Whitefish Patterns??

I don't know what my wife is thinking (dementia maybe, or the onset of old timers disease), but she wants to catch some whitefish. From what I can tell by the regs the flies have to be on a size 14 or smaller hook. I have never targeted whitefish before, in fact they give me a case of the shudders just looking at them. Anyone have any idea what would work for them?



A few weeks ago, I could not keep 'em off the line on a small (18, I believe) olive brassie with a little crystal flash tied over the thorax, emerger style. I kid you not I must've caught a dozen in a dozen casts. Some of the biggest dang whiteys I'd ever seen too... football shaped! They're no trout, but it was kinda fun anyway.
idk what flies i have used on the past. but me and my dad use little flies size 14 with a maggot tipped on the hook and drift fish them just like drift fishing steelhead. and nail the heck out of them on the green river in january.

and some of them being 12"-15" they would be a fun fight on a 4wt rod


FFing and VWs...Bugs & Bugs
I don't really know what kind of ridicule I'm opening myself up for, but, what the heck. I've never caught a whitefish. Just where would I go to find one of these beasties? OK, let the stones be thrown!


dead in the water
Caught a good sized one the other week on a pink egg pattern. Have caught them on the methow in the summer with standard trout stuff.


Active Member
Most of our Western Washington streams have whities as well. Here there are not any hook size restrictions.

This time of year (and for the next couple months) you find the whitefish feeding behind the spawning chum salmon. There they will be feeding on both loose eggs and dislodged nymphs. Egg patterns and small mayfly nymphs drifted behind the spawners down into the first pocket below should produce fish.

Following the salmon spawning season the whitefish themselves will be spawning. For much of the winter you'll the whitefish concentrating in a handful of deeper pools (most of the fish will be in a single pool or two in a several mil section of the river). Again the small nymphs will do the trick. During the late winter/early spring one can occassionally find them rising to small dries on that rare nice afternoon. Have more than once been able to catch some on small BWOs while targeting other fish.

Whitefish on surface flies can be a little tricky. With their underslung mouths their snout seem to break the water before the fish gets the fly so it pays to wait a half beat before attempting to hook the fish. Use to run into them all the time on the MF Snoqualmie during the summer and always knew they were whities when I would miss several in a row thinking they were those quick small cutts taking my small dries. I would tell myself to slow down the hook set and sure enough a whitefish.

Tight lines

o mykiss

Active Member
I've never targeted them but have caught them more often than I'd like while targeting trout, always nymphing. I tend to be rather unimaginative when it comes to nymphing for trout, usually with an indicator, a larger tool fly (most often a stonefly of some kind) and a smaller (size 20 - size 14) dropper. I've caught them every once in a while on the tool fly, but in my experience they seem to prefer smaller flies. Also, I don't think they are very selective. I've caught them on small prince nymphs, pheasant tails, lightning bugs, WD40s, etc. when I couldn't hook a trout on anything to save my life. Some times it seems you can't keep 'em off the small lightining bugs or similar flies with some flash (like a flash back pheasant tail). I've never done it, but I understand some folks target them with egg flies.
It has generally been my experience with whitefish that just about any nymph or simple wet fly in size 14-18 will do the trick. In the Methow River we've taken a lot of them on size 14 beadhead nymphs. Years ago whitefish spawned below Flaming Geiser Bridge (the old one), absolutely filling the deep hole during their winter love-in. Veteran whitefishers fished off of the bridge using flyrods, light monofiliment line, a couple of split shot and a small brown "whitefish fly" tipped with a maggot. It was a riot when one of these guys would accidently hook a big winter steelhead. The contest rarely lasted more than a few seconds. They did land some dandy whitefish though.
Les Johnson


Proud to Be Alaskan
I've caught them on droppers while grayling fishing, in fact I caught the same one 3 times one evening on an olive hares ear beadhead... Of course we have different types of whitefish here... I hear they taste good!
i seen a guy hook alot of steelhead whle whitefishing at highway 18 bridge. he hooked 5 in one day on a small #18 fly. i couldnt believe it. and i was tossing eggs all day and nothing right along side that guy.

the whitefish on the green are thick in december and january. basicly fish the deeper holes up from highway 18 and you will be into whitefish. and be lucky and hook into a couple steelhead a season while doing it.