A Tip on Tips, and a Line on Lines

A fresh chrome winter steelhead taken on a full floating Skagit and light tip, directly behind someone fishing a multi-density Skagit line

Well my winter steelhead season is not done but we are well past the half way mark. I watched a lot of fishing for winter steelhead over the past 4 months. Saw some thing and made notes about the things I saw. On top of that I always keep a running tally of the fish and some stats the surround that’s the fish hooked. I would like to share my finding with you.

Meaty buck taken in shallow water on a light tip and floating skagit

Let start with what I see as a full time steelhead guide. I see that most anglers try to show up with and be the most prepared they can, this is very appreciated. Most of them have rods less than 2 years old and the news years model of lines, I would say 80% of them almost make it a point. I also see a wider selection in most anglers sink tip wallets. A range of T-11 to T-17 and sprinkle in a T-8 or old type 3. All good things to have.

Now here is where I see people either uneducated or not fully understanding what they are trying to accomplish. The new wave of Skagit lines seems to be multi-density lines where the front portion of the actual Skagit head sinks and then gets progressively lighter and at some point as you go back down the line reverts into a floating line. The sinking portion of these lines is anywhere from 8-15’. Now I have zero problems with these lines, I have more problems with how they are applied.

Knowing more about the rivers you fish in regards to flow and fishable pieces of water.

Now this is where I want to help you as anglers. I want to help you to understand the need and use of these types of lines. The thought process in using and purchasing theses types of lines is to either get deeper or slow the fly down by getting more sinking material below the quick surface current. Now on the river I guide deep is a relatively term. But if you want depth on the urban rivers of the greater PDX area then in my opinion you need be very selective of the runs you fish with very heavy tips and flies. On the other hand if your goal is to get the fly speed as slow as possible. Here is where is have seen the anglers gone a bit off. If your a guy who is after a slower fly then you can’t fish the same tip as if you are trying to get the fly deep. So if you want deep have a tip for that, if you want slow have a tip for that. It you want deep and slow…. have a piece of water for that!! With a line that sinks the tip below the surface current if you use the same tip you would on your floating Skagit line your most likely going to be too deep. For the sake of your next line purchase… have a plan for what your trying to accomplish with the equipment your buy.

Now the stats… 7 steelhead landed on floating Skagit lines behind their fishing partner using multi-density lines. On average the heavier setup lots 3 more flies a day… and I believe these lines can be an effective part of an anglers arsenal. But use them with a purpose!! Have fun and get on the water!!!

The importance of the first time

A wonderful time for a first time steelhead angler on his first steelhead trip

Well the title says it all. The first time at anything can and is often times the most valued experience that can make or break a view or passion from an activity.

Looking back at a handful of my own firsts in life, I can say some have been amazing, Others very trying, Some regrettable, while a very few have been absolutely amazing.

My brother with a Redfish on his first saltwater trip!!

I think fly fishing in general and even more so Spey casting for steelhead. The act of steelhead fishing alone is never a 100% thing. Coupled with most first timers fear of a new rod with a casting motions that seem to have more moves than a hip hop dancer. Positive affirmations is this game are so hard to come by. Needless to say Spey casting can look and seem overwhelming.

A group of angler taking their first steps into Spey casting

This is why I give so much attention to the beginnings of a new Spey caster. They need the positives reinforcement that they are making steps in the right direction. Even if they are small and seem unimportant. Affirmation is the key to building good techniques and toughening the skin of steelhead for the work to come. The road in out beloved sport is met with as many hardships and loses as it is meant with victories. The casting is one of the only parts about this wonderful event known as angling.

Now as we all take our second and third attempts and new things we learn more about how these things can fit in our lives and how we can grow into them. But getting through that first go, is a crucial part of any new activity.

Even the first steelhead of the year is an amazing event and I have caught a fair amount of steelhead!!!

I have recently been told, “Learning is SOOO hard!”. Never have these words been more true than on the brow of a great teacher. Find the instructor that compliments you and than stay open minded, you never know what you can learn or even teach in the end.

This season has been the best down year I can remember. I won’t soon forget some of the small and large victories as well and the wonderful people I have guided along the way. It is not quite done but I can say I am already looking forward to the next step in my journey as a guide and outfitter. Hope everyone is getting out fishing and kicking lots of fish ass!!

The Next Big Development……

old picture I know, but the rod was a 110 years old when I was fishing it in this picture!!! Smiles not dollar signs.

I was not on the forefront of any movement in this sport. Nor do I claim to have invented anything in this wonderful microcosm in which in have invested my life. Then, I feel it has been a long time since something truly new, and fresh has come along in the game of advancement in equipment or technique. To be honest, things in the R&D deparment of our industry have been in a state of arrested development for a while now. All and all this wound not seem to bother me as much as it has in the past few years, but looking at the new ideas of “high end” industry standards one cant help but wonder.

Winter Steelhead Fishing

There are tons of choices out there be sure and cast them all educate yourself on what you want/need instead of just throwing money at it.

Now I have also caught fish of numerous species on all types of quality and price range dispersion of fly rods and reels. I have even had some real sweetheart setups over the years, that I still find pleasing to fish today. When confronted with the modern forms of marketing, one almost feels that the days spent on the water were worthless and the fish taken with at times great personal sacrifice were a farce, because you did not have the latest and greatest rod on the market. I can honestly say that no rod or reel has ever set an alarm for me, nor has one helped me hike or get to where I need to fish.  Fishing should be out of passion and enjoyment. Fly fishing should stem from the heart, not the pocket book. I feel the equipment you own should not reflect how much you love the sport on price but on how dirty the cork is, how worn the ferrules.

Nice bundle of diversity there!! No one better than the other, all frozen, lol

We now are consumers in a time in fly fishing history where boutique rods are being out priced by standard out of the box high end models from the large corporate companies. Now I am not saying don’t buy nice stuff or that the high end stuff is not good or nice… i am saying that the new rods I have cast both on the market and to come in the near future, are still just like to one you own. I am saying a fancy new color, or name that is tough to pronounce is not worth over a grand. These types of things push people away from our wonderful sport. I want to get more people involved not scared. I want to own a fly rod not mortgage my house.

This might be a few to many for a day trip!!!

All this has been my 2 cents, but I hope other start to see it too. If you new rod is that good, that much better then what we have had show us. When the next big this comes we will all be ready. All I am saying. Hope you all are getting out and fishing somewhere for something!!!! Enjoy.