simple request

this is my first post (i've read the goings on here for a while and have admired how great this place really is). I have flyfished for trout for over a year now and i love it! i plan to soon get into salmon and steelhead, and i was hoping someone could tell me, the angler on a budget, and a beggining salmon/steelheader what to put in his flybox. Thanks!
It is very difficult to be exact on what patterns to use. For example, summer patterns vary from winter patterns and fall patterns differ from either summer and winter and spring patterns differ as well. Not to say that you can't catch fish on one fly for every season but I think the only way to accomplish this is from experience. There is a popular list of flies that seem to cover many bases here in Washington but also remember that you will need to have different density sinking tips for your flyline for different depths and speed of current. Here are some of my favorite summer and fall patterns that are widely known by anglers:

Summer; Undertaker, Green Butt Skunk, Purple Muddler, Regular Muddler, K-Man's Stone, Umpqua Special, Freight Train, Box Car.

Fall; Greased liner, Skykomish Sunrise, Stilliguamish Sunrise, Orange Heron (Some flyshops have the cheap version), Lady Caroline, Orange Maribou Spey, Purple Maribou Spey, Green Highlander (There is a cheap version)

MY true suggestion is to buy a few books on Steelheading and read, read, read! There is always enough time during the winter to sit down and dream about fishing. Start with the Trey Combs book since it will not only give you a list of patterns and how to fish them but it will also identify a list of pioneers that have taken Steelhead flyfishing to it's current state. People like Mike Kinney, Steve Brocco, Syd Glasso, Roy Patrick, John Shewey and many others have changed the way we fish for steelhead and also how we tie our flies. Sometimes we change our techniques and patterns by mimicking(sp?) earlier techniques that were adopted from Atlantic Salmon in Europe and the East coast since the fish have similar characteristics. This also introduces style to our technique. It really goest to show though, you can catch them on anything given the right circumstances...

You might think about starting a thread regarding everyone's favorite steelhead patterns. You would be surprised how willing everyone is to give their secrets away.
Good Luck :)
I don't fish the Stilly much but have landed steelhead there on a generic orange marabou pattern in the spring. I do know a guy who grew up fishing the river and says all you need is one of the skunk patterns in a size 6.


o mykiss

Active Member
I think the previous suggestions are right on. With hairwing-style steelhead flies, if you looked in a pattern book you would see that flies in this category look remarkably similar in terms of how they're constructed. There are infinite variations in color schemes and minor bells and whistles, but they are all pretty much the same fly. So, if you're trying to pack a flybox with steelhead flies on a budget, there's no better way to do it than tying your own flies and hairwing-style steelhead flies are about as easy to tie as could be. You just need hooks from size 1/0 down to 6 (and you could probably skip the 1/0 and go no larger than a 2, concentrating on 4 and 6). Get some chenille in black and purple for sure, maybe yellow and orange, some floss in flourescent yellow, pink, and orange, maybe some crystal flash or flashabou in pearl and maybe a darker color, some material for tying hairwings (kip tail, deer hair, squirrel tail), some small gold and silver tinsel (flat for tag sections, oval for ribbing, but either one would really do), and some soft hackle feathers in black, purple and grizzly for sure, maybe red, yellow and orange; you can tie many, many different flies with this material. Just remember, for low water conditions you want to have smaller, sparser flies, and for heavier flows, try more bulky flies on larger hooks.

If you don't want to tie flies, go to a fly shop (or look at Hill's Discount Flies' site, which you can get to from this site's home page) and buy 2 flies in each of size 4 and 6 in 3 - 6 different hairwing patterns; maybe throw in a size 2 here or there for good measure. Something where dominant color is black (e.g., skunk, silver hilton, coal car), something where dominant color is purple (e.g., purple peril, signal light), and something where dominant color is orange or yellow (polar shrimp, Stilliguamish Sunrise, Skykomish Sunrise). Buy a few marabou-style flies for fall/winter fishing (darker color combos), and you should be golden. This leaves out dry fly fishing but you can try that next year. Oh, and the old purple or black egg-sucking leech and/or rabbit strip-style leech is also a good fly to have, although not as elegant as some of the other flies that have been mentioned.

Couldn't be of much help on salmon fly suggestions but hopefully others on this board could be.
Thanks, that all makes sense, I always enjoy having plenty more to read about flyfishing, so i'll get right on that, and i sure will tie me own, that is almost as fun as fishing.
I would advise you to think long-term here. Buy a beginning fly tying kit, one which focuses on salmon and steelhead patterns, that includes a basic vise and all of the tools that you will need. Try to look at

Buying this and making your own will allow you to spend a chunk of money at first and tie a lot of flys for a long while.

Good luck!
You can get by with very few patterns. For winter the choice doesn't matter too much. Woolly buggers, bunny leeches, and maribous in different colors will all work. For summer I like woolly buggers still, but in natural colors and downsized, and any sparse low water patterns, or anything that looks buggy.