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When fishing for Steelhead, how many steps do you usually take when working a piece of water? Does the season come into play when deciding how many steps you take after/before a cast? What about the method you choose to use and how it influences your progression down the run (i.e. Step faster for summer-runs fishing a waker versus stepping slower for winter-run fish using a tip). How about angler pressure? If we get to one fresh pool in the morning at first-light, do we slowly take a couple of steps between casts because we know that's our best shot for the day? Do you like to shuffle more quickly through the marginal water then slow down when your fly is swinging in the bucket? If someone told you "two steps and a mend and let 'er swing" is that what you do almost exclusively?

Interested to hear your thoughts on this and why you do what you do when working downstream.
 

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None to one given the obvious holding water.

Well, for context I'm 'old,' but that I can handle. The 'Parkinson's' does impose some interesting limiting factors. Start with a very short cast (tip cast?) and work out from there.

Then the step down, but just one as you've added about 36 inches (give or take) to the 'swing.' And that's enough if you're searching water.

fae
 

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I'm a stepper but it does depend on the season and the water.

As a rule of thumb, assuming good water clarity, I will take two to three steps when fishing for summer fish. This works out to 5-8'.

For winter/spring fishing, again assuming decent clarity, this is reduced to 3-5' between casts.

If I suspect a fish is in a certain place I will shorten the steps or even take two casts without stepping.,
 

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It all depends on whether there's someone behind me . If not , I'm hopelessly slow . If I'm sharing the run , I keep pretty good time and probably fall right in with the distance 'Tip described .
 

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I would second what sinktip said. I fish faster for fall fish as I typically believe they will be more aggressive and move farther to a fly. In the winter (read cold water) I will slow it down. I also am always looking for structure and if I see what appears to be a classic holding position for fish, I will fish this section more carefully and try to get swings above, at and below the site.

If I get a tug I will sometimes step back upriver and go back through again and will also at times change the fly.
 

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As noted, it makes sense to take more/larger steps during the summer/fall season due to the warmer water temps, aggressive fish and also due to generally fishing a floating line (with a skater, for me) where the fly is usually swinging as soon as the fly lands on the water. However, I will take smaller steps over known holding water or make multiple casts over known lies. I may also slow down in areas I have most confidence in like the upper corner of a run, juicy seams, areas where boils/wakes indicate underwater structure, etc. Sometimes I even step back upstream and work back through such areas, just to be sure no one's home.

In the winter/spring seasons, I take smaller steps since the water is colder and because my dry line swing method is less able to keep the fly deep throughout the swing so I try to cover water more carefully. Again, I slow down in areas of known holding lies and even make multiple passes in some runs (time and crowds permitting).

Regardless of the season, I sometimes fish at whatever pace my mood moves me. For instance, during summer/fall, I may be fishing on a big run that seems to call out for big steps and covering a lot of water quickly, but I'm just wanting to relax and take it all in, so I just cover the water at a leisurely pace, simply allowing the experience of being out in God's creation refresh my soul.

As to fishing pressure, I have come to be less and less affected by it since what keeps being revealed to me is that steelhead become rested more quickly than we may realize. If you are able to fish water that others have been fishing but has had some time to be rested, your chances can still be good. I've gotten summer and winter fish after others have fished the same water, after multiple boats/sleds have gone through, after gaggles of floaters/rubber duckies have gone through, etc.

Ultimately, one way or another, if a guy gets out, keeps a hook in the water, and fishes in a manner that has been known to catch steelhead before, the fish will come.

Todd
 

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Depends on how tired I am and how difficult the wading conditions.
Usually two to three steps unless no one is behind me.
Been known to stand in one spot for up to five casts if water looks good and fly swings just right.
 

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I'm a stepper but it does depend on the season and the water.

As a rule of thumb, assuming good water clarity, I will take two to three steps when fishing for summer fish. This works out to 5-8'.

For winter/spring fishing, again assuming decent clarity, this is reduced to 3-5' between casts.

If I suspect a fish is in a certain place I will shorten the steps or even take two casts without stepping.,
I like what you are laying down. I'm constantly moving, and even at a good clip by taking slow steps to keep the fly swimming through in a slow arch. Whenever going ahead in a group especially, but also slowing down to check here and there. The fish can be anywhere and I'm covering as much water as I can. Otherwise I may be keeping someone else 's cadence or moving on. Either way I try and let the fishing set the pace over all.
 

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Even though I think I'm a pretty good judge of what is steelhead holding water, experience has taught me that over 90% of the water I fish in a day is empty of steelhead, or at least empty of "players." So I try to cover as much water in a day's fishing as I can, looking for that tiny piece of high percentage water that is presently holding a player. So I move at a pretty good pace. My steps per cast range from zero to five, but usually three or four. The number of steps per cast varies with water clarity, temperature, and my "fish sense," whatever that is.

Sg
 

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We're suppose to step down? How's that work when low holing?
 

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I'm new enough to the steelhead/swinging game that I'm not much good at reading water, so I'm constantly torn between moving faster to cover more water, and making sure I'm covering water adequately. In my very limited experience I have found that I've begun to gain limited knowledge and "fish sense", which will, almost subconsciously, make me slow down and take less steps in certain areas. The vast majority of my fishing is on the Clearwater, so it's fishing exclusively for summer fish. In August, September and October, I generally take 4-6 steps between casts. Sometimes I will make multiple casts from the same spot (usually due to my poor casting). As the water cools, I will take fewer steps between casts. I will also, at times, cast before I step, to allow my fly to sink more, especially if I'm still using my dry line.
In reality, many times when I have a run to myself, I go painfully slow, hoping to garner more knowledge of fish, structure, hydraulics, holding water, etc. and to just enjoy being on the water knowing I am standing in water that harbors steelhead. In contrast, if someone steps in above me, I tend to quicken the pace quite a bit to make sure I'm not holding anyone up. Even though I was there first I just feel that it's the right thing to do to not hold someone who wants to work quicker than me up to my slow pace!
Keep in mind that in the overall scheme I am a rank rookie, so keep that in mind when reading my thoughts!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Good discussion so far! It seems most move at a moderate pace while working a run. I sometimes find it difficult to follow a stranger especially if they're not moving. A lot of guys seem to only take a pace every couple of casts, which only slows down the rotation. I'm wondering if this is a new-to-the-sport thing? I know my own habits of standing still for long periods of time while gear fishing were difficult to break when I first started swinging. Now I couldn't imagine standing on one rock for hours, need to keep actively pursuing that fish on the seam. And it's always nice to get to those tailouts where I often find the takers.

In summer when the water is warm and fish are on the move, I find myself stepping before the cast taking 4-6 steps, often covering many pools in a day. I'm learning more to focus on the really good parts of the run (even if I start at the very top and step to the tail) where I know the fly is swimming perfectly. I will usually slow down and take just a couple of smaller steps in these areas. If a fish bumps the fly, I'll plant myself for a bit and focus.

In the winter I usually take two or three steps after the cast (if the river allows) to gain some depth. I won't usually rip through as quickly as I would in the summer time. Most of my winter fishing is done with a type 3 in low, clear flows. Have yet to take the plunge with a long leader and a Partridge M.

Thanks for all of your responses. :smokin:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Dude,

We must've been typing at the same time! None of my post is directed at you. Sounds like you're moving just fine. I like how you say you are concentrating on the water you are fishing, all the while getting to know your water well. Good on you! And a lot of the time if someone steps in above you (even a buddy) the first through the pool feels that pressure to move. Just have to fish at your pace, and never rush through the known taking lies just because the guy behind you motors through at 12 steps per cast.
 

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a Blue Creek classic- the summer sunrise.

...show up before the sun's up, there's a line of guys standing way too deep flinging Skagit heads and sinktips. They don't see the fish rolling behind them.

When asked, they all say they're stepping down, not camping out. After 15-20 min of working my way downstream asking and looking for a spot to get in, go back up to the top of the run.

First guy asked hasn't moved an inch, the other guys haven't either.

After I ask again, some just ignore, and others do that little trick where they cast, then rock from one foot to the other to make it look like they've taken a step.

After another 15 min, sun's up now, I go get some coffee and wait for amateur hour to end, thinking "should've brought the boat today"... and "this is no longer a good spot to fish a longbelly".
Oh well, right?
 

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a Blue Creek classic- the summer sunrise.

...show up before the sun's up, there's a line of guys standing way too deep flinging Skagit heads and sinktips. They don't see the fish rolling behind them.

When asked, they all say they're stepping down, not camping out. After 15-20 min of working my way downstream asking and looking for a spot to get in, go back up to the top of the run.

First guy asked hasn't moved an inch, the other guys haven't either.

After I ask again, some just ignore, and others do that little trick where they cast, then rock from one foot to the other to make it look like they've taken a step.

After another 15 min, sun's up now, I go get some coffee and wait for amateur hour to end, thinking "should've brought the boat today"... and "this is no longer a good spot to fish a longbelly".
Oh well, right?[
/QUOTE]

Right - and it hasn't been since the in-take was moved to where t is now - there, just upstream of where those dudes are camped out atop one another, gear and skagiteers the same. I've been temped to move in way out there with them - only I'd flip a 180 and cast towards the bank - :chuckle:.
 

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SpeySpaz
Stepping down at Blue Creek - really - when the fish are stacked there really isn't much option for that:) - most guys are camped throwing indictors, not swinging with skagits or any other type line though I don't see much opportunity for a long line with casts being not much more than 30 or 40 feet and then you are casting beyond most of the fish! When it is like this I typically just shoot by in my jet and look for less crowded water unless I feel like a social scene!;)

I was there when this first occurred back in 79 - we were about the first to find them and it was pretty awesome until the word got out

Paul - I only low hole my friends and mainly I try to low hole Bruce so I at least have a chance at hooking up!!!!

Best,
Rick

PS - Likely I may be thinking another Blue Creek?? Klamath?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The game has changed

The developments of lines and sink-tip materials that get-down-and-stay-down have given the advantage to newcomers and veterans alike. The time for practice isn't of much importance to those who seek instant results. Having met a large number of fisherman who couldn't care to cast well, let alone beyond where most Steelhead lie, I do see how the game has changed.

We do fish to catch fish, but for a lot of us it isn't what drives us to be anglers with a fly rod. Many of us left the "too-easy" game for one with a challenge. Countless days of practicing the cast in order to become better fisherman. Countless days of going without a take. But when we hook these fish on our terms, the rewards often outweigh the time spent searching for them.

I suppose for some it's still fun for them to hook as many fish possible and that 30' flop of a bicycle chain to a known lie feels good. It seemed at one time we would be in awe of the guy doing a single to 120' and hooking a fish straight out from his boots. Now it seems like that's outdated technology.

Those who put in their time with their chosen method do become great anglers. Most people do keep moving down. Some fisherman park in the runs. Usually that leaves more water elsewhere for the rest of us. It can be frustrating but it looks like it's here to stay. For now I'll keep stepping down until I run out of water. :smokin:
 

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Blue Creek on the Cowlitz, guys, sorry if I caused any confusion there.
Used to be great longbelly water, perfect swing, till whenever they put that crack pipe in recently.
 

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Blue Creek on the Cowlitz, guys, sorry if I caused any confusion there.
Used to be great longbelly water, perfect swing, till whenever they put that crack pipe in recently.
Don't know when the crack pipe was put in but there is a ton of good long line swinging water on the Cowlitz but none of it's "very" close to Blue Creek.
 
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