Driftless Trout Anglers

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Crazylegs  
#1 Posted : Monday, February 11, 2013 8:45:58 PM(UTC)
Crazylegs
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First off I would like to say hello to the DTA gang, I have been watching the site for some time in the shadows of the guest list and finally decided to log on and join the fun if I may! In the recent months I have come to conjure up the courage to start my big fish adventures. I'm now ready to set out and chase the big boys of the driftless that I have seen so much of. My experience lies mostly in the small streams of "northern" SE MN and a bit of dabbling on the brush covered streams of the arrowhead. To that point I have started to tie what I feel are some bigger fish patterns in the world of trout. Still being somewhat of a rookie on the vise and to fly fishing, I would love to hear what you guys feel are the best ways to fish the bigger patterns as well as how to generally navigate and go about fishing the driftless streams seeing as I have had limited experience doing so. I have been playing around a bit with some zonker patterns, I just love the way they look in the water. When employing them on bass flies they seem to be the ticket, I hope they work the same on the moving water. But I am still open to hear what has worked for everyone else in the past and I am always open to tool around with new patterns on the vise.

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Trimbeller  
#2 Posted : Monday, February 11, 2013 9:00:43 PM(UTC)
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Throw and strip! Actually learning to throw streamers for bass is helpful IMO. Also never under estimate dead drifting streamers!
s.t.fanatic  
#3 Posted : Tuesday, February 12, 2013 6:32:06 AM(UTC)
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Welcome and thanks crazylegs. Great post. I have been a stream trout fanatic for 25 years now and just bought a 6wt. last year (my first fly rod) with the sole intention of chucking big streamers so it will be interesting to hear what the guys have to say. My biggest challenge has been the casting aspect. I cant seem to get the fly to land on the water like im imagining how it should. I know nothing a bout fly fishing or casting a fly rod for that mater so thanks again for the post.
kschaefer3  
#4 Posted : Tuesday, February 12, 2013 7:26:51 AM(UTC)
kschaefer3
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Joined: 10/10/2012(UTC)
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My suggestion would be to read "Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout" if you have not already. This book outlines types of patterns and how to fish them. Zonker is great! I suggest learning to spin deer hair heads as well if you have not. Almost every trout river has some sort of sculpin in it and deer hair heads do a great job imitating these. Marabou and schlappen (sp?) are other great materials to use, as well as anything flashy.

With bigger patterns there are two ways to go. One would be to tie heavy flies and fish them on a floating line. This works well in shallow water or when you are trying to dead drift them. The second is to get a sinking line and throw unweighted streamers. This probably works better on larger freestone rivers, but I have used it with relative success in the Driftless. With the second method you are getting a level strip so the fly doesn't bounce up every time you strip. Sometimes that bouncing is desired, but other times it is not. Sculpin patterns work well on sinking line because of how they swim. Sculpins will kind of dart around the bottom of streams from rock to rock. If you tie with deer hair, which floats, every time you strip the fly actually pulls toward the bottom of the stream and darts.

Casting can be tough. This is another reason I prefer sinking line and unweighted streamers. If you put heavy eyes on a fly tied on a size 4 hook, you will have trouble throwing it with a 5 or 6 weight floating line. It can be done, it just won't be pretty or soft. With a sinking line you just use the weight of the line, which you match to your rod. With both styles, SLOW, is all I can say. Heavy lines and heavy flies take a while for the loop to open on the front and back cast. If you slow down, double haul hard, and make definite stops, you shouldn't have too many issues.

If you couldn't tell, I love streamer fishing! I'm not great at the vice, but I know a couple things. What kind of streamers have you been tying? I'd love to see pictures.
Pete  
#5 Posted : Tuesday, February 12, 2013 7:46:31 AM(UTC)
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kschaefer3 wrote:
My suggestion would be to read "Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout" if you have not already. This book outlines types of patterns and how to fish them. Zonker is great! I suggest learning to spin deer hair heads as well if you have not. Almost every trout river has some sort of sculpin in it and deer hair heads do a great job imitating these. Marabou and schlappen (sp?) are other great materials to use, as well as anything flashy.

With bigger patterns there are two ways to go. One would be to tie heavy flies and fish them on a floating line. This works well in shallow water or when you are trying to dead drift them. The second is to get a sinking line and throw unweighted streamers. This probably works better on larger freestone rivers, but I have used it with relative success in the Driftless. With the second method you are getting a level strip so the fly doesn't bounce up every time you strip. Sometimes that bouncing is desired, but other times it is not. Sculpin patterns work well on sinking line because of how they swim. Sculpins will kind of dart around the bottom of streams from rock to rock. If you tie with deer hair, which floats, every time you strip the fly actually pulls toward the bottom of the stream and darts.

Casting can be tough. This is another reason I prefer sinking line and unweighted streamers. If you put heavy eyes on a fly tied on a size 4 hook, you will have trouble throwing it with a 5 or 6 weight floating line. It can be done, it just won't be pretty or soft. With a sinking line you just use the weight of the line, which you match to your rod. With both styles, SLOW, is all I can say. Heavy lines and heavy flies take a while for the loop to open on the front and back cast. If you slow down, double haul hard, and make definite stops, you shouldn't have too many issues.

If you couldn't tell, I love streamer fishing! I'm not great at the vice, but I know a couple things. What kind of streamers have you been tying? I'd love to see pictures.

Every time a discussion of streamer fishing comes up and you write about fishing a sinking line, I've been meaning to ask you a few questions; the season is approaching fast and I shouldn't procrastinate any longer. I fish mostly small streams, but there are some deep holes on outside bends and undercut banks; I'd think a sinking line would be a great way to get a streamer down there and not make any big browns chase too far. What weight rod are you using? I have a sinking line and a sink tip for my eight weight, but I've never thrown anything but a floating line on my four weight. Do you have a preference for approaching the likely-looking water from upstream or downstream? Same side or across stream? You've discussed tippets and leaders before; don't you use a section of fluorocarbon? Thanks for any advice. I'm always looking to try a different approach to get at some of these wise old trout.
tdoran  
#6 Posted : Tuesday, February 12, 2013 9:24:42 AM(UTC)
tdoran
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Joined: 3/21/2012(UTC)
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This Orvis Podcast has some interesting ideas.

Using a sinking poly leader followed by a shortish (5-6 feet)section of flouro with your floating line seems like a very easy way to add some sink to your streamer fishing. Will also probably cast a lot better than a full sinking line. Anyone use this method?
mbchilton  
#7 Posted : Tuesday, February 12, 2013 9:40:46 AM(UTC)
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tdoran wrote:
This Orvis Podcast has some interesting ideas.

Using a sinking poly leader followed by a shortish (5-6 feet)section of flouro with your floating line seems like a very easy way to add some sink to your streamer fishing. Will also probably cast a lot better than a full sinking line. Anyone use this method?


No, but I've had the same thought. I'd also be interested to hear from others who've tried it.
FishOn  
#8 Posted : Tuesday, February 12, 2013 9:56:38 AM(UTC)
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If you are still relatively new to fly casting, throwing heavy, meaty streamers is going to be a chore. It will be tough to get much distance and accuracy. I'd start with chucking buggers.
kschaefer3  
#9 Posted : Tuesday, February 12, 2013 3:27:07 PM(UTC)
kschaefer3
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Joined: 10/10/2012(UTC)
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Quote:
What weight rod are you using?
I use a 5 wt rod for all my Driftless trout fishing. For throwing bigger streamers, a 6 or 7 wt may be preferred, but I never have issues with my 5 wt. I do have an 8 wt that I mostly reserve for very large streamers and larger rivers. I have only used this in the Driftless a couple times.

Quote:
I have a sinking line and a sink tip for my eight weight, but I've never thrown anything but a floating line on my four weight.
I have a cheap detachable sink tip for my 8 wt that I do not like. I think full sinking lines are much smoother casting and I like the retrieve with full sinking better as well. Sink tip does have a place, such as dead drifting streamers through some of those lies you mention. In my opinion, sinking line is better if your are stripping the fly. The nice thing about full sinking line is that you can match the weight of the line to your rod, so you always have a good match. Naturally that affects the sink rate, but in the Driftless even a 4 wt would be fine.

Quote:
Do you have a preference for approaching the likely-looking water from upstream or downstream? Same side or across stream?
I generally work straight across on larger rivers, and across and down on smaller. With both of those I like 6-12" fairly quick strips. I like to be on the opposite side that I want to fish to give the fly some lateral movement as well. I can give you all the "generally" and "usually" I can think of, but the reality is I fish how the river presents itself. Especially on small Driftless streams, you take what you can get. In the book I mentioned before they talk about upstream presentations. If you are truly only trying to catch a fish 20"+, cast upstream and across and strip hard and fast back to you. This will work if fish are feeding very aggressively, or it will trigger an instinctive, protective bite. If you would like better chances at 12-18" fish, as well as the 20"+, across and down is probably your best bet. Again, all of this is generally. There is a time and place for every presentation. Hanging a big streamer directly downstream and just twitching it almost in place can be very effective, especially with a specific target in mind (ie logjam, undercut bank, etc).

Quote:
You've discussed tippets and leaders before; don't you use a section of fluorocarbon?
I do. I attach a 3-4 ft section of 3X flourocarbon tippet to my sinking line. You could even up that to 2X or 1X if you want. Generally the bigger and/or more aggressive fish you target with a streamer are not wary...as far as trout go. They will not spook from a fly hitting the water, they will not spook from your line and they most certainly are not going to be leader shy.

Quote:
If you are still relatively new to fly casting, throwing heavy, meaty streamers is going to be a chore. It will be tough to get much distance and accuracy. I'd start with chucking buggers.
Woolly buggers fished down and across with short quick twitches has produced, by far, the most fish for me of all methods. However, do no fear heavy flies and sinking lines. Heavy flies on floating line can be a real challenge because the line simply does not have enough weight behind it to move the weight of the fly. Sinking line makes it so you don't have to use heavy flies, and you have plenty of weight to move them if you do. It is strange tossing heavy sinking lines at first, but you will be a better caster for it. I started musky fishing on the fly last summer. My casting improved tenfold. You will learn to double haul very effectively. This is because, if you don't, your cast will fall apart. All the power is derived from your left hand (assuming you hold the rod in your right). You pump hard on your hauls and your right arm just acts as a lever. The other thing to remember is slow down. More than you would think. Heavy lines take a long time to open up, so be patient. Also with the weight, you will feel the load, so timing is easier. As with everything, you will get better with practice. I believe in very short order you can be casting your full line with two false casts. With the heavy stuff like this, you should never go more than two false casts. Partially because it is not necessary, and partially because your arm will tired very fast if you do. On small Driftless streams I will usually just pickup and put it right back down.
Crazylegs  
#10 Posted : Tuesday, February 12, 2013 7:49:15 PM(UTC)
Crazylegs
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Thanks for all the great feedback, kschaefer I will defiantly look into that book for some more in-depth knowledge. With regard to casting bigger flies I have thrown some heavier weighted stuff for bass but I have run into the problem of not getting a clean delivery because I am throwing WF 6wt. line, at times it feels as if I’m tossing a wet sock so I may invest in some sink tip and see where that gets me. As far as tying deer hair heads for sculpin imitations I have played around with it a bit and have some pictures of the recent ties I was going to put up but I have run into some technical difficulty with the site when trying to put pictures up, and I do not have a photobucket account so that makes it hard to post a link, any help there would be great!

"If people focused on what was important in life, there would be a shortage of fishing rods."
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