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Thread: Light tippets for steelhead & salmon?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
    Blog Entries

    Default Light tippets for steelhead & salmon?

    Hey all you S & S fisher's here's a post to stir up a fuss. I posted the following response to a question on the Fly Lines Forum it was quickly buried in the stack so I thought I'd post it out here so it draws some fire or concurrence. Both the original question and my rather wordy response are quoted below;

    [The question] "I have typically fished strictly for smaller trout in smaller rivers. I am just finishing up a new set up (Scott A2 908-4 w/ Ross CLA 4) and am trying to figure out what size and brand leaders tippet you all typically use.

    Fishing will be mainly for salmon and steelhead on medium sized rivers.

    Any help would be appreciated."

    [The response]

    I gotta tell you a few things before what I say may make sense.

    One time a guy told me he had landed twenty three large steelhead in a day in November on a NY river (average daylight in November about 9.5 hours) using 4lb tippet and a size sixteen black stone fly nymph. I did the math and decided that based on my experience at landing steelhead they either swam strait to shore and unto the gravel or he was embellishing the facts. Go figure, 4lb test, 12lb or bigger
    fish maybe 15 - 20 minutes. each if you don't break them off. Heck that's roughly four an hour and it would take six hours just to land them. Humm.....................

    Unless you need light line and if you are using an 8wt rod I don't know why you would ever go with a light line, in other words if you are going to fish a 4 - 6lb tippet why not use a 9' 5wt. rod?

    I use level fluorocarbon as a tippet for both salmon & steelhead. The lightest I go is 12lbs. and if the fish are running big make that 20lbs. For king salmon I use 25lb Maxima and usually don't snap them off. I use 7 & 9wt rods for them.

    I once had a fellow stop to chat with me on the Salmon River in NY. and when he learned that I was using 25lb leader he promptly told me that I would have a diminished chance for success with a heavy line like that. He recommended that I fish no heavier than 8 - 10lb. We said our goodbyes and good luck's and he went on his way. I didn't bother to tell him that I had caught and released seven, (7) kings that morning so far and had a few come off the fly. True story! It doesn't take long to land a fish if the rod and THE TIPPET are strong enough. I would guess that ten minutes is about accurate.

    So, heavy rod = heavy line, drive the hook home and lean into the fish like you mean it. You'll be able to land them before dark."

    Go for it, give me the devil.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Light tippets for steelhead & salmon?

    Well ya know what they say about fisherman. (We need a Pinochio nose smilie).

    I'm in total agreement with you Ard, what's the old saying; "use the right tool for the job".
    I understand the desire to push the limits of modern technology and equipment. Hopefully they all have the experience and ability to bring these fish to hand in a reasonable amount of time without killing them.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Light tippets for steelhead & salmon?

    Ditto's Fysh,

    I've always had a problem with the concept of salmon & steelies being leader shy. No matter whether they are Great Lakes run or salt run fish, if you are fishing a river that is getting a run of fish from the 'big water' then how the heck would they be leader shy? They don't see many flies & leaders in the lakes or oceans at 80 or more feet of depth.

    Now if you tell me they are shy of gill nets, boats, sharks, orcas or God knows what else eats or harasses salmon & steelhead while they are living their lives at sea or lake I'll buy into that thought right away.

    Conversely if the fish have been in for weeks and a thousand anglers have either caught & released them or snagged them (we've all seen those fish decked out like a Christmas tree with half a dozen flies or spoons stuck in their sides) then yeah, they may be a bit leader shy. If that's the case and the only way to get them to take is to offer a tiny fly on a gossamer tippet then I believe we should leave them alone and find a fresh fish. If there are no fresh fish, then I guess you should've been there last week!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Light tippets for steelhead & salmon?

    In the past I have caught several fish in the Lake Erie Tribs using 4# test on my noodle rod and spinning reel. At times when the water is clear and low that's what it takes. You do have to be prepared to fight the fish awhile and expect breakoffs. I now use seaguar Grandmax and use at least 8# leader. When I went to flyfishing I wanbted to go with a 6wt and everyone recommended 8. I went that route and glade I did. I catch just as much and am abble to land and release my fish much easier than I see guys using lighter tackle.

  5. Default Re: Light tippets for steelhead & salmon?

    here in michigan i fish the clinton hard and in dirty water i fish 6 pound tippet and thats the heavest ill go the fish here are so presured it gets bad sometimes but when we see fish on reds and we float 6 pound tippet threw there and nothing then well make a change to 4 and more then likly we hit them its a great fight for about 15 to 20 min on 4 pound tippet but our fish dont get like it is in new york are adverage fish range 6-8 pounds and youll get a 10-12 pounder in there but they take you for a run

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Central Florida

    Default Re: Light tippets for Steelhead & salmon?

    Hi to all,

    I think by now you all know that I believe in using heavy enough tackle so the fish can be landed in as sort of time as possible. Four or even six pound tippet is not heavy enough for Steelhead and Salmon. It is not a matter that you can't catch them on a light tippet, it is a matter of whats best for the fish. If you catch a 12 pound fish on a 4 pound tippet you have probably killed that fish in the process. If it has not spawned yet we have also lost the babies.

    Female Steelhead or Salmon must be allowed to spawn. A female loaded with eggs is a very stressed fish even with out being caught and abused by a fisher person. No one should be fishing for Steelhead or Salmon on the Redds. Those fish should be bypassed so they can spawn. Most Steelhead and Salmon fisheries are under a lot of pressure, especially in the Northwest. We must leave spawning fish alone or use tackle and tippets that assures a quick landing and release.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Metuchen, N.J.

    Default Re: Light tippets for steelhead & salmon?

    I use the heaviest tippet that will catch fish. If the fish are large, I'll start with 2 or 3 X & go lighter if that's what it takes. I like to bring them in quickly without horsing them, so I can release them without having to spend too much time reviving them....

  8. Default Re: Light tippets for steelhead & salmon?

    like idk how to put it but we target the males that are behide the hens usually but occ. we hook one of the hens and the guys we fish rarely never keep a fish unless it slamed it that hard to where its in the gills and will die or something is wrong with it we make sure that there ok when realeased just using the 4 pound is about the only way to go up here bc the river is only 20 yards wide that is some places and with the fishing pressure its gotta be used

  9. Default Re: Light tippets for steelhead & salmon?

    Here we go HAHAHA
    If the fishing calls for it, I will use light line for big fish, but usally the bigger the fish the bigger the line. I talked to a guy one day in Nov. he was useing a 1wt with 2lbtippet to catch BIG browns. The first thing I asked him(after he said he landed 5) was how mnay of the five did he kill? He asked what I meant. I said that unless you take alot of time to revive those fish, and that dosent always work, that most of those fish have fought to the death it takes so long to land them with that lite of gear, even if they laxxly swim off part of them will die. If when fishing for big fish with small gear, if the fight dosent look like it will end kinda fast I will break them off and am just happy knowing I out smarted the fish. I did catch a 15-16lb bow last fall with a 4wt rod and 4lb tippet, belive it or not I landed taht fish in 5-10 minutes, but I did horse him and took teh chance of breaking him off.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Light tippets for steelhead & salmon?

    Quote Originally Posted by i want to catch fish View Post
    here in michigan i fish the clinton hard and in dirty water i fish 6 pound tippet and thats the heavest ill go

    Consider fishing with 'Fluorocarbon' and going up in tippet strength.

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