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Dan's Great Lake's Ladder Rig

3790 Views 19 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  dansteelieman
I wanted to stress this a little more, and see if you guys think this is worth a try. I use it often in my home waters of the Great Lakes. Check it out....

The ladder spey system I created is unique. I have never seen anyone doing it, and I made it up last winter. I put some ideas together and firgued out how I could get down, yet not snag up or drag bottom and get my patterns to drift naturally. I finally fooled around and found a way to do this while using traditonal sink tip methods.

With this ladder rig, you will want athin diamter running line since it cuts through the water the cleanest. Make sure to get a floating running line, an intermediate line tends to sag and can create a bow. You can also use a floating flyline with a mono or factory loop, which I prefer to use when I need alot of punch.

Now, you must add the ladder system. I prefer buying the 3ft. and 6ft. sink tips in different sinking rates. You can do it with shooting heads cut into sections, but with pre-made heads, you can buy them as you need them and you will know the sink rate in IPS. I will buy mini heads in 6ft. sections with one of each of the following:

1) A sink rate of 1.5 IPS(often an intermediate line)
2) A sink rate of 2-3 IPS,
3) A sink rate of 3-5 IPS.

The first tip is looped to your flyline(1.5 IPS). You then get a 1'-2' section of 20lb mono or braid and make two loops on each end. Each is looped to another tip. From that loop you have the second head(2-3 IPS) with a section of mono follwoing in the same length. You then will loop your last head on (3-5 IPS). Lastly, tie on your leader, usually 4-6ft from there patterns. I usually run two nymphs or an egg and a nymph combination. Remember to expirement. Oh yeah, to prevent hinging, try to use loops that are smaller or treat them with epoxy or laquer to keep them smooth. You can also tie the mono directly to the heads if desired, but it makes changing them difficult.

For example, if you use this on a 7/8 wt rod, this is how you should set it up. Use a 7wt. head with a sink rate of 1.5 IPS or class II sink tip. Then a 7wt head with a sink rate of 2-3 IPS or a class III or IV sinkl tip. Lastly use an larger, more powerful 8wt head with a 3-5 IPS or a class V or VI sink tip. You can also cut this down as well.....the reason is your shortest head(3' with an 3-5 IPS) will be like the bullet taper that gets you down quickest. Then your leader is dropped from here. Also, questions about hinging might come up or heads sinking at different rates. Well, if done correctly, each part will sink faster than the one before it, pulling it down yet, causing it to straighten out and get a direct connection. By tying each head directly to the mono/braid interval within the system, you insure you are getting most out of the rig.

Well hope this helps. Maybe one day this will become popular in the Great Lakes region. Let me know how it works. I will be out on my local rivers(Clinton, Huron, Piegon, and Mill Creek) using it once again. I wonder if anyone will see what I am doing and try to take my idea??? I hope not! :rolleyes:
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Try it out....it is a great way to get down deep. I love how it slithers along the bottom and is an alteration to chuck and duck!

Carl, I agree on what you are saying. This does resemble a denisty compensated line, but since you might use a variety of heads, you can change them as conditions dictate. Also, I have used this for almost 2 years and have done pretty good on it. Between the connections I find 20lb maxima to work, but braided lines(i.e Berkely Whiplash or Spiderwire) work best since they are less likely to hinge. I have connected all the tips together without mono or braids before as well, and this works at times, but the intervals of mono or braid connected without loops trasmit better in my opinion, and there is less hinging. Also, with the turnover idea and the up sizing of line, I found it to work better. I go up to get down quick with larger heads with higher sink rates purpously. It acts like a wind taper that has a short, powerful, easy loading head. The idea I should of stressed is to have a strong butt section that can drop down and acts like an extension of your mainline. I use braided leaders, then drop to a customized leader of about 4ft.

Well, it may not be popular yet and may bring about opinions, but you should try it in the water!
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The newer underhand cast works especially good here since you can keep the rig in the water longer. Also, you may consider trying single and double speys, but the rig must be casted with a wider loop to allow heads to roll over and then maintain a drift.

:D :D Well, I am still using different heads and now am trying to use 4 shorter heads to lay out as conditions dictate!
it works....

What I do is cast upstream on a 45 deg angle, then give one large mend to control line while keeping my rod vertical and stack mending through the run.

Great Lakes steelheading is a whole different game. We have altered techniques from the west and use them to pursue salmonoids year round. Swigning, I do that too but not that often. To even skate dry flies with a greased line conditions in the Great Lakes must be perfect. What we do here is buisiness!

I had a few pre spliced though, close to what you are doing so that this doesn't happen and hinging is less. With the mono, it doesn't always work, so I go to a braided line or dacron in order to do so.:D

I can get down anywhere from 8-10" per second when fishing 3 tips in the ladder. That is usually too much, so I use three tips with a lesser sinking density. I haven't used it on the Mo yet, nor the Manistee. I am going to try it this year on the Mo in the winter, I want to meet up with a good guide freind who owns a lodge on the river. He uses spey rod techniques all the time.

Ok, first of all the reason I developed this is b/c I wanted to stray away from chuck and duck in the first place. Secondly, the line is the weight being casted, and if you are referring to this as not really flyfishing, then I don't know what you "interpret" as flyfishing?? I mean, are you saying density compensated heads, mini tips, and shooting heads being used on a spey rod isn't spey fishing? Well, practically my rig uses 3 mini tips that are looped together so each sinks faster than the one before it, with a braided leader to turnover the flies. It is truly like creating your own flyline by splicing, but not having to do that since you can add or remove heads to peform a better presentation. No lead(i.e splitshot, slinkies, pencil lead) is being used at all. This is fundamental spey fishing, just like they do on the Ponoi River or in Norweigen countries where they have to get down deep quickly and can't backcast because of the slopes and fijords.

I don't know what you consider spey fishing, but if it is just a greased line and atlantic salmon flies, then I am not even close to being a purist. Hey, I use my spey rod in the surf(euro), what is wrong with that?:rolleyes:

No hard feelings, your probably don't get what I am actually describing here!

Also, with the follow up from myjp: This would work on the MO, but I would use either 1 type III and 2 type II tips, or three type II tips since you don't have to get down as quickly. While fishing smaller rivers, you must get down quickly since the runs are short and deep. If I was fishing the Pere Marquette I would use a type IV tip, and two type II tips. Plus I would cut them to about 3' and use a shorter leader. Braided leaders help turnover your patterns and actually are like an extension of your line.

Hope this helps! :rolleyes:
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I agree.....

I know what you mean, you should see my spey fly box...loaded with many west coast patterns that incorporate alot of motion while underneath the surface. Nymphs and eggs work so well b/c the runs of steelhead will often follow after salmon have been in the rivers spawning, and they take drifting eggs just like native rainbows do behind sockeye in Alaska. Nymphs are in abundance in our rivers since good habitat is supported, and the rivers are becoming clearer and colder as a result of the zebra mussels that are making the rivers seem like spring creeks. Many collecter and gathering nymphs(i.e baetis, rhycophillia, allocanpia, scuds, etc.) are taking over, and smaller nymphs fished near the bottom on lighter tippets/tackle are a good way to go. Upon entering the river in the fall, steelhead will forage on these macroinvertebrates throughout the winter and well into spring. Even fresh spring fish ascending won't usually pass up a meal while in the river.

I have thrown petite speys in olives, browns, and tans to imitate the natural food sources. ;)
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Never tried with sculpins, but it would be nice to try this year. I have added to the rig and now have 3 different rigs, each unique and for different purposes. In the surf it gets down deep quick when you are using the dredger ladder I use. I can't wait to try it in the rivers for salmon....

Won't be long!:D

PS: Try using this ladder + tips on the faster action rods you may have. Moderate action rods are more suited for the tips that can turnover easier or can be single or double spey casted, since they might be harder to pickup.
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