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Lead

Joined:
2007/1/2 11:55
From Bozeman
Posts: 19931
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I did a whole lot of steelheading this year. Way more than I could afford, and I burned all my vacation time for it. The tribs are too far away to do all the time, so I've been returning to my favorite trout streams a bit lately. I've found that I'm way more apt to load the leader and tippet up with lead and shot spreads than I used to be. I'm suspicious that my lessons learned on the tribs have caused me to fall in love with lead.

I don't know if this is because I prefer to fish fast water lately, or if I've really made some sort of fishing style shift (if you will), but it just seems right.

To all of you nymphers out there, how do you spread your shot? If not shot, what do you use for weight? For years, I just used weighted flies and never carried many shot, but now they're the most important thing I carry after flies and tippet.

Lately, I've been using a setup similar to the one sal recently discussed:

00------fly1-----oo------fly2

The big ones are usually something like a B or BB, and the small ones are usually about a size 4 or 6, depending on the water I'm fishing--usually the fastest good holding water that I can find. If I must fish slow water, I'll remove a few of them.

I find myself getting minor snags, foul ups, or chunks of moss about every four casts. I get a snag that requires some effort to get out of about once every 20-25 casts. Too much? Too little? The snags and foul ups have been annoying, but I'm catching more fish than before. I've also found that an indicator helps with dropping depth charges, as I call it, and that the bigger ones are better. Usually something like a thingamabobber or poly indicator.

Thoughts/comments? Anyone agree, or are there a bunch of the shot minimalist types around? Discuss.

Posted on: 2008/12/28 21:44


Re: Lead

Joined:
2008/7/31 11:22
From Southeast Pa.
Posts: 127
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Jay, sounds pretty good to me.Instead of using 2 above and below I like to stick with one and one splitshot I've found this to reduce snags,and the shot always seems to find a way to get a gap between them no matter how hard you put them on. I use tin so i tend to bite down on them,not recommended though,use your hemo's.The less hardware the better,less to hang up on things.It also depends on how there acting,when conditions allow I'll use the least amount of shot.When the fish are active they will travel far to grab a nymph.But in the winter they will not burn more energy than they have to,especially if there not going to get that much energy out of that food item.So you have to put it on thetre nose in the colder water temps.You wouldn't go to burger king 20 miles away when you can go 2 miles to wendy's.I also like to put the bigger of the 2 nymphs on top,and a smaller dropper on the bottom,which if it's a beadhead no need for the second shot between the 2 flies.Unless your fishing really fast water,I went to erie for my second time this year and it seems you always tend to use alot more shot up there.Just my two cents,hope this helps.

tight lines

Posted on: 2008/12/28 22:12


Re: Lead
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2006/9/9 19:16
From Dallastown, PA
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Jay,

Lots of shot is good at Erie in high fast water. You should try to refrain from the second shots between flies. Too many hinges to get hung up on on both the cast and the drift.

I like to consider shot as a weight to get the flies down to the fish or bottom in cold water and allow the flies to drift in the current freely. This usually means the flies are actually drifting above or at the shot level in faster water.

Add shot til you hang up and remove one. Once you find a routine for a particular water depth you can adjust your drift ot have the same amount of shot do different things like getting deeper by mending or fishing shallower pocket water by high sticking.

Think about it like you are fishing your shot to the fish instead of the flies. I like a beadhead in the tandom on faster water to get the "loose" out of the line on the drift. In Winter the trout move very little for the flie as stated above. They also pick up and spit faster than you think. Thats where losing the loose comes in. You are really feeling the shot move because it is the next hinge past the strike indicator. Try keeping it a close as possible 6-8" without banging the trout in the noggin.

Thats all I got. I might add that I did this for a few hours today and only managed one rainbow, by brother got two with no indicator. So getting to the fish is important but often in Winter the bite is slow and difficult to find.

Posted on: 2008/12/28 23:41
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Re: Lead

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2007/4/25 10:02
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While I don't have a lot of expereience with weighted flies- seems to me in some of the typical waters I fish that the weighted flies still don't get down enough in faster water without shot.

Obviously the more shot on your line the harder it is to cast and control but if you need to get down- shot seems to be the way.

To me the weighted flies are more popular with the czech nymphing crowd. (tournament fly guys cannot have weight on their line so this is their vocation) While I see the merits to this type of fishing- I also find czech nymphing difficult in waters that are less then 3 feet deep. Any thoughts?

Have been taught by my fly fishing mentor to add lead to the flies but again this never seems to be enough.

What do you guys think?

Posted on: 2008/12/29 9:32
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Re: Lead

Joined:
2006/9/21 0:02
From Pittsburgh
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I tie most of my steelhead stuff weighted.
Being able to get the flies down without adding split shot seems to be an advantage IMO.
But my subsurface fishing skills leave a lot to be desired

Posted on: 2008/12/29 11:19


Re: Lead

Joined:
2006/10/18 15:46
From Patterson twp, Pa (Beaver Falls)
Posts: 6515
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In the above post, it mentioned "try fishing your shot". Now if you're putting shot above both flies trying to bring them down to the fish, and thus having your 2 flies trail at a slightly higher level than the shot, do you ever extend your leader to make up for this loss in length? I figure if you're fishing a 8' leader in 5 feet of water with a current, you would have to extend it a bit to get the propper level for your flies... just wondering if anyone does this?

Posted on: 2008/12/29 11:31
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Re: Lead
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2006/9/11 8:26
From Chester County
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I’ve tried many of the nymphing methods and at one time or the other use most of them, depending on conditions:

Dry / dropper
Indicator with single or multiple flies
No indy straight upstream (Joe Humphries style)
Czech nymphing
Centerpinning(toid) with an indy and a line of shot
Bouncing the bottom with shot

They all work. I choose each of the above method depending on conditions.

Here are some observations I have with regard to weighted flies and/or adding weight to your tippet or leader:

I find that fishing weighted flies with little or no added weight to the tippet allows a direct connection to the fly by eliminating the slack and hinging effect between the weight and the shot. When experimenting with Czech nymphing, which uses heavily weighted flies, I discovered or rather confirmed this by using weighted flies vs. unweighted flies and shot.

Fishing weighted flies need not be a chuck and dredge operation. As an experiment, I tie regular patterns including small ones with a little weight. When I was able to sight fish with nymphs in low and clear water and watch the fish take, I found even a micro shot above my fly makes the take imperceptible many times. With a lightly weight fly, and no shot, I often was able to see enough movement on my line to know to set the hook. Also I was better able to keep my fly down nearer to the bottom with a weighted fly and no shot. My primary laboratory for wild fish is Valley Creek since I live close by, but I’ve also gave it a go several times in clear water conditions at the Letort, Spring, Fishing Creek, and the Delaware River. The fish are educated to anglers, they know the game, and spit out a fly very quickly in most cases. I find my strike detection is much better without much if any weight added to the tippet. With the weight on the line, the fish must pull against the shot at the hinge point and many strikes go undetected.


I rely a lot on slack casts and mends to get to the bottom and stay there, but even with weighted flies you may need to fine-tune the weight to get to the bottom. I’ve found that Tungstun Tacky weight to most useful when a little more weight is needed. You can add or subtract it easily (unlike shot), can make it as light or heavy as you need (unlike shot), and it doesn’t seem to hang up as much (unlike shot).

Also, borrowing from a centerpinning rig, I find when added weight is needed, a string of a little weight spaced along the tippet often works far better than a couple of shot pinned a foot or so above a fly. The spreading out of the weight lessens the hinging effect.

In extreme depth and current speed, I’ve also borrowed from my carp / sucker rig from my youth, and the slinky rigs I used to use for steelies. When my flies constantly hang up, a string of shot at the point sometimes works to help you get down without easily snagging. When a fish takes, the fly is ahead of the weight and strikes are felt or seen a lot easier because of this.

The seeming infinite amount of experimenting you can do with flies, rigs, techniques, equipment, etc., is one of the greatest things I like about fly-fishing. Good luck.

Posted on: 2008/12/29 11:33


Re: Lead

Joined:
2008/1/21 19:15
From Pittsburgh
Posts: 2739
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I never used to tie weighted flies because I felt the fly would act more natural in the water without weight...I am now starting to feel that you get better depth, control, and sensitivity with the weighted fly.
As for the shot, JayL, I agree that is is kinda like after driving 6 hours on the turnpike...when you get off you still feel like driving 65mph on the back roads. I'll add more weight after steelheading than at other times of the year, but maybe its because of the water levels.
The one thing I have found is that if I seperate my split shot, my tangles increase exponentially. Maybe it is my casting style, but I put whatever shot I need all together about 18" above the top fly. And I always try to get away with as little weight as possible and cast "in the bucket" to get the fly deep.

Posted on: 2008/12/29 11:35


Re: Lead
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2006/9/11 8:26
From Chester County
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David wrote: "I never used to tie weighted flies because I felt the fly would act more natural in the water without weight...I am now starting to feel that you get better depth, control, and sensitivity with the weighted fly."



If you dropped an unwieghted fly in the water unattached to anything, I would agree with that statement. But as soon as you attach a tippet, the fly is being dragged unnaturally through the water. A weighted fly (as does a shot) counteracts the drag and allows the fly to sink. But adding weight on the tippet adds a hinging effect and an angle. The slack between the fly and the shot must be pulled straight and the shot must be moved to before a strike is detected. Try sight fishing to see for your self.

There are experts that say weighted flies act unaturally, and there are experts that say the opposite. Those that fish "for a livng", the international tournament guys, use weighted flies and catch a ton of fish. Even when not fishing in competition and having to follow the tournament rules they fish weighted flies.

I read a lot, and find a lot of what is read is wrong, therefore I go out and try it for myself. I can honestly say that I catch more fish using weighted flies. Try experimenting with them. My theories and what I think really doesn't mean much......I always let the fish make the final decision. Good luck

Posted on: 2008/12/29 12:09


Re: Lead

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2007/1/2 11:55
From Bozeman
Posts: 19931
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Good discussion here.

As for weighted flies, does anyone suspect a difference in drift between beadhead and body-weighted flies? I ask this because this past weekend at spring, I caught a vast majority of my fish on body-weighted flies with shot. The beadheads of the same pattern largely went untouched. The patterns in question are size 12 walt's worms and size 16-20 scuds. The water was off color (if you can call the beautiful shade of green that spring turns when it's up and running 'off color'). I don't think that the fish would shy from a beadhead in those conditions.

Posted on: 2008/12/29 12:17


Re: Lead

Joined:
2007/5/29 14:32
From SE PA - Montgomery County
Posts: 617
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Jay,

Tungsten Putty works great. I used in on the SR this year and had very few snags. You need to keep it warm though. It gets very hard to work with if it is cold. Most of the snags I used to get were from the split shot. I would put it about 18"-24" above my 1st fly in a two fly rig. I mold the puddy into a torpedo shape to minimize snags, or I would just cover a few "b" shots with it in a conical shape. It works great and stays on the line even in frigid water.

Rob

Posted on: 2008/12/29 13:17


Re: Lead

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2008/2/18 10:20
Posts: 1266
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Quote:

jayL wrote:
Good discussion here.

As for weighted flies, does anyone suspect a difference in drift between beadhead and body-weighted flies? I ask this because this past weekend at spring, I caught a vast majority of my fish on body-weighted flies with shot. The beadheads of the same pattern largely went untouched. The patterns in question are size 12 walt's worms and size 16-20 scuds. The water was off color (if you can call the beautiful shade of green that spring turns when it's up and running 'off color'). I don't think that the fish would shy from a beadhead in those conditions.


I don't think beads especially on smaller flies are enough to get the fly down fast enough in a lot of situations especially in faster water. I have been weighting a lot of my flies lately and like it better. just my opinion.

Posted on: 2008/12/29 13:51
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Re: Lead

Joined:
2008/12/29 13:34
From Lehigh Valley
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even when using beads, i usually put some wire on the hook as well - fits nicely into the bead and keeps it in place while tying....plus you can really play with the LOCATION of the weight with the wire. So you have one more variable to play with:

1. Weight on or off the fly
2. If on the fly, how much weight on the fly (bead, wire, bead and wire, how much wire, etc)
3. if wire, where to place - towards the head? abdomen? tail?

The location of the weight influences how the fly will react when sinking, drifing, and when given drag or action from the line. I typically put the wraps of lead towards the eye of the hook for nymphs (creates almost a jigging action with the head diving up and down) and in the middle of the shank for streamers (I want them to swim evenly - just deeper).

Overall - i prefer weighted flies. I only use shots when i don't have a fly heavy enough with me.

Posted on: 2008/12/29 14:10


Re: Lead

Joined:
2006/9/9 22:43
From Delaware Co.
Posts: 3477
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Quote:
I read a lot, and find a lot of what is read is wrong, therefore I go out and try it for myself. I can honestly say that I catch more fish using weighted flies. Try experimenting with them. My theories and what I think really doesn't mean much......I always let the fish make the final decision. Good luck


I second what Afish said weighted flies are the way to go to catch more fish

Posted on: 2008/12/29 16:18
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Re: Lead

Joined:
2007/4/25 10:02
Posts: 5862
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I recently started tying flies and have done so thus far with weight- so going forward I will get a chance to experiment. No denying that shot does cause hangups. The more I learn the more I don't know.

Posted on: 2008/12/29 21:06
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