steelhead

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by cj6530, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. bconrad

    bconrad Active Member

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    I don't know what type of technique you're using, but if you're swinging tips the number one thing that has made me more effective is concentrating on slowing my fly down. When I first started fly fishing for steelhead, I would throw on the fastest sinking tip I had, cast it nearly perpendicular to the current, throw a big mend in, and then let it sink until it came tight and started swinging.

    What I didn't realize at the time is that fishing this way resulted in my fly being ripped across a good portion of the swing area (because of the belly in the line), and there was no way a steelhead was going to go after it. When I do that now, I can actually feel the "push" on my fly and adjust my swing accordingly, but when I first started I had no idea this was happening.

    What I try to do now is quarter the cast downstream quite a bit more, and instead of throwing a herkamendous mend in there, I just throw a light mend in to get everything lined up, with the fly downstream of the tip, which is downstream of the belly of the line, etc. Then I just let it come tight and follow the tip of the line with my rod tip. This results in a much slower swing, even if you aren't getting quite as deep. If you want to go deeper, just throw some T-14 there and fish it the same way. If you're getting a significant belly in the line that's causing your fly to speed up, sometimes you can slow it down by leading the line with your rod tip to keep the line straight. This results in a slower swing through more of the holding water.

    Another recommendation I would make is to make sure you're always holding the line with a finger or two. Having contact with the running line allows you to feel small plucks that you won't if you're just fishing off the reel. If you're swinging your fly and you feel a pluck that may or not be a rock, swing it through there again with the same cast. If you don't feel the same rock, chances are that it's a fish. At that point, I'd swing through there a couple more times, letting out a foot or so each time, and if you don't get the fish, shorten up 10-15 feet, change your fly, and run through there again.

    Lastly, don't get discouraged. I know there's a lot of skilled anglers on this board that have been humbled by steelhead, particularly in the winter. If they were easy to catch, it wouldn't be any fun!
     
  2. Panhandle

    Panhandle Active Member

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    Dave, tomorrow is my B-Day:p
     
  3. cuponoodle breakfast

    cuponoodle breakfast la flama blanca

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    spoons.
     
  4. thewaker

    thewaker Tight line takes ain't no fakes!!

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    Hey bconrad,

    I know the feeling of being humbled by steelhead. I fished with a buddy last weekend who has caught some steelhead but not a ton. He out fished me and a couple of guide friends. We can't figure out what happened. He must be getting better is all we can figure. He listened and learned, and he learned well.I think it's about time to quit telling him so much. It was cool to see him get some fish.

    That's why I love this sport. One day you are a hero, and the next day a zero. Keeps me coming back though.

    Oh, and Brett, don't PMEO

    Mark
     
  5. codswallower

    codswallower Member

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    Great advice everyone. Thanks a lot!
     
  6. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

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    -try nymphing

    -treat steelhead like you would treat any rainbow trout

    -cover water
     
  7. Panhandle

    Panhandle Active Member

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    Clarify please. Perhaps in Alaska, but I don't think this is accurate advice for lower 48 steelhead, especially brats.
     
  8. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Not even close. That's why we call it steelheading instead of rainbow trout fishing. Same species, but they don't respond the same way.

    Sg
     
  9. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

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    tight lipped steelhead will often hit a size 16 copper john... Steelhead are nothing but big rainbows, while they hit gaudier stuff, trout flies like prince nymphs, wooly buggers, glo bugs, copper johns, and wooly worms often produce fish when "normal steelhead flies" will not. Basically if steelhead aren't responding to traditional methods try something else... Take what I say with a grain of salt because I've only caught about 20 steelhead in my life, having fished for them ~20 hours.

    Often also the reverse is true big rainbows happen to like steelhead flies. One time I was guiding this guy in the skwetna drainage and I was trying to get him the grand slam for that time of year, he already got the dolly, and the king so we go to this spot I know there are a few bows and try every trout fly he has and every trout fly I have including streamers mice, nymphs, scupins. Then I see a low water green butt skunk in his box 4 casts result in four fish. Then he got a grayling 5 minutes before the float plane left.
     
  10. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    AKPM,

    It's true that steelhead are big rainbows. And some times they act just like rainbow trout. And all the rest of the time they don't. It's the trying to hook them all that other time that can be a bit frustrating.

    Steelhead aren't that hard to catch under water conditions that are neither high nor low, too warm or too cold, or too clear or too murky. Under conditions other than those just excluded, an undisturbed steelhead will almost always hit the first properly presented bait or lure or fly it sees. That can be a distinct advantage over fishing for feeding rainbow trout. The problem is that in most parts of the steelhead range, over 99% of the potential steelhead holding water is empty of steelhead. So in order to catch one, first it's necessary to find one. Then if any of the excepted conditions in the first sentence of this paragraph apply, the steelhead may be dour and more difficult to make strike, or they may never see your offering due to turbidity, etc.

    When you get 200 days in steelheading in places other than AK, I'd like to see if you still think they're like fishing for big rainbow trout.

    Sg
     
  11. Tylerflies

    Tylerflies New Member

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    The others of course, say it best.

    Remember, that even though people who have stelheaded for 30 years will tell you how much better the fishing was back then, because there were more fish, doesn't mean that there are not fish now.

    There are fish in the steelhead rivers, less then before, but they are there.

    Salmo G says it best but i will reiterate. A well swung fly through holding water tells me one of three things. If a fish hits it, it tells me that a "hot" fish was there. If a fish doesn't hit it, tells me that a fish is there and is for some reason not "hot" (going to hit my fly) or more likely, the fish isn't there. then I move. The times to stop all apply of course as he mentioned.

    I am just beginning to seriously fish for steelhead this year after many years of dinking around. I am learning the ropes as you are, but the great thing about steelhead fishing is the river is a great teacher. Learning to read the river and find the spots that will fish well and hold steelhead is the most important and fun part.

    I know that since there are so few steelhead, the learning curve can be slow. Its hard to know what is good water unless you hook up in the water. Just keep fishing the water that swings well, and has a good seam in it, looks especially fishy, or feels especially fishy, and one day you will hook up.
    The experts say that catching steelhead is a function of how much time you spend on the water, when you are on the water, and how much water you cover when you are on the water. after all that fishing, your technique will devope and you will be presenting the fly with confidence.

    Also, it helps to go fishing expecting to find a fish behind every rock. Imagining a river full of fish will affect your level of conidence when presenting the fly. even if this is not the case, there are fish out there.

    Good luck

    Tyler
     
  12. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

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    I don't know how many 30+ inch rainbows you've gotten into but I've been fishing for them for at least 200 days and only stuck one... So I'll stand by my statement, noting that I don't have the money to fly out to Bristol in the peak of the lake run run (which are basically steelhead)...
     
  13. g_smolt

    g_smolt Recreational User

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    I have thousands of days of steelhead fishing behind me, as well as thousands...ok more than a thousand, less that 2000...of fish landed, 250-300 in AK, the rest in WA OR CA and BC.

    I am here to tell you that as soon as you think you have them figured out, they do something you haven't seen, or never thought the would do.

    I am also here to tell you that coastal Native steelhead have about as much in common with rainbow trout as bic lighters resemble nuclear reactors. Sure, they will do rainbow-ish stuff every now and then, but for cryin' out loud, they don't even SWIM in the same spots, much less react the same way to offerings.

    As for AK_P_M's comparison to lake-run rainbows, well...he's only a kid and doesn't really know shit. We have been apologizing for him for quite awhile now.

    The 3 things that I have found to be "the Immutable Laws of Steel" are
    1. Be in the right place at the right time
    2.Fish in the right place at the right time
    3.Learn to recognize "the right place, right time" phenomena

    After that, have some confidence in your selection and your skills and never give up.

    Mark
     
  14. Jeremy Floyd

    Jeremy Floyd fly fishing my way through life

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    I would add;

    4. Be prepared for the right place and time when it happens because that is where the majority of new steelhead anglers make big mistakes. Dont hold the line against the cork (this is contrary to earlier advice but it is my personal opinion and holds no more weight than the previous post) if you are a new fly fisherman because quite a few of them completely forget to let go. I have only been guiding a year now and I can think of 5 or 6 times right off the top of my head when I had to actually yell (saying it softly didnt work a single time) at someone to "let go of the line" as the rod was more than doubled over and was at or near the point (past a couple times) of ripping out the hook or breaking the line.

    Just preset your drag enough to drive the hook in without holding the line until you have a few under your belt and don't panic.
     
  15. Panhandle

    Panhandle Active Member

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    O.K. he's a kid. For that sake, his ignorance is nearly excused. You have a lot to learn guy. That fact that you think you already know does not bode well for a successful fishing future. Good luck. :eek: