steelhead leader question.

Im wondering if a 0X knot-less tapered leader will work well for steelheading? I understand that straight Maxima seems to be top choice but its what i got at the moment. thanks


Active Member
Unlike trout, steehead are not known to be leader shy. The possible exception being in gin clear water. Nor is a drag free drift very often necessarily desirable, as in upstream trout fishing. The primary factor then left to consider in leader design is good turnover of the fly. This allows the fly to be under full control, and fishing, from the moment it hits the water. Whether greased line technique, wet fly swing, or skating a fly across the surface, control of the fly, the ability to make it behave in a manner that elicits a strike is the name of the game. When skating a fly across the surface, a dead drift before bringing it under tension is, more often than not, a waste of valuable time and water. Being that steelhead are said to be the fish of a thousand casts, endevour to insure every one counts 100% of the time the fly is in the water.

Depending on the length of the leader in hand vs. whatever length you need, you could add to the butt section if necessary. But I certainly wouldn't reduce the tippet size. Adding only a short section of the same size to make up for what you will eventually lose by changing flies.


still an authority on nothing
straight maxima is my best choice when fishing sinktips, but on scandi heads and floating lines your tapered leader is a fine choice.
as previously mentioned, adding some level tippet will offset loss from changing flies, and also improve your anchor for casting.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
I can remember when fly fishing was easy. A rod with floating DT line. If you wanted to sink a fly you went with a wet fly. It seems like there has always been a tapered leader out there to help with the turn over of your fly.

Now a days it is much more complex. If I was to get into fly fishing now I wouldn't. It's getting beyond me now, so I'm back to just a rod with floating line and if I want it to sink I add on a "BB" for weight. Anything new will just stay that way and it is not for me.



Old Man,

Stealheading has never been a simple endeavour. Especially with a a fly rod. Back in the day a drift rod with pencil lead, orange corky and white yarn was a pretty effective way to put 100 fish a year on the shore. With fly gear it's 100X more difficult to get your fly down, keep it down, and bring it across the river slowly.

But, you already knew that. That's why most of the new steelhead flyfishers go the easy route and just bobber fish for them. They don't have the patience to learn a more difficult method. To each his own.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
Old Man

But, you already knew that. That's why most of the new steelhead flyfishers go the easy route and just bobber fish for them. They don't have the patience to learn a more difficult method. To each his own.
That's why most of the new steelhead flyfishers go the easy route and just bobber fish for them. They don't have the patience to learn a more difficult method. To each his own.

the guys who make statements like that are the guys who get butthurt watching guides row clients down the river who have never seen a steelhead river and put fish after fish on the bank that you didnt even know where there. nymphing may be simple in concept (wait , doesnt a wet fly swing seem simple enough?) but it still comes down to reading water correctly, presentation, rigging, flies, technique and luck just like every other method in the book from skating dries to plunking sandshrimp. guys who know the water, the fish, the technique and the conditions get fish.

steelhead love dead drift presentations. period. and will take it over a swung fly/spoon/spinner and sometimes it seems the only way they'll eat.

there is no easy way to catch steelhead, just ways that are more effective. every fish i take on the swing is special because of that unmistakable grab and the effort paid into it. that instant connection to the fish after hours, days, weeks, hell months of nothingness is absolutely priceless.

but just the same, every fish taken nymphing is special because of the effort, time and technique it took to find and hook that fish. those first headshakes and the flash of chrome after the bobber down is magic and you don't have a pulse if you disagree!

all methods have their place, and i get tired of dudes who couldnt nymph up a whitefish rag on nymph fishermen or call it easy.

guess anything can look easy when you know what you're doing.

tapered leaders suck. build your own from maxima or p-line. you'll be happier, save money, and land more fish.

the guy who nymphs.... and swung a fish yesterday.
Beauchamp! You need a pulpit brother!

I love nymphing for steelhead. It is my prefered method no question and I have caught fish both ways. It is actually quite technical and demanding. I've fished through runs and come out with fish many times after guys hand nymphed through it time after time. Technique matters when you're nymphin' a fly and it is hardly "bobber fishin'." I don't want to turn this into a way worn out "nymphing for steelhead" thread, but I had to chime in.

I like a long leader when I'm nymphing. I use a 12 foot leader tapered down to 10 lb test. Never done me wrong.

Hope everyone gets into fish this year. It looks like the run is tapering off a bit.

Tight lines.

Why do so many care what method another person uses as long as it is within regs, it's about the person enjoying their time fishing and if it works for them why do you care?

Let people enjoy life it is far to short as is.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
I had my time in fishing for Steelhead. Now I put in my time fishing for Browns. I nymph for them in the winter time as fishing on top just doesn't get it done. Since I have been in Montana I fish that most of what I catch is done with nymphs. But I still try to fish with dries whenever I feel it is the right time to. But I feel that you have to be quicker to catch them on nymphs. They don't smash a nymph like they do a dry.