Spey Pages banner

1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
58 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, I'm new to the forum and to Spey fishing. I do not possess a rod yet, however I'm learning all that I can while I save up for one.

I've been fly fishing for about 3 years and after spending the summer in the maritimes, I've developed a love for the traditional wet fly swing. I wish to target Great Lakes steelhead this fall and winter with the swing, first with my single handed rod and later with a proper switch or Spey rod when I can afford it. One of the first issues I'm dealing with (and struggled with in the maritimes) is fly selection. When fly fishing for trout with dry flies, streamers or nymphs, I'm either matching a hatch, or in the absence of a well defined hatch, I'm throwing food items that are familiar to a trout or so bizarre that it appeals to their curiosity, but 90% of the time I'm replicating a naturally occurring food item. The flies I see being used for the swing (wet flies, Spey flies, salmon flies etc..) don't really appear to imitate a particular food item (with some exceptions) or perhaps I'm not seeing the resemblance. So without a food item to replicate, how do you go about choosing a fly for a particular river, at a particular time, in particular conditions for a particular species of fish?

Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
238 Posts
I'm of the mind that the specifics of the fly doesn't really matter much. If the fish can see it and you can get it near a player you've done your part. I mostly select my fly based on water temperature and clarity. With poor clarity or cold water I'll start using flies with larger profiles. With warmer water and good clarity I'll gravitate towards smaller flies. There are colors I like, or have more confidence in but that confidence isn't based on much other than anecdotal personal experience. Of course I catch the lions share of my fish on black/blue/purple flies because I fish those colors most of the time. It's all a bit of a self fulfilling pattern.
 

·
Degenerate caster
Joined
·
1,180 Posts
Sometimes big or small.
Flashy or drab.
Skating or sunk.
Depends on clarity, temp and type of fish and how long it's been in freshwater.
The fun part(and often frustrating) is figuring it out.
Most of all fish a fly YOU like because if you don't believe in it your in for tough times.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,732 Posts
Here is a nice video that might help at least in selecting fly color.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8p6V9EN1jo

Some rivers it seems folks like big flies while on others it is small flies - as an example on the Klamath I rarely use any fly bigger than a size 6 but other rivers such as the North Umpqua I rarely use anything smaller than a size 4 unless I am skating
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
18,162 Posts
Go with what looks fishy to you for the water you are about to fish .... you'll have confidence in it and you will fish it well.
In my opinion, that is far more important than size, colour or profile.
Soon after you will know your style and that will dictate how you tie a fly.
The swinging game is less about "matching the hatch" and more about targeting aggressive fish, so attraction is the key.

Visit the fly tying section here for some great reading about fly selection and tying ... some fantastic tyers here, all very willing to share and lend a hand :)


Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,099 Posts
Water visibility/clarity plays a big part for me and I agree with Mike that confidence is a big factor. There are a lot of anglers who would mention river bottom - whether it's is dark or light. Streams in WA run cold and clean and generally don't support algae/vegetation. Majority of river beds are free grave. There are exceptions but generally tend to remain clear and bright through the warm months. The stream beds here are much darker and now that it's been asked - Im wondering if this could/should also be considered when selecting a pattern.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
18,162 Posts
Excellent points Vic !!
Water levels, water temperature and water clarity all determine fly selection and confidence.

I like where this thread is going :)


Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,732 Posts
I am not sure that river bottom color would come into play unless the structure in some way impacts water clarity - such as algae blooms. after all, a fish is either near the bottom or mid level looking up so bottom color should have no impact on what they are seeing? Bottom color can affect water temperature which is another thing to be considered in fly selection
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
155 Posts
Fly Selection

Not to oversimplify things but I have a summer and winter box. I have a ton of flies in each box but really have confidence in 3 or so patterns in summer and winter and 90% of the time I use one of the three patterns. I have a darker and lighter version. Depending on the conditions I pick the light or dark. If for some reason I switch to another pattern, I usually end up going back to my main patterns because i have confidence in them. When fishing streamers for trout anywhere I fish the same pattern in light and dark 90% of the time. If that doesn't seem to work I will throw a black wooly bugger on and then most likely switch back a little later. It's funny because I am the guy who has boxes and boxes of flies and only use a couple. I love to tie though so its not my fault. Now trout fishing on the other hand.... lots and lots of possibilities.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,116 Posts
1/0 skunk.... nearly always a 1/0 skunk

if a man fished a 1/0 skunk every fishing day of his life he would catch just as many fish as if he changed his fly all the time to meet what his brain tells him the conditions warrant.
 

·
seaterspey
Joined
·
2,198 Posts
Welcome first.

Second, it takes skill years and years of it!:hihi: Total BS just joking.

My opinion is that it all boils down to confidence in the fly you are fishing. It would also depend on where and when.

KC
 

·
Pullin' Thread
Joined
·
4,694 Posts
What everyone is trying to tell you is that the fly pattern doesn't matter. Egads, you might think that is crazy talk. Yes, if you're fishing for trout, but for steelhead or Atlantic Salmon, not crazy talk at all because these fish aren't selectively feeding (heck their stomachs are atrophied on their spawning runs so anything they eat, is just passed through), and nobody knows why they take a fly (more properly a lure made of feathers and fur fished with a fly rod), lure, spinner, or bait. We just know they do at times.

So pick a pattern or two (maybe three) that you like the looks of, get it or tie it in a range of sizes (say #1/0-#6), and fish it on every line from floating to type 8 sink tips (or even T-14, T-17, or T-20 if your rod can handle it) in all sorts of water conditions from low and clear, to high with some color, from water temps in the 55-60 degree F area to water temps in the mid-to-upper 30's. And don't get discouraged when you don't start hooking them right away. Even the best, most experienced steelhead and Atlantic Salmon fishermen often go days (sometimes weeks or months) without a hook-up.
 

·
JD
Joined
·
3,609 Posts
Above all

Don't believe anything a nymph fisher tells you! They will swear up & down that a #12 red copper john is the hot ticket today, while yesterday they would take nothing but a green copper john. :eek: To kind of verify what all these guys are saying, go back down through the posts and check all the "likes" on each comment. How often have you seen or heard "life is too short to xxx" whatever? Same applies here. Some people like to fish classic full dress patterns, of their own making, on a long line & wouldn't think of resorting to sink tips. Others like to throw garbage on Skagit setups. We are not in this game to count trophies or stock the freezer. It's all about maximizing the experience. Just fish, & enjoy your time on the river.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,062 Posts
I think that the general trend of the advise here is pretty consistent: don't get too hung up on fly selection, worry more about finding aggressive fish, fish with confidence, etc. I would generally agree with all this, generally. I don't subscribe to the hard line "fly pattern doesn't matter at all" however. I do think that fly pattern *can* play a role in triggering an interest or strike, or spooking a fish, sometimes anyways. If you're fortunate enough to be able to fish for fresh, aggressive fish in optimal water conditions then pretty much anything goes; in other conditions I think it's wise to consider the challenges you're addressing to hopefully entice a potential player to grab.

Picking a giant intruder in times of low clear water, and skittish fish holed up probably would make a difference... it would likely spook a lot of fish. Of course, you never know, one of them might take an interest regardless and attack it... I would put a little time into putting yourself in the mindset of the fish that you're searching for, different day, different fish, different strategy. Water temp, color, pressure, etc all play a role in their temperment, even the kind of water can play a big factor imo. I will say that generally the more spooky, or vulnerable a fish may be feeling the smaller and more drab I tend to make my offerings. High water, low vis, cold temps, I usually go big, and flashy, with LOTS and LOTS of movement, and fish it slower and closer to shore. Of course if that doesn't work, I often try the opposite! Usually that works no better, but sometimes it does... maybe it was the different fly, or different presentation, or maybe it was just different.

I do think that something that looks, and behaves, like something that is alive tends to work better than something that does not. Of course my lack of confidence in "stale looking flies" limits how much time I've devoted to fishing them...

Problem with making any hard fast rules one way or another is that steelhead aren't quite that predictable. They have a tendency to do unexpected things, sometimes in unexpected places. Part of the mystery and the joy of chasing them is that there are few rules that need be strictly adhered to, and that there will always be surprises.

Do put some thought into what you're offering them, and how.
Do be certain in your selection, fish it with the utmost of confidence and be prepared for a grab at ANY time your fly is in the water and keep it there as much as possible.
Do try new things, and new waters.
Do pay attention to details.
Don't worry too much about any of this, and be sure to have a really good time with the process... the fish will come when they come, and it can be long time in between them. Or it could be the very next cast. Either way, it's a wonderful way to pass countless hours in beautiful places.
JB
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
79 Posts
this is how I have learned to do it. I should preface that I swing streamers for steelhead and salmon 99.9% of the time I am fishing.

Warmer water (earlier season) flies can be bigger and flashier.
Cooler water (as the season goes on) I start to go with realistic coloration and sizes. Also you gotta get deeper in cold water.
Darker color water/overcast days I tend to go more neutral colors with a little flash.
Clear water/sunny days I go more flashy.

Some runs I just know from experience that a certain color/style/size fly WILL catch a fish if there is a fish in the run.

When I stock my box that I carry I typically go with a three of each color/size of a fly that I think will work either from experience and/or looking at river and weather condition. I typically carry less than 10 flies on me while fishing but have a couple hundred in the truck if needed, lol.

Some days despite the hundreds of hundreds of days I have spent on the water I will go through every fly and not catch a thing. Thats why its call fishing and not catching, lol.

J-
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,702 Posts
Great comments and the only thing I would add is that it might depend on your fishing approach.

What I mean by approach is that if you're walking in and spending the day at a small section of river and will be fishing a pool on multiple passes fly selection can matter. If there's no aggressive fish in the pool you can play around with different sizes, styles, colours, etc. and try and get inactive fish to move to your fly on your second or third or fourth pass. If you're jetting or drifting and running and gunning through prime spots very quickly then you're just after the very aggressive fish and fly choice likely won't matter.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
167 Posts
I go with the flow here and tie on what ever floats my boat. In the beginning I went to the books and duplicated published stuff for the waters I frequent. Early on I took to retiring a fly as soon as it beached a fish, and in nearly every instance I put something entirely different on the end. Focus ones concerns mostly on line handling, casting techniques, and recognizing or finding holding water.

I agree with dark and bulky in cold off color flows and more color and less size when temps and clarity improve.

Much of the joy of tying steelhead flies now is that I throw together patterns that appeal to me. There's very little in my boxes that actually have an identity. A tiny Fall Favorite might bring in the first fish and a big black streamer's responsible for the second.

Just get out there and do it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,270 Posts
Hello all, I'm new to the forum and to Spey fishing. I do not possess a rod yet, however I'm learning all that I can while I save up for one.

I've been fly fishing for about 3 years and after spending the summer in the maritimes, I've developed a love for the traditional wet fly swing. I wish to target Great Lakes steelhead this fall and winter with the swing, first with my single handed rod and later with a proper switch or Spey rod when I can afford it. One of the first issues I'm dealing with (and struggled with in the maritimes) is fly selection. When fly fishing for trout with dry flies, streamers or nymphs, I'm either matching a hatch, or in the absence of a well defined hatch, I'm throwing food items that are familiar to a trout or so bizarre that it appeals to their curiosity, but 90% of the time I'm replicating a naturally occurring food item. The flies I see being used for the swing (wet flies, Spey flies, salmon flies etc..) don't really appear to imitate a particular food item (with some exceptions) or perhaps I'm not seeing the resemblance. So without a food item to replicate, how do you go about choosing a fly for a particular river, at a particular time, in particular conditions for a particular species of fish?

Thanks!
Hello and welcome.

Well you just got a bunch of excellent answers. It's kind of like opening a box of different flies and trying to pick "the" right one, isn't it.
Everyone is different....

Here's another.....


If the goal is to hook a fish, then I would strongly suggest a guide or friend that knows the water you intend to fish.
Do what he does or tells you to do.
You'll get into fish.

Learning how to find fish and knowing how to present flies to them is the key to hooking them.

Fly choice comes later.

Nothing will beat time on the water. A guide or friend that has that experience is invaluable and will cut your learning curve significantly.

Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
A friend of mine and former (major brand) pro staffer fishes a hoh bo spey ...two colors; black and purple sized at about 3 inches.
Period.
I dare say he catches quite a fair few.
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top