Dangle taps - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-14-2020, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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Dangle taps

Greased line Hooksets on the Dangle

While fishing the Niagara River in Feb., I caught my first steelhead of the season on a swinging fly. I was wading the upper river, working 6 ft deep runs and fishing a Dee Wing Akroyd tube fly through the slots and potholes under roiled water runs. I was using my Scott MacKenzie 18 ft spey rod with a Carron floating Jetstream line with a 10 wt 90 ft head. The conditions were cold and windy and the water temps were 34’. I was using single spey casts as I worked my way down stream, using the 18’ rod to deal with the wind and keep the fly well away from me during the cast. I was casting the entire 90 ft head to avoid having to shoot any wet running line and to avoid handling loops and icing up my rod guides. The length of the rod allowed for shallow knee deep wading as I was able to utilize its length to reach prime water, and hold 70 ft of line off the water while making an upstream mend or while leading the fly through the roiling surface swirls.

As I led the fly with my rod tip through the arc of the swing, I used the greased line technique of Arthur Woods which was designed for fishing shallow water runs. I kept the pace of the fly’s speed as close to that of the current flow, making upstream mends occasionally to slow it further in prime water. I continued to use the rod to lead the fly as it neared the dangle (the last third of the arc of the swinging fly) and began to raise the rod tip gradually to six feet above the water which causes a taunt but curving “dangle” of line to where it entered the water. The Akroyd fly made a slight increase in speed and a change of profile as it nosed upstream on the dangle. I felt a light nudge and then a slight sense of resistance which gradually tightened as the Steelie turned and the free-swinging circle hook took hold. I gradually tightened up with the rod, completing the hook set process in approx. 3-4 seconds allowing the Steelie to hook itself as it turned back towards its lie. This was my only action that cold afternoon but I was thrilled to see this pretty 8lb hen come to my fly.

A following steelhead or salmon will frequently take the fly on the dangle, esp. in the early season. Woods believed up to 30 % of his salmon were hooked here. The tap an angler feels on the dangle could be the only Steelie action he gets so it is important to increase the odds. The Wood’s method of creating a dangle of curved line from an elevated rod tip is the best way to allow a lightly taking steelie or salmon to turn on the fly and hook itself. The dangling loop permits the steelhead to mouth the fly as it turns upstream, causing some momentary slack in the tippet. This allows the fly to rotate inside the fish’s mouth and the hook to bite into the lower jaw or scissors. The luck of a successful hookset is improved with Wood’s greased line method.
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Last edited by Jim Elie; 03-14-2020 at 03:59 PM.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 07:05 PM
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Boy, glad you had luck there. I thought the rivers I fish were difficult, but man, the Niagra sounds super technical.
I agree the "dangle" is critical for sure. Took me years to understand the patience of retrieve.
I remember Poppy at the Red Shed fly shop in Peck Idaho telling me and my fishing buddy, while asking him about effective patterns, say "if you can find a player, they all work". Laughed for days about that reply.
The dangle can stimulate a player for sure.
Best day I've ever had were all hooked that way.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-05-2020, 11:39 PM
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I've always hated those takes, the ones on the hangdown. Seems to me most times the water is shallow where the fly is hanging so if the fish follows it doesn't need to turn much, just go forward and take the fly, the water ain't deep enough to turn "down". That's why I hate those takes, if a fish mouths it but doesn't turn you'll have a tough time hooking it. You gotta give line but if the fish senses something's off they can just spit the fly out. Hooksets rarely work when the turn doesn't hook the fish, therefore, hooksets come late, very late...the fish is usually gone. Poppy is correct.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-06-2020, 01:54 AM Thread Starter
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Love them or hate them, these frequent downstream takes on the dangle, were estimated by Wood’s to amount to 30% of his salmon action. They can occur in shallow shoreline water or deeper depending on the where the wading angler steers the swinging fly with his rod tip. We have to learn to control our nerves and reactions to increase the odds of a good hookset by letting the fly rotate as the fish turns back to its lie.
Last season, this salmon took the fly on the dangle 75 feet downstream in five feet of fast flowing water. I was fishing from a Sharpes 28 foot Restigouche spruce strip canoe as this water was impossible to wade. I felt the salmon take the fly and a slight tension as she held on to it as she returned to the river bottom, rested momentarily, and then swam in a large arc upstream while turning back towards her lie in midstream. I counted the 7 seconds it took before the line angle changed and tightened as it finally played off the reel before I swung the tip of the vintage 13 ft. Sharpes spliced cane rod up at a 45’ angle oppositely towards the shore and set the hook. This seven second dangle tap was the longest take I have ever experienced.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-11-2020, 11:38 AM
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If you're waiting 7 seconds for dangle fish to tighten line and pull off the reel, there'll be a long wait between fish and a frustrating time to boot.
Now, unless you have a crystal ball or get a telegram to tell you in advance, you never know what sort of take you'll get and indeed what the fish is actually doing!.
Keep your flee moving at all times, don't let it rest on the dangle!, lead in to the bank with the rod and accelerate the flee upstream with a FO8 retrieve.
The hardest fish to hook are those below you!, when Salar does take it could have followed the flee from the stream, you accelerating the flee from the dangle will generate a more aggressive take, those laid up below you can simple rise in the water column and take your flee with at times little positive indication, those fish actively migrating will take yer flee and carry on towards you.
Best thing is to tighten positively and quickly, get that 'ook banged in quick and positively.
Dangle takes are notorious for neb hooked fish that often fall off pretty quickly!, make the assumption all the takes will be marginal(because most will be!) and react accordingly and positively..If a fish follows with intent and turns on the flee, it will generate a better hook hold, so much the better, the other takes won't!.Salar will feel you a lot quicker, there won't be the currents influence reacting on a big belly of flee line either and with modern low stretch flee lines, you'll be in direct two way contact a lot quicker. Salar will know about you a lot quicker and like as not will react a lot quicker too if it suspects foul play.
And!, dont tighten/strike/ heave in a direct upstream pull!, this can relieve Salar of ownership of yer flee right out of its gob!, do it inwards towards the bank with the rod on a low plane, encouraging the 'ook into the fish's jaw and not right out of its mouth and into the water /fresh air!.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-11-2020, 12:29 PM
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I'm about an hour +/- from anywhere on the Niagara River but haven't fished it in years and never the Upper. Without hot spotting what's the access like these days? I know a few folks that fish the upper quite regularly but for bass and walleye. They do well but they don't chase chrome and they mostly fish from a boat with gear. Trolling for walleye and casting for bass.

Dan


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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-11-2020, 06:53 PM
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I find many of the fish I hook (not catch) on the dangle are often discovered when I go to cast and suddenly a fish is on! I usually try to strip the fly some towards the end of the swing or when it reaches the dangle to give the fly some movement before making the cast. Usually where I get surprised is where the fly has come to the dangle then I make a step or two down before casting and when I go to cast there is a fish on!
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