Wednesday, April 17, 2013

3 Swinging Lessons

Three things I think I've learned after a few frustrating days of swinging flies on the Rocky River with the two-handed rod:

  • Slow Down: Fishing with a two-handed rod calls for long, slow swings of the fly; not the quick, short drifts used when fishing with nymphs and eggs. The only way to catch a fish is to get the swing right, which requires the angler to cast well, use the long rod to adjust the speed of the swing and pay attention to whether the fly is near the bottom. Get the swing right and an aggressive fish will hit the fly.
  • Move On: If I know there are fish in a run while drift fishing I will work the run hard, confident that eventually I'll pick the right fly and put on the right amount of weight and hook a fish. It pays to be stubborn when drift fishing. Not so when swinging flies. Only aggressive steelhead will hit a swung fly. A promising run that doesn't produce a hit still deserves at least a second try with a different pattern, but don't spend a lot of time in an unproductive stretch move on to the next run in search of that aggressive fish. And certainly don't try to swing while others are drift fishing around will only make you frustrated.
  • Change: Most nymph fishermen are guilty of using the same amount of weight to drift the fast head of a run as they use in the slower tail. Why? Because it's a pain to put on and take off split shot. It may only take a minute or two but we find all sorts of excuses not to change our rigs even though having too much or too little weight will hinder your ability to hook a fish. The same is the case with sink tips and weighted flies. Tonight I passed on fishing some promising water because it was too slow to swing my weighted fly. It would have taken just a few minutes to remove the conehead, but I opted to hike down to what I thought was a more promising run. It wasn't (and I stayed there too long). Before heading home I tried the water I passed up earlier with an unweighted fly and promptly hooked (and lost) a steelhead and landed this nice lake-run smallmouth. Change the fly or the sink tip to match the conditions. Don't leave attractive water just because it'll take a little work to fish it. Fish it. Lesson learned.

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