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Dom
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My steelhead fishing takes place in great lakes where majority of fishing is done with skagit lines and sink tips. Some larger rivers require up to 15' or even more of t14 tip especially when fished out of the boat where keeping the fly swimming deep on the hangdown is the key to successful winter presentation.

Lately I have casted several mid belly lines paired with 15' monofilament or spectra furled leaders and I did a little experement with split shot. It worked as a charm in terms of castability. Casts might not be as pretty but with anchor set far back I was able to fling some consistent casts.

The reason and moral of this thread is to eliminate the use of sink tips and discuss how much weight is necessary to be added in the fly in order to keep it swinging in the same water column as lets say previously mentioned 15 feet of t14 (as heavy one might ever want to go). Walking current speed. Hangdown. 15' of t14 vs. 15' leader + heavy sparse flat wing fly (how heavy?)

Share your thoughts and your experience employing such approach.
 

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If we're talking about a traditional steelhead run of 3-6 ft deep of walking speed water; the best i could do is to take a straight tippet of 10 lb florocarbon thats 10 feet long of the end of a floating line... i think at 15 feet it might cause it to rise (?) and a heavy snelled octopus hook at the end of a tube fly......tied sparsely with synthetics. I would also tie the head of the fly in a downward wedge/plane shape to encourage diving. vs. a flat wing like a hornberg or something.


That, and a really careful lay down of the system w/ a combination of rod angle, tension and mending in the right manner----might get me a little past half way down, or about 3 feet. Others who are experienced could probably scrape the stones with their skills at swimming a good cast properly.


The issue for me has been, that to accomplish this; it restricts me to more gradual gradient rivers like the joe and muskegon etc. Wisconsin rivers would just eat that stuff all day long. Often, the buckets are small and abrupt and you cant really set things up for the length of time thats involved. But thats just me.

Ive found to get to fish, which is my goal of spending all this effort? is to use the right tool for the situation instead of trying to put a square peg into a round hole.

The guy in our area whose opinion would be valuable is voodoo fly. He likes long rods and long belly floating lines and applying them to winter fishing situations around here.
 

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On a typical steelhead run - quartering cast well down stream swinging weighted leech patterns (Intruders and such) on aggressive tips can be very effective in getting deep. I imagine dangling directly behind a boat like you describe can be just as effective. I've read several Michiganders who describe fishing in a very similar way. Seams to me though - that it would take a considerable pinch of lead to gain the same depth casting a full-floater and long leader to present the fly in the same manner. Probably wouldn't be very easy to cast either.

In my experience - pinched split shot doesn't stay-put and causes damage to tippets. A small brass bead behind the collar or right over the head of a fly is a better option.
 

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Pinched split shot doesn't do it for me. Build a bit of flattened lead or titanium strips right into the fly. Back in the day, I tied my flies like that, and fished them on a type 6 sink tip with a 10' leader. This was before Windcutters, when we were building our own heads. Actually worked quite well for winter run fish. Never felt the need to use split shot.
 

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Dom
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'll know what to take with me next time ill be in the pool of Residence INN :D

What I really want to find out of how much of weight will need to be added to the fly to achieve 15' t14 results. Initial sink of the fly would be even faster and that means its the perfect way to target pocket water too. When summer time is around ill do some real world testing on this theory and then see if fly heavy enough is castable and shorten head length accordingly. Its all theory guessing right now. I don't have all time in the world these day to get out there anyways.
 

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all kidding aside about the worm weight comments; as a former drift fisherman I can give you some context to keep in mind that you already probably know.

in a typical steelhead run you could actually swing a 1/4 oz of weight using that coiled pencil lead about 2"" long.... and not have it tap bottom.

that was quartering downstream.......on a tight line, and using about 10 lb diameter mono on a drift rig. so the friction and impact of the flyline on the surface is going to be more.

Though the current is slower deeper, its that belly of line that bellows out and is in that upper water column and drags stuff thats below it......even small dense stuff like pencil lead thats heavy. Just over a 1/4 oz would get me tapping bottom. If you start adding weight, you will get to a point where successfully getting down means youve honked on a lot more weight. like you are starting to do/inquire about.

And we will get to the point where that hinge-ing of the leader a the point of the shot means we can no longer turn over that rig. and weve crossed over, we now resort to whats evolved into chuck and ducking with a fly line. a midwestern born adaptation for those smaller buckets.
And then, the infinite argument as to whether you want to ""fly fish"" or ""fish with a fly"" may torment you....lol

I think part of the mastery, the beauty ---is being able to turn over a fly rig without pinched on weight, and then mastering the rod angles, proper mends, tension applied, and leader formulas ----with the right density fly--- to get it ""somewhere'" close to bottom. But I truly think that even with super cold water, we arent getting as far down as we hope....... I will also say that fly ""swinging"" gets to a grey area when you really, really want to sink a fly. Ive found myself turning pivoting reaching all over the place with the rod to control and let that fly plummet. Like it gets to be more and more like drift fishing, dead-drifting and droppping your rod tip down in a controlled manner. it gets pretty sophisticated with the rod movements in my experience.

Heres a wild-hair-brained thought? Maybe at one of these claves, it would be revolutionary to have a dude/camera underwater taking measurements of actual swings in a scientifically controlled manner (any budding scuba guys want to run with that!?!?!?)

But my long, long answer (sorry for the rant) is 1/4 oz.
 

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i feel adding split shot to a fly on a long belly line would completely negate of the purpose of fishing a long belly line. most of my friends fish long belly, and they never get down, ever.. But they accept that and thats they way they want to fish
 

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i feel adding split shot to a fly on a long belly line would completely negate of the purpose of fishing a long belly line. most of my friends fish long belly, and they never get down, ever.. But they accept that and thats they way they want to fish
I agree that an extended belly is nearly and most often synonymous with surface oriented presentations, especially a full floater and split-shot is just bad for leaders. But - all are just as suitable for a deeply-sunken wet fly presentations using lightly weighted flies or flies on heavy/large hooks.

Of course, it's always more pleasurable to cast when the line is on or near the surface: the lift is easier and it takes less energy to cast, you are more relaxed and it's hard to go "too slow." I think that's the lure of the full floater and why many anglers choose to fish this way over sunken work. Expectations are not necessarily less either. You aren't going to raise every fish - only the most aggressive fish and so you do have to be a bit more attentive.
 

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to your question..

If you want to fish mono, a sparsely dressed heavy iron will sink like a stone..the current is what will cause mono to come back up...

I switch between a tip and dry line for winter fish...I don't know about this cast down quartering thing but I cast across or even upstream and walked the cast down a few feet..when my fly got to the zone i was looking to swing it was as deep as any T material in the right current... setting up your mend can slow down to almost a halt your swing if wanted....you just have to get out and experiment..

fishing off a boat i'd just get a full sink line and not piss around...:chuckle:
 

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to your question..

If you want to fish mono, a sparsely dressed heavy iron will sink like a stone..the current is what will cause mono to come back up...

I switch between a tip and dry line for winter fish...I don't know about this cast down quartering thing but I cast across or even upstream and walked the cast down a few feet..when my fly got to the zone i was looking to swing it was as deep as any T material in the right current... setting up your mend can slow down to almost a halt your swing if wanted....you just have to get out and experiment..

fishing off a boat i'd just get a full sink line and not piss around...:chuckle:
Been following along - so let me explain for you.

1st off - the term is "Quartering Casts" and it's Across, Up or Down-stream just to be clear. Think of a protractor where 90 degrees is straight out. Casting across is quartering casts 90 degrees out. Quartering up-stream or >90 degrees. Quartering down stream or < 90 degrees. If you have a copy of "Steelhead Fly Fishing" Trey Combs covers all of this with greater detail Chapter 6. Section VI specifically on quartering casts down stream. So when quartering down the line is repositioned (mend) to let the sink tip settle and to keep belly from forming. With big heavy tips like T14 in 15 foot lengths - quartering down is a very effective deeply sunk wet fly presentation. More sink is gained by slipping line or by taking steps down stream, just as you mention. Coupled with a weighted leech and the need to slip line is actually reduced. Quartering well down stream is somewhat similar to what is described in the OP and what Domantas is asking about/wanting to simulate - only using long leaders and weight instead of tips... ;)
 

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heavy weighted flies tend to "track" the swing.
fly looks boring and unnatural.
you get much more movement and bounce without weights.
check it out next time you're on the river.
Gary
 

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I started my spey fishing for steelhead with long rods, long lines trimmed back for sink tips (which they do, but somewhat clumsily, like using a stretch limosine for a fishing car). After evolving, or devolving, to shorter rods and skagit heads, I lately missed the slow cadence of the old style, and want to see if I can bypass sink tips. I tied a tapered 16 foot leader of fluorocarbon, and recently fished it from my Salmo-Salar and Airflo Traditional line. The leader often flopped the fly at an angle to the line tip. The water in the well-known run was higher than usual. Fishing a lead eye Intruder, I didn't touch bottom 70 feet out, but often did as the fly swung inshore. And I caught a good dolly varden. More experimenting remains.
 

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My great lakes fishing the past 5 years consists of 3 to 5 days a year in mid November, on the Salmon river n.y., so take this as you will.
. My goal was to swing flies on a floating line in hopes of hooking a couple of nice fish on cool flies before the long fishless winter. I typically use a mid belly with a tapered 15' flouro. I want to swing, which is hard to do in a crowded river so I find solitude in the transition water. Most of the time, this water is between 1 & 3 feet. I choose a fly depending on water depth & speed and using a greased line method will get my fly where I want it. It is la little labour intensive, but nothing worth having comes easy, right?
I do ok when water levels are around 700 cfs, better when a little higher. Makes sense. fish will be a little more eager to run and eat a fly when they are comfortable.
This year's trip saw very low water levels. Getting a fly down was easy, but of course fish seemed spooky. after swinging speys, dees, and classics all day with not a tug, I decided to change it up with a 10' intermediate and vary swing speed using small soft hackles. I fished a run with a few different patterns, but still no takers. I could literally see a few fish under the surface in about 2 feet of water that I knew had seen my offerings. I decided to experiment a little more on these fish. I switched back to the 15 foot flouro leader and had at them with the same soft hackles. but I could not get deep enough with the size 10 and 12 soft hackles. I added a bb split shot 18" up the leader.(yes , I said it. SPLITSHOT.) and cast across. One upstream mend and into the swing and fish on. the fish gods were good to me & the rest of the trip saw a few more fish hooked on smaller atlantic salmon hairwings and small speys using the same setup.
All this rambling to explain that sometimes conditions warrant a change in philosophy. The small bb did not , in any way, hinder my casting. Could single, double, snake roll, etc, with no issues given that I was using small sparse atlantic salmon patterns. I was able to be stealthy with a long flouro leader while putting the fly were I wanted thanks to the splitshot. Also, did not worry about lining fish with an 18 inch gap between splitshot and fly.

The answer to your questions lie in the water( pools, runs,depth, temperature,etc) you fish.too many variables to just stick to one system and be successful if your goal is to fool fish. If it is to enjoy a winter day with the joy of casting a 2 han6der with a floating line, then the answer comes from what YOU want out of your day .
 

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I change between skagit with tips and long belly switch line without tips on switch rods. I find I can get a medium weighted wooly bugger deeper using 1 small split shot on 10-12 feet of flouro than when using T-11 MOW with a floating skagit and a 3-4 foot tippet. I found I can easily get down 4 feet down with a #5 split shot (35 gr) and down about 3 feet with a #7 (18 gr). I can't get fully to the dangle with split shot as it sinks deeper than does the tip as it tails out and, split shot increases the change of a snag over a tip. I find the split shot on floating line gets down about as well as a T-8 MOW on a fully intermediate skagit, maybe a bit more. It also gets down much faster when casting out 90 deg. This allows me change from a drift in the first part of the cast to a swing in the later stage.

I add the split shot 3-4 feet up from the fly. Casting this is a bit different but, it only takes a few casts to recognize the changes you need to make with your stroke. I cast this with a 50 foot belly with no difficulty. My casts are a bit more crisp with the skagit but, the long belly with the split shot is more enjoyable when working within 70 feet of my toes on cold days when my eyes are iced up. My results come from the Salmon River in NY.
 

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honestly if i was fishing out of a boat and wanted to get deep it would be with a full sinking or intermediate line...
 

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Good thread... I've enjoyed the comments and to the OP, I have often thought the same thing. Hope you get your answer -- I lik the Scuba approach, but Flyfishing Research is good -- but you probably already knew that.

Here's my thoughts...

I have found that my preferred spey set-up, including 'rig', is conducive to a certain type of water. I have learned to be successful with this system, which I rarely change. Equally important, I find the system enjoyable to fish.

I know lots of fish hold in 'other' types of water, but that 'other' water isn't best suited for my set-up or my preferred casting style. Consequently, I search out water that caters to my spey set-up and I tend to focus on that. In turn, I have become an expert with this particular set-up and I minimize the unknown variables. Because of my familiarity with this setup, I have learned how to manipulate the set-up to fish the minor varying conditions (speed, depth, time of year, etc.). One example would be manipulating my cast slight upstream or downstream, or taking a step or two after cast to gain depth, etc. While manipulating my technique creates some variability in my approach, I am still using the same rig and minimizing variables.

The point is this... I know my system very well and I just find water suited to my set-up and casting style. I believe that one system vs. another would be equally effective if one consistently fished that system -- because the fisherman would learn the nuances -- the devil is always in the details and I find the devil hard to find when you're constantly changing the set-up.

I do have some friends that change their system from run-to-run. Perhaps they are considered a "better" fisherman because they attempt to fish all types of holding water? I actually find my approach results in more fishing (fly in-the-water) time, more hook-ups, and it's enjoyable.
 

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Clackamas River, OR Sink Tip Study

Frank Amato's (Portland, OR) magazine, "Flyfishing & Tying Journal", Winter 2005. Unfortunately, the article, "The Spey Fisher's Guide to Sink Tips" is not available, on-line, and I try and respect copywrite. In summary, here are the details:

Location: Clackamas River, OR,
Pool selected was one frequently fished by the guide (Robert T. Russell) for steelhead, classic steelhead riffle where they had caught fish in the past.

They sledge hammered a piece of rebar into the stream, mounted a marked white PVC pipe over it, then took pictures and measured where certain activities and combinations placed the fly. They measured how far down in the water column the fly actually ended up.

Set-up: 14', 9/10 wt double-handed rod, WC 9/10/11 and 8/9 wt set up. They made numerous trials, and noted different ranges of depth for the same rig.

Standard Rio, Airflo, and homemade sink tips. Hope the chart stays intact.

Results:
Mfgr Type Length Grains Depth(")
Airflo Type 10 10' 235 22-29
Airflo Type 8 10' 165 21-27
Cortland LC-13 10' 130 26-30
RIO Type 6 11wt 15' 166 22-27
RIO Type 3 11wt 15' 166 20-25
RIO Intermed. 11wt 15' 166 15-19
RIO Type 6 8wt 15' 109 25-32
RIO Type 3 8wt 15' 109 20-27
RIO Intermed. 8wt 15' 109 14-20

All mends, both upstream mends, downstream mends, and casting 60 degrees upstream were tried, all made a difference in the beginning of the swing, but ended up higher in the water column at the end.

Some conclusions from the test program:
At 3 miles/hour [4.5 feet/second]
-Weighted vs. neutrally buoyant fly--Adding lead eyes to a neutrally buoyant tube fly causes the fly to fish 5-inches deeper, at the hangdown.
-T-14 or LC-13--fish identical depths. For each 6-foot of either, a fly will fish 1-foot deep, at the hangdown. If you want to fish 3-feet deep, it requires 18-feet of T-14.
-If you fish the lead eye fly plus 18-feet of tip, you will fish about 3.5 feet deep.

For river velocity half the above, double the depth attained.

Look at Bob Pauli's study, too.
 

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There is tungsten soft weight. Won't damage leader or slip down. It can be twisted on thin for less water and air resistance. Placed every few feet along the leader makes for smooth turnover. Some brands leave a residue on the mono when removed others come off cleaner. It's very versatile and fun to use.
 
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