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Spin Drifting Spawners

10/07/12 - Author: Scott Mcauliffe

One of the most prevalent freshwater fishing pursuits these days is the pilgrimage that many anglers make to the Eucumbene and Thredbo rivers in the Snowy Mountains in the weeks leading up to the close of the trout season to fish the annual spawning migration of the brown trout from lakes Jindabyne and Eucumbene. The rainbows will also make a spawning run up these rivers, but it tends to be well after the season has closed and thus anglers can only chase the late spawning Rainbows that are still present in the rivers when the season opens in October.

From roughly April onwards we will begin to see Brown Trout in the rivers starting their annual spawning run and there are a few factors that contribute to helping the spawning instincts kick in. Longer periods of darkness (nights) and a lowering of the lakes  water temperature will kick-start the migration and usually make the fish stack up in certain parts of the lake near the mouths of rivers awaiting the final cue. Autumn Rain is essentially the major contributing factor for the fish to run, fresh snow melt will also have the same affect but to a lesser extent. Not all fish will run at the same time, so usually between April and the October each rain event will spark a new run of fish into action and they will start to move upstream.

Chasing spawners is almost like a religion to many trout fishermen; it offers the real chance of hooking a double figure fish and river banks that would normally house only a small number fisherman each day suddenly become home to many more anglers in the final month. While lures catch their fair share of spawning browns, the best results are achieved by being able to present tiny nymph and egg pattern flies in front of their noses; while the long wand may seem like the best choice for making these presentations, light spin outfits are equally as effective and in some places far more fishable.

The second I picked up the new Raider Lure Project 1-3kg rod I knew I was onto a spin drifting winner. The medium-fast taper of the blank works perfectly when fishing tiny flies with extremely small hooks. Because the hook set that is usually achieved with flies is quite shallow, the rod you use needs to be able to load easily allowing the fish to have its head when it lunges. A rod with a fast taper often results in pulled hooks when the fish lunges due to the applying to much pressure. I matched the rod to the super smooth Stradic Ci4 1000, spooled with 5lb Power Pro braid, an almost perfect set up for spin drifting.

There are a couple of ways to assemble your rig for spin-drifting, but after plenty of trial and error I have developed the most confidence in a two fly rig with a strike indicator, while the rig sounds complicated, it is actually quite simple and extremely effective.

From the main line run 2 metres of 6-8lb flourocarbon to swivel, and then attach 30-50cm of 4lb-8lb flourocarbon from the swivel to the first fly, then tie a further 10-20cm of flourcarbon from the bend of the hook on the first fly to the eye of the second fly. Split shot are then crimped to a 4cm dropper run off the swivel to allow the rig to find the depth during the drift. The reason for running the split shot on a separate dropper is because they the most likely part of the rig to get snagged on the bottom. When this happens a swift lift of the rod will see the split shot slide off the dropper and save you from having to tie on a whole new rig.

The final element of the rig is the strike indicator, this needs to be attached high enough on the leader to allow the split shot to run as close to the bottom as possible, I make my own at home using 2mm closed-cell foam. It’s important to be able to change the position of the indicator to allow for the varying depths in different parts of the river.

The key to fishing this rig is to cast up and across the river or stream and allow it to drift down with the current as naturally as possible. Making sure you keep as much line out of the water as possible through keeping a high rod tip and using the reel to pick up the slack line.  The strike indicator should have all your attention throughout the whole drift, when a fish takes one of the flies the strike indicator will dip under the water’s surface and simple lift of the rod is all that is needed to set the hook.

Spin drifting is by far my most favourite way to fish for spawning and while the rig can be cumbersome and a little awkward to fish, its effectiveness is well worth the effort and the complications are all but forgotten when hooked up to trophy sized browns.


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