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Hey guys Im somewhat new to this whole swinging and spey casting with my new 10'7 #8 switch rod. Steelhead season is coming up and i want to be prepared :) . Lets say i was fishing a pool like the Alison pool. Here is a video of my friend casting there. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJ3jSubY7Cs&feature=plcp
What kind of setup do you recommend for my 480 gr skagit head? I have a 13' and a 9' t-14 sink tip. How do i know I'm getting a good swing? Should I be tapping bottom every once in a while?
 

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The Vedder is big enough to warrant a full size rod ie: ~13'. A switch feels undergunned for line control to me below Allison. Casting style will dictate what rod you'd match to your line but 480gr would match up to a 7wt spey rod.

If you're hitting bottom during the swing, you're too deep, go with lighter fly or tip, a narrower angle downstream cast. Wasting time loosing flies doesn't do you any good.

Vedder is pretty frustrating to fish because of the crowd.
 

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On the Vedder I'm always using a rio 15' #8 sink tip. So your 13' t-14 should work with a big lead eye intruder. Cast straight across or slightly upstream on a fast run like on that video and give it a big mend so there's slack and the fly and tip can sink. When the line gets down stream and starts to tighten hold your rod straight out and lift up the running line off the water. Let it swing around your rod and then slowly bring it to shore by moving your rod downstream. Take two steps and repeat.

I've found vedder steelheaders are pretty good with casting and then taking two steps downstream whether they're using bait, pink worms or spey rods. Start at the top of the run and move down. I've fished the busiest runs with my spey rod and never had an issue.

I'm not sure if a switch rod is big enough to cover the large runs on the lower vedder. I've never tried one.
 

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For me, I think that I'll just strap on the type 8 tip for most scenarios this year on the vedder. Maybe move up to the t14 if a run has a lot of funky hydraulics that will push the fly up in the water column. The difference between the two in terms of sink rate isn't a whole bunch, but what it will do is keep your fly down better once it actually gets there.

With the lighter tip, you'll probably be able to bomb a cast further, getting the fly to where you have time to let it sink and exit into the swing at the proper spot. Often this is casting to the far shore into the gut of the run, letting it sink and then your fly swings out perfectly into the slower water where the fish are sitting. If you're struggling to get your line out far enough into the run, you're simply sinking it on top of the fish and missing the presentation. That being said, I remember reading something in Dec Hogans "A passion for steelhead" where he talks about presenting a fly's broadside. So you may want to look into that.

Some people swear that to "be in the zone" you have to be tapping bottom from time to time. Their success could come in two ways: Some of these guys could very well be flossing up their fish rather than enticing them on the swing. (I'm sure I'll stir up a storm here.) Or they use it as a reference.

Often winter water is coloured and you just don't know if you're fishing 3 feet, 6 feet or 10 inches for that matter. So this is where the tapping bottom part comes in. It gives you a reference point. If you hit bottom with fly "a" and t14, lighten up a little and you should put you right in the zone.

That being said, I find determining depth in a colored river to be one of the more difficult parts of steelheading.

Fish typically hold in the bottom foot of the water column and can see a whole lot more looking "up." Why not have your fly swinging 6 inches above their heads than bouncing it below their chins? I don't really like decorating the bottom of a river with a fly that took me 20 minutes to tie, or in another's case, 3- 5 bucks to buy.


Anyways, that's my interpretation. Take what you will from it. I've only ever shook hands with one vedder steel on the fly.:eek:

Bron
 

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That for me is the most frustrating thing about Flyfising with 1 or 2 handers how do you know you are in the zone on a drift or a swing for that matter.From my 1 day with a Spey that I have logged once I figured out a decent enough cast on the Vedder i was very happy about my drift,but I did not feel the tap.I start to wonder am I down or right out of the zone starts creeping in . I must be there it was about 10 ft deep I was using a T-14 full sink 10 ft long but with out that bump.

I have not had great success with Steelhead on the fly but this being November now there is probably only Salmon (chum) in the river and they as we know can be on or off and aggression is not the same as in a Steelhead attach I believe it is eat or go hungry.I will be up again to work on my fly presentation before the Steelhead arrive in December/January.

Anyway I am sorry for getting of topic and rambling on

Bill
 

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Knowing where your fly is in the water is something that will come with practise. As others have said you don't want to be too deep to be hanging up on bottom all the time, but you want to be in the zone for the fish you are targeting. For instance, you seem to be suggesting that Chum are not that aggessive. I beg to differ in that before the salmon season ends on the Vedder try to find a run that has a fair bunch of Chum in it. Alison to me might be a bit too high but if you try mid river or sections below the Vedder River bridge you still should be able to find a decent group of fish to target. If you can keep your purple/black fly in the strike zone for those Chum they will hammer your fly. There's a reason why jig fishing for salmon has really taken off because the offering stays in the strike zone for so long. Anyhow enjoy the remainder of the salmon season and I am sure I will bump into you sometime on the river during steelhead season.
 

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The Vedder Steelhead (and all vedder fish) get pounded on harder than any other steelhead in the world I think except maybe the Salmon River in NY. They learn very quick to keep their mouth shut their entire swim.

I wouldn't say Vedder steelhead eat. They snap at things but they don't need to eat in the river like trout. They can go for months without food in freshwater.

My strategy on the Vedder is throw something different. I don't use orange or pink because thats what the bait guys and pink worm guys are using. I like using blue, black and purple.

One morning last february I was the only guy on the Lickman rd. run to hook a fish. There was about 30 other guys using bait so I tried a big blue intruder. It sure shocked people when a guy with a spey rod was the only guy to hook one.

Don't think vedder steelhead on the spey will be easy. I'd count on 20-30 hours of fishing before you hook one.
 

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The Vedder Steelhead (and all vedder fish) get pounded on harder than any other steelhead in the world I think except maybe the Salmon River in NY. They learn very quick to keep their mouth shut their entire swim.

I wouldn't say Vedder steelhead eat. They snap at things but they don't need to eat in the river like trout. They can go for months without food in freshwater.

My strategy on the Vedder is throw something different. I don't use orange or pink because thats what the bait guys and pink worm guys are using. I like using blue, black and purple.

One morning last february I was the only guy on the Lickman rd. run to hook a fish. There was about 30 other guys using bait so I tried a big blue intruder. It sure shocked people when a guy with a spey rod was the only guy to hook one.

Don't think vedder steelhead on the spey will be easy. I'd count on 20-30 hours of fishing before you hook one.
Sounds like we're in the same boat......make that shoreline. EVERY fish I took last year was on black and blue. Albeit, that's what I fish most of the time.
 

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Regarding ideal fly depth, my theoretical model is that a fly swinging a foot - and I mean 12 inches - above the bottom is virtually targeting the fish's nose. And slightly higher, like 18 inches, is almost always a practical compromise.

Our target fish normally suspend a few inches above the bottom. Say the steelhead/salmon's vertical depth (at least the bigger ones) is around eight inches, and the fish's eyes are normally oriented slightly upward (although they can move their eyes in different directions, like us). That means that a fly a foot above the bottom is right in their attention zone. And if the water is semi-clear, what we think of as fly fishable, it should be noticeable to them at 18 inches.

In reality, stream bottoms often vary in depth every few feet; and it's usually hard for even veterans to visually read water depth. But 12-18 inches above bottom is the zone that I usually aim my presentation for.
 
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