Fishing / Controling The Submerged Fly;

Ard

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Sooner or later I should gather everything I've written into the forum threads on streamer fishing and put them into a reference source thread. I'm not telling you that I am an expert, however I have been using streamers of the classic type for nearly 35 years as my primary fishing flies. Prior to 1980 I dabbled with them but had no real focus. By 1980 I had made a trip to Maine to fish for Land Locked Atlantic Salmon and it was then that the affair between myself and all those pretty flies I'd been tying for years really blossomed. It took years, it took determination, and I enjoyed every minute of the process because I knew I was in pursuit of something everyone else was not. I'll start off this post with copy from a reply I made to a question about 'How to swing the fly, do you follow with the rod, do you mend & etc. I began to answer and then realized that whatever I said would be viewed by a few and then buried away in the tens of thousands of threads and posts we have here. So with no further preamble I'll copy the original Question and reply and then get on with it.

"Drifting, Mending, Swinging And Hooking fish: It looks like there are many different ways to do this and many ways I`ve never been exposed to."

[Quote from previous post]To follow or not to follow, that is the question.

After a fly has been cast into the flow there are a lot of things that one must train their mind and hands to do. A few of the control factors are current speed, depth, and whether or not you have a targeted zone where you expect there to be fish.

Think about the relationship between the rod tip (which represents the stationary terminus of the line. The fly represents the moving point of your action as it traveled down and comes across the current in its effort to come to a halt directly below the rod tip hanging in the current. All of the things that happen between when the fly lands and when it reaches the dangle straight bellow the rod tip are in the realm of control of the angler.

The mends either upstream or down are your means to control both the flies depth and its direction of travel to some extent. The position of the rod tip, your stationary point of the line to fly connection is your primary tool for controlling the speed of the flies course. The speed with which the fly travels can and will have an effect on the maximum and minimum depths obtainable given the waters speed. The mending is your way to counteract the varied current speeds and seams of current between you, the rod tip, and the fly which is moving but doing so in direct relationship to the mends and movement or lack there of in the rod tip.[End Quote]

If what I am saying is making sense I'll post a thread wherein I'll expand on the concept of rod tip movement and the various results one can expect when this is combined with other small manipulations possible from your position while fishing a submerged fly.

What is printed above was the reply I began but then I realized that I was only scratching the surface so to say. I believe that the single greatest misconception people must deal with when they progress to using a 2 handed fly rod is that they must completely change the way they fish. What I am about to expand on is basic single hand fishing using a streamer fly. This is exactly how I have continued to fish in the wake of taking up a Spey rod. Let us assume that you have been using traditional North American fly casting & fishing techniques for an extended period of time here. By this I mean the single hand fly rod. The use of the Spey rod is simply your graduation to a more effective way to fish with a streamer type fly. The added length and the 2 handed grip make for control of the fly line and thus the fly much easier. Remember please that I do not use Skagit or full sinking lines as you read on. I believe that when using a very short shooting head you sacrifice your ability to control your fishing (the line and fly) to accommodate ease of casting. The braided or for that matter any running line you may have loaded behind the 'head' provides very poor mending and thus poor control over your fishing. Likewise a full sinking line leaves you at the mercy of the river once the line and fly have settled in and began their down stream trip. I am not saying that either of these lines don't catch fish but they do limit your ability to actively interact with the swing to a great extent. So let us focus on the use of a floating line with a head length of at least 45 feet as I continue please.

I made a crude drawing that I hope will aid in my ability to reference the act of controlling a cast after it has landed and sometimes just before the fly has landed.


I find it very handy to put the very first upstream mend into the floating line just as the cast is unfurling, right before the fly slaps the surface that is. This would be mend 'A'. Please don't confuse this with a 'Drop or Slack' cast because it is not. The mend is made as the bulk of the fly line has reached the surface and the leader is yet to turn completely over. It is at that precise moment that the wrist rolls creating a much larger circular motion in the rod tip and thus throwing the mend upstream. Depending on the length of line between rod tip and end of line, you will need varying amounts of power in that 'wrist roll' motion. The technique of doing this without a thought will be something you will at first need to focus on and remember to do, eventually it will become just part of your cast. Now why is this important you may wonder? Every motion of either pull or slack that you make to the line via the rod and rod tip are directly transferred to the sinking fly and leader. When you allow a cast to land - the fly to begin to sink & gain depth - and then remember, 'oh I should make a mend'; that mend, that pull on the terminal end of the fly line which is that sunken fly will jerk it back upstream and Toward the Surface. Since the whole concept of the streamer type fly is for it to get down in the water column and swim along like something that may be fun to eat, everything you do with that rod and line should be targeted at keeping the fly down and traveling through or toward the area you believe there to be a fish. Make sense? By training yourself to instantly put a generous upstream slack loop into every cast you avoid jerking that fly back up toward the surface by a foot or more. In the game of sunken streamers every second and inch of sink after the cast & fly have landed are critical. After all the deeper the better is the rule in most cases right. So there's something to begin with, if you already do this like a machine, good. If you don't then perhaps that'll be useful.

Now lets look at the smaller mend 'B' in that wonderful drawing of mine.

This or these depending on current speed & depth, this is a smaller effort at giving the fly more hang time / sink time. In the scenario I am describing here we are assuming that the target water lies somewhere to your 11: O clock if we consider straight across the channel as 12: O' clock, and the Dangle point which is at your 9. You can make as many upstream mends as seem appropriate but do remember the lesson about not jerking the fly back toward the surface when doing this. It is during these mends that you may or should be following the cast and swing of your fly with the rod tip. The follow comes natural because you will end up pointed right where you think that fly is at the end of each mend motion. You'll find that with rods between 13 and 15 foot in length it doesn't take much effort to make the floating line respond to a gentle flip of the rod / tip. Did I mention to be sure your line is clean and floating as high and dry as it can? I guess not and it's time, I have been using Glide from Loon Outdoors and it seems to do a good job. Having that line bobbing along like a cork makes all the other pieces come together much better. You will find a sticky thread in the Spey forums here; http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/f...ded-connector-your-welded-loop-spey-line.html If you scroll down past the How To pictures you'll find how I make my sinking leader. This system keeps your fly line on the surface better than anything else I ever tried. I have stayed the course since 1994 using some variation of this for sinking my flies. Whether or not you choose to try the novel way that I sink the fly will be up to you but if you do you may find that it leaves your line floating and allows for easy pickup and sweep when you are ready to cast again.

Looking again at the diagram that I so finely crafted ;)


We have now determined that we are indeed following the fly with the rod tip as it courses the stream or river. However we are following in relation to that series of light flips or the rod tip we're making to offer more time to sink to the fly and less drag from the current on the line between you - the rod tip and the fly. Good, we're keeping it down as best we can all things considered. During all this focus and control the fly will pass through your ten O' clock and advance through the 11 area. It is here you may want to consider the mends marked 'C'. These are down stream mends made ever so gently so as not to greatly disturb the swinging fly. They do however have an effect that we sometimes fail to consider. The downstream mend allows for a very slight pause in the flies movement followed by an acceleration in swim speed and a slight change of direction. The size or sharpness of radius put into the loop thrown into the downstream mend will alter the direction the fly is traveling. The fly will deviate from the rather wide down and across path it has been following in relation to your position and take a more lateral cross current path before returning to the radial swing. This cross current action is what was known as the Grease Line Technique. Remember you & the rod are the fulcrum point in this angler velocity exercise, everything else is moving much more than either of you. You do have the control tool in that rod and floating line if you learn to utilize them to their fullest degree. With each 'small' downstream mend the fly will seek to realign itself with the new radius you have created in the floating line. I have found over and over that this slight variation in speed and direction is the trigger for many a grabbed fly as I near that last portion of the swing.

Getting to the 'D' or Dangle point, that's what this has been leading up to. Everything you've done since you made that unconscious strong mend before the fly landed has been designed to slow the swing and to keep the fly in the water as long and as effectively as possible to this point. Let us not be hasty once the fly has reached point 'D' okay? When the fly has reached it's destination directly bellow your position without a bump that doesn't mean the cast is over, not by a long shot. Depending on the depth of the water directly downstream a curious but not sold fish may follow the fly from any point of its journey to the point of the dangle. Let's for the sake of finishing this discussion that the water straight down below 'you' in the diagram is at least 18" deep OK? Remember, don't be in a hurry if the water bellow is not so shallow that you'll get stuck. You are not done with fishing this cast.

Here's that work of art one more time;

Considering that the 'you' is you, when you look past your left shoulder you see there is a significant amount of water between the straight down dangle and shore. It never hurts to make at least a couple mend flips with your rod tip to your left and shore. These are the 'E' mends and I like to make them in both directions before I sweep up the line. E stands for extra fishing on a cast and if you flip a loop toward shore then one back toward the straight down dangle you'll see how the fly follows your leading loop. Be patient and allow the fly to make its course and not only might you get a bonus grab you'll get some fly to fly line reference material for further use. If there is a fish hanging just below your fly trying to figure out just what the heck it is this may be all it takes to get commitment and a grab. Whenever you are in fishy areas every cast should be played until you start feeling stupid about it. Another good habit is; while on the dangle release about a foot of line to allow the fly to drop straight down a bit. Then gently lift the rod tip to move back upstream. I have caught enough trout doing this that it is part of my cast at least 75% of the time.

The hookup; generally when a fish gives an honest effort to grab and escape with the fly anywhere between 11:00 and the dangle they will hook themselves. You feel the pull and all you need at that time is to lift making sure it's really there. At that point I like to keep tension with my free hand on the line and point directly at the fish. Tighten the line tension with the free / line hand pulling firmly back and lift that rod a little harder. In many cases that will finish the job and the fish is on solidly.

When you are using articulated flies or any pattern having a long tail being jumpy when you feel a tap will not lead to more hooked fish. Quite often it'll be less and you may very well spook them from even trying again because of your abrupt reaction to the tap or bump. Consistently hooking and holding trout or steelhead on a streamer fished as I have laid out here requires good nerves and self control. I have caught fish after feeling them tapping repeatedly on my swimming fly as many as 3 or more identical casts and swings. The fact that they finally got hooked alone is testament that I never flinched and struck back.

I will write a thread about hooking fish soon. There's more to it than luck believe me. What we call the come back fish, one who follows again and again tapping and bumping but not hitting hard enough to become hooked could be an article on its own. Knowing how to judge where they go after a failed attempt to capture the fly is another part of the catching puzzle. Do I always catch fish? Well................. I can usually raise something unless they are just plain shut down so I actually believe my experiences could be useful to some folks.

I'll post this now and then find all the typos ;)

Ard
 
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fyshstykr

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Ard,
This in my humble opinion is quite possibly the best thread/post you've ever made, and you've made some dandy's my friend.

Last night I sat and pondered the thread you mentioned, started typing, deleted what I'd typed, typed more, pondered, deleted it all once more. I just couldn't put into words what I wanted to say.

The subject(s) of placement of the cast, the mends, the drift, the swing, the dangle, and finally the hookset are all 'Topics for discussion' in and of themselves, and for me to try and cover them all as 'one topic' was too much for just one sitting. My thought was to try and cover each topic individually, to break down the entire presentation from the fly entering the water, ending with the pick up, and leaving the hookset until last because it could happen anywhere during the entire presentation.

Thanks for taking the time to make such a detailed post. It really is a great one.:)
 

jaybo41

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Ard,

The level of effort it must have taken you to think this all through and write down your thoughts into this post must have taken quite a while. The detail is absolutely tremendous! I'd have to say this is the Mother of All Streamer Threads. As you pointed out, while this is in the Spey Casting section, this is incredibly valuable information for any of us who fish with single hand rods too.

Really, really, really great read buddy. Major kudos for putting this one together.

I have to agree with John, this one may be your very best ever. And that's saying something. :thumbsup::thumbsup::worthy:
 

Ard

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I'm just happy to hear some positive feedback on it guys. I will have to read it myself and maybe do some editing here and there. I tried to stay focused as I typed and had to make a second drawing replacing the first I had put into it. The second showed the 'E' zone moves. I'll see what I can do with a how to article on hooking up. There's a lot of learned instinct involved in relocating a fish that played you, locating it without lining it in the process that is. That will involve another diagram and I'll try to step up my art game with it :)

You have my word this isn't on that other Spey site...................
 

ia_trouter

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Thanks Ard. I previously only understood small parts of what was supposed to be going on in a proper swing. This writing was very understandable. Sometime you'll have to share some thoughts on how you determine what leaders you select as a starting point when you approach new water. That is a separate subject though and was better left out of this lesson.
 
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busbus

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Wow, Ard, this is wonderful. I read it thru and...it makes sense!

Just to make sure, I am going to go thru it again and again and again.

Thanks for posting this. It may be the single best thing I ever read.


ray
 
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Ard

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Sometime you'll have to share some thoughts on how you determine what leaders you select as a starting point when you approach new water.
This is the type thing we need Dewayne. Now that I know this could be helpful I can do it. As you know I carry an old leather leader wallet filled with different lengths and weights of T material and braided lines. I can put together some images and text to explain when & where. I honestly believe that the system can work for many people on many rivers & creeks because it has for me all over the country. I carry everything I need for any circumstance in that thin wallet, no reels or extra spools just some mono and the weighted sections.

I'll get this done tonight I hope, going to the cabin soon gotta post quick :)
 

Unknownflyman

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I just wanted to make a quick post saying THANK YOU! and how kind you are to put time into this I am glad it`s a sticky before you take off, This is a thread about actual fly fishing. I will post more later...lots to digest. I`m going back to front keep reading.
 

ia_trouter

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.. This is a thread about actual fly fishing...
Exactly. I always read his technical posts numerous times, because he isn't just reposting something he found somewhere on the internet that may or may not actually be consistently productive. When he shares a technique you can be sure it is something that caught fish over the course of years through good days and bad.
 
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Unknownflyman

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Posting my crude fishing drawing.

I tried to follow your format Ard for fishing drawings which is good. What you`re seeing on my drawing is basically a deep run with some rocks and fish and current and depth change at the head and tail.





A- Start of drift ---big mend upstream to try to get that fly down and drag free for the fish at the head of the run.

B- Fish did not hit at the head of the run so I mend again to get the fly down and in the slot on the back edge of the seam.

C- Still no hit. At C I`m trying to illustrate that the drift was straight down stream through the slot and at C I start the swing through the tailout.

D- No fish and I`m striping my line in and roll casting back to A.


As you see I am missing a lot of elements of your description of a full swing my drifts tend to be straight across through the run and swing at the end, I`ve never mended down stream and I give and take line to keep the fly down in the zone.

Things change up as the runs and bends in the river change but that is pretty much how I catch steelhead and salmon. Basic I know so I am getting many more ideas on what can be done in a drift.

I seem to cast uptream more than most fly fishers and I`m not making big arcs drifting my fly more of a straight line down and swing in. It might be wrong or not very effective at the head but I occasionally strike a steelhead there. I am wondering if I am screwing up my swing at the end by fishing like this?

I`ve caught a lot of fish like this (does`nt make it right) and how I was taught to hook fish, but it`s only one method and I have not exchanged notes with fly fishers more experienced than myself too much over the years. Discovering new ways is fun but frustrating in changing conditions and with river obstructions like rocks and trees.

Sometimes I know there is fish there but can`t get my fly there for a shot at em. Anyway thank you again Let me know what you think.
 
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Ard

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Based on your drawing, you need to move way upstream. Go way above the boulder that is kissing the surface and work above it then adding just a little line at a time begin working down to the varied current seams below.

Depending on the speed & depth in the area where you figure the fish are hanging out it will be an earn while you learn proposition. I find a place with these conditions every year, more than one of them. This is where your head needs to have some good perception capabilities. Getting that fly (not the line or leader) where it has to be in order to pass right in front of the fish you must be calculating. The equation involves the speed - depth - 'your position' and what kind of placement followed by mending and leads will be necessary to obtain the desired result.

Trial and error is a large part of this but I would use a very bright and large fly while I tried figuring it out at first. Once you become used (proficient) at dealing with this exact scenario you start right off with whatever pattern you feel or know will represent a meal. For starters learning how to negotiate difficult currents and obstacles works good with something you will see of the water has good clarity. By moving well above the area you know the fish are in you are accomplishing a couple important things. You are moving out of their line of site and will not be laying fly line right over them, especially any you don't see. When you line unseen fish they often begin to act in a manner associated with high alert. This alert posture can include movement and the release of certain pheromones which infuse with the water and put all others within olfactory range on alert if they don't pick up on the visual warnings of any and all alarmed fishes. So... you have moved upstream well above. Now you are in positioned so that you can present the fly in arcing swings that are one foot longer with each new cast. This gives a relative expectation that the fish will see the fly prior to seeing the brightly colored line. Between your casts being lengthened and you stepping down closer toward the boulder you should be able to have much better control and henceforth results.

Sound logical?

Ard
 

duker

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Ard, on a forum with an abundance of well-written, informative posts, yours has to be one of the best I've read so far. Simply excellent. Thanks for this.

I agree with ia_trouter--another post explaining the various tips and leader systems you use for different types of water would be equally helpful and appreciated.

Scott
 

Unknownflyman

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It does Ard, It makes a lot of sense. The entire north shore is one solid rockpile with lots of holes and structure. The water is very clear when fishing conditions are good and I have spooked fish many times into the deeper runs.

I think the way I drift has a lot to do with keeping a shorter line which I was taught and the fact that casting with larger flies and sink tips or shot on a single hand 6 or 8 weight has kept me close too. It sounds like I`m too close and at the wrong angle. I do fish quartering down stream in some situations like bends in a river run. I think the spey rod will help a lot with that.

I do change it up too, but I would like to feel more confident in more situations. Cause I can`t be the only one after a day and a half on the river with no fish and my confidence rattled. "Do I know how what i`m doing?" "Was I just lucky last time?"

Missing elements of a swing i`m sure has cost me fish as many times I have seen guys do pretty well and i`m not. Yes it could be the actual fly but usually I am thinking they want to see it a certain way and they are doing something I`m not. But last time out from what I heard I was doing way better than most even the spawn baggers. That`s fishing


Learning a lot of new tools. Some day I might know more than a couple things. :) I am glad I was honest on my thread and you posted this I certainly did`nt come to the Nafff a pro just a fly guy that has hooked a few nice fish looking to learn and share.

I am interested in seeing more fishing drawings about drifting conditions and tactics and leaders and how to choose the right sink rate leader. You might of created the new internet standard for fly fishing drawings. Thank you Ard
 
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Ard

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Ard, on a forum with an abundance of well-written, informative posts, yours has to be one of the best I've read so far. Simply excellent. Thanks for this.

I agree with ia_trouter--another post explaining the various tips and leader systems you use for different types of water would be equally helpful and appreciated.

Scott
Hi Scott and thank you for such a review, I am currently working away at the subject of how I fish the flies. I'm hopping to explain clearly how it came about and why I believe it can be of benefit to others who would take the time and effort to give the system a fair trial. Currently I'm typing it out and will add photographs of the leaders and how they are made.

Unknown, you should toss in a first name so I don't have to call you unknown ;)

I don't mean to come off as the pro telling anyone who reads my stuff how good I am at this, I've been doing it too long to believe that. What I aim to do by sharing some things I think I may have an understanding of is not to say how to be like me but how to be a better you when you are fishing. If what I can write is helpful toward that end then its worth my time doing it.

Ard
 

Unknownflyman

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Oh I gave my full name on here on some thread might have deleted my last name but my first name is Steve.

Ard you live in Alaska and have been at this way longer than me and are a journeyman if not master of the spey rod. You know a lot and put it into words very well. Everyone has their own ideas and experiences and pieces of the puzzle and I believe we get better till we die and a person can never know it all very much like playing guitar, composing music, drawing or any of the arts.

I am glad to hear that my single hand technique will transfer well to spey.

My comment above has to do with me being teachable and keep me that way but I do have a fair amount of experience. I want to learn stuff, lots and not ashamed of admitting when I`m wrong or don`t know. I`m very excited that a door is opening to my next chapter of fly fishing.

My style of typing on BB`s is very much like I would be talking having a conversation but sometimes maybe not as articulate as someone who is a great writer. Maybe that bothers some people I don`t know.

I can say that I am real and honest with maybe only a slight exaggeration sometimes for literary color after all I am a fisherman. :)
 
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