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Being relatively new to spey fishing I find myself wondering about some of these flies I'm fishing for the first time. I've done a fair amount of streamer fishing with one-handers, generally leech, bugger and muddler patterns. On occasion I might even swing a spruce fly through a run (they seem to like that fly on the Bow). Generally, I would impart a little action to those patterns on the swing. If I was getting refusals for 'excessive gyrations' I was unaware of the fact. Hiltons, GP's, speys, tubes and Volcanoes were not part of my arsenal as a one-hander however (I realize they can be fished that way, I just didn't...).

So, as a general rule, is it better to dead-drift wet flies when swinging or impart a bit of action? Is it dependent on the type of fly and conditions (and why is that always the correct answer?)?

Somehow the expression "dead-drift" seems a misnomer when a fly is swinging across the current. It's not exactly a natural action to begin with...
 

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Probably a 'dozen' right answers to this

one, but on the upper Rogue the general preferrence is a SLOW, deep, Dead drift, and mighty upstream mend(s) to keep the fly swimming downstream (leader first) as long as possible.
fe
 

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Hi Sissy: The thinking behind the dead drift and swing goes something like this. Small bait species including shrimp, fry ,and large insects. often float downstream under the influence of the current. The dead drift immitates this behaviour,however when the prey sees that it is being followed by a fish it tries to escape by speeding up and swimming towrds the shore .thus the swing is the escape simulator that causes the fish to grab for the prey.
So one form of fishing is to cast cross stream,mend line to sink the fly to the bottom and continue to mend and feed line to keep it drifting downstream. When the line reaches a point where it can no longer be dead drifted the fly is lead into the swing with the rod tip preceeding the line to keep the swong slow but wrist twitches are used to give the fly quick darts upwards and across.
it`s certainly not the only way to fish but its the way the early Scots fished their flies.
 

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Hi LA. I don't think the 'Dead Drift' , as I understand you to use the term, has any place in Scottish Atlantic Salmon fishing history. The phrase was used by Wood of Cairnton when he described his 'greased line' fishing, but not in the way you use it.

Although his writing is a bit unclear, the consensus is that he cast at a downstream angle and mended to allow the fly to swing across the river ahead of the line. What he meant by dead drift was avoiding the fly being pulled across the river by a belly in the line. Remember that before Wood they fished with ungreased silk lines, so any mending was restricted to a quick one immediately after casting. The line would have tended to form a belly except with a narrowly angled downstream cast.

Almost the only time we cast square across the current is when we want to speed the fly up by putting a belly in the line. European salmon flies are all designed to be fished 'down and across' (see my response to your other posting), and you will almost never see anyone deliberately allowing their fly to drift without tension on the line. And most ghillies advise against imparting movement to the fly except when fishing very slow water.

This is not to say your way wouldn't work. In fact I have just reread an article by Michael Evans, the well known Spey casting instructor and demonstrator, in which he describes hooking a salmon in exactly the way you describe. However that was as a result of a bad cast that allowed the fly to sink without tension and then speed up and lift as he regained control of his line. It was a lucky accident, rather than a deliberate tactic. On many rivers in Scotland you would be accused of trying to foul hook a fish if you deliberately fished your 'dead drift technique'!
 

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Gardener,

A few more words on Wood: I think he was immensly interesting. But nowadays when I have had chanses to fish the same section of Dee as he did I am certain of one thing:

He is the least suitable of all to try and learn effective double handed techniques from. Had he not bee so stubbornly persistent in his long singlehanded rods and resent to wading - his testominal would have been much different.

Take a pool like the Grey Mare where he did most of is killings. The only chance to fish it his style, off the bank, is to cast far and square. To avoid that the fly then is swept away by the swift current you of course have to mend like a maniac. There is no chanse to get a "dead drift" in that type of water, but with skill you can slow the drift down to a pace that will entice the fish.

The same pool when fished with a double hander means that you can reach as far with ease, and at less acute a angle. Then mending becomes less frantic and the fish will take equally well.

I think he was a great angler, and his observations are very interesting to read - especially when there. Still his style of fishing was very eccentric and, like John Ashley Cooper has pointed out, very adopted to that particular piece of water.

"Tight loops"

Per
 

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Per

I agree completely about Wood. I don't know the water as you do, but I believe one of the features about Cairnton is that many of the lies are fairly close to the bank.

Ashley Cooper quotes Crossley as recording that Wood only killed 54% of the fish he 'met' - he blames that on the low-water single hooks used. I can't help thinking that part of the reason for this high percentage of losses may in fact be 'snatched' takes from fish due to the fly moving too fast, rather than the hook design. Ashley Cooper preferred a 14' rod for the Dee because, as well as ease of casting, it gave more control of fly and line in the water. Since control of fly and line is clearly needed in the Grey Mare, which Wood kept for his exclusive use, it is indeed odd that he persisted with unsuitable tackle.

Perhaps, like fishermen on the more prolific grilse rivers in Russia, he wanted something more of a challenge. If, like him, you were catching an average of nearly 160 fish in the space of a couple of months or so each year, maybe you too would want to make life a bit harder for yourself! If the fish average 8-12 lbs, would you rather have 5 in a day on a single handed rod or 10 on a two hander?
 

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Hi Gardiner: You wrote:Hi LA. I don't think the 'Dead Drift' , as I understand you to use the term, has any place in Scottish Atlantic Salmon fishing history. The phrase was used by Wood of Cairnton when he described his 'greased line' fishing, but not in the way you use it.
I beg to differ with your opinion,The term dead drift did not originate with Wood and was used as a term and as a method by many who fished the Spey R. My Scots buddy who grew up in a village on the Spey R uses both the term and fishes it to great effect. Since he was a rod builder and demonstrator for Sharpes he probably knew what he was doing.
 

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Hi since there seems to be some confusion with regard to how I use the term Dead Drift
As we all know current seams are an important lie for steelhead and pacific salmon. If a fly is cast into such a seam and if it is allowed to sink and if there is no drag or tension on the line the fly will stay in the seam and travel downstream close to the bottom. This action I refer to as a Dead Drift It simulates the drift of a dead fly or minnow in a current seam.
The action required to maintain the fly in the seam ie in a dead drift is a repeated series of full floating line mends with slack being thrown into each mend. In most water it is possible to keep the fly in the seam for 20 to 30 feet.
Fish resting in the seam will turn and drift downstream following the fly . If at some point the fly is twitched or drawn out of the seam by line tension the fish seeing it as escaping prey will often attack it. The action however which starts the fly into the swing must be slow enough so that the fish can catch up with it. Most of the strikes we get at the hangdown are from fish that couldent catch up with the fly till it stopped swimming at the hangdown.
There is also confusuin with regard to AHEWood My original reference was to how he mended line not to how he fished his lowater flies.
 

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Per, your reply puts Wood in a whole new light for me. I have the book and have seen the pictures but it never occured to me that standing on the jetties had such a huge impact on the way he fished. Could it be we've been trying to understand and emulate a method which has very little practical application for today's wading angler?
 

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Hi Dana: I`m afraid I lost the thread of this discussion somewhere. Wood only refers briefly to standing on a wier at which time observing the actions of fish he states that he conciever the idea of the low water fly ,a fly of all soft feathers tied on a light wire hook in which the tail of the fly reached only to the point of the hook ie a fly two sizes smaller than would conventionally be tied on that size of hook.
At the same time he felt that such a fly could be presented close to the surface using a greased silk line which could be easily mended to slow down the speed of the fly and present it at an angle to the direction of the swim.
Obviously such a technique was concieved primarily for warmer water fishing and would have little value in heavy flows of early season water or indeed for colder late season water.
Wood did indeed fish from the bank and seldom if ever wore waders,however it is said that with his 12 foot single handed rods he was consistantly capable of making casts of 40 yards.
I quite agree that fishing greased line fashion would seldom be effective on fall runs on the Thompson but should and did produce good results on summer runs like those of the Coquihalla
Bill McMillan has for years followed the teachings of Wood with great success .His book Dry LineSteelhead clearly shows the effectiveness of this approach under the proper circumstances.
I think it is probably resonable to say that different water and different water conditions each require some variation in technique and that no one method is superior in all conditions. The art of the fisherman is therefore to know many methods and to be able to apply the best method to suit the water and circumstances.
 
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