gooner

noobie question about swinging and dead drifting streamers

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Hello! I Always fished stillwater so the only method i used was the strip retrieve. But this week i discovered a small estuary with pretty good flow near my house and i intend to fish it. I searched the internet for method of fishing in the flow and i saw the swinging and dead drift techniques. But i cannot understand a lot of things. First tghe difference between swing and dead drfit. swinging is made across current with a tight straight line with the fly. And then what is the dead drift? A swing with slack line like dry flie or what? Also it sounds strange to me that a fish will hit a swinging fly. Because of the straight line the fly will not travel straight but will travel with an arc and i have never see a wounded pray move like this in a flow. Ok i saw videos with steelhead fishing and it works but it seems strange to me that i have never fished in a river... 

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Since I fish both moving and still water, let see if I can explain it.  Let's shrink the estuary down to a creek.  To me drifting and swinging are just parts of a single cast.  You're dealing with current.  I'm fishing a  creek, using a nymph or streamer.  They may or may not be weighted.   You cast upstream, your fly will do two things, it will start sinking and move with the current.  What does it represent, an insect dislodged from the bottom and injured bait fish.  Helpless, easy prey.   Depending on the current's speed, the fly will be directly in front of you at some point.  At this point you can pick up the line and cast the fly back upstream.  That's drifting a fly.  

  I'm lazy.  I've got 30 or 40 feet of line out.  Pick it up recast or just let it continue to drift downstream or down current.  I let it continue to drift.  I can cover more water.  For a bit, the fly will continue to bounce off the bottom but as your line straightens out, it's going to come to life again.  It will lift off the bottom and start swimming across the current toward the shore.  Running for shelter.   Once you're line straightens out.  Instead of picking up the line up, you strip it back in.

  So don't complicate things.  Keep it simple.   One cast.  Three parts, the drift, the swing and the retrieve.  You'll cover more water and increase your chances of catching something.  

  Hope that helped.  

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Hello and thanks for the reply! So when the fly and the line are upstream and you have some slack we speak about dead drift and when it comes quarter downcurrent and gets tight we speak about swing? So its pretty the same thing but in different angles?

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Dead drift and swing are entirely different motions. 

 

If you take a wine cork and toss it into the river, the cork is on a dead drift. It moves exactly at the speed of the current and follows any seams, eddys, slicks, etc. 

 

Attach that cork to a line and it might dead drift for a short bit. But when the tension of the cork pulling against the line is introduced, the cork will move down and across at an unnatural speed. The line will create a "C" shape, and the cork will follow the "C" shape pattern.

 

In fly fishing, dead drifting is not beholden to any position relative to the angler. That is, you can dead drift a fly upstream, downstream and all points in between, especially if you have a floating line and are skilled at line management.

 

Then, there is the greased line swing, which is a presentation that swims the fly down and across at a much more natural speed than the C-shaped swing, keeping the fly broadside to the fish. You do a greased line swing by casting across and throwing a series of upstream mends.

 

All of this is useful to the fly angler because sometimes the fish want the fly dead drifted. Sometimes, they're willing to chase and they want it whipping down and across. And sometimes, they want it moving slowly towards them in full profile.

 

If you do a search you can find a diagram and some articles I've written on the subject.

 

Hope that helps,

 

Steve Culton

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On 8/10/2020 at 4:09 PM, gooner said:

it sounds strange to me that a fish will hit a swinging fly. Because of the straight line the fly will not travel straight but will travel with an arc and i have never see a wounded pray move like this in a flow.


After a long time bucktailing and a season fly fishing stripers, Ive come to believe a lot of baitfish swim in this arc under the right conditions.  One of my best nights of the summer was with solid schoolies and a few slot fish feeding on bay anchovies that were struggling to stay together along a long stretch of boulders.

 

They would try to stay tight to the rocks in less than a foot of water but inevitably had to pass deeper points and outcrops along the stretch. Small aggressive schoolies were picking off bait right against the rocks.  Casting up current and dead drifting back around the boulders worked great for the smaller fish.
 

But larger fish were hanging off in the deeper seams created by these points. Swinging the fly down current and across the seams back towards the boulders fooled them.  For some reason I haven’t figured out yet, they wouldn’t hit a dead drifted fly along those seams, but when swung there were fish every few casts.  They always hit when the fly hooked sideways and swung back towards the rocks.  Think it looked exactly like bait that was swept around the outcrops struggling against the current to get back to the safety of the boulders.  
 

That said most bigger baitfish I’ve seen (bunker herring shad mullet even snappers and baby weakfish) face into the current and move sideways far more than straight into or straight down the current. Think this is why swinging flies is so effective.

 

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Well i saw the threads about dead drift  and it is really big and confusing because some opinions are totally different. I had in my mind  the thing you said. dead drift is when a fly drifts with the flow with no lilne tension and swing is when the line is tight. at the older thread a lot of people thought that swinging a fly without stripping even a little is a dead drift but its not. The correct name is -drag free drift-for me . And in one simple cast you can have dead drift AND swing later when the fly comes downcurrent and the line comes tight...

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I think the important thing is to learn both techniques. Call it whatever you want. If one doesn’t get a hit/follow after a drift or two try the other. If that doesn’t work try a jig retrieve or a head flip. 
Get your imagination going and try to match patterns to technique ie. imagine if the materials call for strips or if the current will be enough to impart action.

Hope that helps :-)

Edited by chuckbucktail

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