Unluckiest steelheader in the world.


"Unluckiest steelheader in the world."

Bull pucky D.O. Believe it or not, back in those days when steelhead fishing was allegedly quite good, but there was no internet, no steelhead fly guides, and no T-14, etc., and no books beyond "Steelhead Drift Fishing & Fly Fishing" which wasn't all that useful, it was not at all uncommon for newbie steelhead fly fishers to fish for 2, 3, or 4 years before finally landing one. My observation is that guys who came to steelhead fly fishing from bait and gear fishing caught fish on flies much sooner. I think that's because they already knew what water held steelhead. Again, back in the time when that water most always did hold steelhead.
Bingo. I'd caught a substantial number (400 or so) on hardware before ever picking up the fly rod for steelhead. It was my natural progression. But, that first steelhead took a long time because I bought into the flyfishing MO for steelhead. Spent a few seasons swinging the traditional "fly water" all over Puget Sound without a bump. Nice long gravel bars that were perfect for swinging the fly. Easy to wade and seldom lost a fly. We'd fish 3 or 4 of those in a day. Problem wasn't my fly, or line, or speed, or lack of fish in the river. I was just fishing the wrong water. Watching others fishing a variety of methods in a variety of different spots catching fish while we got skunked was information. But, I wanted to fish the runs Trey Combs was telling me about. Or Deke Meyer. Probably went 40 trips without a tug. Then decided to fish the water that had been productive on hardware which was still great flywater. Only difference is I started fishing where the fish were with the gear needed to get down and bring her across nice and slow. We'd fish 10-20 buckets rather 3-5 runs. Fishing got somewhat easy after that.

If you fail often enough you either change tactics or keep failing. It's really not that hard.

We built our head systems like those we read in the books. Fished them the first couple years but wasn't hooking fish. Then a Teeny 200 was spooled on my reel. Aaahhhhh! Now I'm getting down. That and the Polar Shrimp or Kispiox Special (basically the same fly). Could wrap it with the lead needed to help my gear get down. My numbers went down again when I started to fish a tip system but I was learning to hook them where they lived on a regular basis. Not every trip, but a grab every other trip or so. You'd go 7 days without a bump then have a 2-3 fish day... I liked the head system because it was interchangeable and I lost fewer flies but it wasn't as great as it sounded in the books. Was easy to use, and fish, and change, and adapt, but I had to relearn the basics. Get the fly down, keep it down, and bring it across slow. Sometimes an upstream mend to slow it and other times downstream to bring it across a little different.
Last edited: