21 days chasing steelhead on dries in BC

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by muknuk, Sep 30, 2012.

  1. First, I would like to thank the folks on this forum that helped guide me in my quest to chase steelies on dries in the Skeena drainage. Second, the Canadians were helpful, positive and always willing to share what they knew with a newbie. FInally, I pulled it off with only buying 60 gallons of gas and living out of my Prius making it affordable despite the fees being charged to fish every day on classified waters.
    The weather, people and fishing were all amazing! I managed even a few on drag free presentations, but mostly fluttering and skating and greased lined when all else failed. I can't wait to get back next year to revisit old haunts and finds new ones. Dimitri Gammer deserves credits on several of these photos since my camera died on me. Enjoy!

    Attached Files:

  2. Sounds like a fun trip and nice fish.
  3. Those are truly epic fish and it sounds like the Canadians are doing their best to preserve that fishery. Nice job!
  4. What a great trip! I am extremely envious.
  5. +1

    Very nice shots!

  6. +2 and on the envy too.
  7. That sick. Great fish, thanks for the report and my hats off to you living out of a Prius. I cannot even sit in one...:cool:
    doublespey likes this.
  8. At least a few on this forum have their priorities straight.
    David Dalan likes this.
  9. great report those are some healthy looking fish, did you guys try some ska-oppers? Ive been tying a few different steelhead skating patterns, although I've not really fished steelhead, the topwater approach intrigues me.
  10. Did you only fish dries (I only ask cause I see the photo with some wet flies)? If so, what was the average water temp? Just curious.
  11. Thanks for all of the recent interest in my trip. I use flies that float high and are resistant to becoming waterlogged. Caddis, Skahoppers, Fat Alberts, Spiders and many other are part of my arsenal. Foam flies seem to work best right now, but I am always looking for better materials to tie flies. What I have found is that the lighter they are the more action I get when I flutter them.
  12. Here is an earlier post that explains how I work the flies. I also do clinics for clubs on these techniques.

    Advanced techniques to raise large trout on dry flies (especially when there are no hatches) From Alaska to Patagonia

    I am always trying to find another challenge while fly fishing and trying to raise large trout when there is no hatch has been one that has fascinated me for years.
    Being raised in Seattle, when I was young I would pour over every bit of information that would let me feel the magic of a steelhead on a fly. I often came home with little or nothing to show for my efforts. In fact, when I finally landed a chrome-bright steelhead in a gin clear run after 3 weeks of fishless returns and brought it home my dad commented on how much that fish was worth considering all of my efforts and expenses invested. That bright 10 lb female from the Cedar River still is imprinted in my memory as I crossed the highway with this beauty in hand. People would show their approval with honk of their horn or a quick thumbs up. Little did I know at the time that my technique of deep and slow with heavy weighted flies was not the only way to entice these silver bullets.
    I have been very fortunate to fly fish throughout the world, but have enjoyed mostly my memories of 3 decades in Alaska. The sense of the last frontier and places even to this day that have not seen many fishermen makes the adventures worthwhile.
    Over 30 years ago while seeking my first teaching job I found myself being pulled north, pouring over older Alaska magazine matching the quality of fishing with prospective teacher openings.
    My first year teaching in Alaska, after being hired over the telephone, I found myself in the quaint village of Yakutat and access to the holy grail of steelhead fishing in the Situk River. This remote Tlingit community is only accessible by jets or boats is located along the Alaska’s Gulf Coast between Juneau and Anchorage.
    In Yakutat, I was amazed how easy the steelhead would come to a fly and I found myself always finding ways to bring them higher and higher in the water table and finally taking flies on the surface or just beneath. Thus beginning an amazing journey of catching large trout on dries.
    Over the years with my colorful Cessna floatplane at hand I felt like Huck Finn reborn with 3 months every summer to explore the wilds of Alaska. In preparation, I would consume myself with every document I could get from Alaska Fish and Game to discover new runs and unexplored places. Life was good!
    Alaska has taught me so much about bringing large trout to dries that I wanted to explore another last frontier. After reading Joe Brook’s article named “Boca Fever” over 20 years ago, Patagonia was calling and I wanted to experience that same fever that lured many of our former fly fishing legends south! What I liked best is that there are no bears to contend with and the weather was a heck of a lot nicer than what I dealt with in Alaska.
    I have just returned from my 8th trip to Patagonia and was able to raise very large trout to dries when there are no seeable insects on the water and rivers that have little in terms of hatches, very similar to Alaska.
    I believe fish earn their PhDs because they have experienced the sharp sting of the fly over an over and begin to become wary of multi-colored objects darting about in their home waters. I also believe over years and years of genetic selection fish become conditioned to be very selective hence the PhDs. Fortunately, my techniques will help you overcome trouts’ advanced degrees and give you some new strategies to entice those wary creatures.
    My favorite scenario for me is to fish over water that has been pounded by streamers, nymphs, and drag free dry flies with little or no luck. After giving the water a rest I simply begin to work dry flies in new and different ways and through years of experimentation and studying the movements insect. And if the conditions are favorable, fish can be fooled over and over again by presenting your fly in new and different ways. On an evening this past year in Patagonia I was able to raise over 50 fish with that many cast even tough there were no hatches. There are many proven methods for raising trout on dries, drag free upstream and downstream, skating flies are all effective ways of raising fish and they are part of my arsenal, but I have found my techniques given the right conditions even more effective. Depending on the river conditions here are my 3 techniques that I have had immense success using:

    DeLorenzo’s FSF Dry Fly Techniques

    · “Cast and Flick” Casting straight across or even quartering downstream and when the fly hits the water you quickly flick your wrist into a short upstream mend and the fly makes a quick skip upstream. The upstream flick of the fly is the magic in this cast. You can cast upstream as well, but it takes a lot of practice to get your touch just right with out spooking the trout. The quick movement upstream seems to trigger a conditioned response from trout. This has raised even the most reluctant trout to at least poke it’s head and have a look and at other times an explosive boil and your fly quickly disappears.
    · “Cast and Stack” Casting a short ways upstream not wanting to spook the fish and then roll casting more fly line in front of the fly and then stacking your cast so that the fly is actually skittering upstream. Again, when done properly this will raise well-educated trout and is quite fun watching these large fish coming from their lairs to chase this skittering object upstream and then launching for them as they are scampering away.
    · “Cast and Flutter” Casting straight across and then making a huge mend upstream forcing your fly into position below the fly line and then a series of strong mend upstream to move the fly upstream in a series of erratic life like presentations. I have found the smaller and quicker the movement of the fly the more chance you have of raising a large trout. In smooth water you can flutter the fly towards you and then away from you without taking the fly out of the water increasing your chances of raising trout. Using this technique in Patagonia this past week I was able to raise over 50 small to medium #14-#21 inch trout with approximately 60 cast that otherwise were not the least bit interested. My guide was so excited he returned to share what I was doing with the other guides and I found myself shortly thereafter cornered by his friends to ask me how is this possible.

    There are many other techniques I use, but these are the ones I always begin with and then when needed I move to more dramatic presentations.


    Rods: I use the longest, lightest rod possible that I can hold up high in the air to control and maneuver the fly. Currently, I use a 4 wt, 10ft Orvis Helio. But a 3wt, 12 ft rod would be even better. I can comfortable land fish up to 8lb quickly with this rod. I use a 6 wt, 11ft Orvis Helio Switch for larger fish

    Reels: I like to use the lightest reels large arbor reels that can hold enough backing for large runs. I am using the Orvis large arbor Battenkill in several sizes.

    Line: I like to use the highest floating double taper lines, leaders and tippets. I find it very helpful to clean your line at several times during the day to keep it drag resistance and slippery on the water.

    Flies: I use the light wire hooks and well tied flies that lend themselves to being high floaters. I find when the fly stays high in the water that trout seem to be more aggressive versus flies that are under the film. As a personal preference I try and fish with the smallest flies I can from #8-18 flies

    Floatants: I have tried several floatants, powders, and mixtures and find myself liking the materials that keep my fly floating the highest and longest even after many casts.

    I have the best luck on small to medium rivers and lakes where there is a variety of structures and water in the 1-6 feet category. Again the temperature and conditions of the water have to be considered when attempting these techniques. I am always surprised how fish will rise for a well-presented life-like insect in the most adverse conditions. My best experience using these various techniques was raising over 8 steelhead and landing most of them of them over a 2-hour period on a medium sized river in Washington using a #10-14 Elk Hair caddis. The largest trout to date that was not a steelhead was a 36” rainbow on a #12 caddis mending upstream during the middle of the day in a small river in Alaska and a 29” inch brown trout on a #10 tan stimulator flickering my fly on the powerful, yet seductive Limay River in Patagonia.

    For more information and clinics: website

  13. Awesome, thanks for the detailed reply I will be sure to put the information to good use in the future
  15. Alrighty then I have a house in Montana next to OMJ that wouldn't swallow your swill, better do better homework on Alaska

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