Posts Tagged ‘Stillwater Stuff

15
Jan
12

Stillwater Presentations: ‘Keep your tip down’

If I had a buck for every time I’ve cautioned….  Well maybe not that many times, but it is important to your stillwater presentation to keep the tip of your rod down toward the surface. Less slack is imparted to the fly line (above, there is a fair amount of slack to take up in a strip set or by swing the rod to the side to set the hook) if the tip is down to, or even in the surface (Intermediate /Sinking lines). 

If you cannot pick out your fly in the distance, then focus on where the line enters the water and watch for the line’s bow or sag to tighten or jerk away. On smoother waters you can see ripples or pulses jolt out from the sides of the fly line indicating a take. All this is easier to maintain if you just ‘keep your tip down!’ Geeze that lake looks inviting about now.

20
Sep
11

Drop Shot Rig & A Fly? (Lots of Knots)

Drop Shot Rig & Palomar Knot  

I have not tried the drop shot rig with a fly line. I wonder how it would work for a vertical presentation, whether anchored up or drifting/kicking along and bouncing the bottom. The typical bare hook would be replaced by a fly with lots of action. The weight could be a simple split shot. The rig would not be cast via the normal casts, but rather lobbed or just dropped down as line is let out. I would be interested if anyone has experimented with this set up on lakes. Also, check out all the other knots at the NetKnots link.

Perhaps a pattern like these damsels would be a good choice to drop shot with. Any pattern with a bit of movement in the tail or body.

18
Sep
11

Fly Fishing: Sing A Different ‘Toon

My Buck’s Bag South Fork Pontoon is at least 15 years old. It has with stood the rigors of lakes and rivers and never failed me, until recently. I will probably send in the leaking pontoon to get it fixed and keep it as a backup. It has become too heavy for me to lift by myself, up onto my rig.  

So, I decided to spring for a new ‘toon, a new South Fork, with a slightly lighter frame. I transferred my spare rod holder over to the new rig along with my ginormous, side storage packs. I still have to transfer the oar holders and I will be good to go.

Can you see where the darn boulder hit the RRQ of my rig?

I will finish off with my pyramid anchor. I use the over size bags, less for the typical fly fishing stuff and more for clothing, camera gear and food. There is a ton of room for fly boxes. I am trying to pare down my quantity of fly boxes that I take out onto a lake. Rather than trying to cover all the bases, I try to think more and refine my fly boxes down a bit. If I really need it that bad, it will be back in the truck. 

Less fumbling about re-rigging one rod with multiple lines. I have two rods out on the water. Yes, it looks like an antenna, and every once in awhile I catch it while casting, but rare. I can switch out rods quickly and present the dry/emerger/suspended patterns with the floating line.

Oar Holders (SwittersB)

Bucks Bags out of Idaho have a great reputation. I researched other suppliers and several have good reputations. I stayed with Bucks because 15 years of abuse on my other pontoon boat speaks well of the product’s reliability.

11
Sep
11

Fly Fishing Lakes & the Slip Strike

SwittersB

Beginning Fly Fishing & A Slip Strike: When you are using a sinking line, the rod tip is best kept at the surface or even a few inches under. You are attempting to remove slack, which will maintain a straighter connection to the fly. When the fish hits or taps at the fly you are more likely to feel it.

When you fish a floating line and dry/emerger fly pattern, you are accustomed to raising the rod until you feel the fish is on. This is even more pronounced if you developed that hard hook set as a gear guy. Your well honed reactions to raise the rod to set the hook are not as productive when fishing a sunken line. Yes, you will sometimes hook the fish, but often you will pull the fly away by a considerable distance. 

It is better to use a modified slip strike technique used by saltwater fly fishers and guys that throw big streamers at fish with big teeth. This short video explains the technique for an angler that is standing. When you are seated in a tube or pontoon boat the concept is similar but more confined. 

Keep the rod tip down at the water or slightly submerged. The rod hand always has the line secured between the cork handle and the stripping/retrieving fingers (except when casting and shooting line). The retrieving hand should attempt to be always in control of the line (there is that vulnerable moment where one retrieves and lets go of the line to then reach forward for the next retrieve).  Side Ways Slip Strike

When the angler feels the hit, resist the temptation to elevate the rod. Instead point the rod to the fish and pull back toward your belly. Often you will set the hook. If you miss the set, the fly has maybe only moved 1-2 feet versus the greater distance of a raise the rod/pop the hook set. Once you feel the pulse of the fish raise the rod up to play the fish against the rod. This releases some of the tension of a straight pull/fight against the leader/tippet’s strength. 

If it is a big fish, it will often take line up through the guides. That line on your apron needs to shoot up through the guides. Use just enough tension with your rod hand to control the rapid movement of the line upward…not too loose, not too tight. Enjoy the fish at this point. Is the drag set too tight, too lose? This is ideally done in advance, but truthfully you won’t know how that drag is until you hook enough bigger fish to feel the surge and know how your reel’s drag performs. But do know how it is adjusted and think…how would I tighten or loosen the drag if I needed to (will you have to momentarily switch hands?).

If it is a smaller fish, you can strip line down the guides, onto the apron and in essence strip the fish toward you. If the fish is a bit stronger than you figured the line, pinched against the cork handle and your rod hand, can be gently allowed to slide upward through the guides for an unexpected run.  

THE WIND

Wind from the east, fish bite least.

Wind from the north, don’t go forth. 

Wind from the south, fish will take it in the mouth. 

Wind from the west, fishing is the best.

11
Sep
11

Fly Fishing: Retrieves to Entice

As a beginning stillwater fly fisher, you might want to consider a few factors that I frequently access while out on the water. What, where and how? What insects or creatures are apparent or possible in the water? Where are the shoals, drop off’s, structures, cover that might harbor the trout while feeding or resting? And, how will I present my offering to suggest the insect/creature that the fish are likely to feed upon?

The above questions are constant parts of the stillwater puzzle. Now you can enjoy a lazy day (no big winds and waves) of kicking about and trolling a fly with no retrieves beyond that provided by your kicking fins. It is ok to do that, of course, it is your time to enjoy as you will.

But, I would suggest a few alternatives to the trolling/search technique. Whether you troll, anchor up or just drift/kick to stay in an area, pay attention to your retrieves of the fly and think about the actions you are imparting to the fly. What life suggesting movements are you trying to impart to the fly: darting, rising & diving, slowly inching along or hanging vertical from the surface.  

The Figure 8 Retrieve. I often use this with Callibaetis patterns or to slowly entice fish in the shallows. I cup the line in my hand, but unlike many, who keep all the line gathered in their hand, I drop the line to the apron every four or five grabs. A figure eight retrieve will draw the fly 3-5 inches each grab assuming you are not kicking as you retrieve (kicking will add distance and increased movement to the fly). At all times, I am alert to the take. The right hand will tighten, the right hand fingers will tuck the line to the rod handle. The left hand fingers will tighten and strip set, then the right hand will raise the rod to play the fish. (PP)

This does require you to do a little studying on the movements of stillwater food sources. How does a Chironomid emerge; a Caddis rise to the surface or dive to lay her eggs; a Mayfly act beneath the surface or trying to get to the surface; how do Damsels swim just beneath the surface toward shoreline structure; leeches pulse and wiggle in the shallows; how would a predatory Dragon fly nymph act…on an on. Study their movement. Then visualize this as you retrieve the fly line onto your apron: short/fast… long/slow… pull/pause,  wait, pull…figure eight/inching it along…long/fast.

All the combinations of retrieves are to entice a take. The fly has to look like a possible food item and then you have to keep it in the zone and make it look real by the retrieves you use.

Remember that trout are, almost always, horizontal or looking up feeders. Use a line that keeps the fly in the zone longest. Too heavy of a line or too heavy of a fly will take the fly deep and possibly past the feeding fish. 

03
Sep
11

Yellow Water Lily Umbrellas

A Yellow Water Lily on a late Summer afternoon on an Oregon lake. Big trout cruised beneath, toward the reeds, looking for those emerging damsels and dragons.

03
Sep
11

Fly Fishing Amongst the Riff Raff & Caddis

I escaped before the Labor Day weekend to get a little solitude and renewal. Folks were out in abundance and the banjo’s were playing the twangy sounds. I wasn’t too concerned as I was lost in my reverie. I fished and caught my share. I enjoyed the pattern puzzle, the weather was perfect (not too hot; a mild, cool breeze that produced a riffled chop to the surface). Hatches were consistent and continuous offerings of damsels, dragons, midges and a few Callibaetis spinners. Also, there was a nice flurry of longhorn sedges. 

First fish of the day to a Little Fort Leech.

For the most part, I excluded the current challenges in my life and was absorbed in the moment. The moment included certain segments of our society that need to assert their sphere of perceived influence via cussing, long kerplunking casts (heavy sinkers and spinners…seriously even I know how to rig a lighter slip sinker, treble hook and PBait) and dirty looks coupled with head shakes. I was so mellow, I didn’t get too uptight. I did not let anything get to me on the water. But, it is tempting…..

I ran the gamut of black, green, brown, mottled colored Woolly Buggers to start searching with, while I looked about for signs of insect life. In the end, it was black, black and black with a dash of red Buggers. Sunken caddis pupa patterns stripped to the top near the drop off produced some savage strikes (about that: when you do have those savage strikes…check your tippet! Somehow, I continued to fish on sans fly for several minutes in the midst of a perfect FF scenario…only when I decided to change flies, because of a lack of hits, did I notice the reason the hits had stopped…no fly!).

September & October loom: less crowds, steelhead marching toward Sherar’s Falls (Deschutes R.), lakes still inviting, October Caddis starting soon.

28
Aug
11

Fly Fishing: Know Your Valves

If you go buy a float tube or pontoon boat, be certain you buy a pump that matches the valve on your particular vessel. The are two common types of valves. The pump you may already own, may need an adaptor to fit the valve type of your new tube/’toon.

I have owned a K-Pump for several years and love the product. I always used it for the Buck’s Bags South Fork pontoon boat (Halkey Roberts Valve) I have owned, it seems forever. Recently, I picked up a Cumberland float tube, for an addition to my tube fleet. I was in the outdoors and went to inflate the tube and low and behold, the K-Pump did not fit the tube (Boston Valve). I rigged something up, because I had a hodge podge of adaptors and duct tape, and was able to inflate the tube, but it was a chore. When I got home, I reached the K-Pump staff and they explained they did in deed have an adaptor for my K-Pump so that I could easily inflate Halkey Roberts or Boston Valves. Great company!!! Do a little checking before your purchase/and or assume your K-Pump (or any pump) automatically  fits all valves.

Now a leaking valve is an entirely different subject all together.

26
Jun
11

Fly Fishing: Stillwater Random Thoughts

Green Butt Carey Special SwittersB

~When fishing a lake with an algae bloom, reduce or eliminate the number of knots in the over all leader. They collect scum. A one piece tapered leader or a uniform length of leader are suitable for descending down through the bloom to the feeding trout, just beneath.

~Indications of OCD: spending hours on a calm, still, smooth surfaced lake; sun high; hot, very hot. I have spent countless hours fishing such waters, picking up a small trout here and there. Short of doing recon on the contours, weed growth, identifying the drops, shelves and stumps there is little benefit to spending hour after hour out there. There are other activities back at camp and in the area that may better occupy that dead time on the water. 

~Are the fish refusing my fly? I have changed flies 6 times this past hour. Could it be the presentation/line selection and retrieve are not balanced to the flies or to the location you are fishing? As enjoyable as it is to use, the floating line cannot be your primary line on a lake if you intend to fish the depths. Research clear intermediates and faster sink rate lines for presentations beyond the shallows. Once the fish move off the shallows (sun rising, water calming, hatch ending) the waters just past the drop off should be explored with sinking lines.

~Presentation…the retrieves: it is nice to bob about out on a lake, kicking, rowing or drifting along in a day dreaming daze. Lost in thought and picking up the occasional fish. Again, considering the pattern you are using, what are you imitating and how is your presentation copying the real life movements of that food source: bait fish, leech, vertically ascending Chironomid pupa, emerging Callibaetis, diving egg laying Caddis, swimming Damsel headed for the reeds? If you are satisfied to kick along the edges of the drop then at least vary your retrieves to provoke a take.

25
Jun
11

Fly Fishing: Changing Flies…..When? Why?

Frequently changing flies is the sign of what? Impatience? A thought out progression of presenting  patterns? Giving up on ‘the’ recommended pattern(s) for that stretch of water? You paid $1.75 + for that little gem, why didn’t it work?

On  lakes, I change often. That rod is under my left arm/elbow every 10 minutes or so. As I search with trusted searching patterns, if  they don’t soon produce, snip, new pattern. I seem to have more faith in searching patterns that fit the standard stillwater food groups. I have an arsenal and I quickly change through it to find the connection. I feel more intuitive on a lake. Some would say it is easier; just find the cruising fish. I think it is presentation, manipulation through the horizontal/vertical pathways.

On rivers, I am more exacting. I study more. I plan upon what insects are in a certain drainage and which stages of the insect’s life are worth tying and presenting. If an insect emerges from the nymphal exo-skeleton well below the surface then in the surface film emerger/stillborn patterns are a waste of tying time. Better to tie wet, soft hackle, flymph patterns that replicate the emerging mayfly well below the surface, but swimming toward the top.

Stream habitat is more complicated than stillwater habitat re trout and their food sources (in my mind). There are often more options on the stream. If the clinger nymph rarely dislodges from the substrate and ‘drifts’, then stocky little nymphs are less useful. I study bottom to top. And, for some fly fishers it is the other way around: Rivers are an open book and lakes are featureless and boring.

SwittersB's Trout Chasing Nymph Tat

Research, then think before just tying on the ubiquitous Hare’s Ear Nymph or Adams Dry Fly and wasting a hundred casts, as the river pulses with life everywhere except on the end of your line.  And, again: location, the pattern, then the perfect manipulation/presentation. Random searching patterns are ok, for awhile. But, as you come up empty outing after outing, you will soon decide to learn more (insects, other fish food) about the specific waters you fish. Or, you might develop your own data through in the field observations. Check out a perfect example of this at Winona Fly Factory




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