Swing time

Swinging with the Sato

Swinging with the Sato

The days are growing shorter and the temperatures are starting to cool here in the Northwest.  About this time of year I’m usually spending my mornings fishing for steelhead but, alas, there are no more summer runs in the river that flows through town so that will have to wait until the Columbia tributaries open up and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be healthy enough for a few days of steelheading.

Until then, I’m spending my days fishing the swing for trout with my tenkara rod.  Earlier in the season I was swinging some and was having a rough time of it, I kept missing fish.  I realized the errors of my ways one day, I was fishing the swing like I would for steelhead.  Rod pointed straight at the line as it swung across.  Big difference, with my switch or spey rods I hold a loop of line in my right hand that I let slide when I feel a grab so the fish can turn and hook themselves, with tenkara there is no line to hold so the fish were pulling on an already tight setup thus reducing my hookups.

Something has to give so that the fish can turn so I started playing with rod angles.   By holding the tip up high and leading the fly ever so slightly on the swing the fish can grab the fly and pull on the rod tip to turn and get the hook set in their jaw perfectly.   Otherwise, I’m fishing pretty much like I would for steelhead.  I start at the top of a run, cast across stream, mend if needed and then slightly lead the fly across the current.   I only take 1 step down on most of the smaller trout runs and repeat.   I alternate between a dead swing and pulsing to try and figure out what the fish seem to want on any given day and in a great looking spot, like around a big rock, I’ll often do two or three swings and try a combination of straight swing and pulsing the fly a bit.  Sometimes a fish will ignore the one and grab the other.   If I get a follow I’ll back up a few inches and try again, often the fish will grab the next time through.

I’m hoping all my tenkara swinging will make me a better steelheader when I can get back out on the water with my switch rod.