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Discussion Starter #1
Since Scott stirred the pot, I think I should too...

I'm sick and tired of people always saying "blah, blah, blah, has to happen in OUR MIDWEST WATERS". Everyone in the Midwest seems to have their opinion on how the Midwest fishes, based on their experience on their one or two local rivers.

Fact is, the Midwest is a big place. There are lots of different sizes and types of rivers, different water qualities, and even different strains of fish. We even have 5 different "oceans" for the fish to play in. And lets not forget all rivers fish differently at different flows.

For example, within 3 hours drive of my home, I can fish roughly 15 steelhead rivers/creeks that are anywhere from 100yds+ wide to 12' wide. It would be pretty silly for me to make generalizations on rod length, fly size, tippet size, etc. wouldn't it?


So when I hear people stating the following absolutes (and others I can't recall), I have to chuckle. Following are the absolutes and my comments, preceded by "BS". You'll have to guess what BS stands for.
1. You can't catch Midwest steelhead on the surface. BS -- I have and so have many of my friends. It doesn't happen every day, but it happens.
2. You can't catch Midwest steelhead with traditional techniques. BS -- That's all I do and I catch plenty. So do my friends. Often times we are catching when others are getting skunked because there are no bedding fish to floss.
3. You have to be within .01 millimeter of the bottom to hook Midwest steelhead. BS -- I've caught them on top, just under, mid-flow, and on the bottom. Often the best fishing is in the upper half of the water column.
4. You can't catch Midwest steelhead on traditional flies. BS -- I have caught steelhead on spey flies, hair wings, feather wings, wakers, muddlers, etc. Its been so long since I caught one on a globug, I'd tend to believe they don't work in the Midwest! :)
5. You can't catch Midwest steelhead on flies bigger than size 12. BS -- I catch most of my fish on marabou flies that are 2" plus, typically tied on 1/0 hooks. My friends and I have started fishing intruder-style flies up to 5" and are having success.

6. You can't catch Midwest steelhead on anything lighter than 4x fluorocarbon tippet. And the tippet should be at least 12 feet in length. BS -- I have used 15lb Maxima chameleon in dirty water and never use lighter than 10lb Maxima ultra green. I have caught steelhead on 1' long tippets in some conditions.
7. A 13' spey rod is way too big for Midwest rivers. BS -- have you ever fished the Menominee on the border of MI and WI. There are many other examples of huge rivers in the Midwest, but most people in the Midwest are too busy standing in ankle deep water flossing spawners. I agree you don't need a 13' rod to cast to the redd you're standing 10' from. Solution: Stand further from the fish and quit flossing!
8. You can't catch steelhead on swung flies on the Muskegon. Its too clear and the fish only eat eggs and PM caddis. BS -- I haven't done it, but my friends have.
9. There isn't enough room on our Midwest rivers to swing a spey rod. The Muskegon, Oconto, Manistee, Menominee, St Joe, Niagara, St. Marys, etc aren't big enough to speyfish? Can you cast to all of the fishable water (Not from a boat. While wading, ya wuss) with a single hand rod? Can you cast all the way across the river with any type of fly rod? The majority of people making these statements can't cast 40feet in a tailwind. So why is the river too small for a spey rod?
10. Midwest Steelhead won't take a swinging fly because the water is always too cold. BS -- I have been fishing 32 to 38 degree (f) water every day for the last 3 weeks and I have hooked fish almost every day I have been out. (Now if I could just land them.) I've even been getting strikes on swung flies when the water is 32/33 degrees.

I wish everyone would just quit making excuses for using Midwest "chuck and duck", "rip-em-off-the-redds", "indicator nymphing", "bobber and egg sack", and "drift fishing" techniques. If you don't use traditional techniques, that's fine with me, but don't make unnecessary excuses. Traditional techniques do produce, if you're willing to learn them and use them.


OK, now here are some absolutes that I believe in. Now you can have some fun telling me I'm full of BS. :)

You can't catch a steelhead on a swung fly unless you are swinging a fly. Conversely, if all you use are glo-bugs, you will soon believe glo-bugs are the best fly.

You can't catch a steelhead on a waker unless you're fishing a waker.

If you haven't put in HUNDREDS of hours swinging flies and learned how to swing them effectively, you're not qualified to discount it as an effective technique. Just because you can't do it, doesn't mean it doesn't work. Thinking so is as childish as covering your own eyes to hide from someone else. You think you're hiding, but other people can see otherwise.

If you don't know how to speycast and use a speyrod for its intended purpose, you're not qualified to discount it as a valid technique for the conditions. This also goes for guys that "know how to speycast", but can't actually do it when asked to.

99% of fishermen that are fishing redds are lining, flossing, or whatever the most trendy term is for SNAGGING the fish. Fly fishermen are the guiltiest of all, since they seem to enjoy "sight snagging". Um, I mean "sight fishing".

Fishing redds is for morons that don't know any better. It doesn't matter if the fish will successfully reproduce. It’s still silly. Fishing redds is like going to a deer farm, tying up one of the deer, and shooting it with a bow and arrow. Sure, you used a bow, but was it sporting? Does a flossed, fungus infested, black and red steelhead really compare to a chromer that dislocates your shoulder on the strike from a thigh-deep greasy tailout?

Big flies work best in dirty water. The river I fish most often is usually dirty by western standards.

Black is the best steelhead color. Other colors work too, but black is best. Period. This is probably true almost everywhere.

Midwesterners have an awful reputation because many of them fish for skunky kings and steelhead while they are on the beds. Look at STS "hog pen" and see how many Midwest chromers you see. Most all of the fish from the Midwest are dark, fungused, and snagged. Not all of us Middle westerners agree.
 

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fly on little wing
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chrome is the way

wow, lot's of things to say and i agree on most. the only problem i see is topic # 5. in michigan you can't go larger than a size 2 (3/8" gap) hook at certain times to discourage (ya, right) snagging.

voodoofly
 

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Discussion Starter #3
stupid law

You can still fish a big fly tied on a smaller hook or fish tubes or pin flies with a smaller hook. My point was, big flies do work.

What a stupid law, huh! Like thousands of steelhead aren't snagged every year by size 4 glo-bugs.

I heard the 3/8 gap was only for trebles, and <1/2" was legal for singles. Does it change during the spawning season or something?
 

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Rob,

A west coast steelheader would like to buy you a drink for that post.

sinktip
 

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NOW YOU DID IT

I cant agree with you more and I am in 100% agreement with you on pretty much everything that you have said. I fish with a spey rod 365 days a year and only bring out the 1 hander on super small streams/creeks that I think I could jump over and not get wet. There are so many untruths and myths and urban legends about how you have to fish Steelhead and Salmon in the midwest that it is becoming rediculous. There is nothing better than proving to people that you can catch fish under certain conditions that most people would say are impossible. The only time it is not possible is if you are at home on the couch! My favorite one is when water temps are below 40 you cant catch them on the swing! Never heard such a bunch of BS in my life. Not only can it be done but I was there when a friend of mine caught a steelhead on the Menominee with a spey rod grease lining a coast orange i n 5 ft of water. Water temp was 34. I am glad someone had the stones to finally start this discussion about what you can and cant do on the rivers in the midwest! Good Luck and Tight Lines. Especially those of you that are swinging flies!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
More thoughts

More thoughts as long as I’m feeling frisky… (Many of these I have heard/read over the years and don’t know who to credit. Sorry for that.)

I’ve never caught a submarine or a freight train in fresh water, so I really don’t need a powerful disk drag. A clicker is good enough. I’m only trying to catch a fish, so I hope I don’t need space-age technology to do it.

People that really know how to do something don’t have to tell everyone that they do. Actions speak louder than words.

Much of the stuff on fly-fishing forums is written by people that don’t know what they are talking about.

Most people are lazy and don’t want to pay their dues. People hate getting skunked. People don’t like to fish in bad weather. A majority of fishermen only fish when they know it will be good fishing.

Fly-fishing won’t make you a sportsman. Fly-fishing won’t make you cool. Many gear fishermen are better sportsmen than many fly fishermen.

If a guide says to do something, do it. That’s what you paid him for. However, this is not to be confused with “everything your guide says is correct”. Try what they say and form your own opinion.

Fishing isn’t always about catching fish. It’s only really about catching fish when I’m not catching any.

There are no “secret” spots anymore, but I’m still going to try to keep some of my spots secret.

If you want to get skunked, bring a landing net and a camera with a fresh battery and new roll of film.

Wading cleats rock! Felt soles suck on everything except slimy wet rocks. On grass, mud, or dry rocks, felts are downright dangerous. Felts pick up ice and are really annoying.

Casting far is fun.

A guy that has fished for 25 years can have significantly less experience than someone that has fished for ten years, but fishes every day.

Not all game fish have an adipose fin. Drift boat fishing for Smallmouth bass is one of the best fly rod experiences in the world. If you haven’t tried it, you’re not entitled to an opinion. I had an opinion before I tried it and I was dead wrong!

Everyone thinks they are an expert. Most people are not. This probably applies to me as well, but I'll never admit it. I know everything. I just can't always remember it. EVERYTHING is a lot of stuff to remember.

Trying to make money from your hobby will make your hobby into work. Work sucks.

The “spey” word is extremely trendy. Anything with the “spey” word in it will make you cool. Spey egg flies, bunny spey flies, 10’ spey rods, spey forums, anything spey will probably win you points. I drive a spey truck, and work at a spey business, and sleep in a spey bed.

Steelhead are probably one of the stupidest fish around. What other fish would swim out of its way to get caught on a fly that looks nothing like food.

Everyone is a guide. Guide licenses are cheap and usually don’t require any examination. Often times these guides are some of the least experienced fishermen on the river.

Harry Lemire is a stud.

When will someone finally design a wading jacket that is intended for wading?

My friends tell me Steve Choat really does cast as well as everyone says.

The "Dummy Cast" is an idea thought of by a dummy. People that write books with pictures of them hunched over like a "nodding donkey" (D. Brown video) shouldn't put comments under the picture saying "the author displays perfect form...".

Hardy perfects are cool even if large arbors are more efficient. Spinning reels are more efficient yet, but they ain't cool.

Properly tied flies have unexplainable soul.

Pattern doesn’t matter much for steelhead. Size and color are much more important that pattern specifics.

You don’t have to be crazy to get up at 4am to go fishing in 30 degree weather, but it helps.

Trey Comb’s book “Steelhead Fly Fishing” is the bible on the topic of steelheading. A better steelheading book will probably never be written. The Midwest book by the Kustich brothers is also excellent.

Some of the most famous speycasters really aren’t/weren’t very good speycasters.

Scotch whiskey has nothing to do with fishing. It has to do with drinking, and I enjoy that too.

Fish aren’t smart. Fish are restricted to their habits. Their habits are what makes them hard to catch. Trout are selective because they are too stupid to eat something that doesn't look like food.

The Internet allows any idiot to communicate their thoughts to thousands, if not millions of people. People aren’t any smarter now days, they’re just louder. Don’t believe everything you read.

Dave McNeese’s and Syd Glasso’s flies are freakin’ awesome. Steelhead should be required by law to salute their flies before eating them. Humans shouldn’t be allowed to make eye contact with these flies.

Very few people actually think about fishing from the fish's point of view. We'd all be better fishermen if we did.
The word “spey” has almost lost all meaning.

Internet fishing reports are useless. They are either lies told by an experienced fisherman or uninformed opinions submitted by inexperienced fishermen. Neither should be trusted.

"Angie the fishing goddess" sounds like someone I’d like to fish with and then drink with.

Bananas should be allowed in the boat. I get leg cramps. What a stupid superstition.

PETA extremists are goofy. I want what they are smokin’. PETA should actually mean “People Eating Tasty Animals”. Fish don't have feelings.

Teaching someone else to tie flies or catch fish is as rewarding as doing it yourself.

Fishing alone has never left me feeling lonely.

Comic Steven Wright says “Last night I bought some paint in the shape of a house”. I say “I wear Aquaseal in the shape of waders.”

Fishing shouldn’t be easy. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be any fun. Imagine golfing (yeah, its hard for me too) when everyone gets a hole-in-one on every shot. How long would you keep up the sport if it were that easy?

The more people that fish, the worse the fishing will be. However, the more people that fish, the more people will care for the habitat.

Gore-Tex is great stuff, even if it is high tech and spendy.

I have incredible fishing mentors.

Rowing a drift boat is fun.

People who say "I like fishing, it so relaxing" have never waded a real steelhead river.

The best time to go fishing is whenever you can.

Fish are already wet. They don’t care if its raining. Why should I?

If you low hole me, I’ll slash your tires.

Guys who work in fly shops aren’t always experts. Sometimes, they’re downright ignorant on fishing.

I “should have been there yesterday”, but I’m happy any time I’m there.

Reading the Orvis catalog 3 times doesn’t make you an expert.

People who take their kids fishing are doing the right thing.

My favorite kind of beer is “free”.

Catch and release fly-fishing hooking mortality is probably under 1%. Frying pan mortality is over 99%.

I always lose count of my fish after #1. I remember if I get skunked, but anything more than that is a great day.

The guy that catches the most fish or the biggest fish, doesn’t necessarily have the biggest weenie.

If your hands or feet are cold, put on a warm hat.

Fishing isn’t a contest. If I want to win something, there are plenty of opportunities for me to do that every day. I go fishing because I don’t have to “win” to have a good time.

Fishing does not involve sitting on a bucket drinking a 6 pack of beer. It involves wading a river and drinking the beer afterwards.

People that are not satisfied unless they catch 5 to 10 steelhead per day every day are insulting the fish. Catching lots of trout, bass, or sunfish is expected. Catching lots of steelhead shouldn’t be a goal. There are already too few fish to go around.

I don’t fish because I want to. I fish because I NEED to. Even with the price of equipment today, its cheaper than therapy and much more fun.

And finally... Give a man a fish and he’ll have a fish to eat. Teach a man to flyfish and he’ll spend thousands of dollars on gear.
 

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alot of opinions...

I agree....for the most part, still some things are never going to change. Opionated, well that is why I live in America(Canadian laads, don't take this with offense)!!

Hail to free speech....Rob, I commend you.
 

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Preaching to the choir...

Thanks for your post, Rob! Although I still fish a variety of rods and presentations, your certainty is invigorating. As for stirring the pot, we'll see. You could post this on some of the more general midwest flyfishing/steelhead sites if you want some fun trolling.

Carl
 

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Wow that was well said Rob but you frogot one thing that is very important a fisherman should move through a run and not let the fish come to him . The person that teaches great lakes steelheaders to do that should win the nobel peace prize .
Also dude you pimped me on my river ! just you wait till next time.
 

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fly on little wing
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hey Rob

more thoughts is pure poetry for the soul.

you are correct with the single points less than 1/2" from august to may. i just remember not to buy any hooks larger than 2.

smallies are tons of fun in the off-season. there is a run i fish and every fish that feels the sting of the hook goes airborne in this run.

a couple of things to add to your list would be bad coffee from the gas stations and frozen guides keeping the line from moving.

need to sleep now, i'll be on the water at first light (with bad coffee in the bladder)

voodoofly
 

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Voodoofly,

Thats what I am doing on the MI hook size restrictions, buying nothing larger than a # 2. This law resulted in the destruction of my greased line heavy iron sunk fly strategy (3/0 & 4/0) I was in the process of piloting last year !

Oh well.

I will look at the Rob's list when I have more time to study it. Glad to see he also has issues landing fish on the spey.

LOL

Shoot me on PM on current conditions, I will also be getting a report today from another source that was just up there. need to make some decisions soon, Michigan, Wisconsin, Canada, etc....

PM Out
 

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Discussion Starter #15
landing ratio

Actually my hook to land ratio is horrible this season. I'm under 25 percent. (Estimated, I don't actually count.) I figured a person could hook more than 25% by accident, but I was wrong. I don't know if they are short striking or what. I've been trying different hooks and different hooksets. Waiting -- not waiting, etc. Nothing seems to work. I don't even hook them so I don't think the high, low rod stuff is the problem. When I do strike, I strike sideways downstream to try to get the hinge. Nothing is working. Oh well. At least I've had a pretty good number of pulls this year.

You're right about the selfish part. Keep off "my" rivers. ;-)

When are you and Doug coming fishing up here?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
invite

You're always welcome. My place is pretty small though. You might want to "motel-it", but you're welcome to stay with me.

Email me if interested so we don't clog the board.
 

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heard all that, dude, but i have a huge problem with "Bananas should be allowed in the boat. I get leg cramps. What a stupid superstition."

bananas should never be allowed. Ever. Period. orange juice, man. that's where you get the potassium. and chew. key.

and as far as not being allowed in boats, you forgot Billy Brokenrod, 'cause he's guaranteed to fall asleep in the front seat between runs WHILE wearing tan Wrangler cords for longjohns, which make that wicky-wicky rap music turntable scratching sound when he steps through a run and you know he's doing that to send underwater voodoo out to spook all your fish.

as a side note, those cords reek. of soul.

liked the post. keep it coming.

-koertge
 

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Boy Rob after reading all of that I'm damn glad I fish with you. Great bunch of observations. If you put all that on TSS we'd have our hands full moderating.

Bananas in the boat are a good thing. It beats searching for them at the Ponderosa!!

See you on the water. I'll be the one wearing the new speywaders. I'll also be floating in my new speyboat. :smokin:


Barry
 

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Awsome Post Rob
you are welcome on any of my home rivers anyday!! If you are ever in the northwest give me a shout I owe you a trip for this thread..
I love hearing people other than myself standing up for traditional technique and ethics in fly angling. In recent years we have been inundated and indoctrinated into accepting the least common denominator as acceptable angling practices because we are afraid to say that someone isn't a good fisherman.
When a person has the mindsetthat it is ok to do anything to catch a fish at that point they have thrown away both ethic and tradition. Such people are destructive to our sport in my opinion.
Not everything is OK some things anglers do are wrong and it's good to hear other people say that..
 

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Post to "Admin." Do Not Allow This Thread to

float off into 'cyber-space.'

We have a true classic on our hands.
fae
 
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