"Chuck-and-Duck", Explained -
by Steve Clark
Many fly-fishers hear the term "chuck & duck" and have no idea what people are talking about.
I’m not sure if it is just a localized Great Lakes method of taking Salmon & Steelhead, but I know it is widely used in the Great Lakes Basin, so I will explain just what it is and how to do it here.
Chuck & Duck or C&D as it’s called by its many followers, is simply a method of gettiing a fly and it's rigged offering down to the fishes depth in a hurry, without the need for a back-cast. Since there is no back-cast involved, this method is very popular for some of the small, tightly confined streams here in Michigan such as the Pere Marquette and other lesser known small streams that receive a Salmon run in the Fall.
When you are chucking & ducking you are not casting the line as you do in conventional fly fishing; rather; the weight of the split shot is pulling your terminal tackle out through the guides toward your designated target.
Let’s get to the set-up:
You can use the same rod and reel you would normally use for salmon or steelhead, but the main difference is the line. The line for a C&D rig is a small diameter running line; you can use a running line made by any of the line manufacturers such as the new line from Jim Teeny; a popular choice is an inexpensive, coated mono called “Amnesia.”
Once you have your running line spooled up you need to rig up properly for C&D. The following diagram shows the most commonly used C&D rig:
#1 is the main line which is your running line or Amnesia.
#2 is the swivel, Usually a Size 14, (black) 2-way swivel.
#3 is the Mono leader that goes from the swivel to your point fly; this piece of mono is usually about 4 ft. long.
#4 is your split shot. Just enough to get it to tick bottom during the drift.
#5 is your point fly.
#6 is your dropper fly. Join your point fly to your dropper fly with about 16-24 inches of mono tied from hook bend to hook eye.
Casting the C&D rig is admittedly not the prettiest thing in the world; trust me, you won't be mistaken for Lefty Kreh while you are C&D casting, but it is a very effective method for taking Great Lakes Salmon. C&D is commonly used to fish the deeper holes on a stream. Start by positioning yourself at the head of a likely run or hole you suspect contains salmon or steelhead and strip out the amount of line that will get your offering through the hole. Once you have the required amount of line stripped out hold it in large, loose coils in your stripping hand, with the split shot just a couple feet from the rod tip. Bring the rod back slowly to almost "12 O’clock", letting the split shot swing farther back behind you, then to a quick forward “lob” as the split shot starts its forward movement. You will let go of the line with your stripping hand. I like to form a circle with my thumb & middle finger of my stripping hand creating a “guide” for the shooting line to go through as it is being cast out; this helps to avoid tangles.
Once the rig is in the water simply take up the slack with your stripping hand and follow the drift with your rod tip. You will want enough split shot to just be able to feel the weight ticking the bottom as it drifts along through the pool. When salmon hit a C&D rig there is no worry about feeling the take - they usually take it with a vengeance.
This is the basics of a Chuck & Duck or C&D rig. Is it pretty? No, it is not. Is it “true” fly-fishing? No, not really….but is it an effective method for taking Great Lakes Salmon of twenty to thirty pounds in a small stream?
You bet it is!
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