I have heard this little rumor that you might be able to catch a few steelies on a dry fly on the sky, and sno. I also read that using the all foam patterns work well in the faster waters because they last longer and are almost impossible to sink? Any news...
I once heard of a little river up in the Queen Charlotte Islands where a young guide was catching winter steelhead on dry flies with some consistency. But generally speaking, it takes Tri-State Powerball-winning luck to accomplish. Remember, steelhead are cold-blooded, and in winter-cold waters, everything slows down. It's hard work to get them to notice something straight ahead, much less above them.
Not going to say it CANT be done, because it has - but as previously stated your making an already difficult task (moving a steelhead in winter cold water) to a level of lottery-odds (ROLLING a steelhead in winter cold water). If you found water in the low 40's that havent been getting sand shrimped, egg gobbed, and drift boated to the point of heart attack you might just pull it off.
I've read of steelhead being risen in high 30's / low 40's water that were UNPRESSURED Nates. You could probably find the conditions easier than you will find the unpressured nates. You mentioned the Sky and Snoq.....I highly doubt you'll find a comfortable, un-sand shrimped to death steely in either of those rivers. But who knows.......go for it! (let us know if she works out).
I have taken one winter native on a dry, in my second year of flyfishing and have never been able to duplicate. It was on a fly that had no chances of catching a fish and I was casting up stream and every time it sunk the big boy would come up to it until WHAAAAM he hit and I s**t my pants. The odds are not good but when you beat the odds it's great.
I think it might be the more you learn about steelhead and people tell you that you can't the more we tend to believe them so here is my 2¢ you can just keep your fly in the water.
Years ago in the late spring fishery on the Sky when we would get those warm enough days using a Wedge pattern or something similar would get a fish up,not often as stated previously.I can remember getting a nice native in the Taylor Flats tailout on such a pattern skated across there.As I recall the day was overcast but low 50's in temp and I do not recall taking a water temp but we had seen fish roll.It was one of those days you never forget-Bob and I landed 7 fish that day .
Fish on some smaller unnamed rivers near here often will take a riffled spey that is waking in the shallow tailouts when you find them in there at daylight.
I talked with a guide (didn't get get his name because I didn't care) briefly last year on an eastside river. He claimed he caught winter Steelies on the dry quite often. Although I didn’t ask him about specific patterns (because it takes the fun out of discovering things for yourself, God forbid) he suggested a Tom Thumb, or primarily deer-hair type fly in size 8-6 is what he used.
...Although there is no reason to believe me because I am a lying, right-wing, rookie (did I miss any deeply hurtful insults from my last post?) who won't share any information worth a damn - GPS coordinates, Mapquest printouts, rod length & weight, line brand and type, leader & tippet brand, length and connecting knots, fly pattern recipe (with photo of pattern), photographic evidence of all fish caught and released, and the like - all notarized... according to most of the same-old-same-olds on this forum.
I...Although there is no reason to believe me because I am a lying, right-wing, rookie (did I miss any deeply hurtful insults from my last post?) who won't share any information worth a damn - GPS coordinates, Mapquest printouts, rod length & weight, line brand and type, leader & tippet brand, length and connecting knots, fly pattern recipe (with photo of pattern), photographic evidence of all fish caught and released, and the like - all notarized... according to most of the same-old-same-olds on this forum.
It's possible but I would argue not worth the effort. One time on a coastal oregon river in april (water temp about 42-43) I boiled a couple of fish that were clearly rolling in shallow water on a hitched muddler but didn't hook one. I have caught fish on dries in BC in 38 degree water, but those were summer run fish. In fact, there was one run where my buddy fished down with a tip and I fished behind him dry and boiled four fish. So, sometimes, a fish wants a dry and not a wet fly. But who knows when those conditions are right.
I've gone for el blancos in WA twice. For the whities I use a MT style nymph rig with a 14 BH prince. Both times I had my indicator completely smashed by hot steelhead. Know a guy who nearly landed a hot buck on an orange bubble indicator. Fish grabbed it and would not let go!
But these are summer steelhead in winter. Our water is just as cold if not colder than wet side however. If you find a hot fish you can get it on anything he can see is the moral I believe.
Try lots of deer hair on whatever you use, and make sure it throws a wake when it's skating. There are only very specific types of water where it will work, but I have seen steelhead come up from pools that were 20+ ft deep.
That's a feat I've always wanted to do. I know Harry Lemire has done it (do believe it's mentioned in Trey Comb's book). I haven't dwelled on trying to do it though. Have tried it a couple times if it was dead. LOL. But hard enough, as mentioned, to get them in the winter flows. Let alone make them rise to a dry. But I'm fishing the OP, so heavy flows and stained water makes it difficult. But, if we have a dry winter, and rivers clear up, may be a good thing to try. I'm more focused on trying McMillans "dryline" for winter steelheading this year. Have a flywallet loaded for it in fact. Figured if I'm going to do it, will try McMillan's flies at first, then make my own patterns afterwards.
But heard it can be done. I've only hit steelhead on the dry during the summer though. Would LOVE to get one of those big shouldered Solduc fish on a dry. Don't know if I'd survive it (think my heart would stop). LOL