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Discussion Starter #1
Moving to Oregon this summer I have obviously fallen in love with surface flies and finally got my first fish to hand from a skater last week!

My question is do you guys generally just skate or do you pop most of the time too? Obviously this is dependent on the pattern but it seems most foam type skaters (skaopper etc) are chugged more than just skated... I don't really enjoy popping a fly all day so I'm hoping to hear that people are just as successful calmly skating through life!
 

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seaterspey
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I know popping after a while starts to take a toll on your wrists!

Popping for Skahopper and straight drift for the rest.
 

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I've tried popping. Don't enjoy it. I've hooked fish both ways, but I usually just skate my bug till I raise a fish. Then if the fish needs a little extra coaxing I give the fly a pop or two and often they come back and eat. Take this with a grain of salt, though, I seldom skate anymore except as a searching method for finding aggressive fish. I much prefer the yank of a fish grabbing a fly swung subsurface over even an explosive surface take.
 

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seaterspey
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I have never tried simply because after popping for a while I want to switch to something else where I do not have to pop.

I give my guide Rich Zellman hell every time I'm with him about switching to a wet and stop popping.

Pop,Pop,Pop
 

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This was the first year I really attempted surface steelheading and I managed to catch fish both ways. If I get bored or tired doing it one way I'll just try it the other way for a bit.
 

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I find popping really distracting from what I love about swinging flies, so I don't do it. Much.

If a place is whispering fish to me, and a quiet skate brings nothing, I'll try popping. But at that moment I'm trying to catch a fish, not swinging flies the way I like to, covering the water, hitting targets, getting the drifts I want.

That said, I don't get to fish skating water much, so have only done it consistently on a couple OR rivers. All my fish came on a quiet skate with a hitched muddler.
 

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The Dude abides
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chug chug chug chug!!!!. I do both. I chug when i lose sight of my fly and skate when i see it. or i chug to kill slack thne let it drift. I chug in heavy water and skate in not so heavy. etc etc etc. if i am skating, you bet that bug chugs some times
 

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I tend to chug 'em sparingly, even though my good buddy Todd is a chugging meistro and his foamy beauties are famous. Certainly I have 'em in my box and tie 'em on now and again but I generally go with a more conventional muddler/caddis buggy. I'm not sure that I don't actually prefer the take on a wet, btw, but I like fishing skaters. I've learned to quit worrying if they are always on top or not...or I try not to worry.

I managed to hook just ONE NU fish this summer so my input is probably of little value.

But Todd's 'Lil Wang is a wicked creation that fish seem to find adorable.

Were I not so stubborn I would lash it on more.
 

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How many tens of thousands of steelhead have been taken on the regular skated dry in the decades leading up to the hype and BS associated with chugging? If you don't want to fish the twitch, don't.

Was able to fish with an angler this summer where the twitch and foam skater were practiced (in his hands) as an art form. Intriguing for sure. You are going to get some fish with the method that you wouldn't otherwise with the classic skater. And vice versa.
 

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loco alto!
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a hitched fly (ideally) has a good amount of built in wiggle that straight-knot flies lack, worth keeping in mind from the get-go. I twitch only secondarily, often sparingly, with a favorite application being to "enhance" a dead-drift, though more actively when the water is really cold or when coho are around
 

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Pupil of the river.
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chug chug chug chug!!!!. I do both. I chug when i lose sight of my fly and skate when i see it. or i chug to kill slack thne let it drift. I chug in heavy water and skate in not so heavy. etc etc etc. if i am skating, you bet that bug chugs some times
MZilliox has it down! Chug and pop in heavy water, or if a fish needs a little more motivation. Skating muddlers is the sh*t though.... And they do hook a lot more fish if they're wiggled, not popped, but have just a touch of movement. Hitch 'em.

It all depends about the water. I love skating smooth water and chugging pocket water!
 

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MZilliox has it down! Chug and pop in heavy water, or if a fish needs a little more motivation. Skating muddlers is the sh*t though.... And they do hook a lot more fish if they're wiggled, not popped, but have just a touch of movement. Hitch 'em.

It all depends about the water. I love skating smooth water and chugging pocket water!
+1
though I am hardly any expert on surface fishing for steelhead, this is what I find myself doing.
JB
 

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All my fish have come to skated flies. I do continue to pop them from time to time, just to see if I can make it happen. And I do want to make it happen.

One of my most memorable steelhead trips came when I watched a steelhead grab and miss Todd's popped fly twice, then land on the fly so hard, it instantly broke off. I want to create that reaction.

I do know that Dean Finerty says that he has gone back to more skating on the NU. He says that since the fish have seen so many chugged flies by the time they get to the fly water, they have become immuned.
 

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Pupil of the river.
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I do know that Dean Finerty says that he has gone back to more skating on the NU. He says that since the fish have seen so many chugged flies by the time they get to the fly water, they have become immuned.
I would agree with that statement to some extent. Obviously it still works on some of those fish though.
 

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I try a little of both. However I am new to fishing dries. I skated through a sweet spot and nothing. It looked like especially juicy water so swung back through chugging and had one explode up but missed it. But he only came up once and never showed again.
 

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I pretty much do what Matt does as well, as in letting water type dicatate my presentation. I twitch more aggressively in heavy water, use a sofer and more subtle "pulsating" twitch in soft water and I may use a straight swing/skate through flat water.

Keith, always great fishing with you buddy. Not sure if I'm a maestro of any sort, but I manage to have fun out there anyway. I can understand about your preference for more traditional ties. Your muddler/caddis ties are super buggy and fishy. You and Adrian are both "please hold the foam" kind of guys which is why during one of my tying sessions in BC, Adrian was making some tying requests like "hey can you tie one of your skaters, but without the foam"... Adrian ended up conceptualizing a fly that had the elements of the wang and merging the greaseliner together with it. We named what we came up the "Freebird" because it reminded me of when I was in club bands in the late 80's and the most requested song from our often drunken audiences was "Freebird" by Lynrd Skynrd.

Terry,
I'll remember that fish that crushed my skater and broke off for a long time. In retrospect, I think my running line must have been tangled around my reel handle and I didn't realize it. That was deifinitely a steelhead that responded to the twitch!

Todd
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Well it sounds as though the way I've figured out to do things is pretty similar to everyone else. I personally don't have too much of an issue with foam when skating but I still find myself starting with a "hold the foam" type meal! Haha great phrase there Todd!

I've never thought too much about the fact that the NU fish have watched that so much BUT I can say for certainty they will come smash a skaopper chugged in calm water up pretty high in the river :D
 

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You're right about the NU fish. The fish which came up on Todd's fish happened after hearing Dean talk about it. I only mentioned it as one way to look at whether to chug, or not. Like John Shewey and many others have said, "we do not know why the steelhead takes the fly." So we just do what gives us the most confidence and count on it working.
 
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