Committing to the dry fly - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-09-2020, 09:24 AM Thread Starter
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Committing to the dry fly

I know there are a lot of people out there who are not in the same situation as I am, but I've been lucky enough to continue to fish in solitude amid the COVID-19 situation. I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time on the water while maintaining social distancing. I usually can find a location without any other cars around to fish by myself, it might not be prime water but maybe at this point, catching a fish isn't what it is about at all.

I started to experiment with a dry fly a few weeks ago to maybe a month. In the last three weeks, I have moved to fish one exclusively, regardless of conditions and temperatures. The fishing is enjoyable and exciting. I recently have made a step toward having success with a dry fly in the Great Lakes.

One of my kittens, decided to play on my chest around 4 am the other morning. When I rolled over and looked at the clock, I thought to myself, "maybe she knows something that I don't."I got up, made coffee, and put my waders on to get to the river at first light armed with Todd's "Little Wang Skaters."

I decided to switch out my equalizer head for my Beulah aerohead since I have one and barely use it. I thought it would be fun.
My first run of the day held a lot of promise, a run full of boulders and a good test to see how visible the little wang is. It turns out that thing is easy to see!
When I got to the end of the run and reeled in, I figured it was time to move to a different spot, so I started to walk back to my truck. I drove around but couldn't find a place that I was happy with containing no cars. I ended up back at the same parking lot, however, armed with new intel. I saw where the first of many boats were located, and if I hurried, I believed I would have the first pass through a pretty good pool before they fished it.
After a half-mile hike through windy woods and branches, I reached the pool, and there were still no boats. That in itself was a success.
I fished this pool last week briefly and then watched boat after boat come through and hook multiple fish in front of me. While this does suck, it's the nature of the beast that is the Salmon River. I usually use this time to light a cigar and observe while sipping whiskey. I try to make a note of where fish are hooked for the next time that I fish the area.
As I left the area that I considered the "hot spot," from my previous observations, I started to doubt if I should continue to fish through the tailout or change flies and re-fish the top of the run. I kept looking over my shoulder to see if any boats were in sight.
"A few more casts," I told myself, "then I'll head up to the top."
As I approached the tail I could see from the surface that there was a large boulder in the center of the river, I would fish to that location and then reel my line in and go back to the top.
A right-handed (non-dominant) single spey landed precisely where I wanted (rare), and I could start to twitch it immediately.
As the fly neared the boulder area, I noticed a flash in the water; maybe it was a reflection, perhaps it was a fish. I've seen that you become more aware of what's going on around and in the water when watching a dry fly leave a wake on the surface.
Seconds later, a boil. In a rush of water, a dorsal fin broke the surface a few feet behind my fly, followed by the entire back half of the fish coming out of the water. The large tail left a crash on the water. My heart stopped and then started racing. I stared at the water for a few minutes while my fly hung down. I fished the rest of the tailout, hoping that the fish would come back, but I had no luck there.
When I got back to my gear that I left on the bank at the head of the run, I sat down and reached for my flask. It had happened, it was like a trout refusal multiplied by 10x. While the fish didn't eat the fly, I felt some bit of success. For the most part, I have a lot of people supporting my effort to catch a steelhead on a dry fly. However, some people will message me saying that it won't happen. The same thing occurred when I started to fish without tips. Either way, I took this as a sign to continue the journey. I might not catch a steelhead for the rest of the spring season, but at this point, I'm having fun with this experiment, and the need to land a fish isn't how a successful day on the water is defined. I'm hoping that as the water warms up, some more cool things will happen.
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post #2 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-09-2020, 10:33 AM
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Bravo my friend !!
You truly are in tune with the joy of fishing
It's not just about catching fish, it is everything that encompasses the act of of fishing. Enjoying every motion, the rush of water against your waders, the sounds of the wind blowing through the trees and grasses and the after flavor of your whiskey and cigar. The songs of birds and the smell of the cedar and hemlock. Fishing how you want to, in hopes of being rewarded by a swirl, flash or even a take ... done by your method of happiness. This my friend is what makes the act of fishing truly enjoyable.
I am immersed in your journey and enjoy your shared thoughts and river time stories - truly inspirational

I have found much the same fondness in fishing the dry fly over these GL's steelhead on my home river. The excitement from observing your offering, whether waked, skated or drifted, is a drug all on it's own I find. My senses become much more keen, the sounds and flashes, ripples and rises around your fly are much more evident.
I've been waking versions of Todd's Little Wang for the past few seasons, a Rodeo Clown, Celestial Skater (named after my daughter Celeste) and another couple patterns he tied that I believe are un-named. I've had many fish play around with the wakers, but none have committed yet. More success on a skated approach I find than a dead-drift. Each method still holds excitement and extreme anticipation !!

Great read !! This will be read a few times today by me


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post #3 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-09-2020, 11:08 AM
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Fantastic story! I feel just as Mike described. I have pretty much dedicated myself to dry-line/dry-fly fishing these days. I find it very enjoyable and rewarding. Just getting a fish's attention is a win in my books. The fact you see a boil or better a fin/tail out of the water says your doing something right. The rush that comes with a visible follow is almost unbearable and demands a slower pace when on the river just so you can take it all in. I envy your opportunity to fish and better yet to get the success you describe. Keep at it!

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post #4 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-09-2020, 12:51 PM
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Thanks for sharing this story. An exciting read! Keep at it. Getting a fish to respond to your skater is icing on the cake; sounds like your priorities are in line.
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post #5 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-09-2020, 02:07 PM
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Exciting story Steve! Also of note is that you were fishing the "Celestial Skater" named after Mike's daughter Celeste.

Keep it up with the dry!

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post #6 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-09-2020, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the kind words all! I had a friend call that informed me he just had a Steelhead take his dry in a very small creek. I’m looking forward to learning more
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post #7 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-10-2020, 07:23 AM
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Great story! Thanks for sharing! I can fully relate to your statement:

"I fished this pool last week briefly and then watched boat after boat come through and hook multiple fish in front of me. While this does suck, it's the nature of the beast that is the Salmon River".

Especially now that the DSR is shut down and I am forced to fish up river. I too find myself constantly looking over my shoulder wondering when the next boat is coming down.
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post #8 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-10-2020, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish Tech View Post
Great story! Thanks for sharing! I can fully relate to your statement:

"I fished this pool last week briefly and then watched boat after boat come through and hook multiple fish in front of me. While this does suck, it's the nature of the beast that is the Salmon River".

Especially now that the DSR is shut down and I am forced to fish up river. I too find myself constantly looking over my shoulder wondering when the next boat is coming down.
We've definitely been spoiled in the DSR not having to worry about the floatilla making it's way down river. It wouldn't be so bad if they didn't have to anchor up for an hour and try to catch every fish in the pool. Last week in this pool, I counted 17 hookups by 3 boats all fishing the SAME SEAM at the SAME TIME.

One guide finally asked (while the others ignored my presence) "How's it going?" I replied, "It was good when I actually had water to fish."

I've made it a point to photograph the boats and guides still taking out clients against orders and will be collaborating with an influential social media presence come prime time this fall. Anyone asking for recommendations will also be pointed out who not to book trips through.
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post #9 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-10-2020, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GR8LAKES FLYER View Post
I've been waking versions of Todd's Little Wang for the past few seasons, a Rodeo Clown, Celestial Skater (named after my daughter Celeste)
Mike
Todd is correct, the Celestial Skater moved the fish!
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post #10 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-10-2020, 02:10 PM
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USF, you are an inspiration. Iíve been fishing dry / damp for the last month on my home water, and after going 0/7 (!) on my first 3 outings, both bluebacks and 2 adults, The last 2 times out were no runs, no hits and some casting errors. Thanks for getting me back on track and hopeful.

A quick question to all of you who are better at this than me. Iíve tied up some Wangs in size 8 and 10 (was going to call them Toddís Even Smaller Wang, but that seems mean spirited) thinking that smaller might move more fish. But the runs Iím fishing are moderately fast, choppy runs for the most part, 3-5í deep. Should I go bigger? Most of the spring fish are 15-22í with an occasional adult, but Iíve caught 8Ē smolts on size 4 skaters and muddlers, so size doesnít necessarily matter I suppose. Would appreciate your thoughts!

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post #11 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-10-2020, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by steeliesncarp View Post
USF, you are an inspiration. I’ve been fishing dry / damp for the last month on my home water, and after going 0/7 (!) on my first 3 outings, both bluebacks and 2 adults, The last 2 times out were no runs, no hits and some casting errors. Thanks for getting me back on track and hopeful.

A quick question to all of you who are better at this than me. I’ve tied up some Wangs in size 8 and 10 (was going to call them Todd’s Even Smaller Wang, but that seems mean spirited) thinking that smaller might move more fish. But the runs I’m fishing are moderately fast, choppy runs for the most part, 3-5’ deep. Should I go bigger? Most of the spring fish are 15-22’ with an occasional adult, but I’ve caught 8” smolts on size 4 skaters and muddlers, so size doesn’t necessarily matter I suppose. Would appreciate your thoughts!
Thanks for the kind words!
I’m far from an expert but I bought those flies from Todd, I’m pretty sure the celestial skater was a size 4.

I would probably struggle to cast anything larger than that with foam and deer hair, but in my mind bigger is better. My logic is from the numerous people that message me on IG reporting fish taking their floats. Those center pin floats are much bigger than any fly I’m fishing and it seems that the surface commotion draws the fish to strike.

I’d love to hear what everyone else’s thoughts are as well. I’m viewing this as a team effort. Test things out and compare notes when something happens (or doesn’t)
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post #12 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-10-2020, 03:36 PM
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I'm no expert either, only been doing the waking, skating and dry fly drift for steelhead now for 3 or 4 seasons here on and off in the GL's. My love affair with dry line wet fly techniques using goofy wet flies is far to addicting for me to just stop.

A #4 Wang is a big fly to wake in my opinion. It causes a lot of disturbance. I save the #4's for faster currents.
I usually hitch a #6 Grease Liner done in muskrat or wasp colours for most water. I'll even go down to a #8 paecock and black caddis, throw a hitch and wake away. A #6 Butterfly has been my closest producer of a fish. Talk about heart in your throat!!
For skating, I'll use a #2 to #4 heavy hackled Wulff, Humpy, Whiskey & Soda or my favorite, an Improved Sofa Pillow in Black, Salmon Stone or Golden Stone pattern. I've raised more fish on skating than waking.
Dead-drifting has produced a very large Brookie for me out east, a #2 Carter's Bug, big and ugly.

The Aero Head is a fantastic line for throwing dries, but it has limitations with the payload, whether too heavy or too wind resistant, the bug can be a parachute on the end of that line. The Gaelforce 15M Extended Spey Head is my go to line here in the GL's. Whether fishing a long leader and heavy iron deep or just below the surface or skating a big ole' Humpy, this line has both finesse and muscle. On my lighter line rods, I'm trying out a Rage this year, see if it is any better than my Scandi lines from Steve Godshall. Steve's scandi heads are fantastic for surface work.


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post #13 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-10-2020, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steeliesncarp View Post
USF, you are an inspiration. I’ve been fishing dry / damp for the last month on my home water, and after going 0/7 (!) on my first 3 outings, both bluebacks and 2 adults, The last 2 times out were no runs, no hits and some casting errors. Thanks for getting me back on track and hopeful.

A quick question to all of you who are better at this than me. I’ve tied up some Wangs in size 8 and 10 (was going to call them Todd’s Even Smaller Wang, but that seems mean spirited) thinking that smaller might move more fish. But the runs I’m fishing are moderately fast, choppy runs for the most part, 3-5’ deep. Should I go bigger? Most of the spring fish are 15-22’ with an occasional adult, but I’ve caught 8” smolts on size 4 skaters and muddlers, so size doesn’t necessarily matter I suppose. Would appreciate your thoughts!
Heavier, broken water typically has me fishing larger, 4s and mostly 6s. Better visibility for fish and fisherman and you can always go back with a smaller fly if you raise and miss a fish on the larger fly.

Todd
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post #14 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-10-2020, 04:41 PM
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Heavier, broken water typically has me fishing larger, 4s and mostly 6s. Better visibility for fish and fisherman and you can always go back with a smaller fly if you raise and miss a fish on the larger fly.

Todd
If I start seeing some interest I have 3 different things I'm prone to do. Cast short for the next swing, back up a few steps and work down again, downsize the fly. It might only be one but it also might be all three in the end. Depends whether I still get some interest.

Dan
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post #15 of 63 (permalink) Old 04-13-2020, 05:41 AM
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Terrific write-up!

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