White for Steelhead


Tight line takes ain't no fakes!!
Has anyone messed around and really fished with white flys for winter steelies. I have caught fish on just about every color in the rainbow but have not played with white that much. I imagine it would work just as all other colors do. I think when theres a grabby fish it just doesn't matter. I just seem to stay with the old standards, orange, black,purple, pink, red and combinations of those. Just curious what other people have found in their own experimentation with colors. Yes, I am extremely bored at home watching the little peapicker. Trying to earn some points for a much needed hall pass.


Jeremy Floyd

fly fishing my way through life
I only use the lighter/brighter colors when the water really lightens and visibility becomes quite good.

I am a firm believer that dark colors make a better outline in low visibility conditions and mostly in the winter we (wild assumption that other people fish like I do) push the boundaries of the fishing conditions because we usually only get short windows of fishing time.

That said I use a black on white fly quite often in the winter time.

Rob Zelk

I swing, therefore i am.
I think with steelhead, they'll hit just about any color you can get in front of their face. White is a good color, so is black, purple, pink, orange and black, orange and yellow, red and black, well you get my point... I think more important than color is size. Its a confidence thing, if you believe in your fly, you will catch fish with it. Its more about the presentation than anything, you won't catch them if its not in their vacinity.


Active Member
White has long been a good color for steelhead.

Al Knudson's (of cutthroat spider fame) white streamer and white marabou were ones of the earliest white steelhead patterns - first tied in the mid-1930s. As I recalled he tied the marabou as large as 7/0 for fishing dirty water. I have good luck with patterns that are mostly white.

Tight lines


Active Member
Looking back, the only steelhead (a summer-run) I can recall taking on an all-white fly was taken on an Alaska Mary Ann. On the other hand, please consider that most of the classic northwest steelhead flies (Skykomish Sunrise, Brad's Brat, Polar Shrimp, Skunk) featured a very prominent white (usually polar bear hair) wing; prominent enough that it might be considered the dominant element in the color combination.


Active Member
White is fine. One of my best winter flies is a white bunny strip with fluorescent pink color. At it's best, it looks white. At it's worst it looks grey. Like alot of colors... Fish aggressiveness is more important, but I'm more comfortable with fluorescent white if I'm fishing an all or mostly white fly.