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#911273 - 10/27/14 01:17 AM Topwater Takes
chrome/22 Offline
Captain C/22 - Team Stay Up Right!

Registered: 01/13/00
Posts: 4400
Loc: Hurricane Ridge , Wa.
Didn't want to hijack the "October" thread, so here's a story that was passed down to me last spring by the gent who purchased my Watermaster kodiak.

Three guys were fishing (I seem to recall) the upper Dean in BC for summer steelhead, two old hands & one fellow learning the ropes. The older 2 were coaching the new guy into his 1st big steelie on a dry.

They were working down a nice run & found a player, 1st serious pass the fish came to the fly & the rookie yanked it away on an attempted hook set, 2nd pass fish still interested, same result. Now the older gents spoke up........... "do that same cast again, then pin the fly line to the cork with your hand, turn your head away & when you feel the rod really load up release the line turn back to the river & join the fight."


I enjoyed that, as I could see myself in the rookies place & doing the same thing.



c/22
_________________________
Apocalypse Steelheader.
Chucking gear as the end draws near.

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#911410 - 10/28/14 06:18 PM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: chrome/22]
jam session Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 268
Loc: Lake Goodwin
I can relate to that too...have to re-discipline myself every year when it is time to skate flies again. I've been taught a little different than your old timers recipe for the true rookie. People that react too soon to the strike also often get excited and pin the line to the cork too long which will break the fish off. More foolproof is to set the drag strong enough to set the hook, keep your hand off the line, maybe nod a little to feed a little slack to the fish. When line pulls off the reel you got him and usually all hell breaks lose. I really enjoy fish that come back to the fly like that and the one I posted in the Oct thread was a classic. First cast the fish rose to the fly with a slight splash but didn't take it. Next time it rose in the same spot again, missed but turned and then chased it down for another strike, but still didn't grab it. At this point I changed to a similar pattern in a different, more subdued color. Next cast she nailed it in a spectacular strike followed by a 30 yd run. I love it when it works like that!

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#911413 - 10/28/14 06:41 PM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: jam session]
ColeyG Offline
Ranger Danger

Registered: 02/08/07
Posts: 3098
Loc: AK
On the lower Dean a few years back Stam, AP and I were packing up on our last morning on the river getting ready to fly out from the Boundary Pool when a pair of older gentlemen rowed across the river to our side to fish as we were packing.

They were both waking dries and AP and I chatted one of them up as they had hooked a few fish and we were intrigued. AP and I had each put in a little time waking dries on the trip but didn't connect. AP rolled a few and I didn't have a look near as I could tell.

The fellow we talked to seemed to offer his humble yet seemingly sagacious wisdom with the confidence that only time and experience can accomplish. I wish I could remember his exact words as they were chosen carefully, but instead I am just left with the gist.

I asked him what his strategy was after having a fish boil on his fly but not take it. He responded that he makes roughly the same cast but shorter by a few feet. More often than not a steelhead will return to the same lie it was in before your fly piqued it's interest. If the fish is aggressive it won't hesitate to make a longer move for your fly on the next cast and by shortening up you are less likely to overcast and/or line the fish.

If the fish doesn't show itself on that cast he said to make a cast slightly longer than the original cast. In some cases the steelhead will move downstream of it's original lie and into more of a position of advantage with more room to move on the intruder if it appears again.

In each case, if the fish shows but doesn't take again, he puts on a smaller dry fly and then the LBSSF (little black sub surface fly) making the same cast again successively. If this overall strategy doesn't take the fish, something at or near the surface isn't likely to and he moves on.

A few other things I noticed from watching this pair fish. They were each fishing fairly long, light Scandi style lines as compared to the short heavy Skagit style lines we were chucking. Their rods were probably more in the Switch category than true two handed rods. Their flies were much smaller than the flies I had been waking (Ska-hopper style) and looked to be more traditional patterns like the Bomber and Waller Waker. The end result of all of this gear selection was a much more finesse presentation and smaller profile/impact on the target zone.

For what it's worth.
_________________________
I am still not a cop.

EZ Thread Yarn Balls

"I don't care how you catch them, as long as you treat them well and with respect." Lani Waller in "A Steelheader's Way."

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#911417 - 10/28/14 07:15 PM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: ColeyG]
jam session Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 268
Loc: Lake Goodwin
Sounds like an excellent strategy and similar to what I usually do, depending on what the fish was doing. In my case fly was fairly small #4 Oct Caddis. We also will follow up with a weighted nymph if the surface flies are not successful. I prefer to catch them on the surface but I don't catch enough steelhead to want to leave one that won't take on the surface. Most of the fish I caught on the Ronde this year were on weighted nymphs not skaters. Oh and forgot to mention I am fishing a 10ft 6 wt single hander.


Edited by jam session (10/28/14 07:17 PM)

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#911418 - 10/28/14 07:17 PM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: jam session]
ColeyG Offline
Ranger Danger

Registered: 02/08/07
Posts: 3098
Loc: AK
Dead drifting the nymph or swinging?
_________________________
I am still not a cop.

EZ Thread Yarn Balls

"I don't care how you catch them, as long as you treat them well and with respect." Lani Waller in "A Steelheader's Way."

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#911419 - 10/28/14 07:23 PM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: ColeyG]
jam session Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 268
Loc: Lake Goodwin
Good question, actually both. Adjust cast angle and mend to get the nymph down, dead drift, and usually feed line at the end of the drift if there is strong current or depth. Then tighten up so fly rises and swings. About 60-80% of the fish will hit when the fly starts to rise but they also take on the dead drift. Caught several fish in the chop at the top of chutes on the dead drift this year. And BTW using floating line but not using an indicator.


Edited by jam session (10/28/14 07:27 PM)

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#911450 - 10/28/14 09:50 PM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: jam session]
Streamer Offline
No Stars for You!

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1817
Loc: T-Town
I can attest to the strategy Coley mention, because in several situations I have tried something similar with excellent results. This is particularly effective when sight fishing and there are visible fish because you are able to witness and determine the fish's behavior and response to your offering.

The method to my madness with flyfishing for steelhead (especially with summer run) is to employ the least intrusive method by starting with a dead drifted dry. If that doesn't work, adding some skating action is sometimes all that is needed to elicit a strike. When the fish are being particularly non-aggressive, swinging a LBSSF (Little black sub surface fly) right above them usually does the trick. If not, present that BBF (Big black fly) broadside and deep to piss 'em off. If you are able to see fish at this point and it sends them running for the hills, move on.


Good luck,


Matt
_________________________
“The darkside law man... He’s just the darkside cop-out.” - Coming Soon

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#911467 - 10/29/14 02:13 AM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: ColeyG]
chrome/22 Offline
Captain C/22 - Team Stay Up Right!

Registered: 01/13/00
Posts: 4400
Loc: Hurricane Ridge , Wa.
Originally Posted By: ColeyG
If the fish doesn't show itself on that cast he said to make a cast slightly longer than the original cast. In some cases the steelhead will move downstream of it's original lie and into more of a position of advantage with more room to move on the intruder if it appears again.



Interesting.

I never thought of a rested steelhead being threatened by a surface fly, skated or dead drifted. Now a huge MOAL swinging into his zone @ his eye level....yeah. Thats fight or flight time in 54' degree water.

My thought is they looked to the surface fly as a reminder of their youthful days eating bugs before heading outbound to the big saltpond



c/22
_________________________
Apocalypse Steelheader.
Chucking gear as the end draws near.

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#911488 - 10/29/14 01:09 PM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: chrome/22]
ColeyG Offline
Ranger Danger

Registered: 02/08/07
Posts: 3098
Loc: AK
I would tend to agree and I think that response to a surface fly is probably atypical but possible just the same. I doubt many flies or gear for that matter really make a steelhead feel threatened. Annoyed certainly.

The dry fly take does seem to be more of a curious or imprinted behavior.
_________________________
I am still not a cop.

EZ Thread Yarn Balls

"I don't care how you catch them, as long as you treat them well and with respect." Lani Waller in "A Steelheader's Way."

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#911514 - 10/29/14 05:26 PM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: ColeyG]
Salmo g. Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 13141
If a steelhead has a brain the size of a pea and can't remember that it ate a giant plastic pink worm yesterday, I have my doubts that it eats a dry fly today because it remembers eating floating caddis and mayflies as a pre-smolt some one or two years previous.

I think steelhead, like other fish, have archtypal or instinctive feeding behaviors. They pick things up in their mouths because they don't have fingers and opposable thumbs. If they think it's alive, they might smack it with their gill cover of side of body to stun it before circling around to pick it up in their mouth.

I've long wondered why steelhead exhibit feeding behavior when they are not actively feeding. I think they do like other animals, including humans, do. They repeat familiar patterns. They have been feeding since emerging from the gravel, so they continue to do so opportunistically. Adult steelhead pick up leaves, small sticks, and all kinds of flotsam in the water column. Fortunately for us, that includes bait, lures, and flies.

As for comeback strategy, I think it needs to satisfy two criteria: 1. make it easy; 2. appeal to the fish's curiosity. I first repeat the cast that rose the fish the first time. That has been the most successful action for me, and has resulted in raising steelhead up to 5 additional times after the first rise. If that doesn't work, I back up 20 - 25' and work my way back down to the point of the initial rise, sometimes with the same fly, sometimes with a smaller fly. (The smaller fly hypothesis goes like this: the fish can see well and obviously saw the first fly to which it rose. Make him work a little harder to see something slightly smaller and hopefully maintain his curiosity.) If that doesn't work, assume the fish's curiosity of the surface has waned, but maybe it will come back for a size 6, 8, or 10 wet Spade. This has worked, but less often than repeating whatever stimulated the initial rise. If none of these work I assume the fish is no longer curious, no longer a player, and move on. But if convenient I will return later, after a half hour, hour, or longer and see if it's a player then. And that has worked at least as often as repeating whatever produced the initial rise.

Regarding fish that rise repeatedly but don't get hooked: assuming we're not fishing the hangdown, which is an extremely difficult position from which to get a hookup, the fish is rising and hitting the fly, but not taking it in its mouth. Can't hook a fish that doesn't actually take the bait.

Sg

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#911520 - 10/29/14 05:42 PM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: Salmo g.]
Todd Offline
Dick Nipples

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 27443
Loc: Seattle, Washington USA
Harry Lemire's technique as I heard him explain it on the banks of the Kispiox in response to this question:

Q: What size and pattern of wet fly would you use to follow up a missed surface rise?

A: I wouldn't do that.

Just throwing that out there wink

Fish on...

Todd

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#911531 - 10/29/14 06:51 PM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: Todd]
jam session Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 268
Loc: Lake Goodwin
Well Sh!t Todd, Didn't anyone ask him what he would do? Changing flies at some point has to be part of the routine unless you're an elitist or stubborn. I have personally seen that work for myself and others multiple times. My daughter caught a fish on the Ronde a few years ago that hit after the third fly change and struck at all 4 flies it saw. It happened to be the original pattern in a smaller size that it actually took. I think Salmo's theory makes sense, they may be hitting the fly to drown it but not actually taking it. Challenge is to figure out how to stimulate the take.

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#911533 - 10/29/14 07:07 PM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: jam session]
Todd Offline
Dick Nipples

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 27443
Loc: Seattle, Washington USA
From the few conversations I had with Harry up there I suspect that if he got a rise without a hookup he'd take a few more casts at it and then move on...

I have only caught a few...three...on dry flies, all on skated flies. The first was on the Kalama up in the holy waters way back in the 80s and after I whiffed on it two casts in a row another far more experience angler there suggested that I don't set the hook...and the fish rose on the third cast easy as pie and was pulling out line before I ever even lifted the rod.

The other two grabbed it and were on before I could even react fast enough to screw it up, but I definitely cut my teeth on troots on dries and figured out long ago that if your choice is to set the hook too early or not set it at all...well, not setting it at all results in a lot more hookups.

Fish on...

Todd

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#911639 - 10/30/14 05:39 PM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: Salmo g.]
topwater Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 06/28/00
Posts: 452
Loc: Rocky Mountain High
best advice i got before my dean trip was to fish a floating line exclusively for at least a day or two. rose five landed one the first day and never looked back... and chuckled at all of the people bitchin' about how slow the fishing was.

did fish a sink tip for an hour the one day the river blew out. had no confidence fishing the chocolate milk so decided to fish a big black fly on a floater and got the only grab of the day we heard about.

i'm in the camp of maybe changing the fly once (usually to a smaller dry) and then continuing to fish. i get satisfied steelhead fishing easily and catch enough summer runs this way to get satisfied.

what's funny is i now will tie on a dry if i'm not feeling confident there are fish around. i usually end up surprised.

the best thing about fishing waked dries (besides the grabs) is that you learn how to swing water much quicker because you actually get to see what the currents do to your fly.

man that f'ing trip was fun.

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#911699 - 10/31/14 01:48 PM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: topwater]
Salmo g. Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 13141
It was always interesting to hear what Lemire had to say regarding steelhead and fishing for them. However, what he was willing to do to get a steelhead to hit on his last trip to the Kispiox and on his first trip to the Kispiox in 1968 were light years apart. So what I mean is, that just because he wouldn't follow up, or follow up with a wet fly, doesn't mean that is a fishing model everyone should adopt, at least not before the age of 70.

I have to stop and ask myself why I do what I do. That is, I've had a reel loaded with a Skagit head and a bunch of sink tips along with me on my last three trips to B.C., yet never strung it up even on days I couldn't raise a fish to the surface. Why? Because I didn't drive 850 miles to hook a steelhead on a sink tip, that's why. Ultimately, getting that steelhead to hit is both a function of the fish's willingness to play, and the angler's willingness to move the sideboards that define his fishing method. Harry wouldn't budge his sideboards a millimeter the last few years he fished before his death. Steelhead fishing is not a logical enterprise.

Sg

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#911707 - 10/31/14 02:57 PM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: Salmo g.]
Todd Offline
Dick Nipples

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 27443
Loc: Seattle, Washington USA
He wouldn't budge, was old and moderately feeble...and still managed to average raising about a fish a day, which was a damn sight better than all of the young "experts" that sometimes orbited him like the Sun wink

Fish on...

Todd

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#911723 - 10/31/14 04:04 PM Re: Topwater Takes [Re: Todd]
topwater Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 06/28/00
Posts: 452
Loc: Rocky Mountain High
Originally Posted By: Todd
He wouldn't budge, was old and moderately feeble...and still managed to average raising about a fish a day, which was a damn sight better than all of the young "experts" that sometimes orbited him like the Sun wink


confidence and not giving a crap about what other people are doing seem to be the holy grail in steelhead fly fishing. the best seem to be able to maintain those two things all the time... while others waver in one or both.

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