Fly choice for winter steelhead....

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by pcknshvl, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. when the water is low, clear, and cold? My guess would be larger dark flies on dark days, and a little smaller bright flies on bright days. I'm thinking dark maribous, ESL's, etc. for dark days; GP's, Orange Speys, Winter's Hope, etc. for bright days. Or maybe it's just keep using the same ESL that always seems to work....

    I'll keep messing around and find out for myself, but I wonder others' experience has been.

    Thanks for the comments,

  2. Tom:

    I find that I change flies less and less each winter season. I tie my own flies and select the fly that has the best "movement" mojo. So I will look at the swimmingness of a new fly. If good, I tend to go back to this same fly. This is often some kind of marabou creation, often with a lot of black, on waddington shanks for a small articulated hook. Figure the articulated hook gives less chance for the hook to be leveraged out of the mouth. I've been mixing marabou and long feathers with good movement mojo. I try to make flies with weighted and unweighted variations so I can select on the water I am fishing.

  3. similar to joe smolt, been tieing variations of big fuzzy marabous, esl's, and whatever i think of I guess. some bright colors, some darker, etc.




    this articulated hook looks really big in this picture for some reason.
  4. The fly on the bottom looks as though it will swim upside-down than how its set-up. The eyes ride on bottom, its just gravity.

    We like a comment made by a fella in Oregon. - They will take your car keys if they are in the mood.
  5. an egg......or if that is taboo then smaller flies the more clear the water and more sparse.
  6. Pcknshvl,

    I think you're thinking waaaaaay toooo much about your fly pattern choice for winter steelhead. Unlike the Oregon fella, I haven't tried using car keys, but I've no doubt they'd work just fine. My experience is that I've yet to tie a fly that steelhead won't hit. Since it's been written numerous times that steelhead will hit just about anything that's ever been tried, the more interesting question to me is why are you ponderinig so much over that one thing that least influences your steelheading success?

    A useful discussion would be about strategies that affect steelheading success IMO. Fly pattern wouldn't even be on the list except that a size 2 marabou stream in any color is more likely to get bit by a winter steelhead than a size 18 chironomid.

  7. High floating bomber.
  8. Please note that when Rick Matney says "small", he means four to six inches.
  9. +"an egg".....................yep
  10. Winter steelhead fly choices:
    Cloudy day - big, black, and ugly
    Clear day - smaller big, black, and ugly
  11. yeah.....I think kerry said it best......and isn't 4"-6" small? it not?
  12. Thanks for the comments so far. Salmo, I haven't been over-thinking things, just thinking. I usually end up fishing a "swimmy" looking thing anyway. Like you, I tie maribou things on Wads. I try to get a nice profile without too much bulk. I'm also inspired by Marty to tie and fish some of his patterns, too.

    I agree, it's not so much the fly, it's how it's presented, how it swims, and how confident I feel.

  13. I met a guy the other day who fishes the same size 4 GBS for winter and summer fish all season, just uses a floater in the summer and a light ST in the winter.

    If it's meant for steelhead and it's on the end of your line it will probably work.

  14. why hasn't anyone mentioned bunny?

    i dont know nothin bout nothin. im a year into this large waste of time. but i enjoy tying steelhead flies. as we speak my computer/tying desk is overrun by every imaginable color of marabou, bunny, schlappen, bucktail, flash, chenille, etc. i get off work, sit here and just look around and put something together. everything has a stinger and is tied on 3 principles. 1) profile 2) color 3) movement. pretty simple but thats my take on the subject. i havent asked the experts and i havent read the books or watched the videos. i just go from my gut feeling about mr steelhead.

    large and bright. large and dark. "small" and bright. "small" and dark. heavily weighted, lightly weighted and a few unweighted. i feel like that covers about any situation. they make plugs for the others. i like having a box (read large clear plastic plano compartment box) stuffed with flies so when im standing on the bank i can peer in there until i say "thats the one" and then i fish the shit out of it.

    but dont listen to me. im something like 0 for 20 this winter. i'll keep swingin tho. cause im overdue for something epic to happen. plus im startin to get the hang of this spey castin thing. which makes me feel noble.

    but if i didnt enjoy tying these things i'd just nymph beads.
  15. Sean - Well put. I like your style.
  16. Personal op here only. This "question" has been beaten to death, and death, and death. 'What works' has more to do with three items (imho): How far up from the 'salt' are the fish, how big is the water in front of you, and how cold/clear/dirty is the water.

    Item 1. The farther from the 'salt' the fish are, the less a 'bright fly' will work, save for spawning fish putting eggs in the water (match the hatch if you will);
    Item 2. If the river is 'big' then a larger fly is probably the better choice as you have to cover/search/piss off the fish to get his/her attention/strike. Smaller water ... stick with smaller flies; (Yes, use sink tips/weighted flies to get them down);
    Item 2. The colder the water, then move to a smaller more compact fly as the fish are dour and will not tend to move off their current breaking rock. Here is where a two fly set up (big up front-small in back) can pay dividends. The first get 'his' attention, the second is what 'he' will strike. 'Dirty water?' Then BIG, deep, down and dirty is the better answer regardless of the above (use bicycle chain for a sink tip if you have to :>) ).

    Just 50+ years of observation, but what do I know?

    Edit: forgot to add: Nice ties in the pics above. Well done!
  17. Movement is key, so is color so I created a fly that has both it swims right side up too so the hook ups are VERY Posative!
    Looks kinda funny but the tail increases the movement, adds the color you want and makes the fly track correctly.
  18. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah

    The damn fly doesn't (really) matter, and don't let anyone convince you that it does with "their" fly. If you find a player, you could swing a log of moose shit with cigarette butts hanging out of it and the fish will move. As well, you could swing the most perfectly pulsating, colored formatting fly in existence, and if the fish ain't playing, you're fucked. To be honest, I have to remind myself of this fact often, especially when I can't find a player.
  19. some flies like some visitors to this site aren't worth the material that is used to make them. Its really all about the presentation. if the presentation sucks the fly isnt worth a shit, just like if the reply to a question is out of line or rude it says a lot about the one typing it.:thumb:
  20. Pan is right. I have seen Steelhead take a small summer fly on big off color water. A nice summer on BIG and UGLY. These fish have a brain the size of a pea and the upper hand.

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