Odds 'n' Sods of Information and Opinion

Having some winter fun with lines

Cold wind, ice on the guides, clear water, cold feet, cold hands and no fish. Sounds like winter steelheading, eh?

Finding good lines for winter fishing has always been a quest of mine. I've not been shy about doing weird stuff to keep stripping to the minimum, to keep ice off the guides and my fingers.

Two lines got iced today, a weird one and a throwback.

My rod of choice was a Greased Liner 15' 7/8, a rod with the necessary lifting power to handle these lines. All those wimpy tipped rods need not apply.

First the throwback, a DT-11-I. The line is an old salmon DT intermediate that is 105' in overall length. A salmon DT differs from a trout version by the length of its front and back tapers. While both are built to the AFTMA standard, a typical trout taper is 6' to 8' long, while a salmon DT taper is usually 13' to 16' long. That longer taper makes for better Spey casting and a heavier overall belly for a better load.

I was using mine today with a 18' FC leader so the long leader plus long taper let me form a more efficient D-Loop. It made for quite decent casting and I was able to get 70'-80' distances with very little stripping and no roll casting.

Two cool things about DT sinkers: they handle iced guides better than WF lines and they extract easier than a comparable WF sinker. The constant diameter DT line slides through iced guides way better than the variable diameter of WF lines. That same constant diameter seems to have less drag on the extraction so I was able lift about 50' of line, perhaps more, with no roll cast. Just lift into the Double Spey and fire, just like when using a floater.

The fishing of this line was really a non-event. Just lift, cast, swing, step, lift, cast swing. No drama, just a nice straight, slow swing.

Too bad no one makes these lines anymore. (and in case you're wondering, mine is not for sale.)

Now the weird one. I have two Delta II head only lines and I noticed that the line at the back loop is still quite thick. It doesn't taper down to a wimpy running line thickness. This made me think that the rear taper of the Delta II head could be used to turn over a fair bit of line.

The front taper of an 8/9 Delta II is about 29' long and about 245 grains. A UK shop is still selling old Airflo Tactical Shooting Heads and an intermediate 9 wt. cut back to 29' should be around the same weight. I bought one, cut it to 29' and luck would have it the head was bang on 245.

The idea here is to loop-to-loop connect the 29' intermediate to the back end of the 56' Delta II head, effectively turning it into an 85' DT line with an intermediate at one end.

Did it work? Yes up to a point. I had to cast the D-Loop with effort as the Tactical head is an overhead line so it doesn't have a Spey line taper. If I wasn't careful, the weight of the bottom of the D-Loop stuck too much line on the water. I had to give the back cast a good kick up to keep it clear. This would not have been an issue if the line had a long, fine Spey taper.

But once the D-Loop issue was sorted out, I could manage this line with over 60' out of the guides. Easy to lift with the GL 7/8 and with a good D-Loop, easy to cast for decent distance without shooting. At one point while wading shallow, I had about 65' out of the guides and it still lifted into the double OK.

If I was to do this again, I'd want a 29', 245 grain shooting head with a Spey taper just to make the D-Loop less of an event. Two shooting heads end-to-end, one floater, one intermediate could achieve the same thing.

So here's two solutions: one traditional and one out-of-the box.