There's some interesting comments and thoughts here and it shows the difference in tactics and techniques between salmon and steelhead. At this time of year, and over here in America, winter run steelhead are the main quarry and very large heavy flies and fast sinking tips are necessary to get down. The only line that does this with ease is a skagit line. Much as I dislike using such short heavy lines, I cannot argue that they do this job better than anything else. It goes back to the point RPS made about choosing the right line for the fly.
WillieGunn, I thought about putting in mid belly lines (after all we have the PowerSpey as a midbelly line) but for some reason skipped past it... thanks for adding it.
ACW.. with the snowbee 2D I guess you would also put that in the "mid belly" head length category.
Colin, is that heads that you use? Just looping on each head as conditions change, or full lines with integrated running line?
Musical, you are one of the few that ever used the sinking tip compensator... we changed the WC to get rid of the middle loop as most people we talked to said they would prefer this line only with the one loop to loop join at the front... sorry!
Charlie, thanks... you fish two rivers that I love... I am most envious!!!
Toucan, it seems like you have most bases covered!
John Gray, How did the association water fish this year?? My mum lived in Grantown for 20 years and I fished the water every year... I love the lower pools, from Long pool down!
Ruby, thanks... Any reason you don't use a short Scandinavian head on your river when the river is up?
RPS, you make some very good points and something I see everywhere. Most anglers over here get zoned in on one style of line that works for them (usually Skagit because it is easy). I think this is a big mistake. They need to take into account all the factors before settling on the line, and I certainly don't believe that one line will do all the jobs. I have become much less dogmatic these days. I used to be a DT only person, then long belly spey lines, but there are times when these are not the ideal tools for the job.
As there are so many line designs and styles around, I thought it might be interesting to look at my fishing notes from this year and write down a list of the lines I used in each situation.
Tweed (Atlantic Salmon), May 2009 - AFS Hover (Sink 1 Scandinavian Shooting Head) and 10ft slow sinking VersiLeader and PowerSpey (Mid belly) full floating.
Deschutes (Steelhead), September - WindCutter, PowerSpey, AFS Hover and Skagit Flight with intermediate tip.
Grande Ronde (Steelhead), November - Skagit with T-11 fast sinking tips and Sink 2/3 AFS head.
So in three trips, I used all four styles of line that RIO makes (no long belly lines, though I would have probably used one on the Tweed). For anyone interested, here is my reasoning and thoughts about each line choice for each trip:
Tweed. I started with the AFS hover because it has been my best fish catching line of all - whether salmon or steelhead. I love the fact that it swings about 6" below the surface and is not affected by any wind. True, it is hard to mend once sunk, but I mend as soon as my fly line lands and it has been a fish catching machine for me for the last three years. I switched to the Powerspey floating line because I had plenty of space behind me for a large D-loop, and I got fed up with stripping the line back in with the short head of the AFS. I fished between two groins that the ghillie had indicated, and, as I only really had one pool to fish, fished the same pool a second time down. I used the AFS the first run through and the PowerSpey on the second. It took me 1 hour less to fish the pool down with the PowerSpey as I didn't have to strip line in between each cast. Surely there is a good argument for the longer belly lines! Unless stripping a collie or something else is part of your technique.
Deschutes. The Deschutes is a powerful river and pretty tough to wade. In most pools you only have about 4 to 5 feet of space behind for a D-loop which makes it very hard to throw long belly lines, thus I selected the AFS as my main line. I didn't need a skagit line as the flies I cast were small and the water was warm, so sink tips weren't needed, I was just testing some new designs we had, so you can ignore the use of a skagit line on this trip. I took the PowerSpey for fishing dry flies on the pools that had nice gravel bars that I could wade out on and have a decent D-loop. I used the WindCutter for the intermediate pools, where I had enough room for a decent D-loop, but not for a large D-loop and for fishing an intermediate tip that I like.
Grande Ronde. This is a smaller river, about 40 yards wide and fabulous! The water was very cold and we had to fish deep and with large heavy flies. The sink tips we used were made of T-11 and T-14, so sink like a rock, and the flies were big, about 3 to 4" long and weighted with tugsten or lead. The Skagit Flight was the go to line for this reason. It just makes casting such heavy stuff too easy to ignore. I also used the Sink 2/3AFS head in one slower pool with long bunny leeches that had little weight.
Obviously I am lucky in that I have a large selection of lines that I have access to, and not everyone is going to be able to buy all types of line (nor is everyone going to need to use all the styles of line that is out there).
I firmly believe that most anglers benefit from knowing the differences between each line design and being open minded enough to accept that each line has its unique attributes. It is certainly true if you travel and fish for different species, on different rivers and you endure all manner of weather and river conditions. But even if I just fished one river, such as the Spey at Grantown, I know that I would find a time when I would use most designs.
Well, this post has gone on too long.. Sorry. I got carried away with the wonderful world of spey lines... I didn't mean to bore anyone, nor write such an essay!
Tight loops, with whatever line you use!
I am most fortunate in having just moved to Grantown in June, just in time for the sea trout .... or so I thought! I had a few nice fish in late June but the whole of July was a washout and the river remained too high for night fishing until early August. Allright for salmon fishing perhaps but, in June and July, my attention is very firmly, some would say obsessively, fixed on sea trout.
The lower association beat, on upper Castle Grant, is indeed lovely salmon fly water, although it now extends no further than Slop Thomas, the lowest pools now reserved for the private tenants.
The salmon fishing on the association water this year seems to have been reasonable, if slightly down on previous years, and the grilse were late in arriving ... if they arrived at all. The sea trout rod catch was down but that may be down to the conditions. My impression was that the sea trout were late in arriving, with the main pools, unusually, poorly stocked in late June. July, as I said, was a washout but it seemed that good numbers of sea trout had arrived by early August, although many were, by that time, coloured, as we might expect. It seemed to me, however, that, although the rod catch was down, the association water was not heavily fished during the summer months. Perhaps some revision of the permit price structure might attract more visitors to this outstanding association water.
I have summarised the association salmon and sea trout catch statistics for the past few years on the following page, for anyone interested:
Spey Salmon and Sea Trout Catches
Very interesting statistics. I haven't fished the Spey in over a year, and at Grantown since my mum moved to Blairgowrie in 2002.. I have hundreds of great memories, though. The sea trout were always a highlight for me when staying with my mum during the school summer holidays!
Sorry if my post makes you buy more lines and reels!
All the best
hi ,yes the 2d is a mid length head line,I have all the 2dsin the 8/9 configuration and a 1d floater.
The one d was my first speyline coming from old school dts and I hated it,that was until my lad picked it up ,and now it has a niche in my armory ,though heads may replace .
Big up for Bob Wellard who got me into the 2ds ,lovely lines.
BTW the 2d inter is loaded on a Dingley and wakes the neighbours when fish on :D
I agree, ACW, the 2D is a very nice casting and fishing line. I also agree that Bob Wellard is a star, and a great caster and instructor.
Thanks for your input....
Here in Northern California, I fish two ways. Either I am swinging down deep with a Skagit line, or I am swinging up top with a short belly line (Windcutter Spey).
Thanks, MP.... how's the run on the Trinity looking this year???
It's a late run, but the fish are just starting to get active. I have not been out there yet. The guides who I know are working hard for the fish, but they are getting some good numbers. We are just starting to get the cold, wet weather that makes the fish active.
I have been having a great time lately on the Lower Yuba. In reality, it's best fished nymphing out of a drift boat, but my friends and I have been doing well Skagit dredging the bottom with Type 8 tips and #4 rubberlegs stoneflies.
We've met before. Last year I attended your demo for Farbank retailers on the Lower American River. I found that very helpful. I am pretty much self taught except for the pointers that Bill Lowe has given me whenever we would run into each other on the water.
Maybe I will see you at the Fly Fishing Show at Pleasanton this year.
Dennis aka MoscaPescador
Simon, great to be in contact with you again.
Talking about salmon lines, could you help me?.
Last summer, I had a professional trip to San Francisco. Managed to get a few days off and went fishing the Rogue, beginning of September. Just got half pounders, but in good numbers. Now, fishing for them with a 15ft rod and a #10/11 line was a bit on the heavy side. Almost everyone fishing from boats (salmon mainly), I was the only one wading. But saw in the internet and in some fly shops that there are 14 to 15 ft rods for # 5/6/7 Spey lines. Could you elaborate on this? Does Rio have also those lines, and exactly what kind of lines are they? Classical short or mid-belly spey lines? Shooting heads? Skagit lines as I was told once?
Perhaps such tackle could be useful for fishing large rivers for half-ponders and even grilse back here in Europe. What do you think?