What weight for Salmon/Steelhead?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by flythrower, Jul 24, 2002.

  1. flythrower

    flythrower New Member

    After all this discussion on rod weights...
    I am a trout bum who recently moved to Washington. Now, all I hear about is Salmon and Steelhead so I better learn how to do that too. Since I already like to throw streamers and big nymphs (ya'll gotta try Red's 20incher on the Yakima, fun fly) I was planning to buy a heavier rod than my 5wt. Question is, how heavy? If I go with a 6 wt., I haven't gained much. A 7 wt. seems like a decent step up but is it heavy enough to land Salmon? I went Salmon fishing in the strait last fall and those things pull like an ox. Let me know what ya'll think. Thanks.
  2. cuponoodle breakfast

    cuponoodle breakfast Active Member

    A 7wt could get you by for most salmon and steelhead applications. It might be slightly underpowered for big chums or jumbo steelhead but for most needs it's ok. For pinks, silvers, and most steelhead a 7wt is plenty of rod. Part of the reason for heavier rods is for throwing heavy lines and flies so if you stay reasonable with both it will help. Also, the size of river you plan to fish may be a bigger factor in your rod choice than anything else.
  3. ray helaers

    ray helaers New Member

    If you plan on fishing the saltwater you should go with an 8-weight. A 7-weight would handle most of the fish (hell a 6-weight will), but not necessarily the lines and flies you'll need to hook the fish. Even for winter steelheading in the rivers you'll be throwing big, absorbant flies 60-80 feet (at least) if your serious about actually catching fish. If you can afford a lot of rods, a 7-weight is nice to have for certain conditions, but I think most anglers consider an 8-weight the good all around choice for salmon and steelhead.
  4. gbhstrat

    gbhstrat New Member

    I agree, an 8 wt is the best all around for most Salmon and Steelhead. If you go after Chums a 10 wt. works the best so you don't get the fish too exhausted. Chums are the best fishting Salmon pound for pound.
  5. flyrodf

    flyrodf New Member

    I find that the larger rod helps with casting large flies - but the most important component with large fish is a reel with a good drag, and should carry at least 100 yards of backing.
    I caught my first salmon last fall on a fly, in fact I caught about 35 humpy's and 8 chum salmon (the largest chum, about 16lb, did indeed take me down river about 100 yards!
    I finally caught my first steelhead on father's day ( about 12lbs)!I must say it has been quite a year.
  6. mtp1032

    mtp1032 New Member

    Like you, I started out searching for the perfect rod. However, after much research, I bought two rods, an 8wt Scott and a 6 wt sage. The 8wt is for winter steelhead and fall salmon. The 6wt is for summer steelhead. I put large arbor reels (w/ very good drags) on both.

    I'm not saying you should buy two rods, but when I looked at the lines and flies I'd be throwing, and the sizes of the fish I wanted to catch, the 8wt seemed too big for summer fishing and the 6 wt seemed too small for winter fishing. Also, I didn't buy them both at once. I got a great deal on the 8wt on EBay, so that was my first purchase. The 6wt came later, after I had fished the Scott and had learned more about casting.

    Take your time. Read a lot and talk to experienced fly fisherman. Finally, get out and cast different rods. Also, you might want to take a guided trip where the guide will furnish the rod(s) for you to try.

    Good luck,

  7. flyrodf

    flyrodf New Member

    I forgot to mention, I used a Cablelas 11', 6 wt float tuber with an 8 wt. multitip line, and a Redington AS 7/8 reel.
    I also need to mention that I needed to go out with a guide (Dennis Dickson http://www.flyfishsteelhead.com/index.htm) to learn the run timing, holding water, techniques, and fly's to use to catch larger fish - things you cannot get from reading books on the subject. I have tried several times over the past 30 years for steelhead, and didn't even attempt to flyfish for salmon. The experience of going out with Dennis was well worth it - I have gone out with him 2 times since the first class.
  8. Jerry Daschofsky

    Jerry Daschofsky Moderator Staff Member

    I'd highly suggest an 8wt for all around steelhead salmon. It's a bit undergunned when you hit big chinooks, but will handle all your needs. Now, onto summer runs, most I catch are at least 6 wt material, but I myself still use the 8wt. I've snapped a couple 5 and 6 wts during the summer, but some of the fishing I do hit's spring kings and BIG summerrun steelhead. Biggest during the summer cracking 20#'s. I use my 8wt RPL religiously during the summer, but use my sage 9140 for all my tip fishing (which encompasses most of my late fall/winter fishing). If you already have trout gear up to 5/6 wt, then go with a solid 8wt rod.

    "You haven't lived until you've run a cataraft. Friends don't let friends run Outcasts."
  9. flythrower

    flythrower New Member

    Wow, thanks for the responses. Seems like the consensus is for an 8-weight since I already own a nice 6-weight. I also think I'll head out with Dennis Dickson in the fall for some quick learning. Now, let me add to the discussion...
    I have been looking at many rod manufacturers both online and in every fly shop along I-5 from Olympia to Bellingham (I travel for work). Like most of you, I want to get the best value for my money. I am concerned that in buying a Sage, for instance, a large portion of the price is used up in "buying the name". So, I have been looking at other rods in the $200-$500 range. I once heard a former guide say that the best rod he ever owned was a $200 Redington. Any comments?
    By the way, I will use this rod for Pike in Alberta, Salmon in the saltwater, and Salmon in small to medium sized rivers.
  10. guest

    guest Guest

    Well I must admit that my choice in weights differ from most offered. I use a 7 wt. for summer runs and a 9 wt. for winter runs. Although I have caught numerous pinks with the 7 wt., I believe both would be undergunned for king.

    As for branding, if you can afford the Sage you would have an exceptional rod from a company with a great reputation. Another rod company, Orvis, takes much heat (for reasons I cannot fathom). I have likewise found this company quite solid, in fact I have two of their rods and wouldn't hesitate to buy another. I particularly like their unconditional warranty policy, though not as long as Sage's, there is no question they mean what they say. And their Trident TLS series are fantastic rods for the buck$.

    In a nutshell, if money was of no concern I would buy the Sage. Were I limited in my spending, I would chose the Orvis Trident TLS series. BTW, Orvis is having a clearance sale on last year's models, including some stock of their former award winning Tridents - check out their web site.


    P.S. I checked out the Orvis web site and if this sale is in there I couldn't find it. There is a sale (40% off on selected items) in the newspaper/newsletter they just mailed me. The newspaper listed their dealers as a place to order/check out and there is one in Bellevue.
  11. Brian

    Brian New Member

    I used to use an 8 wt for my saltwater salmon fishing. The past five years I've been using a 6 wt. I find the lighter rod more enjoyable to fish. Most of the silver that I catch of the beaches are in the 3 to 6 lb range. A six will handle them easily. It also makes it more fun should you get into some searun cutts. The eight is way overkill for them. Every once in awhile I hook up a larger fish like the 14 lb king off the beach several years ago. At those times the 6 wt makes you fell a little under armed. Still, I like the lighter rod. As for steelhead and salmon in rivers, I generally go with an 8 wt.
    Good Luck,
  12. Jerry Daschofsky

    Jerry Daschofsky Moderator Staff Member

    Sages aren't all expensive

    You can buy the DS series rod for in the $250 range. I have a DS890 and LOVE IT!!!!! I bought it as a backup to my 8wt RPL, but will use the DS first at times. Great rod and a great price, and still a SAGE.

    "You haven't lived until you've run a cataraft. Friends don't let friends run Outcasts."
  13. Nailknot

    Nailknot Active Member

    Sages aren't all expensive

    Scott Alpha/SAS is also a great rod for the money. Avid Angler and Creekside carry them. http://www.scottflyrod.com/ Lamiglass makes some nice inexpensive sticks as well. Loomis GL3 seems to have a following. Those being in addition to the previously mentioned Sage and Orvis lines.
  14. guest

    guest Guest

    Last bit of info, don't wish to hammer ya :WINK

    The Orvis sale has two first tier single hander rods from last year (both Tridents) in the 8 wt. class on sale; a 9'6" was $550 now $330, and a 10' was $490 now $294. Both of these rods are targeted for salmon/steelhead. Availability is limited.

    Remember, all manufacturers have several lines of rods (tiered marketing?). The above represent last years award winning line (actually I believe the line won awards for multiple years from Gray's Sporting Journal and Fly Fish America).

    And to clear the air, I am in no way affiliated with Orvis. My sole purpose in posting this is to inform you of deals that I believe are quite appealing and worthy of serious consideration. Nuff said...

  15. ray helaers

    ray helaers New Member

    You'll be buying a lot more than a "name" if you get a Sage. There is no doubt you'll be getting one of the best designed and built rods you can own. Of course a similar case can be made for a Mecedes or Lexus, and it doesn't mean a Honda won't do everything you need it to, including making you happy and proud to owm it. Orvis makes a lot of fine rods at a lot of price points; so do Loomis and Scott (including rods as expensive and as good as Sage). Redington, Marryatt, and St Croix apparently make decent rods at decent prices. Thomas and Thomas, Winston, and Powell are some other premium rod builders.

    Part of what you're looking for is a rod that feels good to YOU, and fits YOUR casting style, not to mention your aesthetic tastes (particularly if you're going to spend $400-$700). This is a big purchase. You owe it to yourself to look around and make sure you're getting the rod you really want. Even if part of what you're looking for is "name" cache (a perfectly valid criteria), there are plenty of "names" to choose from.

    One thing I would recommend against is buying a "discount" rod, unless money is an absolute issue. In my experience, most rods under $200 aren't worth $20. It's sad but true that rods are way too expensive, but you don't get anything by going cheap. Particularly for salmon and steelhead, where you'll need to throw big heavy flies a long way, you'll need a rod that performs well, and the cheapies won't do it. Long ago I started out with a $100 Cortland (probably worth $250 in today's market) and struggled for years, figuring I was just never going to learn to cast far. When I finally got my Sage, I was surprised to learn that I actually did know how to cast; it had been the rod all along. Now I do get the impression that the mid-range rods are pretty good these days (and the high-end rods are A LOT more expensive than when I got all mine), and the discount series from major manufacturers (like the Sage DSLs mentioned above) can be worth looking at. But the thing to consider is that one expensive rod may wind up costing you less in the long run than a cheap rod that you wind up replacing with a better rod in a year or so.

    Whichever way you go, shop around and make sure YOU'RE happy with what you get. After all, even $200 ain't hay.
  16. flyrodf

    flyrodf New Member

    I got two Cabela's floattuber rods: 6 wt and 8 wt.They are 11 feet long, which I really like.I can easily case about 20' further than my 9 footer,the extra length is great for line control, and I can easily roll cast about 40'. Also, the price is very reasonable $150. They also have a short grip under the reel, so it can be used as a 2 handed rod.I got both in the past year: I have been using the 6 wt for summer steelhead and plan on using it for smaller salmon. The 8 wt for winter steelhead and Chums.
    Note:I mentioned I used the 6 wt for chums on an earlier email. I actually used a lower cost South Bend 9', 7/8 wt rod. It worked ok, but I think the 11 footer will be nicer. The 6wt with an 8 wt line actually works better than the heavier South Bend.
  17. RICH G

    RICH G Guest

    Sages aren't all expensive

    Try Rainshadow,

    Not many people know about them but they are a great rod and very cheep as compared to most other fly rods out there. But have a very high quality and a lifetime waranty on the blank.

    they have a 43 million modulas and a 51 modulas.

    The 43 is a graphite 2 and the 51 is a graphite 3.

    I have a 5wt in the 43 million and have a 4 and 8 on the way.

    You can only get them from a custom rod builder as the company only makes blanks. You should pay in the neighborhood of 150 to 200 for the 43 million modulas and a little more for the higher end one.

    Great rod compared to anything out there. They cast very nice.