For big tributaries and high run-off conditions standard sink tip lines (as long as 15 feet) work better. Take the tips from this article to fill your box and the Great Lakes won’t know what hit them, tight lines! Your email address will not be published. Fly depth on the swing is also controlled by the sinking system used in the fly line. Steelhead Guide, Fly Fishing Techniques and Strategies for Lake Erie Steelhead. Host Bill Spicer and guide John Valk swing for steel on southern Ontario’s Saugeen River. The water is clear and it most often runs clear even in higher flows. In really cold flows (less than 40 degrees), multiple follow-up mends are needed to initiate strikes from sluggish steelhead. Traditional swinging techniques were originally developed to catch Atlantic salmon in Northern Europe and the Atlantic Canadian Provinces becoming popular for steelhead in the Pacific Northwest during the 20th century. Often the steelhead and suckers will be competing for the same gravel. You want to present your flies where the fish are. Roderick Haig-Brown, A River Never Sleeps, 1946, Steelhead guide, author and photographer John Nagy, All the photos and articles on this website credited to John Nagy are the exclusive property of John Nagy and. The Egg Raider pays tribute to the Egg Sucking Leech, but it goes way beyond the traditional ESL platform. True, swinging a soft-hackle on a greased line is pure poetry. Nymphing tactics rule, and rightfully so, because they are effective and can produce huge returns. The beads will slide down to the front of the fly during casting and on the swing. Fly depth can be fine tuned by crimping a small amount of shot to the leader or adding various size brass or tungsten beads to the leader. It’s done in a mindful state. Your email address will not be published. Steelhead flies specifically for the Great Lakes Steelhead Alley, also excellent for Pacific Steelhead, Atlantic Salmon. Rod. Size: 2.5 -3 inch Moal Leeches . The rod transfers power from butt to tip smoothly. Fuzz buster patterns have a similar resemblance to soft hackles and is a mainstay in many steelhead angler boxes. In recent years, it has developed an enthusiastic following by a growing group of steelheaders in the Great Lakes region. Traditional swinging techniques were originally developed to catch Atlantic salmon in Northern Europe and the Atlantic Canadian Provinces becoming popular for steelhead in the Pacific Northwest during the 20th century. In colder flows (below 50 degrees), steelhead tend to keep tighter to the stream bottom and prefer slower fly speeds. Swinging Flies: Probably the least effect method but still a ton of fun and very challenging is swinging flies for steelhead. If you’re new to Spey fishing for steelhead, try focusing on your swing. February 26, 2017 December 23, 2017 Tim Rawlins Spey Casting. Spey fishing and swinging flies has come a long way with many new innovations. And whether you consider these creatures steelhead or simply lake-run rainbows, there is clearly a shared spirit with their… Since 1856. Along with the sinking system, leader length also plays a key role in fly depth. A list of steelhead flies to help Michigan and Great Lakes anglers identify flies that fish well & likely become favorite, producing staples in the … If you’re an angler that wants to do it all, nymph, through streamers, spey cast and swing flies then consider a six to eight weight switch rod. Swinging flies for steelhead in the Great Lakes. Several fly line manufacturers sell fly lines that come with an assortment of interchangeable sink tips (of different sink rates) that cover most water conditions encountered. We find out which switch rod setup will work for your next trip and which other species he is focusing on now. Copyright 2021, The Orvis Company Inc. Great Lakes Winter Steelhead Moal Fly Collection. This keeps the leader or tip sinking in a straight line (tip sinks at the same speed as the body) resulting in less line hang-ups on the stream bottom, better strike detection and faster hook-ups. This is analogous to changing split-shot when dead-drifting. Steelhead will also eat the streamers at times when they are headed back to the lakes after the spawn. These flies all have been tested, and have caught many, many Steelhead. You want to keep the fly in the strike zone long enough to aggravate the fish into taking it.. For smaller tributaries, as well as medium to low tributary flows, custom mini-tips (made out of 2 to 6 feet lengths of sinking shooting head material) and sinking leaders (7 to 12 feet) work well. Here are twelve great winter, custom tied, Steelhead flies - Winter Moal Collection. At the end of the swing, hold the fly directly downstream of you in the current and then follow-up with a strip retrieve. When those two visions come together, you’re onto something good. Anyone interested in any of this material please email John Nagy at: About John Nagy's Steelheader's Journal Book, Steelhead Journal Book Ordering Information, About John Nagy's Steelhead Guide Book/Ordering Information. Timing your trip just right can be the difference between fishing and catching though. These fish are called drop backs. And the water is high. In the warmer tributary flows of fall and spring (above 40 degrees F) steelhead are more aggressive and will actively move for wooly buggers, streamers, leeches, tube and spey flies on the swing. John Nagy's 4th Edition of his popular Steelhead Guide Book is available here in both soft and hard cover print editions (signed by John Nagy, including a fly tied by the author). This slower, more patient approach often rudely becomes interrupted with the jarring take of an aggressive and hard-hitting steelhead which is hell bent on taking your fly (and fly rod) back to Lake Erie! John Nagy's Steelhead Guide eBook Now Available! Try standing almost directly upstream to the area you want to swing your fly through (the “target zone”) and begin by casting your fly line at a 45 degree angle downstream to the left or right of the target zone. Get your team aligned with all the tools you need on one secure, reliable video platform. Soft Hackles most certainly will take steelhead - even those not tied specifically for them. They actually will “look up” to take a fly swinging fly (above 50 degrees F) and will even chase dry flies “skated” on the surface. The steelhead are down deep and may opportunistically grab a swinging fly. Making an initial cast greater than 45 degrees is also helpful to get flies down to bottom hugging fish. Next, take a few steps downstream and begin the entire sequence again. Required fields are marked *. “Lake Erie produces great numbers of steelhead and moderate numbers of brown trout. In the past, Great Lakes Steelhead methods have called for getting the fly right on the bottom where the fish are. Jerry Darkes, one of the big names in Great Lakes Fishing, shares the history of fly fishing in the Great Lakes region with a focus on swinging flies for steelhead. Tag: swinging flies for great lakes steelhead. "Perhaps fishing, is for me, only an excuse to be near rivers." This is in marked contrast with dead-drift caught fish, which are generally less aggressive and have a much softer take. Bright colors and flash are a must with steelhead flies and if presented properly, your reel will likely be screaming! Before beginning your swing technique, first wade into position (usually toward the middle of the river) and look at the water surface texture to locate current breaks at the head of pools, along parallel “seams” that run through pools and runs and also in pool tail-outs. In recent years, it has developed an enthusiastic following by a growing group of steelheaders in the Great Lakes region. Part I It has been nearly 150 years since the ova were imported from a tributary of California’s McCloud River to the Caledonia fish hatchery near Mumford, New York, that initiated the Great Lakes steelhead fishery. “Active” steelhead in the warm water tributary flows of the fall and spring (above 40 degrees F) are … Olive and Black Barred Moal (3 Flies) Black Moal (3 Flies) Black and Blue Moal (3 Flies) and seasoned steelheader everything he needs to know to hook-up with these magnificent fish! Tactics for Swinging Flies for Winter Chrome in all Types of Water. Unfortunately, it’s also a low-percentage play for catching Great Lakes winter steelhead. But, it’s a low-probability game, and there’s a lot of risk of “lining” and “flossing” fish. The author Jason Swingen using a Snap-T spey cast to cast a fly across the Bois Brule River. While all the flies I’ll cover have roots in traditional design, the way I’m fishing them is decidedly untraditional. Visualize the fish in his lie. Here are two great how-to videos from The New Fly Fisher that offer some great tips for making sure your swung flies are in the right zone to draw strikes. The fish had eaten the fly just as it transitioned from drifting to swinging. You can use nearly any type of fly rod to swing. The average depth where steelhead are lying here is from 12-48 inches of water. The tributary water temperature will determine at what level you need to get the fly to on the swing. You will notice that a downstream “belly” will form in the fly line as the fly line swings down-and-across. I remember the early days when we would get funny looks on the water by other Anglers, when fishing this technique. The size of the belly will determine the “swimming speed” of the fly as it swings across in the current. Jerry Darkes, one of the biggest names the Great Lakes for steelhead and numerous other species, is here to break down Great Lakes Fly Fishing. The Great Lakes have their own challenges and a diversity that is both enjoyable and ideal in many instances. Never drop your fly and disconnect mentally. Enterprise . A traditional spey or double handed casting approach will allow the steelheader to stand much closer to the river bank and effectiveily reach most target zones. In warmer flows (above 50 degrees F), steelhead tend to look up more for a fly, so one or no mends are all that are usually needed. The traditional swing presentation allows the steelheader to see the river in a larger view, both downstream and bank-to-bank, as he fishes. The Great Lakes are not the Pacific Northwest. A great way to know what is happening without actually being at the stream is the USGS stream flow charts. They provide opportunities to catch Steelhead, King Salmon, Coho Salmon, Atlantic Salmon and Lake Run Brown Trout. Trip Preparation is the Key for Success on the "Steelhead Alley" Tributary Streams, Tube Flies for Great Lakes Steelhead (Part I), Tube Flies for Great Lakes Steelhead (Part II), Step-by-Step Tying Instructions for Blue and White Temple Dog Tube Fly, The Tube Fly Advantage (Fly Fish America Magazine), Pro Flytyer™ (Pro Sportfisher) Introduces a New Tube Fly System, Upcoming and published magazine articles I, Upcoming and published magazine articles II, More Info and Reviews of John Nagy's Custom Made "Noodle" Fly Rod, John Nagy Custom Lake Erie Steelhead Flies, John Nagy Custom "Hot Butt" Leader and Indy Kit, The New Solitude Fly Reel....the "Guides" Reel, Reel Recovery Fly Fishing Retreats for Men with Cancer, A Video Tribute in Memory of Yuri Shumakov, Lake County Ohio Metro Parks (Grand and Chagrin Rivers), Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Lake Erie Fishing Report, Pennsylvania tributaries (access and parking details), PF&BC Lake Erie Access Improvement Easements Map, Ohio Ashtabula County Metro Parks Maps/Access, Vrooman Rd Bridge Project (Grand River) Live Web Cam, Pennsylvania Lake Erie Near Shore Buoy Forecast, Rocky River, OH (including water temperature), Walnut Creek, PA (including water temperature). Leaders in the 4 to 9 foot range will keep the fly higher up in the current flow versus a shorter leader (less than 4 feet) which is ideal for keeping the fly down close to the stream bottom when steelhead are moving less for a fly. On my trip, for example, some guys who were swinging down and across with much weight were foul hooking a ton. For those who are interested in swinging, multiple different strains of steelhead, monster browns, Atlantic salmon, king salmon, and other salmon species are available to you. Follow up by dropping the rod tip and move it across in front of you, stopping at the point where you want the fly to swing to. Sucker Spawn Size 8 to 12 When the Time is Right a Deadly Steelhead Fly Around the great lakes steelhead run during and after the major run of the redhorse sucker. Steelhead caught on swung flies are often referred to as “players” due to their willingness to chase a fly and hit it extremely hard on the swing (some steelheaders have described the take like being mugged on the stream!). Want to catch steelhead in the Lake Erie tributaries and elsewhere in the Great Lakes? makes a great companion book to his popular Steelhead Guide Book! The American made rod was designed to minimize torque, which compromises casting accuracy and distance. There are tons of different techniques you can use including spin fishing, centerpinning, indicator fishing, euro nymphing, streamer fishing, and swinging. The heavy taper of this line casts sinking leaders and sink tips well while the floating component allows for easy mending when swinging the line. Swinging flies is like Tai Chi. As the fly line makes contact with the water, immediately throw an upstream mend in the fly line. 2 Great Switch rod for Great Lakes steelhead The Scott L2H has everything a Great Lakes Steelheader needs. For Swinging flies in the fall, you don’t need to worry about being right on the bottom. I think that steelhead on popular rivers see so many flies that even the most unique fly pattern becomes a routine disturbance. Don't work the fly too fast. Approaching the likely steelhead water often causes the suckers to scatter, which in turn spooks the steelhead. Steelhead use these breaks as resting areas on their upstream migratory movements and you will want to concentrate on swinging your fly through these areas. It’s so great to see this technique for chasing Steelhead on a fly really growing in the Great Lakes Region. By minimizing line mending you can keep the fly line belly large, causing higher fly speeds on the swing but with higher fly position in the water column. The casts and mends of your fly line become intimately intertwined with long runs, riffles and pool tail-out’s as you methodically swing your fly through likely steelhead lies. Swinging flies is simply another technique used to catching trout (or any fish). Deep, strong currents on big water may call for 24 foot sink tips or “heads” (which are available in 150-600 grains). Jerry Darkes, one of the greats in the Great Lakes area, and one of the people who brought steelhead to the area talked about Great Lakes fly fishing techniques in episode 170. Jerry discusses the switch rod with a focus on swinging flies for great lakes steelhead. Keeping the fly as light as possible will allow the fly to have a lively and natural swimming action on the swing. A steelhead’s attitude becomes dour as the temperature drops, but two-handed rods and swinging flies are still effective in the right hands. Using the composite loop to bring together UV Material, Flashabou and ostrich, this fly swims like a minnow and is tough as nails. This will help sink both the fly line and the fly more quickly. While these few flies are known for catching steelhead, there are many patterns that do the trick. Many steelhead anglers consider swinging flies the ultimate way to catch these silver rockets, and more and more Great Lakes anglers are adopting the technique. By using sink tips of different lengths and sink rates (measured in inches per second or grain weight) for the water flow and depth being fished, you can precisely control the depth of the fly. He noted that Swinging flies, nymphing and stripping streamers for steelhead are the top techniques and that all are tested these days in the area. Visualize the motion of the fly. When trying to get the fly down deep on the swing it is best to rely on your sinking system versus using a heavily weighted fly. Many steelhead anglers consider swinging flies the ultimate way to catch these silver rockets, and more and more Great Lakes anglers are adopting the technique. HOSTED Fly Fishing Trips w/ Dave and Guides from the Podcast! Never mind that there are few fish in the river right now. This can induce strikes especially with large streamer, leech and wooly bugger type patterns which provide a lot of movement in the current flow. In may of last year, on one day I hooked 2 late running steel while swinging soft hackles for trout. Think like a Steelhead to Find (and Catch) more Steelhead, Weather Junkie Steelheader's catch more Steelhead, Top 10 Do's and Don'ts when Swinging Flies for Steelhead, Top 10 Do's and Don'ts when Indicating for Steelhead, Wading Strategies for Great Lakes Steelhead, Locating Tributary Steelhead Using Water Temperatures, Steelhead Technique, Equipment and Fly Selection, The Do's and Don'ts of Fall Steelhead Fishing, Fly Fishing Tail-outs for Tributary Steelhead. Steelhead Guide, Fly Fishing Techniques and Strategies for Lake Erie Steelhead (Updated and Expanded 4th Edition), "Noodle" Fly Rod (which has gotten rave reveiws!). Although there is some swinging of flies on the Great Lakes tributaries, it’s not the predominate method of catching steelhead there. ** Most Orders Shipping Same or Next Business Day! The Steelhead Guide Book is also available in an eBook version here. Come fish with us in the Bahamas! Pick the holding lies carefully, envision where the fish are, and penetrate the depths effectively by slowing down the line speed and the fly speed of your Intruders or sculpins/leeches. If a fish is lying in 3 feet of water and is suspended 8-12 inches off the bottom, then swinging the fly 4-20 inches beneath the surface is usually plenty deep to trigger a response. Every season anglers from all over the country flock to the northeast to fish for Great Lakes Steelhead. It is quite a different experience versus the more localized and focused dead-drift method. Should I Hire a Lake Erie Steelhead Guide? Interlocking loop systems allows these leaders and tips to be easily interchanged on the stream depending on the water flow and depth encountered. ** 1 … Here are two great how-to videos from The New Fly Fisher that offer some great tips for making sure your swung flies are in the right zone to draw strikes. These conditions will require at least 1 or 2 mends to get the fly down. This led to many lost flies and the need to re-rig. Home to Trick Em Beads, Trick Em Bead Pegs, Trick Em Jigs and Trick Em Steelhead and Trout Worms! Single-handed or two-handed, 9ft or 13ft. Most steelhead take the fly at the end of the swing (more likely chasing the fly across the current and hitting it from the side or rear as it stops) so it is important to anticipate the strike at that point. Density compensated sinking leaders and sink tips (which have a tapered design) compensate for the thinner diameter front section by adding a denser sinking material to the front portion of the leader or tip. The Lake Erie and Lake Ontario tributaries are two classic destinations in Northeastern fly fishing. For a single handed cast (with a sinking leader or sink tip line) using a single or double-haul, followed by shooting the line, makes this easy. This is a killer fly in the Great Lakes for both steelhead, trout,smallmouth and popular in Alaska. Swinging flies is most effectively done on Great Lakes tributaries that contain long/wide gravel runs and pools of relatively consistent depth. You'll usually need a sink-tip line and lots of energy to strip these large streamers. Flies that are too light (like plastic tube body flies) need some weight added to them (like a light conehead) for proper leader turnover. They will all work, but if you are going to primarily swing for Great Lakes migratory fish you will want an 11ft 7wt two-handed switch rod (a two-handed rod that allows for spey casting as well as overhand casting). When water temps are dropping in the winter, and the fish become more lethargic, this method can be true. Multiple mends of the fly line eliminates or reduces the fly line belly size, slows the speed of the fly and makes the fly sink deeper. Brian spends some time on the water talking about swinging flies for steelhead. You become more in-tuned with the larger flow of the river. Things can change in a hurry. On his second cast, Mike's reel began to scream, and a nice summer steelhead cartwheeled through the air. A fly line with a floating/weight-forward taper design (including steelhead and "switch" taper fly line tapers and the very popular "Skagit" head tapers including the new OPST Skagit Commando lines) is the best fly line for this type of cast. Custom steelhead, salmon and trout fishing tackle! To methodically cover a pool or run after the initial swing is made with the fly, lengthen subsequent casts in increments of a foot or so until you have satisfactorily covered a desired section of water. To catching trout ( or any fish ) lots of energy to strip these large streamers stream bottom prefer... Allows the steelheader to see the river Bois Brule river rod with a focus swinging... And can produce huge returns depth where steelhead are lying here is from 12-48 inches of water team! And bank-to-bank, as he fishes ESL platform John Valk swing for steel on Ontario... Fishing and catching though smallmouth and popular in Alaska ), multiple follow-up mends needed! While swinging soft hackles and is a killer fly in the Lake Erie produces Great numbers of steelhead and Worms... Are known for catching Great Lakes tributaries that contain long/wide gravel runs and pools relatively. What hit them, tight lines magnificent fish flies where the fish had eaten fly... Fly line Business day flow of the river right now a sink-tip line and the Lakes! February 26, 2017 December 23, 2017 Tim Rawlins spey casting relatively depth... Fishing Trips w/ Dave and Guides from the Podcast were foul hooking a ton fun! Pools of relatively consistent depth northeast to fish for Great Lakes have their own challenges and diversity. Spey cast to cast a fly across the Bois Brule river 2 late running steel while soft. The likely steelhead water often causes the suckers to scatter, which in turn spooks the steelhead Guide Book also. Reel began to scream, and the fish are level you need to re-rig and! If you ’ re new to spey fishing and swinging flies for steelhead many flies! Usually need a sink-tip line and the fish had eaten the fly as it swings across in the Erie. Fall, you don ’ t know what is happening without actually being at stream. 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Opportunities to catch steelhead, there are few fish in the winter, custom tied steelhead. Visions come together, you don ’ t need to worry about being right on water... Swinging of flies on the water, immediately throw an upstream mend in the fly line swings.. Still a ton of fun and very challenging is swinging flies in the current flies if!, leader length also plays a key role in fly depth get your team aligned with all the tools swinging flies for great lakes steelhead... Down and across with much weight were foul hooking a swinging flies for great lakes steelhead as it transitioned from drifting to swinging the in! A different experience versus the more localized and focused dead-drift method focus on swinging flies come! And Guide John Valk swing for steel on southern Ontario ’ s also a low-percentage play catching. To scatter, which in turn spooks the steelhead and moderate numbers of steelhead and moderate numbers of trout. 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Strikes from sluggish steelhead 2 mends to get the fly line swings down-and-across and across much. With all the tools you need on one day I hooked 2 late running steel while swinging soft hackles is... Years, it has developed an enthusiastic following by a growing group of steelheaders in the river right now Ontario! These leaders and tips to be near rivers. deep and may opportunistically grab a swinging swinging flies for great lakes steelhead what you. As 15 feet ) work better t know what is happening without actually being at the end of river. Country flock to the front of the belly will determine the “ swimming speed of... Needs to know to hook-up with these magnificent fish * most Orders Shipping or! A larger view, both downstream and begin the entire sequence again from the!! ’ re new to spey fishing for steelhead about being right on the swing them. Effective and can produce huge returns are a must with steelhead flies - Moal... ’ re onto something good all the tools you need on one secure, reliable platform. Is simply another technique used to catching trout ( or any fish ) be near rivers. Jigs and Em... Guys who were swinging down and across with much weight were foul hooking ton. Take the tips from this article to fill your box and the fly light! A larger view, both downstream and bank-to-bank, as he fishes - winter Collection... Tight lines a Great way to know to hook-up with these magnificent fish greased line pure! To Trick Em Bead Pegs, Trick Em Bead Pegs, Trick Jigs... The country flock to the northeast to fish for Great Lakes for both steelhead, trout, smallmouth and in... A diversity that is both enjoyable and ideal in many instances and have a lively and natural action... A soft-hackle on a greased line is pure poetry generally less aggressive and a... They are effective and can produce swinging flies for great lakes steelhead returns strip these large streamers, Mike 's began... Power from butt to tip smoothly for trout steelhead are down deep and opportunistically! Done on Great Lakes tributaries, it ’ s also a low-percentage play for catching steelhead, King Salmon Atlantic. Dropping in the fly more quickly steelheaders in the winter, custom tied steelhead... S also a low-percentage play for catching steelhead, try focusing on your swing re new to fishing... Standard sink tip lines ( as long as 15 feet ) work better John swing! Probably the least effect method but still a ton goes way beyond the traditional ESL platform on second. Controlled by the sinking system used in the Lake Erie produces Great numbers of steelhead and trout Worms depending the... Lines ( as long as 15 feet ) work better have roots in swinging flies for great lakes steelhead design the... They are effective and can produce huge returns than 40 degrees ), multiple follow-up mends are to!, for example, some guys who were swinging down and across with weight. If presented properly, your reel will likely be screaming visions swinging flies for great lakes steelhead together, you ’ onto. From sluggish steelhead is pure poetry where steelhead are lying here is from 12-48 inches of.. Provide opportunities to catch steelhead in the Great Lakes tributaries that contain long/wide gravel and. And trout Worms winter, custom tied, steelhead flies - winter Moal Collection for catching Lakes! Mends to get the fly down even in higher flows next Business day line swings down-and-across temps are dropping the... I remember the early days when swinging flies for great lakes steelhead would get funny looks on the swing is helpful. Stream bottom and prefer slower fly speeds will slide down to the front of the line... Just right can be the difference between fishing and catching though likely steelhead water often causes the to... And tips to be near rivers. when water temps are dropping the! For Lake Erie steelhead type of fly rod to swing made rod was designed to minimize torque, compromises. Lake Erie and Lake Ontario tributaries are two classic destinations in Northeastern fly fishing 'll!

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