Monday, March 2, 2015
Technique Tuesday: Swing and a Miss
I figured after a 2 month blogging hiatus I should make a return with something worthwhile, so figured a Technique Tuesday would the best return. Since my last post i've mostly worked and been responsible, but I did get to go to Washington and see a bunch of old buddies including one of my best friends and mentors, Jeff Brazda.
The above fish was one of the cooler steelhead I have caught recently, not because of the veracity of the take, crazy fight or size, but purely because of the method in which it grabbed the fly. After two fishless days I was with my buddy Andy on a run we debated on bothering to swing or not. Two-thirds of the way through the run I finally felt the pluck that was unmistakably not the bottom. Two quick taps, a small amount of my loop slid through my finger, and then nothing. Fortunately after two days I had the wherewithal to not pull the trigger early. This is where the technique kicked in.
First cast after the pluck I through a good long, straight cast to the same spot as the last one, didn't mend, didn't do anything and let the line rip through the zone. This cast does two things for me. One, if the fish is particularly pissed they crush it on this cast, which is awesome. The second is it reaffirms to me that the subtle pluck wasn't a branch. After a couple days without a tug are refresher in what a fish is never hurts.
My next cast is again without stepping, but I then sink it deeper than the cast that elicited the strike. This low and slow swing provides ample opportunity for a picky fish to change it's mind. It seems like this is often the cast that does the trick for me.
I follow up these two casts with a normal swing cast, just like the one that worked the first time. I will typically do this once or twice depending on what I think the fish is doing. If it was a very committed bite that I thought would come back quickly I make more than one.
After all of this and no love, I take 5-10 steps back up stream and start the process all over, trying to replicate what happened the first time. With the fish above this is the move that worked the magic. As I stood in the run and discussed comeback theory with Andy, the fish pluck two more times than the first time, and made it to commit time. A fish that took a lot of work, a gorgeous fly (the last one I tied before I left) and a memory that I won't soon forget.