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JD
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Maybe I should have called this thread Intruders vs. nymphs. Hopefully you get the drift (pun intended, definately :D ) At any rate the question is, why, when, how, & under what conditions do the big intruder type flies work?

And color, or lack of it. Bright days, overcast days, low water, clear water, high flows, muddy water. These are extreams, I know. But then so is the difference between a pink bunny leech and a size 14 phesant tail, or for that matter,,, one of A. H. E. Wood's "toy" flies.

I am being told small, earth tone, natural looking nymphs. Especially in clear water. That the fish will move away from a fly with any color at all in it.

I have also been told that the fish here, on the Rogue, 150 miles from the sea. have become quite "trouty" and feed on bugs. That they have been in the river so long that the instinctive memory of wacking something the size of a prawn, or squid has faded. But there are good sized crawfish (crawdads) in the river. And at times they are bright orange. Would they not get wacked if found near a redd? Or antwhere else? Even in clear water?

And what of the "downers" as they are refered to here? Those that are returning to the sea. They damn well better remember what a prawn is if they expect to survive at sea. 150 miles seems like a long way. But what of the Snake and the Clearwater fish? They are a lot further inland. And they all, both summer and winter fish, stay until spring time.

I'm still relatively new to all of this. (Steelhead) But i'm having a hard time buying this "they will only take nymphs" (dead drifted, on the bottom, under an indicator :roll: ) mentality. I need some help here, encouragment,,,,something.
 

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loco alto!
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Though I've only fished the Rogue a few times, be encouraged that my largest summer fish there (32") came on a 5" leech. Such monster flies routinely work on the North Umpqua, equally distant from the salt, but certainly aren't necessary. I use them (if at all) when fish seem "off the bite." Usually reserved for heavy water or in mid-day when fish eyes are sun tired. I like to cast across and swing it on a greased-line type of presentation, for maximum effect of showing the fish a large target broadside.
 

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Pullin' Thread
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JF,

First off, I never use nymphs for steelhead, or indicators either for that matter.

Second, I use Wood's sparse low-water type flies (where the tail doesn't go beyond the hook point and the body is never more than 1/2 shank in length) tied on Verkerka's low-water hook #4,6,8 (Alec Jackson Low Water Dee hook is the same hook with sizes being #5,7,9) during the summer/fall low water period, which fish either greased line or riffle hitched. Most of these are dark in color, although I do use the March Brown Atlantic Salmon fly (which is neutral tan in color) and the silver-bodied Silver Blue and Nighthawk. I also use sparsely dressed Irish Shrimp style flies tied on AJ spey hook in #5 & #7, and carry some tied on the Verkerka Low Water hook in #6 & #8. Additionally, I carry a few black, purple, and Cut Silk Shrimp Ally's Shrimp style flies in #8. A few Glasso Black Heron and Silver Heron speys tied on AJ spey hook #5, and a few of my Redwing Blackbird Spey tied on the same hook. And I would be greatly remiss if I forgot to mention I carry about 2 dozen of Bob Arnold's Spade tied on #9 AJ Steelhead Irons in black, peacock, black with a fl. green braided mylar butt, and in black with an orange butt (I use the black or peacock bodied ones most).

Third, in winter/spring, I got with the big flies. Glasso speys tied on AJ #1.5 and #3 hooks, the Redwing Blackbird Spey on AJ #3's, Gobin's Purple Spey, Johnson's Red Spey, Ally's Shrimp in black, purple, claret, original orange, hot pink & orange, bright blue & red, and Cut Silk Shrimp versions tied on #1/0 and #2/0 hooks. G.P.'s tied on AJ heavey spey hooks in #1.5 & #3 in orange, orange with hot pink (Sean's Prawn is what it is called), purple, and black. Dee's tied on AJ blind eye #1.5's round out my winter fly selection.

In other words, when the water is cold and high, or just plain high in summer/fall, I use larger flies, and when the water is low and warm, I use small flies.
 

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JD
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks guys

Wow! Two posts and two pms within just a few hours. I must'a touched a nerve. Hope so. And by all means, If anyone is in the area, please, look me up and lets swing some (real) flies together.
 

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Size Matters

I never fish any nymphs or any small flies for that matter when steelheading. Unless I am skating flies on the surface, these can be small by my terms. However the smallest fly I ever use is a 3" muddler minow. The largest is 6-7 inch intruder. This seems to work well for me. :Eyecrazy:
 

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when packing my single hander in the summer i carry a small box with some #4 and #2 teeny nymphs in both black and orange. all are VERY heavily weighted. these are for 1 small area on 1 river. i don't have room to swing a fly much less cast a flyrod in a normal manner, and it's all tiny pocket water where a type 20 sink tip wouldn't help you. with that exception i swing/drift/wake for steelhead with flies from #8-#1. imho you need to start using tubes/waddingtons for most flies that require a hook larger than #1 (speys, dee's, classics being the prime examples of requiring a larger hook at times), but that's a subject for another time. i've observed summer steelhead that bolted from a #6 green butt skunk, and not 50 ft. down the run another steelhead slammed a huge pink and orange marabou spider with LOTS of gold and red flash. i personally beleive that while you may find a skittish steelhead here and there, most will happily smash huge flies that are presented well provided the fish havent been harrased all day long. i've also caught summers 1/2 hour after about 20 swimmers got out of the water. if they are willing to hit a fly under those conditions, i doubt you would have to resort to tiny nymphs. they would probably work too, but i'd rather swing than watch a piece of yarn float down the river....

so there is my rambling $.02 for what it's worth.
 

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I generally base my technique on the type of water I am fishing in relation to the type of steelhead I am fishing for. Spring steelhead to me means big agressive wild fish, I use big flies with lots of movement to draw out the agressive fish. Also should note that these fish are in and out, they don't hang around long enough to take on those trouty characteristics although they have been known to take a skater or two it is far,far from common. With late summer and fall its pretty much a grease line approach for me, the rivers are low but still on the larger side and the fish are pretty active and more surface oriented. During this time I fish the surface and cover as much of the river as possible with my casts, still trying to draw out the most agressive fish in the run. If I had to fish narrow deep rivers with lots of ledge rock I would use techniques suitable for those conditions what ever they may be to put the fly in the bucket and throw traditonal tactics out the window. There are times when I want to fish steelhead under my terms and there are times when I just want to catch fish.
 

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You shouldn't limit yourself Mr. Fever

RV,
How you doin? We should fish. Anyway, I like fish big stuff too. That what gives me the most confidence, But small (6-10) flies really do work for Steelhead. Last season my hottest fish was on size 8, sure it was a skater and left a V-wake, so it was a small fly that fished big. However, I really do think that by fishing only large patterns we are missing fish that may be aggressive to smaller more subdued patterns. Swung of course, nymphs suck.
 

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That Guy in PEI.....
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over two days on the Margaree i hooked 7 and landed 5,, four of which were between 12lb and 15lb with one grilse on flies that were not supposed to work at that time of the year. I posted the hugely purple "spey" fly here last winter and landed four out of five on it when evryone was fishing blue charms etc. Use what works,, not what seasons dictate and what are supposed to work.
Salmon Chaser
><)))*>
 

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JD, you have to go with the feel. A couple of days ago I had success, one on a MOAL about 3 1/2 inches long the second came to a size 6 black bear.

BTW, don't nymph for steelhead
 

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fish what you have confidence.. it is really that simple..

for instance the Deschutes and Grande Ronde are typically known as small fly fisheries 4's and 6's are the common sizes.. I almost always pick a 1/0 sparcely or heavily dressed it doesn't matter. My most recent trip to the Ronde i hooked more fish on a 2/0 speyfly ( black king) all my other fish were on standard size and dressing 1/0.. low water dressings and smaller flies brought no strikes even in the very low very clear water and ofteb bright sunny skies.

I have said this before but i believe steelhead fishing is as simple as covering as many fish as you can and that everything else is BS. That said some fish may be prone to taking a certain size and or color of fly but seeing as how we never know what might appeal to a particular fish suggesting that one fly might be better than another just doesn't make sence.

I don't use any weighted flies ever for any reason, summer or winter.. As far as I am concerned any river where the fish are so inactive that you need a weighted fly isn't worth fishing...

I think there is one exception to my comments about fliy color and size, that is the winter. Often the rivers are discolored and for a fish to take a fly it must first see the fly.. Apart from that use what gives you confidence simply for the reason that you'll fish it better.


if you have to nymph for them to get bit in my opinion you are better off sitting on your couch eating potatoe chips getting fat...


to thoes who like big flies let me share a bit of insight i have learned this year while bass fishing some may find it applicable.. Now bass are known as warm water fish but there is a strange thing that happens in the early spring. the bass will start to move shallow even though the water is still very cold. When this happens they will ignore slow moving finesse type lures because they are lethargic in the cold water.. but a large fast moving lure making lots of noise can often make the fishing very good because the fish just react.. no thoughts just a reaction... suddenly this big loud thing is in their face and they smack it without thinking.. Maybe guys using large leeches and intruders are tapping into something similar? not a curious tug on a number 2 polar shrimp but a reaction on a 5-6 inch intruder that is suddenly in their face.??? just a though and just a theory like everyone elses..
 

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loco alto!
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Rob, knowing what appeals to a particular fish is not the issue. The question is what fly works (whether by appeal, or anger, or some other reaction) on the largest number of fish. Maybe its a small pink egg and/or a 4" leech, and maybe those flies don't fit your aesthetics. That's cool, eat potato chips, or chase bass. But if I had to fly fish for food, 365 days a year, that's what I'd use - naturally while covering the most fish possible.
 

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steve I agree.. but if i am going to fish to fish for food i'm not going to have a flie tied on :D
 
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