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The Grab - Part II:

Deep Presentation & Large Fly

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Monday: Paul Arden
Tuesday: Harps
Wednesday: Bernd Ziesche
Thursday: Mr T.
Friday: Ray
Saturday: Viking Lars
Sunday: Anvar Maliutov

Ronan's report


Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

One of the greatest thrills in all of the fishing that Iíve done is the feel of the grab from a steelhead on a swung fly. Each and every time itís something special. Something that I know I should never take for granted. Some say the grab is everything, that ďthe tug is the drugĒ, but I donít agree with that. Fishing for steelhead with flies is too multi faceted an experience to make such a claim. It is, however, the most exciting moment in many cases, and often comes as a great and welcome surprise.

This is now the second of a series of FPs. My little homage to the grab. Just me, trying to put down in words what it feels like to me when itís all happening.

When Iím fishing a big fly down deep on sink tips the take has a completely different feeling to me than when I get bit while fishing small wets near the surface. Overall the takes seem bolder. They are still sudden, but with more solid resistance and palpable weight than quick, light energy. Maybe the larger fly elicits a bolder, more aggressive take. I think that the boldness comes from the fact that Iím feeling not only the fish, but also the pushing force of the current against my deeply sunken line.

Overall I think I feel less when fishing deep, but what I do feel I feel as being more substantial, and maybe even more mysterious. Misses (grabs that donít result in hookups) feel like dull bumps or heavy, quick yanks. Monsters live down deep. Was that a monster? Maybe a Chinook.

Iím not completely sure, but it seems like I have fewer fish miss, bump, or toy with the fly without taking when fishing deep, but maybe Iím just not able to feel the lightest and subtlest of contacts. The direct contact and feeling of connection that I get from the floating line and small fly is greatly reduced Ė attenuated by the heavy weight of the sink tip, the weight and resistance of the water above and around the line, and the slack in the system that comes from the inherent angle change between the floating head and sagging sink tip. Because there is more slack line already in the system and the fish is taking deeper in the water column, I tend to hold and drop a smaller loop of line when fishing this way.

Perhaps this sounds like Iím talking down about fishing big flies down deep. Not at all! That heavy, attenuated feeling doesnít make it any less exciting. One very well known angler told me once that he actually prefers the feel of that take down deep. I can see where he is coming from. One of my favorite feelings in all of steelheading seems to only come when I fish this way. Itís that rush that comes when Iím fishing a nice, deep, smooth broadside presentation in medium speed water, and a good steelhead takes the fly with a smooth, inside-out move. The grab is sudden and heavy, and the loop goes out smoothly, but not in a burst that sets the fish off on its first run before I can really react. When the loop is out and I come tight to the fish again I can lean back and really drive the hook home against the combined weight of the fish and the water pushing heavily on the line down deep and broadside to the current. In my perfect take the fish doesnít budge, and the double hander flexes deep into the cork when I set the hook. All that I feel is weight for about two seconds, and then comes a couple of big headshakes that signals that Iíd better get ready because my reel is about to start spinning really fast!

To me, I liken this most glorious of grabs to the feeling of hitting a fastball dead on the sweet spot of a wooden baseball bat. The contact is perfect, the power and energy are unleashed, and it just feels solid!

Take Care and Fish On,
Matt


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