Steelhead Fishing in Sno Co

Hello all,
I'm going to make the next step in my pursuit happiness by targeting Steelhead. I've done a little reading here and there on the subject, and have heard a lot of mixed reviews. I would like to get some input from the steelheaders around here to get me going this weekend. Currently I've got a 9' 6WT rod, floating line, moderate uniform sink line, and fast sink line. What I need is a few fly patterns to start off with, so if you could name just one what would it be, and what techniques and fly lines are use to fish it? I'm probably going to hit the North Fork of the Stilly near Darrington this weekend since I'm already somewhat familier with the water there, good idea, any others nearby? I'm also an avid reader on fishing literature, so if there are any good books on the subject please advise (currently reading Steelhead Water by Bob Arnold).

Blk, Purple.

If you have an 8wt, you might wanna used that for Winter run, I learned the hard way with my 6wt when it ran into a pissed off buck.
For winter-size flies and water, at least an 8-weight is called for. I prefer a 10-weight single-hand rod, or an 11-weight spey.

If that sounds excessive, remember that you're going to be fishing with flies the weight of an average spoon or diving plug; and you want enough line weight and rod strength so that you won't feel those flies when in flight.

Big K1

Large Member
For steelhead in winter I like 8-9 weight two-hander. If I was going to use a
single-hander I would go with 8-10 weight.

o mykiss

Active Member
6 wt is a little light for what you have the potential to tangle with around here this time of year, not to mention that it would be nice to have a little more backbone to throw practically any steelhead fly other than a standard hairwing with, but if it's all you have then go ahead and fish it. If by uniform sink you mean a full sink line, I personally wouldn't fish that because I'm thinking you have very little line control with a full sinker, and when fishing the standard steelhead swing you want to be able to mend liberally. Instead, I'd go with the floater and go get one of those Airflo (I believe) sinking leaders -fast sink and extra fast sink versions - to help get your fly down some (and don't add too much tippet or your fly will float up too far - unless its weighted, that is). As for a fly, you could probably get by with woolly buggers in black and purple; take it a step further by adding an egg and you have an egg sucking leech. (Lazy man's way to do the ESL is to use a woolly bugger and just thread an egg bead on your tippet before you tie on the fly.) Personally, I like marabou flies. Another option with the floating line would be to nymph (I can already hear the gasps of the purists, but if someone is a newbie he or she should be cut some slack and allowed to nymph, for God's sake). You could use a largish (and weighted) stonefly or hare's ear as your lead nymph and then tie on a trailer with a glo bug or some other egg-like pattern such as a cotton candy. Can be a real drag to cast, especially if you add an indicator, but it's a way to get started.

Then there's always the Sharp Steelie passion fly. Tie it on and watch out! . . . But I digress.
Thanks everyone. I have always been under the impression that a 6 wt won't cut it, but just recently have heard from several people on this site that a 6 wt is fine. I won't be shopping for a heavier rod for some time, so in the meantime I'll to have to start with what I've got.


Mark Steudel
This fall I hooked into my first steelhead nymphing a size 14 hares ear on 6x tippet for cutthroat. I was fishing a floating line on my 5 wt. I also have a cheap 30 dollar reel on that rod. I was able to bring the 27" steelie in. Now it took a little while, I could only apply so much pressure, and when the fish ran I let it run, but I brought it in (see my avatar). My reel is a little worse for the wear, but whatever it was fun. You'll be fine. Matter of fact I think a guy named Diehard on the board went chum fishing with a 6 wt, so if he can catch chums you can catch steelies. You may find after trying to throw large flies that you would rather have a bigger rod, but until then fish what ya got. My 2 cents.
Yeah, I tried fishing for the chums once with my 6 wt, but I wouldn't recommend it. Those fish pretty much owned me. I only was able to get in one out of five hooked. I am getting an 8 wt for christmas...
As for steelies, I have only caught one and my 6 wt did fine. However it was a smaller summer run fish.


Active Member
A 6wt rod is a good summer steelhead rod on most rivers. While it's true that you can hook a winter steelhead on a 6wt rod or even lighter for that matter, it's not fair to the fish, particularly if you intend on releasing it.

If you are truly stewards of the resource and a believer in the Catch & Release ethic, then you will land your steelhead quickly, handle it as little possible and release it as gently you can.

Playing a fish too long or not being able to land your fish because you're fishing with tackle that is too light is simply moronic.


Old Man

Just an Old Man
I will add a little here,well very little. I say go with what ever you have or can afford. Not everybody catches them fish until you put in your dues. Dues,about 10,000 casts. So fishing with a 6wt is just about alright. And as for the size or wt of the rod I don't think it really matters just as long as you don't tire the fish. I fought and caught a 25+ lbs Chum on the Skagit with a 5wt with floating line fishing for Dollies. It took a while.



Piscatorial predilection
A novice after winter steelhead with a 6wt, will rarely get an opportunity to tire much less land a fish of any size.

But there are winter fish that fall into a smaller size range that can be handled fairly with a lighter rod.

So it is up to each individual to determine, for themselves, what to try.
One thing for sure, if you ask for opinions, on this board you will get them, everything from reckless abandon to "sky is falling" timidity.

I agree with the OldMan, go fish for gosh sakes!



Active Member
I'm calling BS on Old man.....if your chum was really 25+ then it was a state you really want to claim that? sure it was a biggun tho.
(always there to give you a hard time old man)

Old Man

Just an Old Man
Well it was a big un. It sure put a bend in the 5wt. And as for being a record I really don't care. I go fishing for the fun of it. And I really don't care what it is I catch just as long as it isn't one of those UGLY suckers,ugh. ;)



Active Member
When it opens the first of december you can try the Pilchuck river, small river, no need to cast far, nice little steelhead holding water. Drops and clears quick before the other rivers do, and it might be closer to where you live.