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Discussion Starter #1
This is a continuation of the fish fighting conversation started under the 9141 Rod thread.

First off, rod talk. Until recently, for the most part, the design of DH rods has been heavily influenced by European requirements. Easy to understand since the largest market for these rods has in fact, been Europe. The main point of this in regards to the subject of fish fighting is that Atlantic salmon are larger than steelhead. A "trophy" sized steelhead of 20 pounds is no bigger than some "normal sized" Atlantic salmon in certain rivers. Some Atlantic salmon rivers offer the very real prospect of hooking salmon approaching or surpassing the 40 pound mark. It is only reasonable to expect that most DH rods are designed to have the capability for fighting fish 20 pounds or larger.

Secondly, the relationship of rod size by line designation between single handed rods and DH's is way off base. A #7 DH is at least one to two rod sizes OVER a singlehander designated as a 7, in most cases. A 590 grain Skagit line casts well on several makes of #7 DH rods, but it takes an 8/9 singlehander to accomplish the same Skagit casts with this particular line.

So, most steelheaders in the PNW would select a #9 singlehander for winter steelheading and a #7 singlehander for summer steelheading as being good "all around" rods for these situations. Most everyone would consider using a #11 singlehanded rod for fishing let's say the Grande Ronde or the Skykomish for summer fish as being total overkill. Yet, many of the same folks have no qualms about using a 15' 10 weight DH in either of those two circumstances. Remember the facts stated above - a #10 Dh is at LEAST comparable in power to a #11 single.

...and people wonder why they lose so many steelhead on a DH rod and have to fight a fish "off of the tip".
 

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loco alto!
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RA, you make excellent points, but is it true that most anglers lose more fish with a double vs. single handed rod? I don't.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
So, whattup with that?

#1. Big rods have the tendency to "suck" people into the fantasy of casting mega-huge distances. If that's your bag - casting "way out there" is the primary reason you fish, and catching fish is secondary - then that's cool for you, keep on a castin'.

#2. Big rods are easier - in the beginning - to actually go out and fish with because you can in fact just "bash" a cast out with such rods without having had to acquire very much skill. If you don't have the time available to practice, or the patience to spend the time to learn, or the discipline it takes to realize that at first you are not going to be able to cast very far, then get the biggest rod you can and bash away!

BUT, if you consider casting to be a means for catching fish, and you actually want to LEARN how to REALLY cast, and be able to use a rod that provides the most sport with the fish you are after, then be wary the big rod craze. When deciding on which DH rod to get, first consider what the MOST COMMON fishing distance is going to be. Then, factor in the MOST COMMON size and types of flies to be used. Finally, consider what the MOST COMMON size of fish is going to be. Determining these criterion should then allow you to be able to select a rod weight, length, and action that will be very well aligned with your fishing situation AND allow for having the most enjoyment while fighting fish.
 

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I believe so

SS et al,

IMHO -People don't/won't loose more steelhead on a doublehander ~if~ it's suited to the task.

Think of it this way - lets assume you're using 8lb Maxima and a #6 low water fly with a 15' 10wt speyrod for summer steelhead. A nice hot fish takes and streaks off downriver, then sulks maybe 30 yards below you out in the tailout.

What kind of pressure can you put on that fish?? If you're using a 15' 10wt you can only barely load the tip without over-stressing the leader and/or lightwire hook.

Additionally, that lack of a deep "set" in the rod puts all the responsibility for fast reactions on the angler and reel. The slightest jump/headshake or movement toward the angler will result in a slack line = high probability of a lost fish if using barbless hooks.

Using rods suited to the size fish you can reasonably expect to hook along with the strength of your tippet and hook will allow you to put solid pressure on these fish. A deeply set rod gives better insurance against unpredictable steelhead behavior and allows the angler to more easily keep a tight line on his fish during the fight (less broken tippets, shaken hooks, etc).

Sorry if I sound like I'm preaching :razz: - this is coming from a reformed Over-Gunner.

FWIW,

Brian
 

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loco alto!
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I agree that a big stiff pole can lead to more lost fish.

but I guess my perspective is different. Down here in Oregon, the 15' 10 wts are a very rare sight. Most folks I see are using 12'-13' 6/7/8 rods, even in winter. My 15' #9 is unusual in that respect, and it only gets the nod in special circumstances. Yet, my landing percentage is 100% with that rod, go figure.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Example

I want to fish the Grande Ronde effectively (under general conditions, barring extremely high and dirty, or winds over 25mph), and still enjoy "good sport" with its race of steelhead. This river is on the smaller side of medium as far as western rivers go. In most places a 70' cast (combined with wading) will put one beyond the centerline of the river. The fish are on the small side of the steelhead spectrum, averaging around 5 to 6 pounds (the 8 pounds touted by some individuals is pure *&#%$!). The flies are also on the smaller side, generally size 1 to 6, with weight coming in handy during the latter part of the season, as well as light sinktips.

Starting with rod length. 12 1/2' to 13 1/2' is plenty for covering out to around 70' and yet still allows for working in fairly tight to willow lined "highbanks".
Rod weight. Since everything about this fishing scenario is scaled towards the small end of steelheading, let's start at the small end of DH rods. A #5 would work - for the expert caster. What's more realistic are the #6's and #7's. Both weights will handle light sinktips and/or small weighted flies nicely, and can power through light to moderate breezes. Both line weights are also very well tuned into the fighting of fish in that 5 to 6 pound range, and have enough butt to handle 8, 9, and 10 pounders.

These parameters are as set for someone that is willing to truly learn to cast (with qualified instruction and consistent practice, attainable in 1 to 2 years). The rod range mentioned will easily handle the majority of casting situations on the Ronde, and yet they are not so overpowering as to make the catching of 5 and 6 pound steelhead seem like derricking panfish out of a pond with a canepole.

Now, let's get into how to fight a steelhead with a rod that actually bends...
 

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Take any 10 weight double hander, thread it up and attache a bag of sugar to the leader, sugar comes in 2lb bags in the UK, now attempt to lift that bag of sugar of the floor. Difficult.

Next in the UK if you are using a 10 weight rod the usual leader strength is 10lb Maxima, 8 weight 8lb 7 weight 7lb, simple rule of thumb. Obviously if you are fishing big heavy tubes a leader of 15 or 18lb maxima is not going to put the fish off, and a brass tube stopping and starting in a cast can create quite a force.

Lastly where is this river with the 40lbers certainly not in Scotland.
 

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One particular advantage I see with the long rod in fighting fish is a higher line angle- having had a few single handed 9/10 wt lines coming back looking like they been run over a belt sander, as a big channel cat barrels through the rocks , I can honestly say thats been a minumal occurance with the longer 14ft plus rod. The other is the angle change is greater when trying to force a direction change and IMHO more effective at turning fish . Not sure if works on sulking steelhead, but "thrumming" works on the cats:) when they sit down and just will not move. Or maybe it just keeps me occupied till they decide to move:)

Will
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Fish anatomy...

The first step to fighting fish effectively with a long rod is in understanding a bit about a fish's physiology. Fish are built for lateral muscle movement. Example - point your left index finger at the wall, like your hand is a gun, the index finger is the barrel of the gun. Curl your index finger back in halfway towards your palm and straighten it out again. If your index finger is a fish, it bends like this (sort of) to swim, only both ways (sides). Now, take your right index finger, press it against the tip of your straightened out left index finger and try to lift the left index finger up. If your left index finger is the fish, the backbone, much like your finger, has minimal flex in an up-down aspect. This means that if you are pulling in an upward direction when fighting a fish that you are in fact doing very little to "tire" the fish because you are "fighting" the rigidity of its skeletal structure instead of "fatigueing" its muscles. The quickest way to tire a fish is to apply lateral (sideways pressure) to work on its MUSCLES. This is ONE reason why a sideways attitude on a rod when fighting a fish is more EFFECTIVE.

Jarring or shocking of the fly is a most significant factor for causing hooks to dislodge from a hooked fish. This action causes slack to be introduced into the line, and BINGO! fish off! Next time you snag your fly onto a branch out of the water, "bounce" the rod, while holding it vertical, rapidly and vigorously, not up and down, but rather towards and away from the snag and watch how often the fly "pops" free. This is similar to what happens when a fish "headshakes" or "rolls around" on the end of your line. The way to combat this is by keeping the rod at a sideways attitude so that the majority of line is UNDER the surface of the water. The water tension on the line acts as a "shock absorber", and in combination with the "spring" of the rod, cushions the line from too much direct jarring, and prevents total slack from being introduced into the line. This is another reason why a sideways rod attitude when fighting a fish is more EFFECTIVE.

This does not mean that you should ALWAYS have the rod sideways... clearing obstructions you have to go vertical.

Rods that bend deeper into the blank when fighting fish (regardless of "action", if sized for the fish, any rod action can be bent into the butt) allow one to apply MORE pressure onto a fish WITHOUT the fear of breaking off or tearing out, which for most anglers will result in fish being landed quicker, provided one does indeed know the limits of their tackle.

Doublespey,
Keep on preachin' brutha', cause its good common sense!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
More...

I am posting this stuff because in my opinion catching/fighting steelhead on a flyrod SHOULD be one of the most exciting and chaotic moments to be had in freshwater flyfishing. Unfortunately, so many modern developments have diluted the steelhead fight down considerably. Large arbor reels - fish runs at you, it ain't no big deal. But, with the "Old reels" you're a soilin' your pants! Mainly, the modern "quest" for "faster", "bigger", "more powerful" has outfitted the current armada of steelhead flyfishers with DH rods that can cast across the biggest rivers, and that could also literally "pro Bass flip" any 10 pound steelhead right out onto the bank. Go ahead, take your favorite "old" single handed steelhead rod and compare it to the modern monster sized stick that you're using now. Wonder why the fish seemed to have lost some "pizzazz" in the last few years?
 

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Maybe i'm not understanding you correctly RA:) but I would have to disagree that sideways pressure is more effective at tiring a fish- the most effective pressure is one that is directly opposite the direction of travel of the fish- causing it to expend more muscle energy to travel in that direction- thus getting tired. When it changes direction we change angle to stay directly opposite the new direction of travel . Sideways pressure is most effective at turning fish not tiring them. IMHO.

Will
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Sideways...

...is in reference to the attitude of the rod. In other words, if at all possible, use the rod in a position that puts it closer to the surface of the water rather than way up in the air.

As to "switching up" the angles of attack during the fight. Probably works well on fish with fleshy mouths, but is bad news on steelhead... tends to work the hook loose. It is better with steelhead to try and maintain the same angle of attack, and IF you HAVE to switch, do so in a methodical and determined manner, in other words don't be quickly ripping the rod around from one side to another unless your goal is to induce a long line release.
 

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Got ya RA:)

Interesting Stu Apte and Lefty K suggest the same thing from their pioneering experience with big Tarpon on the fly- I stand educated:))) Maybe I can finally land one of those 6 ft Sturgeon we occasionally tie into here versus standing gulping air and thankfull I dont have to explain to my wife why I need a WHOLE new fly line+ backing:)) yet again:))
http://www.midcurrent.com/articles/techniques/cutchin_fightingfish.aspx
Interesting thread since i,ve only recently gone from chasing 12" brookies in 15 ft wide creeks to 30lb channel cats in 15,000 cfs flows :)))))

Will
 

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RA, must not be many fish in the river if we are resorting to talking about fighting fish? I agree with your philosophy and I myself yell and scream when I or a friend hook a steelhead, but in reality it doesn't always work. For example, the average fish on the Thompson is probably 10-12 pounds?, but you won't find many sticks below 15' with lots of 16 & 17 footers for 9, 10,or 11 line. Also, a lot of people can only afford one rod and a 14' 9wt seems to be what the shops are pushing as a good all-rounder; which brings me to a question ( you may have answered it above) how should you fight a fish with a rod that is way overpowered?

P.S. I heard a rumor you will be staring in a made for TV show on skagit casting.
 

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Rogue

Personally I find the whole discussion of fighting big fish tactics interesting- we use 20 lb 2 ft tippet tied to the fly line with the knots Glued:) then 17 lb leader with glued knots and still get broken off - so its pertinent/usefull :))) and educating to hear from those with experience.

Will
 

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roguespeycaster said:
P.S. I heard a rumor you will be staring in a made for TV show on skagit casting.
A certain sports channel was filming RA for a couple days is what I heard.
 

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Prairiespey, I think it is interesting also, and I want to know how you fight a 10lb steelhead with 160feet of line out on a 17ft 10wt on a river like the Thompson. The line drag alone can break the leader in a moderate run. I also want to know if the TV show RA is to purported to have filmed on skagit casting is a daytime drama like days of our lives?
 

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Peter,
You really don't have a lever on the fish. Rather the fish has leverage on you through the rod. You must apply a torque with either your wrist (single-handedly) or by using one hand to pull on the top of the grip while the butt acts as a fulcrum in your gut or you match the force applied at the top with your other hand pushing at the bottom of the grip (two hands) to apply a torque. The torque you apply to the handle (ft*lbs) divided by the perpendicular distance (ft) to the line (not the rod length) will equal the tension load (lbs) on the line (ft*lbs)/ft = lbs. This last little bit about the perpendicular distance is what Dr Swing described in his reply to your post that started all this nonsense.

Now, last time I checked, single-handed rod had grips for one hand and double-handed rods had grips for both of 'em. The significance here is that we can apply a lot more torque using two hands than one. While you might be able to generate a higher tensile load with the shorter rod pulling on a scale, your wrist will tire rather quickly and be unable to maintain a higher load like you can using two hands. Just look at big saltwater single-handed rods, they have a fore grip in place for fighting fish with two hands for this very reason. Additionally, a two-handed rod might have a handle length of 20” to 2 feet. This aids us in applying a greater torque by pulling from way out there at the top of the grip. It’s called a force couple if you want to look it up.

Simply put, two hands are stronger than one regardless of rod length. This is the difference between the real world on the river and you pulling on your scale in your wife’s hands.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
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Peter,
Sorry, I don't deal with "laboratory" type testing. I use what has been proven through countless hours of on-stream experience. Regardless of what the "scale pull" shows, I know that I would MUCH rather fight a 40 pound King with a 14' 10 weight rather than a 9' 10 weight when fishing from the beach. I would venture to say that it has much to do with what Pescaphile said about two hands versus one, because in my experience, the use of two hands on the rod rather than one pretty much invalidates most of the common comparisons that people try to make between the two. On the other hand, if I were fishing Kings from a boat where the boat could always be maneuvered to stay on top of the fish, then I would definitely opt for the singlehander.
My comparison of DH's being considerably "stronger" than their similarly rated singlehanded siblings was based primarily on the amount of weight that it takes to CAST the rod. However, the fact is that if you take all DH's in the 7 weight class and compare them in "flex" with singlehanded 7 weights, you will find that the majority of the DH's would be considerably stouter and stronger than the singlehanded rods. I didn't need to do any "lab tests" to determine this - just had to pick up a few rods and play around with them to know this.

Pescaphile,
Love your "real world on the river" comment.

roguespeycaster,
If your rod is too powerful for the fish, but you have a stout leader, then just yank 'em in. If your leader is light, then "finesse" would be the operative word.
A 14' 9 weight is a reasonable "all around" rod, if you plan on fishing every situation imaginable with ONE rod. However, the reality is that most anglers do the majority of their steelheading in circumstances where steelhead over 12 pounds are a rarity and casts over 75' are not necessary. Slightly smaller/lighter rods would make more sense to use in such circumstances. Once again, there is way too much "hype" that steers people towards obtaining rods that are overmatched to the conditions of their "average" steelheading, all supported by the myths of fish that lie 120' out in the river, and that weigh 20 pounds or more. In reality, in the vast majority of cases, this is a full-blown crock of *%#[email protected] This goes right in line with soccor mom's driving V-8 powered SUV's. Someone sold them a line and they bit, hook, line, and sinker!
By the way, I often fish the Thompson with 13'4" to 13' 9" 8 weights. 'Tis just a matter of selecting the right water for the gear being used.
 
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