Written by: Derek Botchford and Steve Morrow, Epic Waters Angling
Epic Waters Angling and Orvis have teamed up to create a steelheading miniseries. Using the latest Orvis prototypes, the clips are specifically catered to small-stream tactics. After a busy season of guiding, Derek Botchford and Steve Morrow set out to deliver viewers techniques that are designed to elevate the game of steelhead anglers from the west to the Great Lakes.
Two-handed rods and Spey casting offer all sorts of versatility for working around obstacles. By maintaining an anchor on the water, you can avoid messy backcasts and wild deliveries. It’s also incredibly easy to adjust on the fly based on last-second observations.
When you’re in a tough casting situation, one of the easiest ways of adjusting a delivery is changing the angle of the forward cast. Just swinging the rod on a specific plane will avoid obstructions around the angler. Simply put, if you don’t want to strike that branch above your head, then adjust the plane so you don’t.
If your surroundings don’t allow for a proper forward cast, you will have trouble generating a good delivery. Two solutions are to add some speed to the D-loop–leaving the line on the water very briefly–to generate some additional load or to add some power to your condensed forward swing. You will become very familiar with people telling you “less is more” in Spey casting, and here’s your chance to break the rules.
Another way to avoid overhead problems is to use a shorter, fast-action rod. We recommend the Orvis Mission 11-foot, 8-weight, which offersall the power to turn over gawdy steelhead gear, along with the finesse to show off a little while doing it.
When you’re dealing with obstructions in the steelhead lie or on the other side of the river, the forward loop is really important. First, a tighter the loop is less likely to climb and find a limb. Next, adjust the trajectory that the loop travels. On a big system, when you’re bombing long casts, the line has a tendency to climb. Standing in the crowd at Speyorama watching the world’s best casters compete, it can seem the lines are approaching the stratosphere.
To get your fly way out there, height is important, but if you need get the fly under an obstruction, try adjusting your forward plane. Angle the delivery slightly toward the water and unload the rod with a stop while the rod tip is traveling downward; this will help you sneak into the kinds of lies fly flickers have no place being.
Small steelhead rivers, with their unending challenges, are some of the most rewarding opportunities in fishing, and finding success it tricky situations is a high you’ll be chasing for years to come.