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julesjelev

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Reply with quote  #1 
I often read how difficult it was in the past to get down to stealhead in the winter and incite a bite.  Statements are made that it is the current new line technology in the form of Skagit heads and sink tips that allows the modern day spey angler to be relatively successful in the cold weather.

My personal experience is different.  I do not fish sink tips and skagit heads in the cold months and interestingly I do not catch any less fish than in summer months.  What am I missing here?

If one can catch them now, anyone would have been able to catch them many years ago; only if they tried.

Poppy Cummins

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Reply with quote  #2 
I don't think you are missing anything.
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Poppy=Red Shed Spey Rod Pimp http://www.redshedflyshop.com FRSCA-Founding Member How you get the line out and fishing is personal preference so as long as it works and is easy no one should care but the caster. MSB
AJ Morris

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It's been my observation that a lot of the steelhead "lore" comes from the coastal rivers of Puget Sound or the West End. By and large, those are gravely streams without the kind of structure we see here inland. In many instances, fish do tend to hug the bottom and are less inclined to move vertically to take a fly. Which is not that same as saying they won't...

Then too, much of the accepted wisdom has been repeated and passed down without being questioned. For example, when I first moved to Idaho, there were a lot of older guys around who took at face value the idea that steelhead would only rise to a waked fly, or a deeply swung fly on a sinking line.

It is also worth mentioning that the tackle industry is in the business of making money. They are not in the business of public service, and there is no profit in telling people they don't need whatever-it-is. A good way to sell tackle is to build a narrative that implies what was difficult or impossible in the past is now achievable.  

Finally, it has been my observation that the majority of anglers do not spend much time learning about steehead physiology and behavior, and have little idea about where to find them in different conditions. As Greg Pearson once noted, they spend all their time managing their tackle rather than managing their fishing.

As Poppy says, I don't think you are missing anything.

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Wayne Dreger

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Reply with quote  #4 
Is this thread about "winter steelhead", "summer steeelhead",fishing steelhead in winter months. There are a number of issues when trying to compare factors. Type of water fished , holding areas, water conditions. If one is selective and fishes water that allows certain presentation there will be some success. Presenting a surface fly over a deep pocket in 5% water does not yield much.







julesjelev

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Wayne,

I was referring to fishing for both summer run and winter run fish during the winter months.

The question I had was mostly on the short head lines that most winter steelheaders feel they should use to catch fish.   It is not about surface presentation in the winter.

The way I see it, I can go down about 4 feet in the water column without the help of any tips, especially in the winter when the water is low and the flows are slower.  This means I do not need any Skagit set up to get to those fish and catch them.
julesjelev

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Quote:
It is also worth mentioning that the tackle industry is in the business of making money. They are not in the business of public service, and there is no profit in telling people they don't need whatever-it-is.



This has to be it!
Poppy Cummins

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Reply with quote  #7 
There are many different ways to catch a steelhead on a fly. For me the ultimate way is with a floating line and a waking fly. This is my steelheading bible.

drylinesteelheadbook.jpg 


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Poppy=Red Shed Spey Rod Pimp http://www.redshedflyshop.com FRSCA-Founding Member How you get the line out and fishing is personal preference so as long as it works and is easy no one should care but the caster. MSB
julesjelev

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Reply with quote  #8 
Poppy, I wanted to try fishing a dry fly, but in the summer the rivers are off color while in the winter they are too cold.  I just have to reach the point where I do not want to hook a fish; then it would be an easy choice.
AJ Morris

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Reply with quote  #9 
Actually, I've had a lot of success on a waked fly when the water is off color. It's worth pointing out that sight is only one of the senses fish use to find prey, and I'm not convinced they even need to see a waked fly in order to grab it.

How cold do your rivers get in the winter? I've taken fish on wakers when the water was in the low forties. For that matter, I'm not convinced that if the temps stabilize for a few days, that fish won't move for a waked fly when temps are even lower.

Years ago, I watched a friend running a bobber & Nymph setup down a seam, and when the bobber started to wake, a fish came up and slammed it. A couple winters ago, another friend pulled his fly out of the keeper and tossed it in the water. It hadn't even sunk when a steelhead calmly came up and ate it. I've also talked to enough gear guys who have seen steelhead come up and nose a dead-drifted bobber or float to make me wonder.

There is a gentleman named Todd Hirano that is a fanatic about fishing on top, even in the winter. It may still be a lower percentage game, but he catches enough...

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julesjelev

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Reply with quote  #10 
I fish through the winter each and every Saturday no matter what the temperature or the snow level is.  Some days are as cold as -15C or worse.  I do not take water temperatures, but occasionally I see ice coming downstream and on most days there is shore ice along the banks.

One thing worth mentioning is that even in sub zero temperatures I sometimes see steelhead rising in some spots.  On one day this year I saw such rises in three separate pools!  I did not change my fly, which I should have done.   I just put the fly I had in there and in most cases I had a fish on.  Over the winter there were still two rises I saw that I am sure I covered with my wet fly but could elicit no take. Possibly those were fish that I had already caught before.

I tied a couple of surface flies two years ago that I thought of using, but I never did.  I will post a picture once I find them in my boxes.
julesjelev

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Reply with quote  #11 
Found the flies.   They seem to be quite large, but I no longer know the actual hook size.  Smaller than #1 but larger than #6 for sure. 2019_KLM_66.jpg 




and one fish tail from today.
2019_KLM_64.jpg

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