Sunday, April 14, 2013

Liskay's Swinging Tips

Jeff Liskay shares some swing tips.
Yesterday -- in between the rain and sleet -- Jeff Liskay, Jerry Darkes and several other local fly fishing pros hosted Castapalooza on the Grand River. Jeff is a Patagonia ambassador and an avid two-handed rod angler. I took a class from him in the fall and found his tips to be very helpful in accelerating my learning curve.

While standing on the banks of the roaring Grand, he offered these tips that I hope to put into practice as early as today:

  • Water temperature, more so than flow, determines the weight of sink tip to use. Use the right tip to get down to the fish where they'll be, and where they'll be is determined by temperature. Cold water, slow water. Warmer water, faster water. Cold water lighter sink tip, faster water heavier sink tip.
  • Fish a weight-less fly in cold water to keep it off the bottom on the dangle, that's where you'll get most of your hits and you don't want the fly sitting on the bottom.
  • Start your casts at an angle and then work it more directly across stream to get the most broadside swing.
  • Two-handed rods call for a big mend, use your whole arm and the whole rod to make the mend; don't use the standard trout stream mend. Only mend after you've tested out the swing without a mend.
  • The setup -- the time that the fly spends swinging toward the holding spots -- is critical to hooking fish. Don't worry that most of your swing is just a setup; make sure you get the fly to the right spot in a manner that the fish can see it.
An old male hooked on a single handed swing
As yesterday morning on a Grand River trib reminded me, the standard drifting techniques work well and can be a lot of fun -- and in some conditions (small tribs) it's the only option. But swinging with a two-handed rod is a much more challenging way to hook a steelhead. I'm ready for the swing.

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