What's the best way to land a >20lb Steelhead?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by JesseC, Aug 5, 2013.

  1. The only 20lb fish I've caught was a carp. It had stretch marks. The biggest steelhead (great lakes, so...whatever you want to call them) I've even seen around here was around 15. I can't even imagine seeing a 20lbr in person. If I ever do I'd prefer it was a PNW salt fish to a GL fish. There's a picture of Dec holding a 20 lb hen in the thread about guides over on Speypages that shows up in my dreams a lot.
  2. Kerry,

    I'm due for another, so yes I'm planning on it. 20# steelhead are uncommon, but not rare. However they are likely caught at a rate somewhat lower than their occurrence in the population due to having to be played longer, and longer a fish is played, the greater the chance of the hook coming loose.


    Don't shoot the messenger. I'm just doing the math. You said softball sized rocks. Ain't no way that fish is more than 7 rock diameters long. Get the rock size accurate, and the weight estimate can be close to actual.


    I think it's closer to linear than a significant power function. Check either Bell's book on swimming speeds or Powers and Orsborn. Max burst speed and cruising speeds are all linked to length, and large steelhead don't swim astronomically faster than average sized steelhead.

    Andy D and Paul Huffman like this.
  3. No, bad idea. You can't tail a common carp.

    Also, I can crowd a carp onto the bank with my feet without breaking any regs.
  4. I suppose it's just my reaction and klutziness that goes exponential.
  5. Rare, uncommon. Semantics. The main point of my post; few are hooked and fewer are landed. Which means most on this board will not even hook one let alone land it.
    Bob Triggs likes this.
  6. I think Kerry is messing with us. I think there are loads of 20 pound steelhead in the rivers and he's just trying to scare all the young guns away.

    At least, that's what I'm going to tell myself.
    KerryS likes this.
  7. You don't land a >20 pound steelhead ..it lands you
    flybill likes this.
  8. Jason,

    Yes, keep telling yourself that. After all, you can read it countless magazine articles about 20# steelhead, and guide web pages, and the fly shops, all will tell you about large wild steelhead, just waiting for you . . . as soon as you buy your gear (disc drag reel that will stop a semi truck) from them and book trips with them and subscribe to their publications. Oh wait, consider the source . . .

    JesseC likes this.
  9. Matt Smith has hooked one. Didn't land it. I was rowing and got a really good look at his fish. Easily 20#, easily.
  10. The bigger bucks that I've caught all stayed in the pool and only wanted to bulldog me. Put max pressure on and kick its ass. Landed one on the Sky in less than 3 minutes that was north of 40". After it bulldogged a couple times I just backed it toward shore where my friend pulled the hook. Other than their size and the accomplishment, the bigger fish are a bit of a disappointment.
    KerryS likes this.
  11. I got 2 in the Puget Sound Rivers so far but I feel like I paid my dues and earnedem. I was 4 years deep swinging flies before I even got my first steelhead with the technique. I only get jealous when a noob catches a 20# on the Skagit on their first day which I hope has never happened.

    BTW, those 2 20# fish took a while to land but I never once felt I wasn't in control. They were just tough bull dogs not unlike a king. I have had hens do a quadruple cartwheel that were half the size and practically gave me a heart attack.

    Best way to learn how to handle big steelhead is to fish chum. Learn the breaking strength of your tippets especially.
    Ed Call likes this.
  12. out of all the posts I've read on here this is the best one of all...taking a quick measurement has busted all my dreams of landing one..though If not I would swear I'd landed three by now...2@37 and 38 have been my best to date and they were hogs and honestly have been the only time i've found my 7133 to be under gunned...not in the fight itself but when trying to swing it between me and the bank...then you go "whoa"....

    but honestly, a tape measure while a dream buster is a valuable tool for all fisherman...you'll learn very quickly how wrong your own estimates are...and while might make you scratch your head a few times...IMHO makes you appreciate how incredible these fish are...
    Chris Johnson and JesseC like this.
  13. If it got away, I would have to say, it went well over 30 lbs.
    JesseC likes this.
  14. Atleast you have hooked enough to have a "ratio" :)
  15. I've landed multiple Oregon 20's. Never touched a Washington 20.
    All of those have said goodbye before we got to shake hands.
  16. To the original queue.. "Successfully"..
  17. Also, not like this..

  18. Not true..... IMG_0567.jpg
    You just need man hands.
  19. Heavy tippet. Side pressure and the balls to clamp down and turn it's head into the shallows when you think it's time.

    I had my biggest fish to date doing multiple cartwheels. It was enough to make me underestimate the size, before I got the fish close. It was a buck that easily broke the 20lb mark. And I usually put a wrap of electrical tape on my rods at the 40'' point--that's the best way to actually land a 20# fish, and, like many have mentioned, not just a big 37''.

  20. I just bought the new disc drag reel from Psybor reels--they say it will stop an aircraft carrier, and it's a better fish catcher than a Green Butt Skunk! ;)

    You're not trying to tell me that those magazine articles are wrong are you? I get all my best steelheading intel from Salmon & Steelhead Journal--I figured I was set! ;)


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