So I am almost to the pt of only fly fishing for steelhead

LOL right have been said a ton right. I like to side drift for steelhead, bobber and jig fish for them. I need to figure out a way to side drift for them with my sink tips. LOL So those who have walked these same steps how did you do it?? I have yet to catch a steelhead with any kind of fly gear.. but on the other hand a few weekends ago I went 4 for 3 while side drifting. Makes it kind of hard to commit. Now dont get me wrong I dont eat all these fish but it is nice to have some photos and when my kids ask me its nice to say yes and not no. Thought about hiring a guide but cant really swing it right now lack of the $$$$$$$. Thanks for your time,


Active Member
Before you switch exclusively, you should understand the differences. Because covering water with a fly inevitably takes longer and only certain runs fish effectively with a fly, a good fly angler needs to be very good at reading water and very discriminating as to which runs to fish. If you're good at reading water, you're probably already in a better position to catch fish than some guys with $1,500 spey setups who take 8 hours to fish one run (that they've chosen because they never have to be more than 100 yards away from their SUV). Fishing gear lends itself more to run-and-gun, indiscriminate fishing - which works! Don't expect anywhere near the amount of success that you will find with gear. There will probably be a lot of areas you'll find that you know hold fish, but cannot be effectively fished with a fly. Manage your expectations and know your limitations.

Honestly though, I don't know why you think you need to be exclusive. I will often take a fly rod and a gear rod on a trip with me and swing the runs I think can be effectively swung, gear fishing all others. Or, I use gear until I've hooked one and then fly fish the rest of the trip. Another is to fish familiar areas at familiar flows with fly gear and search new water or familiar water at unfamiliar levels with gear. A lot of very good fly anglers started fishing for steelhead with gear. I think doing both gives a unique perspective and can greatly improve one's fly fishing.


Well-Known Member

If you NEED to catch a steelhead, fly fishing is a poor choice. If how you catch a steelhead matters to you, and you decide you want to catch one on a fly, then a good start is to leave all the gear rods at home. Edit the river for fly fishable water, and forego the rest. That's roughly how I did it. I decided I didn't need or want to catch a steelhead badly enough to resort to my gear rod. It was that simple, except for the part where I went fishing and got skunked a lot.



Best advice I heard from a fly shop was when a young guy came in and asked the same question..guy at the counter (timdog I believe) asked him if he was bored with catching steelhead? Told him, fish gear and catch as many steelhead as you can...when you get bored with it and are looking for something new, then come see us...

Seems it would save on a lot of the frustraded faces I see on the river humping their spey rods around with gear attached to it....The articile in the last issue of the drake by Rose was one of the better ones I've read and could be applied to most local rivers as well!!! Way too many people out there seem so miserable fishing with fly gear..Why?

If you come into the fly with the knowledge you've gained from reading water and being successful with gear the transition will be easier...Most of the best steelheaders I've met were gear fisherman at one time...accepting it as a greater challenge and enjoying it for that will make it a helluva lot more fun for you...IMHO that is...

David Dalan

69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E
All sound advice. I've not touched the gear rod in over a year, but probably will this weekend. Why? I want to put some fish in the box for the family, and honestly its time for a little variety. If all goes well, i'll fish using a float, the two hander and a drift rod. Do what you like and have FUN.


Active Member
I am in the same boat as the OP. I have gear fished all my life for steelhead. I read water and know where fish lay and can find the travel lanes etc.( only from years of hooking fish in those sections of the river) I have no problem getting skunked either. I started fly fishing for trout years ago, because it was easy to get them with spinners, spoons and bait. I am ready to step up and develop another method to land a metalhead. Here i go spending $$ on the new fly gear etc. Does the addiction ever end?
So let me clear things up a little bit. I do not slay the steel with any methods used gear or fly. But I do find myself looking for different ways of attemping to catch them. My brother is always upset at me when I choose the jig method over eggs, or flies over bait,yarnballs,etc.. I feel that anyone can catch them at times with hotdogs. (bait) I like the thought of being a guy who could catch them with flies when others use bait. I understand that if I need to catch steelhead I should look elsewhere then the use of flies. But I feel its the fight not always the net job. Hell I bow hunt for that same reason its hard and when it all falls together it makes a guy feel like he did something right. That is why I posted the frist topic. Just thought other may have felt the same way at some point and could share there thoughts.


Don't think you can't catch them with the fly..oh you can...and like the bow, when it all falls together it's pretty damn amazing....If it's the journey your looking for this is one that you can spend the rest of your life traveling down...There are many facets of this many to really go into but like steps they each lead to whatever path you want them too...Everything from skagits to long lines...intruders to classic flies...wet flies to dry flies..

Some guys like gear because it catches fish..A guy I knew very well was I would bet the best spoon fisherman on the west coast..Name of Jerry..guy outfished all the bait and other gear guys I knew..He loved spoons and had every variety and was always experimenting with them...When I started fly fishing he asked me..."Why do you want to be one of those guys, don't you like catching fish?" I told him yes...but that they were the only guys on the river who I would always stop and watch..and it fascinated me...I paid my dues, which is something so many don't seem to realize comes with it...when I started to catch fish he told me he thought that was pretty damn cool...I'd found my "thing"...

Jerry passed away too young from cancer...I still have his email on my computer and still think about a lot of what we talked about....Sorry, this really has nothing to do with what your asking...but just kind of brought back what it was like when I decided to take up the fly!!
Curik, salmo-g and golfman nailed it

Hope not to ruffle too many feathers here. Instead of being a gear chucker, Chuck the gear. Go to the fly, just like a fish.

Were you thinking about a spey rod. If you are enjoy the ride. Learning to cast can be a blast, then learning to reed water and adjust with tips for that appropriate run. All a ton of fun. while some would say not as productive as nymphing I might agree but I have been noticing the more years that I have been at this, my fish counts are going up.

Probably cheaper to get into would be nymphing. While I don't seem to find it as much fun, It is productive.

If you keep your eye out here and over on Spey Pages you can get into a used well balanced setup pretty reasonably. If you don't find the whole Fly fishing thing to be your game you can always put the stuff back up for sale, Without too much harm to the $$$
I am thinking of all aspects of fly,spey. rods....My rod layout is as fallows. I have 2 spey rods (7wt,8wt) a 8wt single handed rod, thinking of converting one of my bobber rods into a switch rod. Its a 10ft 9 in 2 pc. 6-10lb line rated spinning rod. I have fished with them all over the last few years. but am feeling the draw more and more to fun of casting and reading the water. On our yearly trip down the klickitat last year I couldn't touch a fish on either day. I had fun but told my brother that I will be taking my fly gear instead next fall because if I was going to pull blanks then at least I would have a funner time casting and reading water. These are my thoughts. Just as with the bow here is a thought for all you who dont get the bow hunting thing. If you were to put 2 hunters side by side and then have them looking at a bull elk say 200 yards away. The rifle guy thinks this is meat in the freezer and thinks of nothing more. The bow hunter frist thought is how do I get closer and looks at the terrain and the wind etc.... That is what fly fishing for steelhead for me is. trying to figure out the puzzle. and Yes it is frustrating but can be rewarding as well.
One thing I've seen in several other posts is that confidence sure seems to go a long way toward hooking Steel on the fly. It sounds like you have good knowledge, so why not give it a go?! If you enjoy trout fishing with a fly rod, you'll likely get addicted to chasing Steel with one too, and then you're screwed :)

Plus it's always a kick when someone walks up to you and asks "you can catch those on a fly rod?"!