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Author Topic: Trout Spey Fishing  (Read 36260 times)
Toolman
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« on: February 08, 2011, 05:32:40 PM »

Hi folks, first post here. Thought I would introduce myself. My name is Greg and I love to fish the Bow river here in Calgary, Alberta and swing flies for Browns and Rainbows throughout the year. Right now we are in the grip of a nasty winter giving us lots of snow and too many days of -20C (which converts to F@#kin cold in F deg.). Because the Bow meanders through the city of Calgary (population 1.1million), we get to have about 7-8 miles of open water to fish throughout the winter, due to the city's water treatment facilities dumping millions of litres of warm water back into the river each day. These water treatment facilities, which are closely regulated and monitored, are the principle reason that we have the fantastic fishery we enjoy today, as they enrich the rivers ecosystem in just the right balance to create the plant/aquatic invertebrate life required to produce a spectacular trout fishery.
During the colder winter months starting in about mid-November, I start fishing big tips and Skagit heads.
The Bow is a fairly large river as far as trout streams go, averaging 60-70 yards across. Our Brown trout can run as high as 6-8lbs and even 10lb'ers are landed every now and then, but most are in the 17"-22" class. Our Rainbows can get to 4-5lb's, with the odd fish at 7-8lbs. and 17"-22" being more common. They are tenacious fighters and world famous for their high speed panic runs and spectacular leaps. My go to rod is a 12' 6wt. with 420gr. Skagit head and 8'-10' T-14 tips. This combo covers most situations, but there are a few mid river lies that I like to fish and for these spots I bring out my 12'6" 7wt. with a 480gr. head and a 12' T-14 tip. I use a few different fly patterns including immitations of leaches, sculpins and minnows, in sizes #2 - #10 and in a few different colors. I like using T-14 tips to achieve depth quickly and to maintain a very slow swing pace, which are both essential to success in the cold water temps of winter. I'll talk more about presentations later and also about the origins/genealogy of our trout..
Any other trout spey guys here on the SkagitMaster Forum?
« Last Edit: February 15, 2011, 12:40:32 AM by Toolman » Logged

bacon_to_fry
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2011, 05:55:39 PM »

and a trout spey schooling from the illustrious RiverAddict in 3.... 2... 1... (?)
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Toolman
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2011, 06:06:28 PM »

Yeah, I've heard of that Ward fella a couple of times....   Of course our trout up here are much smarter than those gullible Leopard Bows...  Roll Eyes
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riveraddict
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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2011, 08:43:58 AM »

Welcome to this site, Greg.

Well, no "schooling" from me... but I am certainly very interested in discussing ideas and sharing experiences about swinging flies while Spey-type casting for ANY species of fish that can be caught in said way, trout being one!

The majority of my trout-Spey experience involves AK 'bows and Dollies, about as an ideal a situation for trout-Spey swinging as can be due to their opportunistic "meat" eating nature. Even during the "egg hatch", enough AK trouts can be swung up to keep the fishing interesting.

In general, conditions for trout Speying in the lower 48 don't seem quite as conducive as those of AK. The major factors seem to be the smaller size and less mobile behavior of prevalent prey items, combined with angling pressure... the majority of "bugs" don't really swim (swing) and thus highly pressured fish seem to become very suspect of objects that aren't dead drifting.

However, I still prefer to Spey for trout not because it is necessarily the most productive methodology, but rather because it is the most fun way to fish for me... I enjoy Spey-type casting far more than "conventional" singlehand casting and I love feeling the "pull" on a swung fly more than any other type of take on a fly (yes, even more than the visual of dries!).

continued...          
« Last Edit: February 09, 2011, 09:33:37 AM by riveraddict » Logged

riveraddict
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2011, 09:23:25 AM »

...continued

I'm not trying to imply that there aren't some very interesting opportunities to Spey for trout just about anywhere that trouts can be found. However, whether or not the use of a Spey approach is advantageous or not or worth the "investment" is up to each individual to decide for themselves.

Over the past couple of years, I have been doing the majority of my Spey-trouting with light Switch rods used in a Skagit casting capacity. My main rig has been the 11' Loomis 5 weight with Skagit heads weighing from 250 to 300 grains, 16' to 22' in length, with T-8 and T-11 MOW tips. This setup can reach out to around 75'+ with smaller flies and in the 65'-70'ish range with 3"- 4" string leeches. Trouts from 12" to 20" seem quite fun on a rig of this size, and it's a blast to cast. I would not use this rod if targeting trouts over 5 pounds. I present this info because this rod is about as light a doublehander as I have experienced and can be used as a comparison to other rods for establishing an idea of rod-size-to-fish-size relationships. I have yet to see a dedicated doublehanded rod that is truly suited to fish under 12" in size. Of course, I haven't cast/fished with every rod there is either!

continued...    
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 10:35:59 AM by riveraddict » Logged

riveraddict
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« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2011, 04:15:10 PM »

...continued

One could question the need for a true DH for the smaller trouts below 12" in length, as to meet such a need a light 3, 4, 5 weight singlehander could easily be employed in a singlehanded Spey capacity. Said singlehanded approach does indeed work very well for the majority of small trout angling situations, however, in my experience, two hands still generate more energy in Spey-type casts than one, even when a haul is employed with the one-handed Spey. The "more power" thing translates to being able to achieve a bit more distance, the casting of larger and/or heavier bugs, and most importantly in my opinion, more line speed for the cast. More line speed equates to better performance in wind and also accuracy for precisely "slicing" flies under overhanging branches or through gaps between them. My next "venture" concerning Spey-type casting for small trouts is going to be to put a small bottom handle onto a singlehanded 8' to 9' 3, 4, or 5 weight rod as soon as I figure out how to remove the butt cap off of factory built rods without destroying the entire handle (I did the "boil it" method and it hasn't worked for me!). Such a tiny "doublehander" may not be widely practical to the general angling public, but it should be fun for a Spey-type casting nut to swing small streamers and soft hackles on small, confined streams.

continued...    
« Last Edit: February 09, 2011, 04:18:07 PM by riveraddict » Logged

FK
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2011, 08:35:32 PM »

Riveraddict,

In New England we have mainly smaller rivers for trout and smallmouth.  I have fished 100% with two handed rods for all of 2010.  My favorite light rods are the TFO DC 11ft 4wt and DC 12.5ft 4/5 wt, somewhat heavier for larger flies is the Sage 5120 (older discontinued rod) and the Sage 5110-4 Z-Axis.   

We use mainly Scandi lines with soft hackle flies however, I wish to fish heavier flies with T-8 & T-11 MOW tips this year.

Could you describe your 250-300gr Skagit lines please.    Are they factory or custom made?

Regards,
FK

« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 09:19:14 PM by FK » Logged

riveraddict
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« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2011, 09:15:26 AM »

Greg,
   Sorry about sidetracking your thread...

FK,
   I have been cutting back RIO Skagit Shorts and Scientific Anglers Singlehand Skagits. Both of these lines measure in the 20' to 22' length range out of the box. I then use a grain scale to approximate which particular manufacturer's label weight of line will give me the weight I desire when cut back to the length I want. I actually cut down to as short as 14' for the 11' Switch rods. The 16' to 18' length range matches up very well to 11'ish rods when combined with MOW type tips (10' in length). These short heads are not the "ultimate distance" lines, but they do provide these advantages:
- the shorter configuration "packs" more weight into each foot of line which increases the size of fly and/or sinktip that can be cast on the rod. This should be a big plus for bass fishing.
- this heavier-per-foot line status also enhances the wind-cheating capabilities of the rod being used.
- the very short line length makes the "fishing back" of flies via a strip-type retrieve much more user friendly, another big plus for bass fishing. An 18' head length, plus 10' tip, plus 4' leader equals 32' in length. This means that if one fishes the fly back until the head/runningline connection is in one's hand, that with an 11' rod the fly has been fished back to within about 32' of one's wading position. It is easy enough at this point to make one Roll cast to get the head/runningline junction outside the tiptop and then be ready to make another cast.
  
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 09:48:28 AM by riveraddict » Logged

riveraddict
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« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2011, 09:42:17 AM »

Here are a couple of "stats" that I have:
- RIO 375 grain Skagit Short = 300 grains when cut back to 15'8".
- Sci Anglers 400 gr. Singlehand Skagit = 283 gr. when cut back to 16'.
- Sci Anglers 360 gr. Singlehand Skagit = 295 gr. when cut back to 17'.

   Keep in mind that each line can vary in weight due to manufacturing "tolerances", so these should be considered "ballpark" figures. Also, for 11' rods, I would suggest first trying to achieve an 16' to 18' length as anything shorter can be a bit particular as regards casting technique. And, the 283 gr. at around 16' to 18' in length figure seems to be a great "starter" line that will work on most 11' 4-5 weight Switch rods when combined with 10' T-8 and T-11 MOW-type tips. For rods in the 12'-12 1/2' range, I would suggest first trying either the Rio Skagit Shorts or SA Singlehands as they come straight out of the box (20'-22'). Anything shorter may be too persnickety as regards casting technique.

   Even though I've stated that these are not "ultimate distance" lines, I have achieved consistently, casts of 70'-75'+ when using smaller flies and 65'+ when using bigger stuff (3 1/2"-4" weighted String Leeches), on the 5 weight Loomis. That's not bad considering how light a class of rod that is.  
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 10:01:42 AM by riveraddict » Logged

riveraddict
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« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2011, 11:11:12 AM »

The aforementioned "short shorts" system approach, combined with both T-8 and T-11 MOW type tips, is a very versatile way in which to employ light Switch or small Spey rods. To illustrate, with the T-11 tip kit, my 5 weight Loomis has effectively cast/fished for AK trouts while using 3"-4" weighted bunny strip flies in willow-lined, cut-banked, rootwad infested side channels where said flies needed to be accurately placed into confined fish holding pockets and lies at distances of 35'-65' while in circumstances of limited backcasting space. Then, on the opposite end of the spectrum, by switching to the T-8 MOW tip kit, the same rod and Skagit head successfully cast/fished from size 12 skaters to size 10 unweighted wet flies to 1"ish weighted Bugger-types on a Fall very low-and-clear, open gravel barred, 100'ish wide, PNW river where the casting ranged from 30' to over 75' (possibly 85' by "appearances", but appearances can be deceiving!), sometimes while having to wade belly-button deep to hit pockets on the far bank, for fairly pressured Searun Cutts. This seems an impressive range of capabilities to me. It could of course be duplicated by a very skilled singlehand caster using a singlehanded 6 or 7 weight rod. However, at the least, casting 75'+ while wading belly-button deep does seem somewhat easier on the arms casting with two hands versus one!       
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 11:21:04 AM by riveraddict » Logged

FK
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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2011, 08:21:22 PM »

Ed,

Many thanks for the detailed discussion on your trout Skagit lines.

If anyone is interested in measuring grain weights for their cut up lines, I have been using a reloading scale for years.  You also can purchase from eBay the battery powered grain scales for about $25.   Make certain it has grain (gn) readout, there are several models for jewelery and coins which are grams (g) readout.  Just search for "grain scale" and many will be available.   Very usefull tool for experimenting with lines.

Regards,
FK
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yuhina
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« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2011, 09:59:57 PM »

Great information!! Thanks!
I have been thinking to get a trout spey for a while now... maybe it is time to pull the trigger!
Mark
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Toolman
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« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2011, 12:39:52 AM »

Hi Ed, thanks for the insights and hopefully we keep the discussion rolling.... I am going to pick up a lighter weight Switch, very soon, as I think they are pretty effective rods for trout fishing of all manner.
Short Skagit heads, custom dialed for fishing tight to the bank in my rubber boots, is right up my alley.
Got out late this afternoon for a couple of hours and the fishy's were bitey... A nice 21" Broonie Buck with a reel respectfull kype and a 20" Bow that gave me a good scrap for a couple of minutes, were the pick of the litter...
 
« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 01:07:19 AM by Toolman » Logged

riveraddict
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« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2011, 08:50:33 PM »

The majority of my fishing each year is on fairly large waters requiring casting towards the center of the river to current seams, channels, and mid-river buckets and soft spots for steelhead and salmon. Casting accuracy is not critical due to the broad nature of the targets. Thus, "change of pace" experiences can be extremely attractive to me when venturing outside the steelhead/salmon arena. One of my absolute favorites has been the fishing of streams just wide enough to be able to hit pockets and structure - hard targets - on the opposite bank with a long cast. Accuracy essential! This is especially alluring if that stream has some circumstance that prevents it from being fished by anglers drifting in boats. It is just super cool to be wading waist deep and zip a fly out 70', landing it to within just inches of a fallen cedar along the far bank and then strip-strip-BANG, fish on! I had a great experience with trout Speying this past Fall fishing under just such a situation. Even though the trout in this river were fairly well pressured, to the point that small flies and light tippets were the general "rule of the day" and the fish were very "nippy" and "plucky", I had great fun fishing flies 2 to 3 times the size of the "standard" while eliciting very aggressive takes. The "trick" was nothing more than being able to cast across the river to the far, deep side bank and being able to mend well enough for the fly to "be in the zone" for  2, 3, or 4 seconds. Apparently, the "masses" fishing with singlehanders weren't hitting the far bank spots if it involved a cast of over 50' in length, and weren't mending effectively in very reachable spots that had "squirrely" currents. My 11' 5 weight Switchrod and Skagit line were key for enabling me to reach "fresh", unfished fish on 50' to 80' casts and gave me enough of an advantage in mending to attract even some of the heavily pounded residents, while still being "small" enough to provide great sport with 12" to 23" trouts. Now, I'm not saying that using Switches/Spey's is the end all, be all for troutfishing. But, there are situations where they can provide a decided advantage over "standard" singlehanded flyfishing approaches.          
« Last Edit: February 13, 2011, 09:14:10 AM by riveraddict » Logged

squamish
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« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2011, 12:44:09 AM »

Hey can't resist getting in on this, as this type of fishing has bin a huge part of my non steel head/salmon fishing.

I messed around with different set ups and love the switch set ups I get fish with  10'6 5wt cpx witch was way cool for big bulls and larger bows, and even pink salmon.

But last year I was given a 11foot 3wt loop opti  and it was destined to be my new trout spey from the word go.  and the supper cool thing is that it has a small fighting but that treads out so you can add these weighted rings that balance the rod when being used for it's designed nymphing.  The thread on that thing is long enough that I was able to add a wood cylinder of about 2.5 to 3 inches and have a lower handle.

With the lines I messed around with stuff I had, and I must say many wind cutters died in that process!  Witch was ok as they were going to be used as cloths lines if I did not chop them up.

Now for grain weight I dono??  but I did seem to fine tune it to a good sustained anchor set up with 20lb big game as a running line.  Some guys I know who had proper light speys were saying ahh you don't need a skagit type line for this type of fishing bla bla bla..  But for me this not the point,  yeas I often use flies that would be fine with say a light rio AFS but the point is that #1 I am able to cast some big stuff when wanted, #2 I was able to chop the thing back to around 16 or so feet witch allows for striping, and #3 the biggest thing for me I can make up casts to work around all sorts of nasty places in the river, log jams, boulder fields, plunge pools, cut banks, you name it.  Being able to set things up, then aim my D-loop is the money shot for me, and fishing in these places is a hell of a lot of fun.  I even took some hard core SH / trophy hunter types who won't fish if it is not for big game like salmon and SH out to try this thing, and they were blown away!  Some of the single hand river runs through, match the hatch crowd would ask,  whats the point.  I just say, well this is the most fun I have ever had trout fishing!  and if fun is not the point enough for you then we are doing two different things out here. 

     
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