Your Fly, it's not where you think it is!

Another show over this weekend and again different people with the same problems. The same topics come up time and time again. Rather than the usual casting demos I was able to give a short presentation on the stand. I touched on numerous topics that have already been talked about, spent a lot of time on the leader as normal but also went deep, deep on to the sunk line and the reaction from those in attendance was quite varied.

So, I have said before and say it many times, I am a big advocate of the sunk line, but. after the presentation’s I was met several times by the same point from numerous different anglers, “I fish deep, I use sink tips and multi tip lines “ others would say they use the fastest sinking poly leaders and some even mention the tungsten tips often associated with Skagits.

sunk tip.png

Tips, fishing tips on floating lines or bellies. A tip has a minimal impact on the depth of the fly. It doesn’t sink to the places we all imagine, the water constantly wants to force that tip back to its point of origin, which if its a floating line, that’s going to be the surface. No matter the sink rate of your tip the river current will always try push it back up to the drag point, one of the reasons I never really grasped why anglers would fish skagit if they really wanted to get the fly down.

Again you might think a multi tip line is the solution, in my opinion they don’t do any job particularly well, they are not the best floater and they do no sink the fly the way you imagine.Sinking the fly is one aspect but also consider how the floating belly catches the surface current and gets pushed round quickly during the swing. This swing factor alone is one of the main reasons I am such a big advocate of the full sunk line.

Now, lines sink nowhere near as quick as you think. Sure your extra super fast sinking polyleader might sink at 7 inches per second, but! Thats 7inches per second in a test tank, Stillwater. Once you add the river flow into the equation lines sink much slower than we all imagine. In a good spate your fastest tip might only be presenting your fly a few inches under the surface as the river tries it best to force that line back to it's origin of pull. Even full sink lines fish nowhere near the depth we think. I can quite easily fish a full sunk line at 4 inches per second in only a few feet of water, it won’t hit bottom with the river pushing it around.

Now not only is your fly not where you think it is in terms of depth but also on its position as it comes across the river. Where you imagine it to be and where it really is are two completely different things and it was the clear waters of Canada this year that I realised just how far behind your fly really was in terms of the swing. We had been targeting a group of fish that were lying about 1/3rd out from our own bank, swinging flies for them. The line was on the complete dangle before the fly was actually in front of the fish. Knowing where your fly is in comparison to your line, your visual marker is critical if you want to target known lies. Moving the fly in the right place, just as it passes in front of the salmon can make all the difference.

Obviously on a river your line is a lot less angular than the illustration but I hope you get the point.

Obviously on a river your line is a lot less angular than the illustration but I hope you get the point.

Now I cant give you a set formula for what depth exactly your fly will fish at with each line type and I can’t tell you exactly where you fly will be on the swing as every cast is different but what I would suggest is go out and play around with different sinking options and see where exactly your fly is during the swing. Use a highly visible fly, an underwater camera is always a great help but you will be amazed at just how little your line really sinks and where your fly really is swimming when you are waiting for that take.

Tight lines

Mike