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Here in unicalifornia, I fish the American river but have had almost ZERO luck getting fish to rise to a dry. We can get some risers to small caddis, but bombers, waking patterns, I dunno if its me or what but I cannot get a fish to give a look like other rivers. Anyone else around NorCal feel the same?
 

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Mr T,

I have been diligently trying to raise adult fish to the skated fly on the American for the last 5 seasons, and I’ve noted my lack of success on past posts. Unless there are caddis coming off, they just don’t seem to look up the way Klamath, Trinity and other fish do. I started because I had something blow up on a Spey pattern the moment it hit the surface in Dec 2014, and I have had exactly one (1) come up since. Fall and spring bluebacks respond well to dry lined soft hackles, as have some winter adult fish, and I’ve picked up down river adults on skated caddis during the aforementioned caddis hatches. But as far as skating up adult fish in likely looking water, it just hasn’t happened for me. I’m still trying, but losing enthusiasm with each attempt. I’m also a Browns fan, so it’s a feeling I’m familiar with.
 

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Since you had one blow up on a Spey fly, maybe just riffle hitch your wets. You may not see your fly as well, but still get the thrill of a surface grab.
 

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I usually start with a riffle hitched muddler, which was the one other surface grab I’ve scared up since 2014. I’ve had a couple of unseen pulls, and caught a number of half pounders up to 22”. But, as I mentioned before, the adults just aren’t into it. It’s baffling, but it is what it is. Still, I keep doing more or less the same thing, expecting a different result. What do they call that again?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Mr T,

I have been diligently trying to raise adult fish to the skated fly on the American for the last 5 seasons, and I’ve noted my lack of success on past posts. Unless there are caddis coming off, they just don’t seem to look up the way Klamath, Trinity and other fish do. I started because I had something blow up on a Spey pattern the moment it hit the surface in Dec 2014, and I have had exactly one (1) come up since. Fall and spring bluebacks respond well to dry lined soft hackles, as have some winter adult fish, and I’ve picked up down river adults on skated caddis during the aforementioned caddis hatches. But as far as skating up adult fish in likely looking water, it just hasn’t happened for me. I’m still trying, but losing enthusiasm with each attempt. I’m also a Browns fan, so it’s a feeling I’m familiar with.
So its not just me- all my past steel fishing is single hand so this will be my first year of TH.

The most aptly named sports team in the world.

I'm a Lions fan through marriage, so I can't talk.
Try being a raider fan:Eyecrazy:
 

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I usually start with a riffle hitched muddler, which was the one other surface grab I’ve scared up since 2014. I’ve had a couple of unseen pulls, and caught a number of half pounders up to 22”. But, as I mentioned before, the adults just aren’t into it. It’s baffling, but it is what it is. Still, I keep doing more or less the same thing, expecting a different result. What do they call that again?
I hear you. I have a river I fish with fish which will take skated dries. But I have recently started fishing a section of the river where people are having regular hook ups with tips and leaches. I have yet to raise a steelhead in this run and I am starting to wonder if they just will not come up in this run. The water is a little slower than some runs, but otherwise I do not see why they would not come up.
 

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Here in unicalifornia, I fish the American river but have had almost ZERO luck getting fish to rise to a dry. We can get some risers to small caddis, but bombers, waking patterns, I dunno if its me or what but I cannot get a fish to give a look like other rivers. Anyone else around NorCal feel the same?
My standard suggestion....don't give up, keep trying! They are steelhead doggonnit! Maybe keep experimenting with fishing various locations and see if you may find a locale that lends to better to the surface fly. On my local ditch, for one reason or another, some spots yield more rises than others. Keep the faith, when success happens, it will be sweet. Don't worry about not catching all the fish, you are on a learning curve, keep the surface fly a constant so you can discover conditional/location variables that bring success.

Good luck on your journey!

Todd
 

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My standard suggestion....don't give up, keep trying! They are steelhead doggonnit! Maybe keep experimenting with fishing various locations and see if you may find a locale that lends to better to the surface fly. On my local ditch, for one reason or another, some spots yield more rises than others. Keep the faith, when success happens, it will be sweet. Don't worry about not catching all the fish, you are on a learning curve, keep the surface fly a constant so you can discover conditional/location variables that bring success.

Good luck on your journey!

Todd
Good advice Todd. Of course we are talking about the same ditch. The spot I am struggling to dial in produces rainbows and cuts to the dry regularly. So it just has to give one up eventually. Also I did see one do a head tail rise there the other day. Which gives me a little more hope I do not have to To go underwater for them.
 

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I’ve got an update on my American River surface quest, Mr. T. I thought the warm weather might bring a few early caddis off, and that there might be some blue backs showing, so I gave it a shot yesterday. I was using my standard blueback setup - 11’ 4 wt switch, dry line, soft hackle in the film.

Halfway down the run, the line came tight, I tightened up - and the reel screamed. 5 seconds and a ton of line later, an 8-10# chrome bright fish went 3 feet in the air, snapped off cleanly, and went on his way. I was never really in the fight.

Most of the adult fish in the river are now dark uglies, so this one was a shock. Technically not on the surface, but within a couple of inches of it, and on a dry line, so it’s possible even here. And now, apparently, is the time. Hope is restored!
 

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I’ve got an update on my American River surface quest, Mr. T. I thought the warm weather might bring a few early caddis off, and that there might be some blue backs showing, so I gave it a shot yesterday. I was using my standard blueback setup - 11’ 4 wt switch, dry line, soft hackle in the film.

Halfway down the run, the line came tight, I tightened up - and the reel screamed. 5 seconds and a ton of line later, an 8-10# chrome bright fish went 3 feet in the air, snapped off cleanly, and went on his way. I was never really in the fight.

Most of the adult fish in the river are now dark uglies, so this one was a shock. Technically not on the surface, but within a couple of inches of it, and on a dry line, so it’s possible even here. And now, apparently, is the time. Hope is restored!
AWESOME!

I’m looking forward to the next 2-3 months and swinging surface flies for a Great Lakes fish. Even though we are on different coasts this gives me some confidence to pursue a dry fly fish and be ruined forever
 
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