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Salmon River Pulaski NY Drift Fishing w/Fly Spin - Part 1

Fishing in and around the Great Lakes region including all tributaries and adjoining states.

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Salmon River Pulaski NY Drift Fishing w/Fly Spin - Part 1

Postby Randy Jones » Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:03 pm

Drift Fishing w/ a Fly - Spin Rod Part 1There are numerous ways to present a fly/bait with a fly/spin rod for steelies. This is one of the more popular methods used in the Great Lakes region. Some well known fishing authors have written about it. My friend Tom Rosenbauer mentions it in his Orvis fly fishing technique book.
Deep nymphing, dead drifting, drift fishing, high sticking, chuck and duck. These are all terms I've heard, used to describe the same method. Anytime you can make it easier for any species of fish to feed anywhere in the world you will increase the odds of hooking up. That's why this presentation technique is so popular, especially during the winter months. It gets your fly/bait/etc.. into the strike zone faster and keep's it there longer than any other presentation technique. It works in every condition you will ever find on a river. (High-low water, cold-warm water, any species, clear-off color water, fast-slow moving water, close in far out, no room for a back cast, crowded conditions, etc…)
You only want to lightly tap your weight on top of the rocks, (3 light ticks is sufficient) giving your rod tip a slight bounce or 1-2 in. twitch when feeling a slight pause, stop or hesitation. Many times the fish do not slam your egg or fly but instead mouth it before spitting it out. This feel's like a pause or hesitation while you are on your drift. In my opinion, it is critical to concentrate on detecting the pause or hesitation that happens when a fish lightly pick's up your bait or fly. Pre-setting the hook immediately before it has a chance to spit it is critical while you are checking to see if it is a rock or fish. If you slightly twitch the tip of the rod (3-4 inch's) on the pause, then you are pre-setting correctly. If it's a rock, you have just gotten over it, and kept your fly on the bottom. If you fully set, then a lot of the time you have moved you weight and fly so far of the bottom, that your drift is over. If its a fish (snag) then your line will not move and stop which means you should immediately fully set the hook. I pre-set the hook with a twitch, then set, if line remains still.
The first lesson I was ever taught when fishing for steelhead or salmon using this technique is if you pre- set on the pause or hesitation, and pull up a leaf, then you are detecting the slight pause or hesitation correctly. If you wait every time for your line to stop before you set, then you are missing fish. I always tell my clients- when in doubt, pre-set the hook, and if the line doesn't move, PLEASE (politely) set it!
Not a day goes by when you can watch other anglers fishing and see there line pause with no reaction by them. Or watch the line stop dead for 3-4 seconds with no reaction. The reaction to the take has to be immediate or fly is spit out. Many fish are lost and simply never hooked up because many, many anglers are all waiting for that BIG BANG of Fish On.
A blind man can easily detect the take when the fish slams it, but it's the 10% of anglers that catch 90% of the fish that are concentrating mostly on the pauses and hesitations, in my opinion.

Here are several ways to help you detect subtle takes. (Pauses and hesitations)
1. Watching the line in the water as it moves down stream on the drift. You will normally always see it, before you feel it.
2. Feeling with your rod hand on cork.
3. Lightly touching your rod hand index finger to line. This will only work proficiently if the line is coming straight off the reel to your first rod guide. If your in the habit of making those lil trout loops (what I call them) after you've cast, then it does not work.
4. Holding the line in your other hand. The line should be held in your fingertips for greatest sensitivity.
5. There are some seasoned Steelhead angler's who don't watch their line in the water on the drift. Instead they look at their rod tip through the entire drift. Letting the slight movement of the tip tell them what is going on underneath the surface.

Proper Weighting:
I sometimes change my weight 2-3 times without moving from the same spot. I work the water close, then farther out. Weighting is critical to helping you detect the takes. The key is to lightly tap the bottom, not dredge the bottom. Too much weight and detecting subtle takes is impossible. Most anglers use to much weight.

This technique also works in your local streams and river's for trout during high water conditions. Also in the deeper, faster sections were traditional fly lines will not allow you to get down to the bigger fish.

Basically, telling the difference between tapping a rock and a subtle take is one of the most difficult skills to acquire, when fishing in this manner. Most anglers are all waiting for the big BANG. Thereby missing 50% of actual takes. If you think about it, doesn't a pause or hesitation always precede a complete stop? When a fish takes and spits your fly, bait it can happen in a split second. By concentrating on your line movement, correct weighting, depth of drift, contact with the bottom, pauses and the hesitations. You will be on your way too becoming a part of the 10% that catch's 90% of the fish.

Besides all the other pieces of the puzzle we have covered and will cover, hopefully these tips will help you all to be more in tune with your drift fishing.
Happy hookin;
Randy Jones
P.S. More can be found on my site yankeeangler.com - Fishing Reports
Randy Jones
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