Jan 28, 2015

Two Hand Troutin' - On the Yakima

Update 2.22.2015
Swinging for trout on the Yakima Sunday with my 5 wt switch and hit this hen.

Photo Courtesy of Paul Huffman

Big for a mid Columbia Fish at about 28 inches. The rod is a Sage TCX 5119. I was experimenting with a intermediate tip head a little heavier than I started with, a RIO iShort 350gr, and 12 ft. of T-11. Luckily, I still had a 10 lb. tippet on because I had been experimenting with very heavy flies and didn't want to snap any more off. She grabbed a little olive rattlesnake skulpin. We only have 44 steelhead over Roza at this time and I found one! No time for a great photo. I had to get her unhooked and released quickly. The take was very unlike a steelhead. She didn't grab it on the hang down, but after a few strips in through some very quiet water.

Update 2.12.2015 - Not on the Yak but still a great trout spey catch...Thanks Paul

Photo by Paul Huffman - Methow Cutthroat

Update 2.9.2015
Paul added...

I got a chance to try the RIO iShort 350 on Jan. 31. 

 I liked the extra weight of the head. The intermediate sinking front end gets the sink tip a few inches deeper than a floater, but I'm not sure how much deeper the fly gets. I'm not sure it makes much sense from the standpoint of making it stealthy to the fish to make the front end transparent because I'm going to be attaching it to a opaque tip or leader. Maybe that's the easiest way to manufacture a intermediate end. But I had to guess where the head was pointing. I could see the bright orange proximal end, but the orientation of the distal end took some interpolation. The idea from the manufacturers and the shops that getting half the head under the surface gets it away from the shearing surface currents and helps you swing slower seems bogus to me. There are probably shearing subsurface currents as well, but you can't see what they are doing to your line. And any hydrologist will tell you the surface velocity is generally going to be slower than subsurface. In a natural stream, you generally find the highest velocity 20 to 40% down from the surface.

I had no problem clearing the iShort to the surface for the upstream snap. It wasn't to heavy to throw with my Sage TCX 5119. However, it wasn't much help in casting that big Dali Lama.


We love to hear your stories and see your pictures. This article comes to us from a great customer named Paul Huffman. Paul primarily fishes for Steelhead but like us he is now looking toward the many other possibilities we can adapt two hand strategy to. Paul has found some great success on the Yakima River and has kindly shared his findings with us. Thank you Paul

Yakima River Bow

Frozen waders

I'm recovering from shoulder surgery on my non-casting side, so snowboarding is out of the question for a bit longer. I've had to settle with winter fishing on the Yakima and experimenting with my 5 wt. switch, a Sage TCX 5119-4.

I tried both my single handed 5 wt. and the switch rod and found single-handed casting is a lot harder because my left arm has to come up higher to haul line. When I'm doing standard two-hand casts, my left hand stays comfortably low.

I've been having fun swinging skulpins on a sink tip. It's like like steelheading in miniature. For years, I struggled with a single-hand 5 wt. and a sink tip. I'd do lots of tricks to find some back cast room to get a cast across the current, like casting off-handed, false casting up and down the river then changing direction, wading way out, or finding a hole in the brush behind me, hitting it with as long a back cast as I could, then hauling hard into the forward cast while releasing loops of line held in my mouth. Now with the switch rod, it's just a sweep and a flick, and care not to cast too far!

Yakima River Valley

I remember talking with Travis Duddles about streamer fishing a few years ago, and was surprised to hear that not that many trout fishermen used streamers on the Deschutes River. However, people like Greg Darling may be changing some minds. Streamer fishing has been a standard technique on the Yakima for a long time. For me, November has always been the best month. Some days I'd fish streamers until the mid-day BWO hatch started, I'd do well on tiny dry flies for an hour or an hour and a half, then go back to catching big rainbows on streamers after the hatch. It seems like the BWOs bring fish into the feeding areas, but they be willing to eat anything while they wait for the hatch.

However, I am finding there are some flies that are too heavy and bulky to cast well with a 5 wt. switch. It doesn't have the backbone of my 8 wt. steelhead rod. An example is the Dali Lama streamer, which is heavy both because of the cone head and the water absorbant twin bunny strips. I'm using a RIO Skagit Max Short 325gr. which should be better at this than some other lines, like a Scandi or a triangle taper. The heavy flies stick in the water a little too much right at a critical moment at the outbound cast, "tripping" the cast. The best way I've found to compensate is to sweep the line to the surface a little harder. For a snap-T, this would be to flip the line upstream, then sweep it downstream to get the leader tight and the fly near the surface, then quickly swing into the loop formation, make a crisp stop, wait for the loop to fully form and tighten, and have the loop, p-point, and target aligned carefully. I snapped off a couple heavy flies either struggling to roll the tip up prior to sweeping or on the outbound cast, so I had to step up to a 10 lb. tippet. It seems like that heavy tippet would decrease strikes in clear water. Still, it's probably easier than trying to cast the Dali Lama with a single handed rod.

After a little more experimenting, I found that maybe the way to go deep is to put the weight on the line, not the fly. I had been using sinking leaders and ten to twelve feet of T-7. I reached into my steelhead wallet as an experiment. First, I tried 6 ft. of T-11, reasoning that I couldn't add on a lot of extra weight. But that short tip required an adjustment to my casting rhythm. Then I tried the full 12 ft. length of T-11, and was surprised how well that cast. The casts would just rocket out there with a moderately weighted streamer. My conclusion: weight on the fly line is easier to cast than weight on the end of the leader.

When I was able to get both hands up to my tying vice, I experimented with skulpins on Protubes. They are pretty bulky with that clipped deer muddler head. The ones I tied with steel eyes, and the ones with steel eyes with a flexiweight cast well. But when I added a drop weight with the steel eyes, those were too heavy.

Swing Water
Some guys at washingtonflyfishing.com had some useful advice, some not so helpful. Some guys wanted to blame my casting ability, but I explained that everything I cast on the TCX casts like a dream, except when I reached a distinct threshold of fly weight. Others told me I should maybe try a slightly heavier Skagit Max Short 350 grain. Lots of people have been telling me to try an intermediate head. I'll have to try it. Still, it's nice to be able to just switch the tip on the floating Compact Short to a straight piece of mono and have a killer nymphing rig. I can cover a lot of water with an indicator rig, throwing it way up stream and getting a real long drift past me to the downstream swing.

I like the TCX switch for hopper fishing, for trout and steelhead nymphing, for swinging streamers for trout. I can even see myself using it for Deschutes red sides during the big stone hatch for throwing those big foam imitations. I might not ever use my single hand 5 wt. much anymore except for BWO hatches.

Contributed by Paul Huffman

Thanks Paul for your insights. I think you will get in the zone with a RIO Skagit Max Short 350gr or an Airflo Skagit Switch 360 gr although casting #2 Dali's will likely never be easy on a your TCX 5119. The rod is a champion but everything has it's limits. 

Question for our readers out there: What lines are you throwing with your TCX 5119? We'd sure like to hear about it

Thanks again Paul and Keep on Swinging!

1 comment :

  1. Great write up. I tried swinging on the Yakima the other day after the trout quit coming up for the Skwala dries. Fishing on top was inconsistent at best. For the amount of time I spent swinging with my 3wt MS I think it was the better technique that day. 5 hits and 3 to hand. Love swinging for trout almost as much as Chrome!


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