Shad Rap (Greased line Shadding)

Shad trophy
Justin & sweet shad

No doubt the 2012 shad runs will go down as some of the best in many years. Ideal conditions (river flows, water temps, weather patterns and healthy shad runs) all blended together formulating a banner year that delivered plenty of ya-ya’s for fellow shadders. Central Valley systems (Sac-American-Feather-Yuba) flourished and most anyone who targeted favorite waters with any regularity was rewarded with solid grabs, multiple hookups and fulfilled their poor man’s steelhead fix.

2012 Shad Highlights include Ken Oda’s whopping 27” female, measured/taped; yep, Ken’s largest shad ever. Once again congrads Ken!!! Following suite was many broadside hens pressing over 23”. Justin Garwood’s 23 ¼” slab paid heavy cash dividends. J won a hefty $350.00 Shad Pot!!! A devoted twist– Head Hunters Shad Camp celebrated 29 years of Shadding; all alive, well and initiating new members/next shift. Welcome Eddie-Steve-Scott!!! (You all showed that bird whose boss!) Recently we were able to hook up and fish with a west coast steelhead/shadding legend and friend, Russ Chatham. Russ has a very strong passion for the grab and has fished shad for over 60 years. Accompanying Russ was his beautiful and talented friend Loretta. Both armed with vintage glass, classic reels and eager to stretch attitudes. They both scored. Russ kept us all laughing with his classic stories and at the same time blew us all away with his aggressive west coast casting skills; timeless, deadly effective and a wizard to watch. Thanks Russ and Loretta for all the fun!

Russ Chatham
Russ Chatham & Loretta & vintage Glass

While most runs have peaked and are winding down there is still plenty of late season action to be had. In fact some of the most exciting shad action is currently firing off late evenings. It’s all about sex and water temperatures. Like stripers, Shad are surface spawners therefore favor the upper surface water columns for late evening spawning. To compliment these waters floating lines and smaller trinket flies (10’s-12’s-14) rule late season shadding. Since the majority are attending the surface orgy it makes no sense to get down and dirty with sinking lines and heavy flies; those who do miss the party, not to mention get denied. Besides a shad grab on a floating line raises the roof tenfold!

Central Valley Bone fish

The key to late season success is to find and fish the preferred upper water columns fish are staging and preparing to spawn. (Ever witness shad in the shallows or at your toes?) Target softer/slower inside waters, just off main velocities and channels. Late season shad favor the warmer shallows and more times than not anglers are wading kneecap depths. Old rule of thumb—when in doubt, step back! We have discovered a floating line and slightly weighted fly accompanied with proper line manipulation helps to achieve a deadly late season presentation we have crudely dubbed—“the Doink.” (A semi Greased line presentation; where the fly is presented broadside to quarry). Cast across or slightly upstream preferred waters. Incorporate a couple stack mends downstream, paying out line, to allow the fly to achieve some depth. As the current accepts the belly of the line, engaging the swing, begin a series of small downstream mends to help pick up draft and open or broaden the swing. Takes are generally quick and subtle and depending upon water compositions and fish activity, occurring just as the fly completes its dead drift and begins to emerge; a finite productive zone that often represents a mere, 2-3 ft. drift. Thought your shadding was over? Go Doink and getter done!!!

Head Hunters
Head Hunters 29 yrs. strong and still shadding after all these years.