. Anyway, probably over thinking it, but always interested in what others might have to say. Thanks again.
There really is no wrong way to do it. Keep your rod tip low during the swing and resist the urge to pull up. If there is nobody else on the river Ill wait as long as I can before I try again usually with the same fly.
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