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I'm struggling with this one guys, can anyone give me a hand?
In heavy current I can see the value in a sinking line/head and a weighted fly. But I find that in water conditions that most of us prefer - 3-6 ft deep with a walking speed current - I still go round and round as to which I should use - a floating line with a weighted fly with or a sinking line with an unweighted fly? Especially with marabou flies. Both seem to have their advantages and disadvantages.
I'm curious as to what other readers use - and why? Is it simply your preference, or is it based on what line/head system you are using at the moment, or something else that I'm missing?
 

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Junkyard Spey
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3-6 ft deep with a walking speed current
For all of my fishing I will be using a floating line and an unweighted fly.
 

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Yeararound, I'm aiming for a presentation near the stream bottom about 98% of the time. (As much as I'd like to be fishing dries and damp flies to surface-oriented steelhead, conditions for that are rare in these parts.) So I fish with sink-tips most of the time.
That said, I haven't found it necessary to use extraordinary means to dredge. All this talk about T-14 and Big Boy heads puzzles me. Most of my sinktips are under 130 grains, and I could get along with a Type III most of the time. (For the rare times when I'm fishing a deep slot in faster water, I use leadcore tips.) I carry my weighted flies in a separate box, but they don't get nearly as much use as my flies on regular hooks. And I tend to cast straight across stream, giving the fly a lot of time to sink. Also, I usually take my downstream steps immediately after casting, which gives the fly a little more descent time.
 

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JD
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sink tip vs. floating

Along a similar line of thought, this is one that I ask myself often. Use a sink tip + unweighted fly, or a dry line, long leader and perhaps a slightly weighted fly? Or even a skater/waker/damp fly? Unless the water is cold and/or muddy, I have trouble buying the "fish won't come to the fly" argument.

Ruling out the heavily weighted flies and the overdressed flies that don't seem to be able to penetrate the depths with less that a ton of bricks to weight them down. Although I will go to these extremes on occasion, I would rather fish the other methods if I had my druthers.

Finding that a sparsely dressed fly, even on a relatively small hook, will sink quite rapidly on a slack line/leader, causes me to wonder if maybe it's all in line management. The other factor, of course, being the water. One must find the proper water for this. If the water does not seem to be conducive to fishing a dry line, then other methods may be called for. Emphasis on may be.

So the question then becomes, do you change set ups as you progress down through a run? Do you fish all the way through using a dry line, and then go back through using a tip? Or do you only fish the pieces of the run suitable to the way you are currently set up? Or the water that allows you to fish your preferred method?

My current line of thought says all, or any, of the above. Maybe depending on how much water you have to choose from. Or how bad you need to catch a fish.:saeek:
 

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Some data from test program:
At 3 miles/hour [4.5 feet/second]
-Weighted vs. neutrally buoyant fly--Adding lead eyes to a neutrally buoyant tube fly causes the fly to fish 5-inches deeper, at the hangdown.
-T-14 or LC-13--fish identical depths. For each 6-feet of either, a fly will fish 1-foot deep, at the hangdown. If you want to fish 3-feet deep, it requires 18-feet of T-14.
-If you fish the lead eye fly plus 18-feet of tip, you will fish about 3.5 feet deep.
For river velocity half the above, double the depth attained.
 

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loco alto!
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feathers, those kinds of conditions I am likely to use a floating line and unweighted fly as Mike indicated. Spey for me is largely about casting enjoyment during the act of fishing. But I really don't like casting weighted flies on a floating line (read: long leader), so I'd favor tips if I had to choose one or the other.

However, when fishing within 60' or so on the water you describe, I enjoy casting and mending a floating line and sparse large unweighted fly to strive for a "barely in touch" deep swinging drift.

The nice thing about an unweighted sparse fly that sinks + floating line, achieving depth by technique, is that you can modify the technique at the head of the riffle, or if a boulder is encountered, to avoid hanging up.
 

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Steelfeathers - in the water you reference, floating line and sparsely dressed fly. I have to agree with others that I don't like casting a weighted fly, with a floating line or with tips, which I don't hesitate to use in the winter or heavy water, although it is obviously much easier with tips and short leader. It seems an unweighted fly has more movement in the current and is thus often more life like, even on a heavy tip. The fall run fish on the rivers I usually fish will move for a fly if they are a "player." Perhaps these more active or aggressive fish are a little higher in the water than those hugging the bottom and which may be hard to induce a take from under any circumstances.
 

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Zail,
Intermediate 166 grain, 15-feet long: 9 inches deep
Type 6, 129 grain 15-feet long: 21 inches
Type 8, 166 grain, 15-feeet long: 26 inches
Type 8, 190 grain, 15-feet long: 30 inches

These depths are those achieved at hangdown with a tight line. One can fish deeper in the gut of a pool by feeding line, but when the line tightens, a neutrally buoyant fly will rise to the above levels.
 

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There is a real need for an accessory to calculate all of this

Bob Pauli said:
Some data from test program:
At 3 miles/hour [4.5 feet/second]
-Weighted vs. neutrally buoyant fly--Adding lead eyes to a neutrally buoyant tube fly causes the fly to fish 5-inches deeper, at the hangdown.
-T-14 or LC-13--fish identical depths. For each 6-feet of either, a fly will fish 1-foot deep, at the hangdown. If you want to fish 3-feet deep, it requires 18-feet of T-14.
-If you fish the lead eye fly plus 18-feet of tip, you will fish about 3.5 feet deep.
For river velocity half the above, double the depth attained.
One of these days, some fishing engineers will come up with something that looks like a small torpedo. We will cast it out, and it will tell us the actual speed and temp of the water and give us some plot points. Then we will whip out the handy dandy card you and your friend developed and use those points to figure out what we need to get down to where the fish are re tips and fly weight.
 

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JD
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I think they've already done that

Grampa Spey said:
One of these days, some fishing engineers will come up with something that looks like a small torpedo. We will cast it out, and it will tell us the actual speed and temp of the water and give us some plot points. Then we will whip out the handy dandy card you and your friend developed and use those points to figure out what we need to get down to where the fish are re tips and fly weight.
FIsh locators, down riggers, all that crap. And every now & then someone comes up with a battery powered lure that supposedly says "eat me, eat me" Pretty soon they'll put a chip in it so it will locate Mr Fish, swim over there and do something provacative to entice an agressive strike worthy of a sock it to him hard enough to cross his his eyes. 'Course you'll (or is that ya all?) have to be wearing your blaze orange jump suit with all your sponsors patches sewn on and give Mr Fish a great big ol smootch in order to qualify for double points. :saeek:

No thanks.
 

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Bob Pauli said:
Zail,
Intermediate 166 grain, 15-feet long: 9 inches deep
Type 6, 129 grain 15-feet long: 21 inches
Type 8, 166 grain, 15-feeet long: 26 inches
Type 8, 190 grain, 15-feet long: 30 inches

These depths are those achieved at hangdown with a tight line. One can fish deeper in the gut of a pool by feeding line, but when the line tightens, a neutrally buoyant fly will rise to the above levels.

Bob,


From what I have read on here you have done extensive testing with all sorts of tip combinations. Wondering if you would have a depth approximation under the same conditions using a 300grain BB on the end of a Skagit body. A buddy of mine is convinced a Type 8 tip will acheive the same depth as the 300grain head. Also, What does an Int. compensator do to the figures you listed above?
 

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Huh?

While I appreciate the amount of time and energy put into all these tests, I'm not sure how valid it all is in actual fishing conditions other than give one a general idea of sink rates. There are just so many variables such as water speed, edge of seam or past seam, type of running line on a head, whether or not one puts any tension on the fly during the drift, amount of tension and how often during the drift, style of fly, weighted on non-weighted and so on.

I have watched folks fish with a eight ft T-14 tip get much deeper than someone using 15ft of the same T-14, both using same type of head attached to the T-14 and same fly. Difference was in amount of tension applied during the drift and at what point during the drift.

I realize that what has been done here is about as scientific as one can get, and is quite valuable data, but let's not forget the skill of the angler in using his tools can also make large changes in such equations.

Rphelps:smokin:
 

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Jamey McLeod said:
Bob,


From what I have read on here you have done extensive testing with all sorts of tip combinations. Wondering if you would have a depth approximation under the same conditions using a 300grain BB on the end of a Skagit body. A buddy of mine is convinced a Type 8 tip will acheive the same depth as the 300grain head. Also, What does an Int. compensator do to the figures you listed above?

Jamey-
A 24' 300-grain BigBoy tip will fish an unwighted fly about 3.5 feet deep in 3 mile per hour water, with all four of Rio's Skagit heads. 21-feet of T-14 [type 8/9 weighing 294 grains] fishes the same depth as a BigBoy300. For half the water velocity, double the fishing depth.

The depth at which type-8 fishes a fly depends on the weight of the type-8 tip. For example a 15-foot 166-grain type 8 sink tip fishes about 2.2 feet deep in 3 mph water, while a 15-foot 190-grain type 8 tip fishes 2.5 feet deep. 21-feet of T-14 [type 8/9 weighing 294 grains] fishes the same depth as a BigBoy300.

If your buddy changes his terminology from generic type-8, which has vaiable mass per foot, to T-14, which is always about 14 grains per foot he is closer to correct.

Tom Keelin's Rule of 6 states that for each 6-feet of LC13 or T14 sink tip, a spey line will fish a fly one foot deep in 3 mph [4.5 km/hr] water. Halving water speed doubles the depth at which the fly fishes.
 

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all that changing of lines and data is nice,but someone can achieve a lot of diversity with one tip and changing the way he casts and fishes it!Also what fly,i.e.,.,Lead eyes,thin dressing or floaty dressing,etcI have not done any testing,unlike my engineer friend,but I feel with type 8 in 10,11,12,13 ft lenths and t14 in same kind of lenghts ,I have no need for the big boys.I fished 20 ft deep on the Kharlovka 1st falls pool,with t 14 of somewhere between 15 & 18 ft.See!I am proving I am not engineer type!I dont even measure em!All I knew was that it was as long as I was going to pack.If it reguires more I am not sure I care to fish it.I almost did not.I took pictures for a half hour as I decided if I would and how I would fish it.Anyway,most of the time I pick 10 to 13ft type 8 in summer and on Skagit type rivers for Steel and probably same but with t14 for Chinook[depending on the river].I always ,always use a 5 ft intermediate cheater!I do think a sinking cheater makes the tips egual to a teeny or big boy ,but is much easier to lift.Beau
 

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Options

If all my options are open and depending on water temp and the time of year. I will usually start with a floating line and an unweighted fly. Go through the run and if nothing happens change to a sink tip and still use an unweighted fly. I will continue to change tips and flies going from an intermediate to a type 3 to a type 8 and possibly even a custom tip of t-14 until I make it through the entire water column. Once I start to touch bottom I wont change tips and may start over with a floating line again. I usually do not use weighted flies under any circumstances. But this I believe is more related to the type of water I fish more than anything else.
 

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Mr. Phelps,
I agree with many of your points. Releasing tension on a line will allow a tip to sink deeper than a taught line, if the tension is released for a long enough period of time. In such a case, when tension is finally applied the fly will swim up to the predicted depth. A fish taking a fly swimming upward caused by a suddenly taught line is often referred to an an induced take, and is an effective technique.

The model does account for water speed, but not for its variation with depth. Pescaphile taught us that a river's velocity is at a maximum at a point below the surface, with the bottom [and side] structure and atmosphere exerting drag and slowing flow rate at those interfaces. This effect will be introduced into version 2 of the model.

Regarding skill, I could not agree more that it is THE vital element in success. Skill amplified with knowledge is even more powerful. Watching Beau fish the Dean River is a learning experience for me.

Beau,
Five feet of intermediate cheater adds about 6 inches to the depth a tip fishes.
 

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I do fish a variety of line/fly weight combo's, But a floating body with a Type 6 tip is pretty much my all around go to combo through out the year.

This year I plan to do more fishing with a floater and brass tubes.
 

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fly on little wing
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yo J-Dog

Those Hardy lines we were trying earlier with the tubes will get them this fall for sure. I look forward to hearing your Marquis scream

G
 

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"Finding that a sparsely dressed fly, even on a relatively small hook, will sink quite rapidly on a slack line/leader, causes me to wonder if maybe it's all in line management."

Exactly. Slack is the key and a heavy sparse fly on a slack tippet can sink faster than all but the heaviest beasts of tips.
I am very impressed with how easily the Vision Ace floating heads cast and turn over a heavy fly on a 12 - 15' leader and look forward to using it more when I might have used tips before. Even when tips are really what's called for, sometimes yoiu just want to enjoy the beauty and ease of casting a floating line.
The trick is to try to get the fly to land near the end of the line so it really has slack to sink, and this is facilitated by using straight tippet for the whole or most of the leader. Then once it's down in the zone, maintaining just enough contact to be in touch with it without dragging the fly up out of the zone. It is the way nymphs were fished before sinktips and indicators and well worth practicing.

-Vinnie in Juneau
 
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