A ‘HARDWARE HOWTORIAL’ WITH ALLAROUNDANGLER
Summer time means lower water conditions in most of our local tributaries. Lower water conditions high in systems will also usually render much clearer water that any of us would normally fish in the winter months. End result? You’ve gotta go smaller.
During the winter season you might typically run a size 4 or 5 french bladed clevised spinner. If you dig into your spoon box you’ll most likely be tying on a 2/5oz. piece of hardware….like a BC Steel, Little Cleo or even an old school swinging Steelie.
Forget all that with your summer steel efforts.
There’s a reason fly fishermen do so much better in the summer months over thier comparable success to winter season tactics: They will typically go small. Your No. 4′s and 5′s will be exchanged for 3′s or even 2′s. The less intrusive the hardware…when presented correctly, the better chance you have of coaxing your prey.
One misconception with going small might be your inability to reach the target zone, especially in deeper water. With the warmer water this time of year, behavior of summer fish changes and higher sunlight will mean you’ll still have to figure out how to get deep enough to pass in front of the steelhead’s point of vision.
The fish will see what’s coming at them in an ‘up and out’ pattern. That’s the angle the fish will react to. Certainly you may get you fair share of fish swinging shallow…but when conditions are extremely adverse, as they can be this time of year, you must tone it down a bit.
Going small doesn’t mean you can’t reach those hard to reach zones or angles of fish vision: You just have to add some weight. There are many ways that anglers may attempt to accomplish this presentation.
For example; I’ve seen anglers run a drift rig type set up…complete with a dropper line to a small amount of weight, which may work okay if you are working with a steady and uniform current with minimal depth changes. I’ve also seen set ups work that encompass a snap swivel tied directly to a smaller, heavier, in-line (non-clevised) bladed spinner (Panthers, Sonics, Vibrax, etc.) in order to achieve proper depth on the dead drift portion of the drift.
The problem with both of these methods may become apparent as you find your hardware exiting the ‘zone’ too early to have covered enough water to thoroughly cover your intended drift. My recommendation then becomes very basic but may create some difficulty when getting comfortable with your cast. And remember, you must be accurate with your placements.
This method I’m suggesting can create a little casting frustration at first because getting used to it may take some time…but once mastered this will certainly outproduce the afforementioned terminal rigs.
Here is an easy to follow instructional on my preferred summer steelhead spinner rigging. Also important to remember that if you’re running a spinner directly to a snap swivel and you are using a bait casting reel…stop it. Go to a spinning outfit. This will always benefit your lighter weight efforts.
To gain the proper weight required to achieve depth while still maintaining your low visibility terminal gear intentions you must perform the following steps:
1) You will slide a small egg (oval shaped hollow) or sliding sinker directly onto your main line.
2) Attache your main line, braided or mono, directly to a small black barrel swivel. Try a number 10 or 12 snap.
3) From here I’ll ask you to run a lighter than normal leader….presumably 6 or 8# test, roughly 18 to 24″ behind your barrel.
4) You’ll then tie your leader (try flourocarbon in extremely clear water as it refracts line differently than regular mono) directly to the eyed loop of the spinner.
5) When you finally prepare for your cast remember that your accuracy will depend on releasing the line from your index finger a little earlier than you are used to.
These steps will take a little getting used to as your cast becomes less controllable at first. Once you account for the delay the longer, lighter leader requires, you will be putting that spinner right on a dime in no time.
You now have a presentation that has removed the terminal gear (swivel, lead, etc.) a fair distance from what the fish will see before it decides to strike. You’re much more likely to entice the fish that is already very spooked from it’s freshwater journey upriver.
It’s also not a problem if you are bouncing along the bottom in the middle of your drift. Don’t be afraid to free spool that spinner down river while maintaining the ‘popping’ or ‘ticking’ of your spinner blade by giving it intermittent jerks to get the blade humming.
Watch the tip of your rod for this rhythmic ticking of the blade in combintation with the bottom tapping. Keep your line taught during the entire presentation. Lastly, hold on tight because when the fish decides to make it’s move…it will feel like a ‘grab’ instead of a ‘bite’ you may be used to with bait. Setting the hook is usually not required. Just come tight and hold on.
From here it’s a matter of not horsing your fish and letting it play itself out.
Give it a try and let me know if this helps you produce more fish, bank side.
Good luck and tightest of lines to you all!