Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fishing a Loop

Here is an interesting and annoying topic that always comes up from time to time. Conversations can get downright dumb and even hostile in steelhead camp at times and I really no longer see what the big deal is. Personally I carry a loop and do it because I feel that the friction of the line pulling through my finger helps to set the hook when the fish turns its head. Though those aggressive takes will not always need this slight amount of initial friction, it helps with those slow annoying takes. Also we from time to time get those very slow; I mean almost pauses or stops in your line that you think is a fish. I find this to happen a lot when fishing over hatchery fish or in really cold water. By carrying a loop this gives you an option to drop the loop on these slow takes.

The idea of dropping a loop on a fish is this. Picture a steelhead holding in moderate current. It moves a foot to intercept a fly and when it takes it just opens its mouth and sits there not turning its head. When you drop a loop with the hook in a fish’s mouth, the current will take the rest of the fly line and turn it into a bow and sweep it downstream thus moving the hook to the corner of the fish’s mouth. When the fish feels this tension, it will then turn its head and you will either have a fish on or a look of bewilderment on your face. Now even if you know a pitcher is going to throw you a fastball doesn’t mean you are going to hit a homer, but carrying a loop at least gives you an option in these scenarios. Just remember if you drop a loop, make sure it slides through your fingers and you do not just drop it. By allowing it to slide through your fingers, the fly line is still under constant tension and you do not loose control or feeling of the end of the line.

One exception I see with fishing a loop occurs when fishing with click pawl reels. With no drag on the reel, the amount of friction placed on the line from the reel is the same as sliding through your finger and also not enough direct tension to alarm the fish right off the bat. Thus decreasing the chance of an initial head shake that throws the fly. This is one of the things you really benefit from these traditional reels. Also you do not have to worry about one variable, having a drag set too tight on the initial run. Even experienced fishermen sometimes forget to check their drag. I have found that with traditional lightweight irons too much tension lead to a spring effect on the fly and you pop a lot of fish on the initial go.

Now I use this method and I have confidence in it during all parts of the year from fishing tips to even dry fly fishing. In dry fly fishing I carry a loop for a cushion for both letting the fish time to take the fly as well as to numb my reaction time. I find this especially so after I have raised a fish to a fly and then try to get it to come back. There is nothing more frustrating then bonering up after getting a fish to rise and then f… up the next take. Yes it’s a mental game, but when it comes to hooking a steelhead on a dry fly and not being a pot smoker with a delayed reaction time and me being a caffeine addict, I use everything I can to hook them.

When it comes down to it however, I think your odds at hooking steelhead is about the same when not fishing a loop for people that fish this method consistently. There are a lot of great fishermen out there that do not fish loops. It is their experience and there ability to be patient from frequent encounters over the years that make them successful. I think the most important thing to remember is sticking with one method. The only feedback that matters is the success and experience you find on the water. Each hookup or grab is a building block for the next and thus patience and instinct takes over after a while. Regardless of what you do, you are going to win some and loose some and this is what brings us back to the river.

Here is another description that explains it a little differently from Matt Klara at Sexy Loops.


Matt said...

Mike, Noone reads this stuff that we write.

Steelie Mike said...

That's probably a good thing.