Leaders for summer steelies

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Kodiak

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It's been so long since I've actually drift fished I was wondering if someone could point me in the direction of leader length and weight for summers in low clear water. Any help would be great.
 
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steelhead_stalkers

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If I remember right its 10 feet of 30lb cxx with a 3.0ot single or treble hook, whatever you prefer. :lol: :lol:

I would think 4 feet in clear water should be enough. We have been using the sickle siwash hooks in #4 or #2. You rarely lose a fish with them. :D Also, the trilene pro flourocarbon in the #6 is great line and you can get 110 yards for between $7 and $9 at walmart.
 
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SantiamDrifter

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Your gunna be drift fishing and not side drifting right?

When drift fishing clear water you want to be on the longer side, 3-4 feet. I like 10# Pline flouro, I think it stands up about as well as an 8# UG. Plus its suppose to be invisable so you can get away with running 10#. Then when I would drop down to 6# UG, I just switch to 8# Flouro.

These days its all about "NATURAL" presentation. You want your bait to be traveling the same speed, or just a little bit slower then the current. You have to remember its not about dregging the bottom. Use just enough weight to get your bait down to the target water, no more. You should only be touching bottom every 2-5 seconds, Not dragging your bait along. I run slinkies with 220 shot anywhere between 2 shot to 5 shot per slinkie, depending on the depth and speed of the water. Each hole is different, and as you probably know, the guides who are sucessful are always changing thier weights.

A lighter weight has many advantages.
1.) you dont get hung up as much and save a lot of gear.
2.) When only ticking the bottom every 2-5 seconds, it becomes much easier to feel the lite mouthing bites steelhead are famous for.
3.) you present your bait in a much more natural presentation to the fish, which I think has been proven over the years by the sidedrifters to work extremly well.

Another way to present your bait in a more natural way is to add boucny to your bait. Done properly, It provides the most natural presentation of baits to steelhead. Fish in Washington and you’ll most certainly encounter double hook rigs, with a Beau Mac Cheater tied between the hooks, but as you move south, you enter puff ball country.

Puff balls are a wonderful invention. Im sure you know, so this is for people who dont. Bait doesn't naturally float. Eggs, and prawns tend to bounce off the bottom. Dropping and rising into and out of the target zone. Adding a pull ball adds boucny to your bait, keeping it floating directly in the strike zone. They also help keep your hook from draggin against the bottom, again saving you lots of gear.

I also love drift fishing with yarn balls. They also float and add bouncy. You can make them in many different colors and when fishin places like the dechutes where bait isn't allowed, you can soak them in scents and fish them just like bait.

Again when the steelhead starts to mouth the yarn, the yarn gets stuck in their teeth. which gives me a little more time to feel the bite.
 
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SantiamDrifter

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So why do the guys at foster use longer leaders?

To floss. Is that a joke question lol? side drifting you will see 4-6 ft. leaders. But when you start to see 6-10 ft leaders ran to bare hooks. Thier flossing.
 
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metalfisher76

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Huh??? Not saying you are but if I saw even 4` on a bankies rig I would have bad thoughts.:D
I never, ever run more than 2` leader. I guess the long leader would be advantageous in a long slow hole. But if you got water movin, 2` is good. 6lb UG. I use a small swivel (on a spinning outfit, anyhow) and leave a tag on the mainline. Slip 1/8" to 1/2" (depending on water speed/depth) of 1/4" pencil lead onto the tag, all done.
 
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Kodiak

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To floss. Is that a joke question lol? side drifting you will see 4-6 ft. leaders. But when you start to see 6-10 ft leaders ran to bare hooks. Thier flossing.

I understand why two hooks and light weights when side drifting, but then you are only tapping bottom maybe every 12-16 ft, and if you are doing it right you are above the fish, the take is purely reactionary and the second hook suits that purpose. Two hooks on 4ft of leader and light weight sounds like floss material..or an eagle creek coho snag kit. You aren't running that with two trebles are you?
 
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BobberDown

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8 or 10 pound p-line halo it is a good florocarbon but it is a little pricey. i will use a 3 to 4 1/2 foot leader it al dpendes on the water you dont want a 2 foot leader in a 20 foot deep hole where the fish are 2 feet off the bottum or you bait will be way down under them and you will not be in the ideal strike zone
and it also dipends on the struckshure of the bottum good luck
 
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SantiamDrifter

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I understand why two hooks and light weights when side drifting, but then you are only tapping bottom maybe every 12-16 ft, and if you are doing it right you are above the fish, the take is purely reactionary and the second hook suits that purpose. Two hooks on 4ft of leader and light weight sounds like floss material..or an eagle creek coho snag kit. You aren't running that with two trebles are you?

HUH???

I dont run a dual hook rig, like I said you see it more in washington. I perfer to use a puff ball on my bait to add the boucny. And when it gets to low, clear summer water 2 ft. leaders are way to short. I'll shorten up my leader in high off color water but not for clear water. The longer leaders allow your bait to have a more natural drift through the water with less impact from the weight itself. And with added bouncy, the bait doesn't drag along the bottom with a 3-4 ft leader, it stays high in the strike zone.
 
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metalfisher76

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Anyway, where I fish steelhead lay on the bottom. That would make the strike zone from 2" to 1` off of the bottom. And 6" to each side of the fish. Now your aggressive, spinner chasing fish are another story, they`ll "chase". But, MOST steelhead don`t want to move to take an offering. I know big long holes the longer leader can help, don`t fish that many of those and if I do I`m prolly under a boober:D or chuckin a spinner.
 
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Mike123

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So why do the guys at foster use longer leaders?

BAHAHAHHAHAAHAHAHAHA! If they were smart they would use multiple hooks up the length of their 10ft. leader! That way flossing would be that much easier.
 
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GraphiteZen

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What do you guys think the response would be if you were able to swim through a hole undetected and wack a rock with a chunk of lead every 10 or 15 feet? I have pinged the side of my boat with an oar too many times to wonder about the answer.

Using ever shorter leaders would create less drag thereby lessening the impedance your bait encounters in trying to achieve depth in current, which would allow you to use less lead.
I can see a definite improvement in the combination of less weight - which would improve bite detection while decreasing the likelihood of a spook or a simple turn-off due to an unnatural presence, and shorter leader which would also improve bite detection and control of drift (vertical and lateral).
As far as the bait being closer to the lead due to a shortened leader length, I consider unnatural and jarring noises to be much more of a danger than a visual piece of lead (which would would most likely resemble a pebble, a stick or some sort of random debris so long as there was a minimized visual connection from bait to debris provided by small diameter fluorocarbon line), and this combo would make it easier to drift the rig with a maximum vertical incline thereby increasing the likelihood of the fish paying attention to, or only being able to see the bait. After all you really only want to tick the tallest stones and a shorter leader would allow you to do that and keep the bait in the visual zone. Of course the ratios would be determined by water clarity and current speed.

Just a thought.
 
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SantiamDrifter

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Well my thoughts on leader length go like this.

When running a shorter leader, your bait will be more affected by your weight. Because everytime your weight rise's and drop's your bait will mimic the same movements. Creating an unnatural presentation.

Running a longer leader gives your bait more "room to play". Longer leaders minimise the ripple effect of your weight going up and down, so by the time it reaches your bait there is hardly any movement at all.

Again its all about natural presentation.

I get the feeling some people may think running a longer leader will make your bait run 3-4 feet above your weight, and at some point making it to far off the bottom. Bait doesn't float. You can have 10 ft leaders but the baits still gunna be near the bottom of the river. Now adding bouncy to your bait keeps it in that strike zone. So when running a 3-4 ft leader your bait is 3-4 feet behind/ in front of your weight but still floating in the opitmal depth.

and yeah, pencil weight makes a lot of noise bumping off rocks and so forth. Thats why I perfer slinkies. They dont make as much noise. and they're better for a river bottom with more rocks and boulders. They dont get hung up as much as lead.
 
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steelhead_stalkers

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I say screw it all, throw a 6 inch pink worm on there and it doesn't matter what your presentation is. You will get bit! :lol:
 
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metalfisher76

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Well my thoughts on leader length go like this.

When running a shorter leader, your bait will be more affected by your weight. Because everytime your weight rise's and drop's your bait will mimic the same movements. Creating an unnatural presentation.

Running a longer leader gives your bait more "room to play". Longer leaders minimise the ripple effect of your weight going up and down, so by the time it reaches your bait there is hardly any movement at all.

Again its all about natural presentation.

I get the feeling some people may think running a longer leader will make your bait run 3-4 feet above your weight, and at some point making it to far off the bottom. Bait doesn't float. You can have 10 ft leaders but the baits still gunna be near the bottom of the river. Now adding bouncy to your bait keeps it in that strike zone. So when running a 3-4 ft leader your bait is 3-4 feet behind/ in front of your weight but still floating in the opitmal depth.

and yeah, pencil weight makes a lot of noise bumping off rocks and so forth. Thats why I perfer slinkies. They dont make as much noise. and they're better for a river bottom with more rocks and boulders. They dont get hung up as much as lead.

AAAWWWE bait, there it is. I still wouldn`t go that long.:D
As far as natural, IF your using the correct amount of lead and only TAPPING bottom every few inches your offering doesn`t get lifted, so there is no need.
Slinkies are for kids silly:lol: Some food for thought: If yer using a slinky, the ones I have seen are affixed to the leader, and if you do get hung up good, you leave at least your leader, lead and hook/corky/yarn/bait/spinner in the river. When I get hung up using my pencil lead I leave the pencil lead ONLY, 9 out of 10 times. I went 5 hours with only putting on a chunk of lead every once in a while last time out, never re-rigged! Lead is bad for the water, yes. What`s worse 2-4' of leader, hook/crap and lead, or a chunk of lead.
Fact is, everyone fishes different. And every body of water are different. There is a style for everyone. But we should take some other things into consideration. Like leaving all that crap in a very productive hole can ruin that hole over time. It can happen with 1! rigging in some spots, see it every year. No matter how ya fish you leave a mark. How big is your mark?:think:
 
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plumb2fish

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I say screw it all, throw a 6 inch pink worm on there and it doesn't matter what your presentation is. You will get bit! :lol:
4" pink worm has been a much better producer for me for summers than a 6". Also I have not had much success with them between July and September. Before and after they have been deadly... probably water temp and clarity being the biggest factor.
 
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plumb2fish

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24-48" leader of the smallest diameter you can hold a fish with, small corkie (flat red, orange, pink or watermelon) small tuft of white yarn and your favorite stinky.... just enough weight to touch bottom every 4-6'. Be ready to set your hook even if you don't "FEEL" the bite.Anything unusual about your drift can and may be a fish.
I have caught lots of summers that just stopped the gear as it drifted by and then that ''rock" explodes out of the water with my gear in its head.
YArn when wet and oiled up sinks, your hook, swivel and leader sink. I like just enough floatant to creat neutral bouyancy...very slow drop to the bottom in slack water.(like dropping a feather) I am not some guru but I love to catch summer steelies and this works for me.
As far as bait goes,I love a whole night crawler threaded up the leader with either a puff ball on the hook or a corkie pegged above the worm.Trout love worms...steelhead are TROUT
 
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Kodiak

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You can have 10 ft leaders but the baits still gunna be near the bottom of the river.

First it was two hook rigs, and now you are advocating flossing/snagging with a 10' leader? Here we ago again kids. A puff ball won't keep your "bait" off the bottom. If guys would quit snagging/flossing with 10' leaders those fish would be much more aggressive biters.......You guys really gotta quit that garbage....steelhead will bite if given the chance SD...You don't have to snag to make friends.
 
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SantiamDrifter

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First it was two hook rigs, and now you are advocating flossing/snagging with a 10' leader? Here we ago again kids. A puff ball won't keep your "bait" off the bottom. If guys would quit snagging/flossing with 10' leaders those fish would be much more aggressive biters.......You guys really gotta quit that garbage....steelhead will bite if given the chance SD...You don't have to snag to make friends.

Are you just tryin to toy with me here. The 10 ft leader was just an example. I was trying to state you dont need to be affraid to run a longer leader and have your bait out of the strike zone. I havent flossed or snagged a single time in my life. And like I said twice now, the dual hook is for adding a little cheater between the hooks to add boucny to the bait. Its real popular up in washington. And yeah, the puff palls do keep your bait off the bottom, you just have to match the right size ones to the right size of bait.
 
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