I think you'll get a variety of answers to your questions because of the diversity of tributaries to the GL's and the tactics used on them. I'm confident you'll find some similarities as well. You might want to give us a refresher, which Lakes and tributaries do you intend to fish?
Personally, I fish the Lake Erie Tribs, the most shallow of all of the Great Lakes. The tributaries follow suit, they are shale bottom and often very low and clear.
My Flouro of choice is Seaguar's Grand Max, but I don't think you can go wrong with Rio either. I like a mono butt section tied with Maxima Chameleon and or Ultra Green Generally speaking for the fall, I fish mostly 2x-3x when the water is up with some color. When it drops to low and clear, I'm generally using 4x and down to 5x when the 4x doesn't seem to cut it. When I'm nymphing/egging, I'm somewhere between 3x and 5x again, depending on water conditions. When I'm streamer fishing exclusively, then I'll generally stick with 2x-3x.
In the winter, Flouro can get brittle so I usually stick with 2x or 3x.
Thanks for the answer, and again, your knowledge is a good help.
I plan a Salmon River (NY) trip in early november / mid november (from 2nd to 14th november). I hope also fishing smaller tribs like north and south Sandy's (depending on water level).
About tippets, here in France trouts are really spooki, and when I'm nyphing a 4X to 6X is the key. BUT our fish are not Great lake steelheads size !! (For me a 20 inch fish is a nice one) then, a 4X or 5X isn't just to small ??
I'm not as familiar with Lake Ontario Tribs like the Salmon River but I suspect what I've said in my previous will work. Hopefully some of the others who fish the Salmon River will chime in with more localized information.
Trout here in the US can be very spooky as well, especially in spring fed creeks. When I'm fishing these spring creeks, much like you, I am often using a leader with a large portion of tippet being between 4x-5x, 6x when I really need it.
4x and 5x will suit you just fine up there. When I get down to 5x, it's really just the tip of the leader that I'll use 5x on, probably between 1-2 feet. The bulk of my leader material is 3x and larger.
Even though the tippet size is most often dictated by the size of the fly, I have had good luck dropping down a size and sometimes two when the fish are very spooky.
That Drennan fluoro you mentioned is made by a company called Sunline, one of 3 manufacturers of fluorocarbon in the World.
Sunline sells it under the label V-Hard and it is very pricey due to the expensive packaging.
It actually has the lowest refractive index of any fluorocarbon sold today, meaning it is the most invisible under water. It is a little stiff because of this, but I never found it to be an issue.
The issue with the way Drennan packages it is they take what Sunline sells as 6 pound under the V-Hard label and they package it as 4 pound, so it seems very thick but in reality it breaks at 2-3 pounds over the listed breaking strength.
It is quite comical how many lines in the fishing World regarding fluoro and mono are the exact same thing, sold by a different company with different packaging...
Think about it, only 3 companies make fluoro, yet how many sell it?
For Great Lakes migratory Trout, I would order some 5, 6 and 8 pound Drennan and call it a day if you are nymphing. If the water is stained, just use Maxima Ultragreen in 5, 6 or 8 pound, no reason to use fluoro in stained water. If you are fishing streamers, 8, 10 or 12 pound Maxima Ultragreen, to use fluoro for streamer fishing is a waste of money and fluoro doesn't do loop knots well "especially in lighter line weights", I always fish my streamers with a loop knot to the hook, much better action that way...
If I was fishing 5X, 6X or 7X I would go with the Grand Max as it is more limp and gonna fish the tiny flies associated with those tippets more effectively...
Wow, 5x, 6x or less? I know guys who use nothing but 1x. I use 2x mostly, sometimes when in very clear water I use 3x but that's about it. I guess it depends upon where you fish. I fish smaller rivers. Lots of wood snags. I have broken off 2x trying to hold back fish from running into log piles. You let him go and he's gone, simple as that.
I had one fish this fall get me into a fallen willow tree. I could see my indicator up against the branch. So I waded in and I could see the fish laying under the branch and my top fly stuck in the branch. I've noticed that steelhead seem to just stop and lay still if they have a steady tension on them when they are in snags. I bent over following my line down to the first fly. I ended leaning over so much that water was running in the top of my waders. As soon as I unhooked the top fly taking the tension off the fish took off like a rocket. I am trying to get the fish under control again. Well it didn't last long. He ran about 10 feet and he was into another branch of the same tree. So I waded over and followed my line down again. This time I couldn't see the fish or any of the flies. I just followed my line as best I could. It was a really thick snag full of grass and leaves that had been pushed against the branches by the current. I end up loosing the line in all the fine debris. I fell around some more trying to find the line again while all the time my waders have water seeping in. I ended up feeling the back of the fish. Mr. steelhead was having none of that. He took off like a shot. my line followed him into the snag, suddenly stopped and then "pop", he was gone. Gone with 2 flies and my indicator. He left me standing there with one arm soaking wet and water sloshing around in the top half of my waders. Those wader belts do a good job of keeping the water out of your legs I can testify to that! Only time I can remember loosing and indicator. Every time I have tried to get a fish out of a snag by going in after them it has turned out bad.
I can't imagine using 5x in snag filled water. Its like your conceding to give up on a fish that makes a run. At least with 2x you can clamp down and at least maybe turn the fish then you have a chance of landing him. If your rivers aren't full of snags then by all means try 4x, maybe 5x but any smaller seems to be unnecessary.
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