nymphing for steelhead

Monk said:
nymphing is sooooo lowbrow. :rolleyes:

I suppose you only use barbless hand tied dry flies casted by a bamboo rod or spey flys tyed with only natural materials swung accross the current with a long wooden pole (original materials made for spey fishing) to catch steelhead? :D True nymphing can be as much of an art as swinging a streamer/spey.. but that is a side point and don't want this post to be a tool for people to to debate or wax nostalgic about the mastery of the spey or dry fly...

Not to be confrontational or anything, but I only want positive responses that are helpful to this post...

Stoneflies were a response... what size/color? golden stone or giant stone?


Active Member
Don't take everything to seriousy on this board. Monk is just goofin':;) My go to nymph setup is a maribou fly w/ cryslal flash tied on a jig hook- my dropper is a cabalero egg(sp) in peach= deadly. Stones are a great tool fly- preferably titanics or anything with rubber legs. The problem with hatchery fish, especially skamanias, is that natural patters won't move them... so you have to go to egg imatation. Disclaimer before I get flamed- I swing 95% of the time;)
Most basic trout nymphs will work. I've heard of guys catching them on hare's ears, pheasant tails, and prince nymphs. I did a little more nymphing this year than in year's past. After swinging through a run, I'd nymph it. Black RL stoneflies, prince nymphs, egg patterns worked at one time or another.
What size range of nymphs are you using? Do you oversize to get strikes in the winter?

I know that nymphing for steelhead is more for the summer run, but I already have plenty of speys and maribou tied... (I'm coming home from college after christmas for some winter steelies) I want to have some nymphs ready in case I see some water where nymphing would work better than swinging


Active Member
Actually nymphing is more for winter fish that won't move as readily to a swung fly due to slowed metabolism- i.e. knock it on the nose with a dead drift
For a fly fishing board, I am sooooo good at trolling. ;) Nah really. I was just pokin' some fun at what some guys were discussing earlier. I nymph a ton. Especially in winter. I nymph everything. From insects to eggs to big-ass marabous to speys. Whatever works man. If I wanted to look classy, I wouldn't drink "animal beer." (that was for you OMJ).
In the summertime, I use like a PTN sized up a couple sizes and add a flaskback or some hot colors. maybe size 8 or something. I like to keep the outline the same as the naturals in the river, but make everything else exaggerated: like colors and size.

In the winter, I do a lot of tandem stuff. I will use an attractor fly- a large full bodied fly matching the contidions and have an egg dropper or something like that. I get most of my strikes on the dropper. I think that the large fly gets the attention and moves them and they hit the dropper. Since it is cold and their metabolisms are slow, it makes sense to use a fly that gets them moving and then give them an easy meal right in their face.

This works because on the bottom, there is a layer of slow current from the friction with the bottom. If you present it correctly, the dropper will come "behind" the lead fly.

It works for me and it makes sense for me. Others are probably gonna correct me, but :confused:
as far as a range in sizes, summertime: 16-2 ; wintertime: 6-2/0 with dropper 8-4. That is very general, but should give you an idea.
Oh, I think I kinda went off topic. I have one wintertime "nymph" nymph. It is a large PTN that is all black with either a flashback or a red or green abdomen; usually in size 8-6. Works really well in low clear water. Also swings well in shallow riffles.