Stonefly and the Steelhead?

The summer after I graduated highschool (2000) I lived my life in shifts fishing in the morning on the Stilly, driving back home to Bham, napping for a couple hours, serving tables, napping again and then driving back to the river to repeat the process. I hooked alot of steelhead that summer and all but one came to a stonefly nymph swung on a sink tip line. This is the majority of success that I have had with steelhead but that summer burnt me out and I began school. Now that I fish on a regular basis again I have found myself relearning what I already knew but I still have not yet returned to fishing a stonefly nymph.

My question is if anyone uses stonefly patterns for winter steelhead on our western Washington Rivers? Do you ever fish them on the swing? I think Ill be back trying it again, but it seems that it is hard to get any possitive feedback from the fish no matter what I use.



Well-Known Member
And it's really hard to get any feedback, positive or negative, from steelhead that just aren't there. I've never tried stonefly patterns for winter steelhead fishing, just attractor patterns. It's not that they won't take them, they will, they'll take anything. But they're not in the river on a feeding migration; they're on a spawning migration. As near as I know, winter steelhead feed so little that it's statistically zero. So I don't try to feed them stoneflies. I try to feed them whatever seems like it will attract and stimulate a strike under the circumstances.

I've used it with good success for summer runs so I have played with them for winter runs as well. I usually use a second fly like an egg as the trailer and that is where I get most of the action. The stonefly makes a good weight to get the egg down and I usually dead drift the combo rather than swing it. Winter runs for me seem hard to come by these days so I'm not sure if I've had enough success to say if a stonefly is any better or worse than say an egg sucking leech as the first fly. I'm more of a believer in presentation and location than fly selection for winter runs.