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  Change is a good thing!

     
  Sometimes, actually at all times, tactics must be as fluid as the water we fish. How many times have you been fishing, when after hooking up on a black wooley bugger, does the action just stop. Then you change to a green wooley bugger and it's game on again. We don't understand and will never understand why this happens, but it happens. You must have the mind set that if it's not working.... CHANGE UP!

Changing up may be just adjusting weight, or adjusting the depth of a indicator. Or it may mean changing color, or even the pattern you're using. The biggest problem flyfishermen have is change. "I smacked them yesterday on green buggers, so it's GOT to work today." Well, if after fishing for 20-30 minutes you haven't had as much as a bump, CHANGE.

The hardest change that steelhead fishermen have to be willing to make is going from traditional streamer patterns to nymphs. If you have choice of a hooking 3 fish day swinging flies for 8 hours, or possibly 30 fish in a day nymphing for 8 hours, the choice is clear....at least to me. Nymphing, in my opinion, also takes more skill. When my son was seven years old he caught his first steelhead on the fly... an egg-sucking leech. It was simple. He couldn't even contemplate, much less be successful, at producing a drag free drift with a nymph.

From my experience, the most successful tactic (on cattaraugus creek, on the reservation) has been a weighted black stonefly, with a small (#14) egg pattern. The reason for the reservation disclaimer, for those of you who do not know, is that it is illegal in New York State on a tributary to the Great Lakes to use two flies. On all other inland streams it is legal, though. Without getting into the dreaded arguments surrounding this method, it SHOULD be legal.
  The most seasoned flyfishermen of the day (trout fly fishermen) use this method everyday on inland streams. As long as the second fly is NOT weighted, their is minimal chance of foul hooking fish. I have actually foul hooked more fish swinging flies.

As for tactics, if nymphing, I like to use a #8/10 weighted black stone. I will then put an indicator above the stone, 3/4 the depth of the water. I then use small split, like BB size. I space the split usually 4" apart, and start 16-18" above the fly depending on flow. If after several drifts, I haven't had any looks, I then will move the indicator further away from the fly, 6-8 inches at a time. If I start dragging the bottom, I will move the float 6-8 inches closer to the fly until it stops dragging. Steelhead tend to be more in the bottom of the streams, so the closer you get then better you are.

If swinging flies is your choice, then here is how I do it. I use 6ft. of T-14 sink tip, attached to floating flyline. Then loop-loop connected to that, I use 3ft. of 10lb. tippet, and attach the fly to that. I will then cast across and slightly downstream, and mend upstream as it drifts. With a controlled swing like this, the fish will never see your line, so you could use 50lb test (though I don't recommend that....it's hard as **** to feed through the eye of the hook.. ha ha ha). If you used a longer leader or tippet, you would not be able to control the swing as well and may spook potential fish.

These are just methods that I use, and are very successful for me. Are these the best methods out there? Probably not, but hopefully this is helpful for you. Let me know if they are and send pics of their success.

Best of luck!
Jason
 
 


 
Hatch Chart

Flies
Type
Stoneflies
B.W.O
Hendrickson
Black Caddis
Caddis
March Brown
Grey Fox
Sulpher
P.M.D.
Lt. Cahill
Green Drake
Isonychia
Yellow Stonefly
Hexagenia
Trico
Size
10-18
18-22
12-14
16-18
14-18
10-12
12-14
14-18
16-20
14-16
8-10
12-14
12-14
6-8
20-24
Months
April - September
April - September
April - May
March - May
April - September
May - June
May - June
May - June
May - June
June - July
May - June
June - August
June - September
June - July
July - September

Steelhead Flies
Type
Streamers
Zonkers (Bunny Leaches)
Wooley Buggers
Egg Patterns

Stonflies (rubberleg)
Copper Johns
Pheasant tail
Prince nymph
Size
4-8
4-8
4-8
14-18

6-12
14-16
14-16
12-16
Colors
Various colors
Green, white, black, brown
Green, white, black, brown
Chartreuse, pink, orange, natural, blood-dot, yellow
Black, brown
--
--
--

Terrestrials
Type
Ants
Beetles
Flying Ants
Hoppers
Crickets
Size
16-22
12-16
16-18
10-12
10-12
Months
June - September
June - September
June - September
August
August
Gear

In the world of outdoor recreation, especially fishing, weather changes require you to be versatile in the clothing that you choose. In the fall, for example, you can go from just above freezing temperatures in the morning to 70 degrees by noon. So, come prepared for all conditions. Below is a list of clothing suggestions to get you started.

Cold-Weather Clothing

• Microfiber or wool long underwear (top and bottom)
• Midweight fleece jacket
• Breathable wading jacket or rain jacket
• Wool hat or wind-blocking fleece hat (balaclava for really cold weather)
• Neoprene fingerless gloves (improves dexterity)
• Heavyweight wool socks
• Waders (neoprene or breathable with fleece pants)
• Wading boots

Warm-Weather Clothing

• Brimmed hat
• Microfiber casting shirt (or other light and cool shirt)
• Microfiber shorts
• Lightweight merino wool socks
• Breathable waders
• Wading boots (or wading sandals for "wet wading" when it's really warm)



 

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