What's the best way to land a >20lb Steelhead?

The best way to land a 20lb steelhead is to fish alone and either leave your camera at home, or have your camera buried under your waders where you can't retrieve it. Having a camera with dead batteries would probably work too.
When I landed the one steelhead I think was 20lbs I slid him into the shallows, and then tried to dig my camera out of my pocket under my waders. While I was doing that, the fish made one flop, knocked the spoon from his jaw, and swam away.
Going by the rule of every inch over 20" equaling a pound, I've landed a couple 17's and a few 14's. This fish was in a different class and had proportions I haven't seen on any other steelhead.
I now keep my camera tethered to the shoulder straps of my waders.


Active Member
Jesse, I believe that to accomplish what you are insinuating here would make one more of a man. That is a rather large hole to fill. It's alright, Ed, Jesse is just projecting his shortcomings. Pun absolutely intended.

I was just saying that you should release them gently - not sure what you guys are talking about....carp are majestic beasts worthy of the utmost respect.


It's called Angler's Measurements. Or, Angler's math. Or, more likely, the fish are shape-shifters.

They may start out at 20 pounds but when landed, they shape shift into something much, much smaller.

When fishing Mann Lake, one of our fishing buddies would announce that he was sure the cutthroat he just hooked HAD to be on the the 20-inchers that can be found in the lake. As he brought it closer to hand, the fish mysteriously shape-shifted into a 14-inch cutthroat.

So, we all joined in. Once we hooked a trout we'd shout that it had to be AT LEAST a 20-inch fish. Somehow, the damned fish lost length during the fight and were much smaller when we finally netted the critters.

Shape-shifters, I tell ya, shape-shifters... :D

David Dalan

69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E
I have no idea what any of you are talking about. Just like most people, every Steelhead I have ever lost was AT LEAST 20#.

To land them I imagine you continue to reel or strip line in until you can beach/reach the fish. But that's just what I do with the little ones.

Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
I think it's closer to linear than a significant power function. Check either Bell's book on swimming speeds or Powers and Orsborn. Max burst speed and cruising speeds are all linked to length, and large steelhead don't swim astronomically faster than average sized steelhead.

Yeah, but.... It's not just peak swimming speed. Mass = approximately length ^3. (M x v^2)/2 = kinetic energy, so there's a couple power functions on length since as you said, v is ~ proportional to length. Force x time = work. That's why you get worked by a big fish! They can pull harder for a longer distance. Head shakes have more mass and distance in them, jumps are higher, and that puts more strain on your tippet.

Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
Not true..... View attachment 31205
You just need man hands.

What I should have said is that you can more easily tail a steelhead than a carp. The tail is the steelhead's downfall because the peduncle is small, caudal fin stiff and makes a perfect handle. Same with albacore, sharks, other salmon, especially chum and atlantics.

On a common carp, the caudal fin just curls up when you try to tail them.