Swinging flies for Steelhead is a matter of efficiency; how much water you cover, how many opportunities you make to present the fly to the fish that will respond to the fly determines success. It is also a formula that triggers response from steelhead. The pattern of cast, swing, step is the flash point that illicits the response from these big chrome predators. When done right the swung fly strategy is deadly for steelhead.
Steelhead masters catch more fish because they understand the effect of compounded casts and movement done right compiled over time. Over and over the approach seems simple but the intricacies of the method reveal why some anglers catch many more fish than others. Guiding steelhead anglers for over 25 years brings these little differences bubbling to the surface- especially on years when aggressive grabs come fewer and farther between. Attention to the details of success repeated long enough compile much better results!
What are some of those details? I think you can whittle it down to several main things. One- efficient; top anglers are very efficient. Second, the best anglers of the world of steelhead mangage their swing-sometimes subconciously they manage the swing speed faster or slower as conditions or feel require. Third, movement- top anglers move through the run with consistency. Combining these details will help any angler swing flies with better results.
How to be more efficient? Top anglers are efficient in every way. They cast smoothly and consistently without tangles. They cast consistent distances. They avoid snagging the fly; careful around trees or with sink-tips avoiding bottom snags. Efficiency is often a matter of line and rod control. The efficent manner of presenting the fly consistent line distances covers the water more effectively and thoroughly encouraging the triggering of a strike.
Managing the swing is often an almost indicernable difference that makes a mountain of difference in results. The swing is what triggers fish to respond. Too fast, too slow – reduces the odds you will connect. Adjusting the swing speed to accomodate fast water riffles, slow deep pools the advanced angler has a feel of the right tension on the rod; the combination of the angle of the line to the current and it’s swing speed. Some relate this is a “feel” that after years of steelhead connections it just “feels right”. Elusive as it is I convey that managing your swing speed is a key component to success.
Movement through the run is another key to success. Many of the best anglers move through the water with a grace and balance derived from years of water time. How an angler moves through steelhead water is another imperative to success. Too many new anglers find obstacles and difficulties in moving and forget the spacing of the cast; moving short then long distances between the cast. The advanced angler will calculate movement as in imperative of success and the distance between each a constant no matter what the obstacles.
To improve your success with the swung fly deliberately work to improve your casting efficiencies, manage your swing speed and move through the run with intention.
Wishing you success on the swing!
Water Time Outfitters, Inc.