Better fly string.

So the last two weeks have seen some very tough spey fishing, yesterday, for a little while the lights came on, the fish were out, angry, and biting and we had a lot of fun.

Today, with the rising water, it was back to a lot of fishing for one good hook up.  There are summers, winters, and a fair number of spring Chinook around but with the water still remaining cold and a bit high the swinging has been tough.

Chrome spring steelhead

Adaptations to spey fishing are often greeted by purists as heresy.  I know a very well known spey fishing guide who referred to the first Skagit lines as  “35 foot long Dink floats” and refused to use them for several years. But skagit lines where effective in a lot of applications, and compact skagits even more so.  In my view, fly fishing, spey or otherwise,  has to be at its root about trying to catch fish.  Yes the gear should remain a joy to use, but the true test of usefulness is not the distance or ease with which it allows you to cast, its how well it presents the fly to a fish.

I often like to fish small flies.  Here on the Peninsula, especially in the spring the water is often very clear, and the sun is high. Under these conditions it is impossible not to notice that your half submerged spey line is is far larger and more conspicuous then your fly.  Do fish spook from your line before they react to your fly?  Yes, especially spring salmon, all the time.  Think about it, your a fish, at sea you are prey.  You have to react to anything new and unusual in your environment both to escape predators and to find food.  Giant green, or blue, or tan, fly line attached to a little black fly drifts into the pool, what do you absolutely have to respond to and process first?

home made clear Skagit head

People will argue that the fly enters the fish’s view first so it doesn’t matter that much and this is occasionally true, in the holes that are perfectly formed for swinging a fly. Everywhere else its a crap shoot, and in clear water I believe that loud, splashy bright spey lines are one of the top three obstacles to success in spey catching.

As a possible solution about two years ago I hunted down the heaviest clear cold water type fly line I could find, at the time it was an airflow intermediate line in a 9 weight.  Cut down to 21 feet of belly it made a decent casting spey line for my 11 foot seven weight Z Axis.  And yes, we caught a shit pot of fish on it, its now in the boat everyday.  Airflow now has clear floating lines in a 9 weight, I am hoping to find a 5 weight spey that will cast a cut down version of this and waiting for some one to put out an actual clear floating Compact Skagit.

Posted in Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing Report | 4 Comments

4 Responses to Better fly string.

  1. Jesse says:

    Have you seen the new rio intermediate skagit lines? The intermediate portion is a grey clear material. I guess that’s better that hot orange. But shoot- I’ve yet to catch a fish on it.

    • raincoastguides says:

      I have the one from rio, It looks like a pretty big line in the water, this time of year it is clearly visible from a long way away. But it casts well and does keep your gear deep

  2. Andreas says:

    Nice with the clear shooting head Jim! Which reel is it in the picture?

    • raincoastguides says:

      It is a Targus. I have had it about 3 years, I haven’t used it much but so far its been very reliable.

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