New Spey'r for Steelhead



So I have a new Spey rod, been sorta getting the hang of casting and I am really enjoying it (thanks to all that helped me get going). I had this past week off from work (well mostly) and I was able to go fishing on the Sky near Monroe and the Snoqualmie near Carnation five times. Sometimes hitting both rivers in the same day. As I'm new to this I didn't really expect to catch anything, but I have seen only one Steelhead caught by anyone..gear chuckers, boats, anyone. Does it get better than this or should I set my expectations lower about the number of fish in these rivers?



Steve Buckner

Mother Nature's Son
I just tried to reply to your question and when I posted it, all my typing went away!!! Here goes again...

The number one thing to remember with Steelheadin is that you're going to have to put many long hours, days, and sometimes weeks in before you catch these elusive fish. We covet that which is rare and that is at least one of the reasons we put such emphasis on catching these fish. Remember that Steelhead fishing is almost never a numbers game. Even the best of them go many days without touching a fish.

If you've not caught steelhead before, you're going to have to put more hours in than normal. You need to learn about where to spend your time fishing. Most people reason that if fish have been caught upstream in a given river system at point "B", then they must of come from downriver at poing "A" to therefore, you have just as much opportunity to catch them anywhere along the river line from point A to point B. NOT SO!!! As you've probably already read, steelhead tend to hold in water that moves about as fast you as you can walk, sometimes a little faster and sometimes a little slower. They also tend to hold in water 3-10 feet deep, but this may also very depending upon river flows, temperature, and time of day. In general, you only want to spend your time fishing on about 20-30% of a river. The rest is either too deep, too slow or too fast.

If you have an opportunity to watch a river from a vantage point it can really help you understand where steelhead hold. If you can spot fish at least you know that you're fishing to fish. Remember that most of the water is empty!!! Get a pair of polarized glasses and spend some time searching out fish. There's some comfort knowing that you're fishing in the right spot. Also remember that just because you found fish one day doesn't mean they'll be there the next and vice versa.

The number one rule is "Dont give up!!!". Pick a fly, use a sink tip, and fish hard. When you go to the river, practice on something that needs improving. Watch for fish to roll, and remember places that you've seen fish get caught. Go back to these spots. At the end of the day, even if you don't connect take some pleasure knowing that you fished hard and that you would have caught a fish had there been one there that was interested. You're number will come up one day if you give it a good effort.

Have a Merry Christmas!!!

Old Man

Just an Old Man
The thrill is not in the kill---But to let them go.

Relax,don't you know that catching them fish is not as easy as it sounds. They don't call it a fish of a thousand casts for nothing. The runs aren't in yet as everyone is saying. There's a few around and the people that are catching them are the ones that get out a lot more than you or I.



Active Member

Steelhead are alot like me... Only I smell worse after laying on the bank for awhile }(

What I mean is that a steelie going upstream is alot like me when I'm hiking. Some parts of the trail I go fast some parts I go slow, and some I just have to stop and take a rest. After cresting a steep, skree covered section of trail, I'll stop for awhile. If I smell something interesting, like food, I'll stop and sniff around, trying to figure what direction it's coming from, and if it's what my buddy who hiked in last night said he was going to cook. Sometimes I'll be going along, and all of a sudden there's a section that looks more like cliff and less like trail rising up ahead of me. I'll probably stop, have a small sip of water, catch my breath, stretch a little before going on.

So for me steep, skree covered section of trail = rapid for steelhead

smell of food = stream flowing into the river

steep "clifflike" trail rising up ahead of me = rapid steelhead needs to go through

There's more... Lots more... but this should help you get started. Oh yeah... if there aren't fish, you won't catch them. It'll get better over the next weeks. It won't get easier, but it'll get better. Sounds like you've got the right 'tude. Keep looking. You'll find them


Old Man

Just an Old Man
I thought that I was the only one that lays on the river bank. Now I find out that I'm not alone anymore.


The thrill is not in the kill---But to let them go.


I'll keep at it. God knows it will take me months to get this spey casting down so I'll work on that, and be happy to be fishing.

Your technical ability (casting, line management, etc.,), your ability to read a river, and your knowledge of steelhead natural history will do little to maximize your probability of success until you can fish with confidence. You will know when you have arrived as a steelhead fly-fisherman when:

1. You 'know' that the spot to which you are about to cast holds a steelhead.

2. You 'feel' that a fish is going to take ... now!

3. You know that the fly you are using is exactly the right choice.

4. You are afraid to look away from the spot on the river under which you believe your fly is swinging - In spite of the awesome beauty of the scenery around you.

5. You can 'feel' the fly wobble as it swings across the current.

6. At the end of the swing you hesitate to initiate the next cast because you 'know' a steelhead is about to take.

7. ... etc.

Why is confidence the 'best' predictor of success? Because...

1. Confidence comes with excellent technical skill.

2. Confidence is directly proportional to your knowledge of rivers AND the river on which you are fishing.

3. A thorough understanding of the wild-history of steelhead permits you to apply #1 and #2 correctly and with confidence.

So, it looks like you're just going to have to make those 1000 casts of which the Old Man spoke.

But, drop me a line ( and I'll be pleased to fish with you and help you count those casts. I fish one of the S5 (Snoqualmie, Skykomish, Stilly, Skagit, and Sauk) three or four times every week.

Merry Christmas, everyone.



Active Member
A fella's got to know at least three things when fishing

1. When to break down your rod for tromping through the brush

2. When to stop trying to force distance when your casting isn't going well and just let the rod work

3. When to have a nice lie down!

I did all three on the Skagit this morning! 12/22/02

Old Man

Just an Old Man
I Felt like no. 3 today but I found a log with a back stop and the helped a little,but it's not like a good lie down. This was on the Stilly this morning. I thinking of going in that direction on Thursday,but might just stop at the Sauk And fish.


The thrill is not in the kill---But to let them go.:beer1