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Mark Stangeland - NUFlyGuide
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Steelhead takes a dry fly

Posted by Mark Friday, April 30, 2010

Another cool video,this time of a steelhead taking a skated dry. Steelhead will often eat a dead drifted fly. Taking a steelhead on a dead drifted fly is pretty much the pinnacle of the sport,give it a try.

Notice it is dead drifted for the first part of the swing and then it starts to tension up and skate. There is a little belly in the line and as it swings it kind of starts to speed up and this is the trigger for this fish. Sometimes that change of speed is what gets them going. The fish sees it as something trying to escape and he can't help himself.In this example the fish eats it and the guy gets a couple of jumps out of him then he's off.With the camera on the fly and fish,it's hard to know if the guy farmed him out or the fish just came off.The best thing to do 95% of the time is nothing, I know it's hard but don't do anything. When the fish turns on the fly and you finally feel the weight lift the rod a bit and that's all you do. They pretty much hook themselves if your line is tight and you don't yank it away from them.A visual overload for those not in the know.

Inexperienced as well as some experienced fisherman find it hard to lay off when they see a huge boil or swirl in the vicinity of their dry fly. When this happens don't freak out. Now you know you have a player.If you don't feel a fish leave it there and let it continue to swing, he may try again.If not,make the same cast again. Maybe a couple more drifts to see if he comes back. After that,a lot of people will let the fish settle down for a couple minutes and throw the dry back out in the same window. If at this point he does not eat it,it's time to change flies. Some would opt for a dry fly smaller than the one that got him up,some go with a larger dry.Sometimes both. Change styles of dry flies completely, mess around.If at this point he still wont show himself, a smaller dark wet fly will always come out of the bullpen and get the call from my box. I call it the closer, and it works more often than not.I shorten up 10 feet or so and start to work down to where he rose.It's hard to know where this fish came from so start a little shorter than you think. He could have been close and followed it to where he rose. He could have come from way below it and took a swat. Methodically work you way up to and then keep going beyond where you rose him. The little dark fly works well. If you don't get him on that it's probably worth moving on. We want the grabby fish that is willing to eat. You could spend a while with a player that won't commit. You need to make a decision to leave at some point after you have given him ample chances. Sometimes they just don't come back, but you gotta try to get them up again.There are a hundred ways to work a player and everybody does it differently.He may eat the same fly you rose him on or something else completely. Just find a way to show the fish something new after the initial rise.

Places like the Deschutes may not warrant messing with a fish very long because there are so many around. On a river like the North Umpqua, when you get a player it may be one of the few you see all day. Carefully work the fish and you may be rewarded.

I rose a fish 9 times on the Deschutes one year. I fished to him until I couldn't see. Put him to bed and went there in the morning and put my buddy in the same spot from the night before. Second drift he nailed it.Sometimes a good night sleep is all they need. I have put many fish to bed on the North Umpqua and got them to go at first light. They are sitting in the exact same place and they hammer it.

For me,fishing a dry fly/skating fly is the most fun way to fish for steelhead that I know of.Highly addicting,very visual,and quite productive if you stay at it.


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