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skagit for spring creeks / small trout streams?


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15 replies to this topic

#1 chugbug27

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 07:53 AM

Anyone using skagit for spring creeks and small to medium trout stream fishing on nymphs & dries? I went to a local casting pool event the other day where an OPST rep showed me the ropes for a little bit and I got to try it out... My small brain could only take a little in, but wow.

1--seems less disruptive of calm spring tail water and more effective than a roll cast for tight spaces, even with a dry fly or emerger
2-- seems easier to mend line to avoid drift-killing mid-stream currents
3-- cast weighted nymphs without sending them over your head and back
4-- easy to learn the basic casting technique
5-- can use regular fly fishing gear, just keep an extra spool of mono with appropriate skagit head/s, to switch back and forth between "normal" fly fishing and skagit even on the river with one rod and reel.

Now, this was at a casting pool with an OPST rep, and I only had about 15 minutes with it. I've read some posts by Rocco, siralspey, others who seem to be happy with the skagit methods and materials on non-spey equipment, but I'm hoping to get a sense of whether this might be as good an option as it seems even on spring creeks and small streams? And casting aside, one main concern I have is whether you still detect subtle takes and whether it impacts presentation. And can you really use it for extended periods on say a 4 weight 7.5' or 8' ordinary single handed fly rod?

Much thanks if anyone can chime in with experiences good or bad...
cb27

#2 steeldrifter

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 10:56 AM

I built myself a dedicated skagit spey rod this past spring and have fallen in love with this style fishing over this summer. Mine is a 12ft rod, are you trying to do this on a single hand rod or are you going with a longer 12'ish dedicated two hander?

 

With my 12ft'er I find it perfect for mid-larger rivers. The skagit style cast with the sustained anchor and ripping the line off the water IMO is not ideal for smaller streams because it does disrupt the water a bit when the line is ripping off the water. On mid-larger streams it can't be beat though. Mending is very easy and you can get some real long drag free drifts with a long skagit rod. Being able to cast with no room behind you for a backcast is a huge plus. This year I had lots of new water open to me on a river I have fished for nearly 40 yrs just because with the skagit rod I could fish spots that had lots of trees/brush behind me.

 

Learning the cast isn't too hard. How I learned was I bought an Ed Ward Skagit Master dvd and watched that a few times before heading out to the river. There was still a learning curve and some days I felt more confident than others in my skagit casting but overall it wasn't that hard to be able to get the basics down the first couple trips with the spey rod.


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#3 chugbug27

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 02:50 PM

8 foot 4 weight trout rod... Here are a couple videos re using what I think are 5 foot micro skagit floating heads on small streams and creeks, along the lines of what I was thinking... 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tOorD-LW9c&pbjreload=10


cb27

#4 whatfly

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 03:06 PM

Chugbug:
 
You have some curious assumptions there about skagit style casting, none of which I agree with in this particular context. I do not find skagit casts to be 'less disruptive', it is actually harder to mend with many of the thin running lines, especially monofilament, line management complicates matters considerably, and because of the size of the heads and thin running lines strike detection and setting the hook are that much more difficult.  These single handled skagit/spey rigs are really much more specialized tools than the vendors would like to admit.  Not to say they are not fun to play with, just do not believe everything they are telling you.

 

As far as the advantage of no backcast, that can be solved with a few casting classes, especially ones that emphasize single handed spey techniques.  With a little instruction and practice, you will be surprised how much water you can cover with just a simple roll cast or single spey.  Rather than focusing on technology to solve the problem, especially on smaller waters, I would argue you should focus on technique which will probably solve most of your problems.  In a small stream setting even in heavy cover I really do not have to boom casts to the far side, so there really is not reason to resort to such a limiting technique in my opinion.

 

The niche I like these lines for are in close conditions, medium to large rivers, and throwing wets or streamers.  If fishing any other way, I can still cover more techniques with a standard rig on a one-handed rod and a long bellied floating fly line.  Of course part of my bias is I always want to be able to use and indicator if necessary, and these trout spey rigs really are not designed for those sorts of presentations.  YMMV.



#5 mikechell

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 03:10 PM

The videos make it look kind of fun ... but it might not be very productive.  Neither of the people in those videos caught a single fish !!!


Barbed hooks rule!

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#6 chugbug27

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 04:06 PM

Truth be told, my casting could probably use some improvement... Thanks whatfly and mc... And sd
cb27

#7 spiralspey

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 08:39 PM

The short skagit heads are great for small to medium sized rivers, but wouldn't be my first choice for dry fly or nymphing work. On spring creeks I'd definitely go another route, you just need to be quieter, have better accuracy, and better mending control than those short heads can consistently deliver. If you're swinging or stripping streamers, then by all means try the skagit route.

If you were to ask my opinion on what line to buy to use for SH spey casting for dry fly and nymphing work on small to medium sized spring creeks I'd recommend a line with a long front taper more like a scandi taper. The three lines I fish right now in similar situations are the Rio SH spey line, Wulff triangle taper, and Airflo river and stream, and all would work very well in those situations. The Wulff and Airflo lines I'd upline a size or two, but the Rio is pretty spot on in line weight.

Of course almost any standard WF line would work just fine to learn to SH spey cast and there really is no need for a specialty line, but they sure do make it easier.

#8 chugbug27

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 10:38 PM

I guess I've shown my ignorance of all things spey... I had been operating under a misimpression that spey casting was for only the largest distance fly fishing for salmon and steelhead on the swing, with a highly specialized, enormous two handed rod with enormous open spaces to fish in. I hadn't thought much of it, because I've never done it; just pretty much stuck to streams and creeks, which I thoroughly enjoy and which suit me well. I hadn't realized that the "micro skagit" casting the rep was showing me was just a new iteration of a spey cast, on a different line setup.

 

Which brings me to a good place, however annoying it might have been getting here.  End answer seems to be, learn how to roll cast more effectively (I'll trust it can be done), and learn how to single handed spey cast on a non-spey rod, with either a weight forward line or one of the three lines you mention.  Much, much thanks, and apologies for asking foolish questions based on ignorant assumptions.

 

Maybe instead of buying stuff (I've already got a weight forward line) I'll just go hang out at the casting pool a bit this winter, maybe take some casting lessons, and take it from there.


cb27

#9 Rocco

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 11:49 PM

I really like the mini spey skagit 3-4 wt combos on mid to larger waters. And they are very productive and efficient fish netters with soft hackles and smaller steamers but they are far from ideal in dry fly fishing and nymphing as mentioned in earlier posts. . 

 

But in your application --small waters --the bulky Skagit lines are  not the tools you want as they require tips and long leaders to avoid raucous splash downs  and on really small streams you won't even get the full head out of the rod tip.  

 

You are far better off mastering roll casts with a 3-4 wt DT on a shortish one hander for  accuracy and delicate presentations up close. (You might try one/two line sizes heavier on those rods to drive the short roll casts with authority.) The roll cast is actually the foundation of all spey casts and with some work it can do just what you want on your waters.

 

Rocco 



#10 chugbug27

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 11:36 AM

Yeah, I'm doing a lot of mediocre roll casting on the water. It gets me to a decent number of fish, but improving it's distance would get me to a lot more. I think the ease of getting distance with the skagit head blinded me a bit to its limitations.
cb27

#11 mikechell

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 12:59 PM

I think the ease of getting distance with the skagit head blinded me a bit to its limitations.

I think you're over thinking both sides of the issue.  Watching those videos, it looks like a great way to fish the tight quarters environment of small woodland creeks.  Also on the video, they don't seem to be making much more commotion than any other fly line.

 

Since those type creeks don't get much pressure (few people can cast in there, right?), any splashing of a heavier line probably won't spook the fish.  I've watched fish pick the bark off a branch that had JUST fallen in the water ... a thin fly line isn't going to cause much alarm.

I've also watched the wake from a fish that rocketed towards a badly landed, plopped down fly.

 

I know, trout are so much smarter than the fish I see ...

 

Try it ... you're only out a few bucks and you might like it more than anything else you've done.


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#12 tjm

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 04:38 PM

Can some one explain (in 20th century American) what is skagit and for that matter spey as pertains to casting? Ran accross these terms some while back and never really  figured them out other than buzz words?  I watched a couple  hours of utubes and all I saw of spey casting looked exactly how I was taught to roll cast back in the day. Can't recall what the skagit difference was from shooting head?

I recall spey as a type of salmon fly unless I'm more confused than normal.



#13 Prybis

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 05:34 PM

Can some one explain (in 20th century American) what is skagit and for that matter spey as pertains to casting? Ran accross these terms some while back and never really  figured them out other than buzz words?  I watched a couple  hours of utubes and all I saw of spey casting looked exactly how I was taught to roll cast back in the day. Can't recall what the skagit difference was from shooting head?

I recall spey as a type of salmon fly unless I'm more confused than normal.

 

The word spey comes from the river these long two handed rods and lines where developed for casting on. All two handed cast can be done with a long true spey line up to 100 feet, scandi lines with heads up to 45-60 feet and skagit heads up 20-35 feet. Skagit comes from the west coast guys casting heavy flies with heavy sink tips in tight quarters for steelhead. It can be confusing to alot of people. I am still learning.

 

People have been developing these short micro skagit heads to use with shorter two handed or switch rods and to use on single handed rods. If you learn to cast these short heads on single handed rods, they can be an effective tool on every creek, stream, or lake. I will agree with others in the fact these lines are not good for drys or euro nymphing. If you plan on doing this in tight cover, I suggest using a Tenkara rod instead. You will be amazed. 

 

I wish I could cast half as good as the women in the first video. She makes it look like a piece of cake. As with any casting, practice always helps. If you give it a try, I recommend  picking the rod you want and find a dealer that will let you try out some demo lines. Everyones casting is a little different and we may need a heavier or lighter line than others. Do not let others discourage you from giving it a try if that is what you want to try. Life can be boring living it as everyone else would. 


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#14 spiralspey

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 05:49 PM

Spey casting has become sort of an umbrella term that covers several line and casting styles that use a change of direction roll cast. Unlike the good old roll cast, which is basically in and out on the same plane, spey casting involves positioning the line from hanging directly downstream of the angler to an new position so it can be roll cast across the river at a 45 to 90 degrees. Skagit is just one of these line systems and casting styles built around short heavy heads designed to cast heavy flies and sink tips with very little effort.

Yes, spey flies are flies used for salmon (and steelhead). They were developed on the river spey, just like the casting style.

#15 tjm

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 09:01 PM

"Unlike the good old roll cast, which is basically in and out on the same plane," I have seen that and just thought the caster was inexperienced, probably a back caster.

 

I guess I learned spey casting back in the 70s then, but all the fly rod men that I ever fished around called it roll casting, They all double hauled and fed/shot line on every roll cast but it involved working the line in multidirections before the actual presentation roll. Similar to some of the "one hand spey" videos. Old Jean told me "bounce the line off the water, boy it'll go farther", he could roll cast (or maybe spey cast) a DT9 to the backing.

 

I remember reading about those Spey river rods and flies, I had forgotten about the rods, but one of the books had a short chapter on them,16' long? I thought it was history/slash background to the fancy salmon flies.  Long time since I read about that.

 

So, scandi (another new word) and skagit are basically names for special tapers of shooting heads?

 

thanks Prybis and Spirialspey ; the discussions mean more if you have an idea what they are about. 

 

oh, "switch rods"? another new to me term, you said two handed are these very long rods, like the spey and if so how are they different?