Tightline / euro setup for steelhead

Lamarsh

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About a year ago after reading George Daniel's book "Dynamic Nymphing," I took the plunge and bought a setup for euro nymphing (Echo Shadow X 11' 3wt), but it wasn't until a trip to CO a month ago that I got the chance to use it a lot and get the technique dialed down. Once I got it dialed in, I really enjoyed it. I have tried similar techniques here in Michigan for Steelhead, but never liked it much, and I think it was mostly because I was using my 11' switch rod that got very little sensitivity. I ended up taking the dive and buying T&T's new Contact II rod in a 10'8" 6wt, and it definitely changed that. I have only tested it out a few times for short periods after work, but can feel my flies and drifts just as well as my 11' 3wt, which I find impressive for a 6wt.

For anybody that has tried these tactics for steelhead, I'm just curious what everybody has been enjoying in terms of leaders and fly setups.

For my leader, I plan on just a beefed up version of my typical euro setup: 10-12' 20b Maxima Chamelon + 3' 15lb Amnesia + 18" 12lb bicolor sighter + 3mm tippet ring w/bunny ears + 1-3x fluoro tippet of varying length depending on water.

For flies, I really was just planning on using what has worked for steelies before (buggers, eggs, stones, etc), but I have been tying groups of them geared towards different weight selections for anchor/point flies and dropper flies like I do for the rest of my tight lining. I was sort of planning on having an anchor fly of some kind of bugger, leech or stonefly, and a dropper or two consisting of an egg, caddis, scud, etc. Most are pretty brightly colored, and the few that aren't have hot spots.

Anybody have particular rigs that have worked nicely? Any particular fly pattern you prefer or find have worked as a point fly vs. a dropper? What size tungsten beads do you like for those flies in your home waters? Wondering if I am on the right track...
 

ddb

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The tip on my 3 wt Shadow X is very slim and extremely delicate so T&T must have done wonders with that 6 wt taper to even approach that 'feel'.
.
Most Euronymphing leader tippets are built very slim and light so the flies sink fast and fish near the bottom as you lead them along. The heavier leader you describe is going to take more weight on the dropper to scour the depths and lots of adjustments to avoid hanging up too frequently. (Sounds a little like 'chuck and duck' lite to me.) And won't you need to move in close on steelhead to allow for the relatively short and frequent casts in the Euronymph style at the risk of putting fish down?

You could roll cast that two nymph rig with a standard line and leader with a sighter -- not a bobber-- built in and be able to reach out to fish with your casts.
 

Lamarsh

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The tip on my 3 wt Shadow X is very slim and extremely delicate so T&T must have done wonders with that 6 wt taper to even approach that 'feel'.
Thanks for the reply. This rod is pretty phenomenal. Joe Goodspeed is some kind of genius. There are few to no options for heavier euro-specific rods in the steelhead weight. Orvis has a 5wt, but from what I read about it, it is not perfectly ideal for tight line tactics. If Echo made the Shadow X in a 5 or 6wt, I'd have gone with it just to save the money, but they do not, and have no plans to (I had to call and make sure, before I forked over the dough for the T&T). Plus, this is my first T&T rod, and sometimes it just feels good to blow the wad on an heirloom quality stick. (Not to take away from the Shadow X, I love that rod.)

The heavier leader you describe is going to take more weight on the dropper to scour the depths and lots of adjustments to avoid hanging up too frequently. (Sounds a little like 'chuck and duck' lite to me.)
I have been tying point flies on jigs in the 4-5mm tungsten class. I think they are too heavy for all but the largest rivers here in MI, that have holes that are deep with strong flows.... In any event, I think I spent too much time on the heavier flies. I plan on being able to just use a lot of the lighter stones I tied for trout in a pinch. My buggers and leeches are also tied with 4-5mm tungsten beads, but the density of materials and hackle I think will mitigate the weight. Just sort of experimenting with different things. But I want to avoid scraping bottom and avoid leaning towards anything chuck and duck. Not because it doesn't work, it does... I just have a feeling a true euro presentation will work better. I suspect these anchor flies I tied on the 4mm+ beads will be too heavy. I'm going to tie a bunch up on 3mm tomorrow. Anything lighter I can dip into my normal euro nymph box, I have some colorful stuff in there as well that I think would be fine for steelhead.

And won't you need to move in close on steelhead to allow for the relatively short and frequent casts in the Euronymph style at the risk of putting fish down?
Quite bit of steelhead rivers here in MI have holes just like that, perfect for tight line presentations. Stand on the sand wading a few feet out from the opposite bank, and toss the euro right 15 feet across. Larger rivers I'll be in my boat and will be able to move about. I plan to have another rod with an indy set up as well, for longer casts, and I have a 7wt floating line buried behind my euro setup on the reel I'm using on my T&T contact II if I'm out wading and need to switch over to an indy rig in a pinch.

You could roll cast that two nymph rig with a standard line and leader with a sighter -- not a bobber-- built in and be able to reach out to fish with your casts.
I've tried that with other rods and there is too much sag, but it might be mitigated with this T&T 6wt, will give it a try. I buried a floating line under the euro line in case I need to try this.
 

partsman

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Lamarsh, I have been thinking of euro style nymphing myself. I have the recon 3 wt. euro rod and have had some fun with it. I even hooked into a nice steelhead on a east side trib. but with 5x I didn't have it on very long. I'm thinking of hitting this same stream with 9 1/2 6 wt. recon and see what happens with nymphs or streamers as soon as the wind calms down a bit! Keep us updated on your experiences with the T&T.
ps did you try burning old materials of hooks yet?
Mike.
 

Lamarsh

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Lamarsh, I have been thinking of euro style nymphing myself. I have the recon 3 wt. euro rod and have had some fun with it. I even hooked into a nice steelhead on a east side trib. but with 5x I didn't have it on very long. I'm thinking of hitting this same stream with 9 1/2 6 wt. recon and see what happens with nymphs or streamers as soon as the wind calms down a bit! Keep us updated on your experiences with the T&T.
ps did you try burning old materials of hooks yet?
Mike.
Hey Mike. I'll definitely keep you updated on how this T&T Contact II goes, but from the looks of it so far, and hearing everybody else's reviews, I'll be shocked if there's anything bad to report lol.

I think the need to use a heavier rod isn't so much for fighting a steelhead as it is using heavier tippits and avoiding potentially breaking the tip off a nice euro 2 or 3wt, as they are so soft so as to protect 4-7x tippets. I'm fairly certain the recommendation on my 11' 3wt is to never go heavier than 4x tippet, and I personally never go heavier than 5x. I have landed some large tailwater browns and rainbows (largest being a fat 5lb 23") on my 11' 3wt, and it wasn't terribly hard. Took a bit longer to land than I'd like, but nothing crazy or bad for the fish. The mid and butt sections of these euro rods are powerful, but the tip sections are light. At least here in Michigan with all the wood in our rivers you need to keep a powerful fish like a steelhead away from, you want the ability to use no lighter than 3x in most scenarios, which I think run the risk of possibly breaking the tip on a 2 or 3wt euro rod. That was the reason I popped for the 6wt euro rod.

I just recently learned about tight line tactics using streamers listening to Domenic Swentosky on a podcast (he's got a few articles on it on his blog TroutBitten).

Haven't got around to getting materials off hooks yet. I'm not lacking new hooks, so the pile of old ones isn't quite calling my name out need just yet.... Might never be worth my time.
 

jrob

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Any pics of the T&T 6wt rigged up or under load while fishing? How does it handle any other style fly casting? I have thought of this rod as an option for warm water “euro” style bass and carp ?
 

Lamarsh

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Any pics of the T&T 6wt rigged up or under load while fishing? How does it handle any other style fly casting? I have thought of this rod as an option for warm water “euro” style bass and carp ?
None yet, but I might be going out for Atlantics next Tuesday-Wednesday and I'll try to get some pics.
 

lookard

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I use a 11ft 4wt Wetfly Element SE rod to euronymph earlier this year on the Salmon river along side my buddy who uses the T&T 6wt Contact. My rod was less sensitive but it still got the job done. I was using the cortland braid core euro line with 15 lb high vis yellow p line hydrofloat and orvis 0x sighter and 8lb tippet. I'm planning to use the same set up this year, but maybe change the sighter to umpqua because its alot brighter.

Devin's Magneto stone worked out really well as the point fly for us. The bead size was 4.6mm tungsten.

I'm heading to the salmon river again at the end of the month! Can't wait!
 

okaloosa

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I use a 11ft 4wt Wetfly Element SE rod to euronymph earlier this year on the Salmon river along side my buddy who uses the T&T 6wt Contact. My rod was less sensitive but it still got the job done. I was using the cortland braid core euro line with 15 lb high vis yellow p line hydrofloat and orvis 0x sighter and 8lb tippet. I'm planning to use the same set up this year, but maybe change the sighter to umpqua because its alot brighter.

Devin's Magneto stone worked out really well as the point fly for us. The bead size was 4.6mm tungsten.

I'm heading to the salmon river again at the end of the month! Can't wait!
did you use a one fly or two fly rig and how deep were the runs you were working and was that enough weight to get the flies down bouncing bottom?
 

Lamarsh

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I use a 11ft 4wt Wetfly Element SE rod to euronymph earlier this year on the Salmon river along side my buddy who uses the T&T 6wt Contact. My rod was less sensitive but it still got the job done. I was using the cortland braid core euro line with 15 lb high vis yellow p line hydrofloat and orvis 0x sighter and 8lb tippet. I'm planning to use the same set up this year, but maybe change the sighter to umpqua because its alot brighter.

Devin's Magneto stone worked out really well as the point fly for us. The bead size was 4.6mm tungsten.

I'm heading to the salmon river again at the end of the month! Can't wait!
Awesome. Good to hear somebody else is doing this. I tied a handful of Devin's Magneto stones last week. I used a 4mm tungsten bead like he did in the video, as well as that Hanak streamer hook. Did you use the same kind of streamer hook he did in the video? If so, wondering how you like it on a point fly? I was wondering whether it's worth my time to tie some up on jigs as well.

I've found the czech/scud shaped hooks like the Tiemco 2457 work close to as well as a jig for a point fly because they are so curved, but have never tried a fully straight hook for my point fly.

Have you tried just bottom bouncing / drop shotting with a lightly weighted or unweighted egg pattern? Just shot on the point rather than a fly?
 

lookard

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did you use a one fly or two fly rig and how deep were the runs you were working and was that enough weight to get the flies down bouncing bottom?
I did it wrongly at that time and used two flies. It was suppose to be 1 fly at that time. The second fly I used was a small egg on the dropper. It probably had a 3mm tungsten bead.

It got in the zone with that combination. But this time I would probably add split shots. That spot was probably about 4 feet deep. But I felt like there might be a smaller hole that was much deeper in the area.
 

lookard

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Awesome. Good to hear somebody else is doing this. I tied a handful of Devin's Magneto stones last week. I used a 4mm tungsten bead like he did in the video, as well as that Hanak streamer hook. Did you use the same kind of streamer hook he did in the video? If so, wondering how you like it on a point fly? I was wondering whether it's worth my time to tie some up on jigs as well.

I've found the czech/scud shaped hooks like the Tiemco 2457 work close to as well as a jig for a point fly because they are so curved, but have never tried a fully straight hook for my point fly.

Have you tried just bottom bouncing / drop shotting with a lightly weighted or unweighted egg pattern? Just shot on the point rather than a fly?
I believe I used a size 8 streamer hook then. But the one's I've tied since were on a size 10 and 12 jig hook with 4.6mm and 4mm tungsten beads respectively. I also add 3 wraps of lead behind the bead. I can't drop shot at the salmon river because of the regulations. I did not know the rules back then and used 2 flies. Now its gonna be 1 fly and probably a split shot somewhere above to get down.

What worked really well last time was also a small egg pattern on a size 14 scud hook. Devin's Tungsten Taco egg.

I also hooked up on a size 10 white zonker to imitate the emerald shiners, but the hook was not strong enough and bent out on the fish. Now I use 2x strong hooks for those.
 

Lamarsh

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size 10 and 12 jig hook with 4.6mm and 4mm tungsten beads
Nice. How did the #8 streamer hook work as a point fly? I found the standard euro jig hooks are not long enough for stonefly patterns, but the Daiichi 4647 is one jig hook with a long shank that I have found works nicely for stones.

What worked really well last time was also a small egg pattern on a size 14 scud hook. Devin's Tungsten Taco egg.
Funny you mention that, somebody recommended that pattern to me yesterday. My weighted eggs currently only consist of estaz patterns with tungsten beads, but I plan on tying up something like the Taco soon. I was planning on trying it with Slush Jelly, and covering the tungsten bead with red thread so when the fly is wet the inside sort of looks like a red yolk, then continuing the red thread on to a slim red hot spot collar. I've found red hot spots on eggs to be pretty effective.
 

lookard

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It worked out well. But I have them in different sizes. I just saw that I also tied them on mustad 32833 #10 with two tungsten beads 4.6mm and 4.0mm for the really heavy flows. The top one with the black legs is from Devin. I tied the others.

As for the taco egg, I really like the fl. cheese color. Its the whiteish looking color in the second picture. It really glows under the uv light.

PXL_20201118_180028219.jpg

PXL_20201118_180233662.jpg
 

ddb

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The white zonkers are always effective -- even dead drift -- but they do not much look like emerald shiners. Could they be taken as flesh flies?
 

Lamarsh

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As for the taco egg, I really like the fl. cheese color.
What size tungsten beads did you say you used, 3mm? Wondering if you ever found you had better luck with unweighted or lightly weighted eggs. Heard a theory that eggs fish better unweighted or lightly weighted above a drop shot or weighted point, as they move back and forth and flutter around better. Just wondering if you've noticed any difference in effectiveness.
 

lookard

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What size tungsten beads did you say you used, 3mm? Wondering if you ever found you had better luck with unweighted or lightly weighted eggs. Heard a theory that eggs fish better unweighted or lightly weighted above a drop shot or weighted point, as they move back and forth and flutter around better. Just wondering if you've noticed any difference in effectiveness.
I actually have all sizes from unweighted in a size 16 scud hook to 5.5mm tungsten in a size 6 scud hook. It really depends on the condition and how heavy the flows are. I've used unweighted in my local trout streams, but I've never used unweighted on the salmon river. If I could use the dropshot rig there, I might try it. But I think it should be fine as long as you can get in the zone and it is presented well. I've hooked up on the small egg on the swing as well. So even with drag it still works.
 
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