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Discussion Starter #1
What: Just wondering what other long line folks do when they want to effectly fish a bouldery run.

Background: To explain my scenario a little further it's a wide river (100') with a nice consistent flow across the majority of it. Nice full swing is possible. The majority of the run is 3-5' deep. Peppered throughout the run are large chair-sized boulders that run 1'-3' high. In most water conditions you'll have 1'-2' of water going over them.

Fish really hold behind this boulders but it's often a challenge to get your fly in their strike zone, especially in December cold (32F) water.

You cannot actually see specific boulders from where you're casting so you're blindly swinging and hope your fly goes over or near a boulder in a manner where the fish can see it.

My current approach: CND GPS line with 15' Rio sinktip (e.g. type 6 109 grain), 4-5' fluoro tippett and waddington shanked 3.5" fly with an upturned octopus hook.

Current results: I hook a decent amount of fish, especially when it's warmer and/or cloudy conditions. However with very clear and sunny conditions my success plummets. With the upturned eye I can often rub the boulders without hanging up.

Challenge: getting your fly down deep enough (even behind a rock) with a long line and sinktip without getting your fly snagged up.

Question: How would you approach this fishing scenario? Please keep in mind I would like to stick with a long line. Casting, line management methods, sinktip/leader formulas, fly type, size, hook styles and/or rigging methods....any thoughts appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Preston
 

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I would experiment with lengthening your tippet and while also experimenting with differently weighted flies. With that line you may be somewhat limited on the weight of flies. That would provide more opportunity for your fly to be sliding over and around those boulders.
 

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+1 to what BT just said.

I would experiment with lengthening your tippet and while also experimenting with differently weighted flies. With that line you may be somewhat limited on the weight of flies. That would provide more opportunity for your fly to be sliding over and around those boulders.
Big up stream mend so 'fly first,' as slow as you can get same to move. Your eyes will never wander off that bit of fluff; Lab next to you will have the same level of concentration.

Look up, eye lock: 'This time??'
 

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another approach

I would be inclined to try a "MOW" style tip, with ~3 ft of T-XX fast sinking product. I fish some similar water a little later in the winter; I formerly had a tough time managing 12-15 ft of fast sinking tip. After I built a variety of mow-tips, I found the one described above still swung nicely and freely while theoretically helping the fly and short leader sink.
 

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A down-n-across swing sets-up nice in the type of water you describe. With just enough mend to straighten and gather slack, even fairly aggressive tip will run shallow when the fly is swimming as soon as it hits water.
 

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Stumpy's approach is similar to my current solution for this type water, though without being able to spot the boulders or at least resulting surface currents, I'm not sure my approach will do it for you. But I try to keep a high rid-tip until I think my fly is approaching the eddy, then dropping the rod tip, theoretically feeding slack. I think my home-made mow helps drop the fly in the slower water. A big initial upstream mend, lining the tip up more or less with the current starts it.

I find a cone hangs less than hour-glass eyes, though probably won't work with your Waddingtons. Maybe the OPST shanks. I use more tubes.
 

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Preston,

Based on your conditions you listed, you only need to get the fly 1-2' down else you will be hanging up. You are counting on those fish looking up and have verified they do, at least when it is not bright and sunny.

Your setup sounds ideal to me. A longer belly to allow you to mend to account for the hydraulics of a boulder field. As always with winter fish, your goal should be to slow the fly down and your setup should maximize your chances of that.

D.
 

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Preston,

Based on your conditions you listed, you only need to get the fly 1-2' down else you will be hanging up. You are counting on those fish looking up and have verified they do, at least when it is not bright and sunny.

Your setup sounds ideal to me. A longer belly to allow you to mend to account for the hydraulics of a boulder field. As always with winter fish, your goal should be to slow the fly down and your setup should maximize your chances of that.

D.
I agree 100% No point in hanging up. Your depth is fine!
 

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Drags are for Sissys
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quick thoughts



I'd be setup so the fly kisses the tops of the rocks. Up turned hook, go to a smaller hook if it still manages to hang-up somehow.

Of course tube flys with small hooks seem to roll though situations like this better than conventional flys. - not sure about waddingtons - never fished them much

If I'm always hanging up in the same place I'd consider breaking my riggings strategy into two - eg - heavier tip/fly for the back half of the pool where I can get away with heavier. Lighter tip/fly for the front of the pool because I always hang up there. Its work but could save the day.

If its known exactly where some of the individual rocks are; try to cast so you could feed a little line when the fly gets to a hot spot behind a rock (so the fly drops a little).

I'd consider that even though I can't get real deep behind a rock - can I throw in a little mend? (mid bellies excel at that) when the fly gets to a hot holding area that will slow the swing even more.

I might try a pretty heavy fly with a lighter leader/tip so the fly is for sure the deepest part of my rig. Getting leader/tips caught around and abraded by rocks is no fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all the thoughts everyone. I now have a few more ideas to play with.

I typically don't like manipulation the fly much once it starts swinging. That said my last two fish (@32F water) came on the first strip in of the fly...

More comments always welcome.

Preston
 

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The best thing to do is let your fishing partner go through the run first to identify where all the snags are so you can then cast more accurately and pick his pocket. Which will then cost him yet another Ham and Swiss sandwich.
 

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The best thing to do is let your fishing partner go through the run first to identify where all the snags are so you can then cast more accurately and pick his pocket. Which will then cost him yet another Ham and Swiss sandwich.
Oh, that's how you do it.

THis fall all my buddy's fish have come after I located them with a pluck, but couldn't get them to come back. He came through behind me and picked them up.

Now he's all magnanimous, won't take first pass. I need a sandwich.
 

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Here on the west coast I would use a type 3 or 6 tip, be happy with my fly swinging a couple feet below the surface, and expect the fish to come up for my fly. However you are fishing those cold waters of the Great Lakes. I wouldn't expect making a long cast and not manipulating it throughout the cast would be as effective as casts to each rock that might hold a fish. Maybe on those sunny days you need to change your tactics and not just go with the same old cast and swing stuff.
 

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Old Guys talking, and whose right?

Thanks for all the thoughts everyone. I now have a few more ideas to play with.

I typically don't like manipulation the fly much once it starts swinging. That said my last two fish (@32F water) came on the first strip in of the fly...

More comments always welcome.

Preston
Me small flies, dark, a #8 tie would be stretchering, a #6 hook 'NO WAY.' The 'odd fellow' just down steam (Jimmie/JD Jones) has a fly the size of a dead chicken on the end of his leader.' Whose right? (Hint: He's wrong. :lildevl:)

But credit where credit's due, his spey line just floats out over the river. Settles like a feather a foot or two above the water. Leader is arrow straight. Now if he could ever just hook something that would be good. :D

Must PM him a picture of a Steelhead so he knows what one looks like. :smokin:
 

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SHUT UP & FISH!
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i like big flies for Michigan steel.
everybody is always bombarding them with small stuff behind lead.
so my theory is stay up above n wait for the ONE!
fish the structure without tangling into it.
keep your fly over the deep water staying out of the shallows.
a big un-weighted Waddington over your boulders sounds exactly right to me.
 

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Just as an add... In 2008 or something I raised and landed a nice steelhead in Wisconsin in 33 degree water over a boulder run as described. It came on a floating line with a classic fly. I had to break off three feet of shelf-ice to get into the river. You don't have to hit them on the head with a swung fly.
 

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Another thought....if your success plummets when the sun shines it could be due to the sun direction and which side of the river you are swinging from more than your technique. I usually don't worry about this in winter, but it plays a big role in the clear waters of summer. i like the sun in my face so the fish have the sun behind them when they rise up and follow the fly to grab it.
 

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Might sound counterintuitive, but try an intermediate belly with a sinktip, e.g. Airflo Compact Skagit Int.

I've used this setup before and it works very well in boulder fields. Basically the Int belly slides over the boulder and gets sucked down by the hydraulic that flows over the boulder and down behind it. That current draws both the end of the intermediate and sinktip down behind the boulder. To get this to work, the Int belly has to be close to or sliding over the boulder.

I fished a boulder field in low water on the Salmon River in NY a couple of years ago using such a rig and the guide we were using was stunned to see how the Int just slid over boulders with no problem. Even with a boulder jutting out of the water, as long as there was a flow of water over it, the Int slid over it like it wasn't there.

The other big benefit to this approach: the Int line runs straighter in the complex currents than a comparable floater-sinktip setup where we would be mending constantly to try and remain in contact with the fly.

I should echo what Wayne said about upturned hook points. It really does help to skate flies over boulders and reduces snags. I use a light wire double hook on my tubes that will open up on a snagged rock. After retrieving, I straighten and sharpen the damaged point, then back for more.
 

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A bunch of runs ive fished in your area come to mind, and my choice would be a long line, some sort of polyleader thats easy to cast, and a sparce fly on a wadington or larger iron. If a certain section of the run is very deep id put a fly with some weight on and let it sink abit more.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
That's food for thought Peter. Have you ever tried that concept with an intermediate long belly? I've become a snob and don't like/refuse to fish skagit heads anymore...

Also, may I ask what size/brand double hook you're using and what lb test line you've found that will consistently straighten out the hook?

Am I assuming correctly you're running your double hook upright? That actually would be quite snag-free as the double probably rides more true in the water and bounces off the boulders better. I know my singles often turn over in swirly water and I loose the benefit of the upturned hook.

Thanks,
Preston

Might sound counterintuitive, but try an intermediate belly with a sinktip, e.g. Airflo Compact Skagit Int.

I've used this setup before and it works very well in boulder fields. Basically the Int belly slides over the boulder and gets sucked down by the hydraulic that flows over the boulder and down behind it. That current draws both the end of the intermediate and sinktip down behind the boulder. To get this to work, the Int belly has to be close to or sliding over the boulder.

I fished a boulder field in low water on the Salmon River in NY a couple of years ago using such a rig and the guide we were using was stunned to see how the Int just slid over boulders with no problem. Even with a boulder jutting out of the water, as long as there was a flow of water over it, the Int slid over it like it wasn't there.

The other big benefit to this approach: the Int line runs straighter in the complex currents than a comparable floater-sinktip setup where we would be mending constantly to try and remain in contact with the fly.

I should echo what Wayne said about upturned hook points. It really does help to skate flies over boulders and reduces snags. I use a light wire double hook on my tubes that will open up on a snagged rock. After retrieving, I straighten and sharpen the damaged point, then back for more.
 
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