Steelhead Newbie Questions

Hey all! Novice fly fisher who is looking to get some feedback from those who are much smarter (and therefore better looking, right?) when it comes to the subject!

I've recently been introduced to and hooked on (no pun intended) to fly fishing over the last two Summers by a friend. I spend a few weeks each year camping up in NE Oregon where we have have been mostly fishing small rivers and lakes for Rainbow and Brook trout. However, since that is mainly done between the May-August timeframe, I am interested in making this more than seasonal hobby. That said, since I live in the Seattle area, the thought of Steelhead fishing has my undivided attention.

I'm looking for some general feedback on the best ways to break into Steelhead fishing and I had a few things in mind:

1. If we are interested in wading, are there any particular rivers that would be ideal in Winter, Summer, or even year round?
2. If my friend absolutely despises fishing in a crowd, is it better to look towards the Olympic Peninsula or will it be about the same as the rest of the Greater Seattle area?
3. One hand vs spey rod for a beginner? Does it even matter?
4. Anything else worth considering?! I have a local fly shop a few miles from my house that I've been kicking the idea around with, but I've always got a bit of hesitation when someone has something to sell you to go along with their advice, so I figured this would be a great place to start.



Well-Known Member

Read DanielOcean's "A Rookie's Log" thread. Just about everything you need to know is in there . . . somewhere. Regarding your specific questions:
1. Fly fishing for steelhead is generally done by wading, so this applies to every steelhead fly fishing river I can think of, except the lower Columbia.
2. If your friend despises fishing in a crowd, you're fvcked. Everybody and their brother and uncle wants to fish for steelhead too. There are many people and too few rivers. A very big part of steelheading is finding your own rock to stand on and not getting crowded off it. I'm not going to tell you where my rock is, even tho it likely is in plain sight of us. I don't mind being helpful, but I'm not stupid. I hope you understand and respect that most steelheaders are like this.
3. I recommend a single hand rod for a beginner. Otherwise you're trying to learn two things at once: two hand rod casting and how to fish for steelhead. Ask any woman, and she will tell you that most men can't multi-task worth a damn. Fishing with Spey rods is fun and effective, but I'll mention again that I've caught more steelhead on an old 8 1/2' fiberglass 8 wt rod than on all my high-falutin' Spey rods combined. I recommend first learning how to fish for steelhead. If you're successful at that, then learning to do what you already know with a Spey rod won't be so troublesome.
4. Yeah, there is a lot worth considering. Much of that is in the rookie's log. Another is why on earth would you want to become a steelhead fisherman when there are already too f'ing many of us and way too few steelhead to go around? Do you like to pound your head on a stone wall? Cuz that's what it's going to feel like a lot of the time. I kid you not.