Just some quick Steelhead tips

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Sharp Steelie, Jan 31, 2004.

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  1. Sharp Steelie Guest

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    1. Learn how to read rivers/water.
    2. Learn the river you plan to fish before
    you fish it.
    3. Learn how to time the runs.
    4. Fish rivers that have multiple species.
    5. Use fly patterns that give you the opportunity
    to catch all species of fish in the river.
    6. Use fly patterns that might immitate more than
    one type of food source.
    7. Use the smallest diameter tippet possible.
    8. Learn how to get a "natural drift" with a
    fly rod.
    9. Your not going to catch fish if they aren't
    there.
    10. The first time you check out a river - leave
    the fly rod in the vehicle and go hiking. You can
    cover a lot more ground when your not in waders and
    you have a much greater chance of actually finding
    some fish first - before you cast to empty water.
    11. If you don't find any Steelies and still plan
    on fishing - use a "searcher type pattern" that
    will at least give you a chance to catch other types
    of fish.

    Hope this is helpful
    :thumb
  2. ChrisC Member

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    Thanks, obviously you'll have plenty opportunity to elaborate further on these points in your book.
  3. Randy Knapp Active Member

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    Great tips. Thanks for sharing.

    Randy

    " When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee" Isaiah 43:2
  4. chadk Be the guide...

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    Snohomish, WA.
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    Your summer steelhead preference \ experience is showing. Some of those tips just don't make sense in the winter. For example, number 4, 5, 6, 7, 10/11. There aren't many other species to fish for in March on many rivers. Winter steelhead generally arn't line\leader\tippet shy - and the water vis is generally poor enough that "tippet diameter" is almost a non-issue. Sight fishing for winter steelhead on most winter rivers can be a real challenge and not too realistic. Timing the run, understanding how the changing river flows effect where the fish can be found, and understanding what presentations to use in certain spots under certain conditions seems to be the game for winter steelhead in my experience. The other big factor is getting you fly down to the fish. But then again, I've never had a 6 steelhead day - so what do I know
    :p
  5. Sharp Steelie Guest

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    Hey - it's half time for the Super Bowl, glad you
    brought that up, there is no doubt that I have done
    much better for summer runs - just a quick hint for
    winters - in the few times that I went out for the
    winter fish there has always been a few white fish
    near the Steelies - ie, hooked a couple white fish
    on the East Fork - put a cast slightly above where
    I was hooking them and bingo - Steelie on. Just like
    the large rainbows will hang behind salmon - white
    fish will do the same thing and you can catch them
    year round. That's one of the main reasons I like to
    use smallest diameter tippet I can get away with and
    a fly pattern that I know both will hit - especially
    in the winter when it is much more difficult to
    find fish. I also would much rather fish any river
    when it is at it's mean flow or below than above -
    when the water flow is raging I stay away from the
    rivers. I think White Fish can be a great indicator
    species - just something that I noticed over the
    years. To the best of my knowledge, most of the rivers
    in this area have some white fish. - Game is back on
    got to run.
  6. Randy Knapp Active Member

    Posts: 1,132
    Warm Springs, Virginia, USA.
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    I am not a big steelheader and usually they are an incidental catch for me which is why I have landed several, even in winter, on a size 10 Canadian Brown mohair beadhead of my own design.

    Randy


    " When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee" Isaiah 43:2
  7. chadk Be the guide...

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    Good point on finding the steelhead above the whities. But I'm afraid I disagree with the idea of fishing a pattern that will catch them both. Especially when the larger nates are around, my gear is oriented to land the big fellas quickly and safely. My tippets will be as stout as will allow and I prefer flies that will be a little big for whities and parr\smolts. Besides - a 12inch whitie isn't much sport on my 4wt - yet alone my 8wt I use in the winter... Now dollies\bulls - I'll take those any day - even on my 8wt. But that's just me...
  8. Sharp Steelie Guest

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    Chad, I agree it's not a challenge at all to catch a
    white fish on a 7 or 8 weight. I always start off with
    a 2x tippet unless I run into any B runs/Salmon then I
    might switch to a 1x. Anyways, I've been able to land
    the winter runs fairly quickly with the 2x - overall
    I like to stick with a size 6 fly (short shank hooks).
    I also agree that the quicker you can land the fish the
    better - especially when planning on releasing them.
    :)
  9. Florian Leischner o_clarki

    Posts: 201
    Olympia, WA.
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    I always try to spot my steelhead first. I saw all four steelhead that I have caught ( and landed) in my lifetime before I hooked them. Of course, you can't do that when you are swinging a spey road on the Queets. But I like to "hunt" them first on smaller rivers, such as the Salmon river, the Kalama, or others, and then target a specific fish. I just have more confidence that my fly is even near a fish, especially after three years of unsuccessful blind steelheading.

    SS- So do you "hunt" them first on the Klickitat or blind cast likely spots ? I bet visibility can be a problem on this glacial stream. Speaking of the Klickitat, what is it like out their in June/July ? Runoff is over, but glacial melt hasn't started, yet ?? Whould that be a good time to go ?
  10. Sharp Steelie Guest

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    With no doubt in my opinion it is a lot more fun
    to try to spot a fish and put a fly in front of it
    and watch it hit it without spooking it! I do prefer
    to fish smaller rivers but have since learned to
    read some of the larger ones and it has payed off
    big time. I have gotten into fish both by sight casting
    and putting the fly in fishy looking water - been able
    to do both on the Klickitat. I've haven't fished it
    in June/July - just been very fortunate to time it right
    in the fall when the water color was on - not an easy
    thing to do because the flow rate doesn't always actually
    tell the color. If I head out there and the river
    isn't fishable it's sometimes just has fun to go hiking
    around - all kinds of neat things to see! I'm already
    planning on trying out another river in June - I'll
    have to check out the Klickitat also - have a feeling
    June will be to early - always break out a 5 weight
    and still have some fun.:p
  11. inland Active Member

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    I have been biting my tongue on this one.....

    "1. Learn how to read rivers/water.
    2. Learn the river you plan to fish before
    you fish it.
    3. Learn how to time the runs."

    These three are really one in the same. Most of the info can be attained through books, mags, and shops. But most important is the ability to read water and learn where to concentrate your efforts.

    "4. Fish rivers that have multiple species.
    5. Use fly patterns that give you the opportunity
    to catch all species of fish in the river."

    Why????????? If I am angling for steelhead, I don't care one iota about what other fish are around. Yes I am a 'species snob', but I am targeting STEELHEAD and not anything with fins and swims.

    "6. Use fly patterns that might immitate more than
    one type of food source."

    Newsflash- Steelhead are easily caught on "Steelhead Flies", the attractor variety. If I want to match the hatch I will chase feeding species instead of trying to "I spot 'em I got 'em". Part of the allure to steelhead is that they can still be caught with feathers while not being in the rivers actively feeding.

    "7. Use the smallest diameter tippet possible."

    BS. Maybe when nymphing, MAYBE. For swinging flies tippet size matters not a bit. If tippet were an issue, I hardly think that you would catch too many steelhead using Chameleon Maxima.

    "8. Learn how to get a "natural drift" with a
    fly rod."

    This is but one of several methods to catch fish. While this method does seem to catch more than its share, I personally find it the least rewarding of all. Some days it might be the only method to work, but, for me it is always going to be a last resort if used at all. Stick to a game plan and you will be rewarded. Dead drifting for steelhead reminds of the "San Juan Shuffle" tactic for trout. Makes me cringe.

    "9. Your not going to catch fish if they aren't
    there."

    Profound statement, but, the truth. But you can't spot 'em all.

    "10. The first time you check out a river - leave
    the fly rod in the vehicle and go hiking. You can
    cover a lot more ground when your not in waders and
    you have a much greater chance of actually finding
    some fish first - before you cast to empty water."

    If you are spotting fish. Now how does that relate to your first tip of learning to read the water? If you read the water correct you will find your quarry through skill, instinct, and intuition rather than binocs and polarized lenses.

    "11. If you don't find any Steelies and still plan
    on fishing - use a "searcher type pattern" that
    will at least give you a chance to catch other types
    of fish."

    What??? That makes no sense whatsoever. How is that going to help catch steelhead? There is more to steelhead fishing than drift fishing small pink worms.

    Clay, I almost hate to ask fearing what other can o worms (BS?) will be opened, but why don't you share with us your skill and experience using the "Greased Line", Riffle Hitch wets and dries, traditional wet fly swing (floating and sink tip), dead drift dries, deep wet fly swing (McMillan's game to eliminate using sink tips)???

    William
  12. Irafly Active Member

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    Everett, Washington, USA.
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    >
    >Why????????? If I am angling for steelhead, I don't
    >care one iota about what other fish are around. Yes I
    >am a 'species snob', but I am targeting STEELHEAD and
    >not anything with fins and swims.
    >
    Have you actually tried this? I think your quote; "species snob [ishness]" actually possibly limits your Stealhead catch ratio. Now granted, my stealhead flyfishing days probably flail in comparison to yours, but I do know that every trip I've taken has proved more successful once I stripped myself of 'traditional' flyfishing for stealhead techniques and started fishing for fish.

    Try a trout or other fly sometime. Even those big guys eat little things. I've found they do it more often than not. Talk to the Great Lakes Stealheaders about what they catch most of their Stealhead on. Size 6 anything is big.

    Anyway... Sorry... I'll shut up now.

    IRA
  13. Preston Active Member

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    By the way, it's spelled "steelhead", not "stealhead".
  14. Sharp Steelie Guest

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    Okay, I've been fly-fishing since 1977. I have been
    fly fishing for Steelhead since 1986. I have fished
    floating lines with very long leaders and fished various
    types of sink tips with different types of leaders and
    techniques. The reason I love fly fishing is to be
    creative and come up with something on my own that
    works. With the exception of my Spanish teacher in high
    school introducing me to fly fishing - I am completely
    self taught and fly fishing has come very natural to
    me - simply put, it is a very personal form of art that
    some others have now talked me into sharing. In my
    opinion - fly fishing is the same as painting a picture,
    you need the proper tools, the proper paint, and the
    canvas and when you put it all together - you might
    just create a masterpiece - Everything that I have
    learned about Steelhead fly fishing - I learned on
    my own and it works extremely well. God gave me the
    tools, the paint, and thankfully the canvas and allowed
    me to become an artist within His Creation.
    What good is treasure if you can't share it! Simply put
    I'm trying to share some treasure. I'm simply sharing
    what has worked extremely well. Take it or leave it.
  15. Stephen Rice Senior Member

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    Wasilla, Alaska
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    "spelling, schmelling" and Actually I agree with number 10 if you are new to a river. I have gone to a lot of new rivers only to hike and get a feel of where the "good" spots are especially on the Kalama. I have found alot of good spots just hiking thru the area. I can visually see the steelhead but I won't target them in the afternoon as they will either spook easier or the sun will be directly overhead and the steelhead probably couldn't see the fly anyway.Although Clay I have to say you might want to preface you list "for Beginners" because hell I have been steelheading for only a couple of years I know most of you what your referencing to anyway. but if I were a beginner these would be really good tips.:smokin
    Steve
  16. Sharp Steelie Guest

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    Thanks, I'm trying to help the group that is having a
    hard time getting a Steelhead, the Beginners, and also
    hopefully bringing some new people into the fold of
    fly fishing - hey maybe I can rub off on some people
    for the good and bring them some better luck:thumb
  17. Stephen Rice Senior Member

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    Lord knows I need it LOL. It's hard having a steelhead addiction... I need .. more .. Steelhead !
    Steve
  18. chadk Be the guide...

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    William - I agree with many of your points. But I do have to ask - who invented 'grease lining'? Or Riffle Hitching? Wet Fly swinging? Some bozo started them all at one point (no disrespect intended) - and probably got laughed at by his peers at first. Fly fishing traditional ways, or the more common techniques is great - but I will always appreciate those who adapt and innovate and like to expermimnet. It makes the game that much more fun for me. I won't tolerate flossing, snagging, or other unsportsman like conduct, and always try to be conservation minded - but there is no 'right way' or list of 'acceptable fly fishing techniques' that I will ever acknowlege (but I'll read for ideas).

    Clay - keep up your posts and tips. Just be ready to answer questions, have your spelling and grammer scrutinized, be challenged, mocked, confronted, laughed at, and if you hang in there and build up some credibilty - you'll may start getting some respect. (but don't count on it or expect it).
  19. the unknown mnemonic Guest

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    Christ.....
    I check in for the first time in over a week and see that good old Clay simply cannot help himself and thus has chosen to grace us with a sack of "treasure" that could readily have been gleaned from even the foulest primary text that has been produced on the subject. A bit of advice, Clay. Your approach is still amusingly supercilious (masterpiece, artist) and you clearly are highly incapable of conveying what real knowledge you may have in a format that is legible and fit for consumption. HIRE A GHOST PEN. There are numerous technical writers in Seattle who are toiling for tech companies who collect salaries that make janatorial work seem attractive.

    I truly do like to see people succeed in such a venture if they have tangible, useful information to pass on. Your approach may play well with the sycophantic mops who require a new hero each month or simply have not been stringing a rod that long. As for the rest of us (I started on the rivers of Montana when I was 4, by the way), you'll understand why we are amused at your approach to sales and the haphazard gems you throw our direction in such a dissimulated manner that Trump would blush with embarassment if he was aware of your tactics.
  20. Sharp Steelie Guest

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    Wow, your scrupulous understanding of stratificational
    grammer is impressive. I'm here to help people, not to
    impress with disfunctional intelligence.:p
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