Our Man In Canada
July 26th, 1999

Blue Ribbon Fly Fishing in Ontario, Part 4
Coastal Treasures - Techniques, Part 2

By Scott E. Smith

Excerpt from: Ontario, Blue-Ribbon Fly Fishing Guide
Published by: Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
P.O. Box 82112, Portland Oregon 97282 Phone: 503-653-8108,
email Frank Amato Publications

The wet-fly swing is also very effective in fishing coastal streams; especially in the fall when the fish are more agressive or when fishing water that holds brook trout, brown trout or resident rainbow trout.

There are several ways to present a fly on a wet-fly swing; however the techniques I will focus on here relate to the use of sinking-tip and shooting-head lines.

Wet-fly swing on Winisk River

Often when trout are deep, large rivers with heavy current are not keyed in on any type of insect hatch, their holding lies are near current seams created by structure, or the confluence of conflicting currents. As the prime holding lies in these situations are generally deep, the angler needs to present his fly deep. The best method for swimming a large nymph or baitfish imitation in this situation is on a fast-sinking portion of fly line - either a sinking- tip or a sinking shooting head. Full-sinking lines are not recommended for river fishing as they cannot be mended and are difficult to handle in current. Fast-sinking portions of fly line in small lengths (two, four and six feet) can be added to sink-tips and shooting heads to increase their sink rate. These are known as mini-tips. Unless you are fishing extremely clear water for very spooky fish, a short leader, three to six feet long, is necessary to maximize the effect of the sinking fly line. If your leader is too long, the fly is lifted in the current, thereby defeating the purpose of the sinking line, which is of course to get your fly down deep.

Presenting a wet-fly swing with a sink-tip or shooting head is made by making an across-stream cast, immediately mending slack into the line (usually an upstream mend) to allow the fly to sink, and then following the drift of the line (or swing) with your fly rod. Imparting action to the fly with your rod tip will often elicit strikes from hesitant fish.

The depth of the fly can be adjusted by casting farther upstream if you want the presentation deeper, or by casting more downstream if your presentation is too deep. Anglers that are very proficient with this technique can often fish water that may be considered too deep and fast for fly fishing. Experimentation with very fast sinking, shooting-head lines - such as Scientific Anglers' Deep Water Express series - has allowed fly anglers to effectively work stretches of water once thought only fishable with spin-fishing techniques.

Ontario Blue-Ribbon Fly Fishing Guide

Casting sink-tip lines and shooting heads is quite a departure in style from casting a floating line. When casting these heavy lines you must slow your casting stroke down considerably. Use a side arm motion on the back cast, wait for the line to straighten - fully loading your rod - and then use an overhead motion on the forward cast, deliver the line high, to allow for better trajectory and distance. With some practice, casting distances of eightly to ninety feet can be routinely accomplished with shooting heads and sink-tips.

Next time: Lake Superior Streams! ~ Scott E. Smith

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