Steelhead nymphs?

I dont really have a clue about steelheading and was wondering if people fish stonefly nymphs for winter runs as well as summer runs? Or which run they are most productive for. Thank you and, yes i do realized most wouldnt consider "nymphing" a form of steelheading, but any help will help. :confused: :beer2:

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Not sure about others, but I only use nymphs during the summer. Even then, I don't use them alot. I prefer to swing bigger/flashier flies during the winter. So don't bring them out.
Steelhead aren't nearly as smart as we give them credit for. (my best fly this past fall by far was a chrome size 12 chironimid I usually use in the lakes for trout) Nymphs will work at any time, but are generally more effective in summer. Basically anything that looks edible will work year round. The summer runs will actually feed though, so things that look like real food will work better. In the winter you often need to have something that you can put right in front of them and that will trigger a strike (i.e. big and bright and with lots of moving parts right on the bottom). The biggest reason a nymph works in the winter is not because of its natural appearance, but because the presentation can put it right in front of the fish if you have some clue where he is. Try tying a nymph with green rubber legs, hot pink chenille, flame orange hackle, and a chartreuse tail. It will do just as well as a finely crafted stonefly imitation... maybe better.... Actually, I think I am going to go tie that fly right now and use it on my next trip...

The single biggest factor in steelhead flyfishing is presentation and putting the fly in its zone. Summer fish will move more and allow you more error.
I agree with Sageman. I personally have not only caught steelhead in winter on nymphs, but my largest ever (about 15lbs and 37 1/2") was on a size 10 TMC 2457 hook beadhead. I think presentation is most important in fishing though each fish is different and you cannot predict behavior with certainty, just generalities.

I have a good friend that nymphs almost all of the time for steelhead, regardless of season. He has caught four winters this year nymphing while I have only caught one swinging. However if you know where they are at and the presentations is right, then you can get them. Also I have noticed that during the summer, when the sun is beating down it can be very productive to fish faster water. They like that water because it is not only cooler, but it also is highly oxygenated. I enjoy swinging flies more though!


I caught my first two steelhead on size 6 chironomids during the winter on the McKenzie River. I figure the fish must have taken them for stonefly nymphs.


New Member
Wow, it's been kind of a dream of mine to catch a steel head on a chironomid. Were you using an indicator, fishing up stream, or quartering to the flow? :hmmm:
I know of a special place where I can do this and it will work. Almost a still water if you get me. :)
If you don't mind please enlighten me on the method used. :ray1:

Just fish it like a standard nymph, dead-drifted under an indicator. If you have some confidence in it, you will catch fish doing it. Low, clear water is best. The hard part is convincing yourself that it will actually work well enough to make it worth your while to put the time in. I usually put mine under a bead-head bloody mary or other nymph to help it get down. I've caught plenty on the bloody mary as well.


Active Member
None of the above techniques work, "Not AT ALL" --trust me ,I have tried them all this past 6 weeks and Nada! Nothing! Zilch! Nope--need new fresh ideas, these old ones don't seem to work.Next???

I admit I have not tried the "Shrimpazoid" yet, I dread the thought of tying it, hell ,I can't even read the directions in one sitting.But I am almost there.It is my last resort.My last hope.

:ray1: All the above in jest you understand, Davy


AKA Joe Willauer
Try nymphing egg style patterns for winter run fish, they also work well for summer fish, but the summer fish would grab a stone nymph as well.



I tightline my nymphs through current seams. Usually I will quarter upstream with an intermediate sink-tip and a 4-6 foot leader. The current with these two steelies was quite swift, so feeling the bump on the swing was almost impossible. It was on the slow strips at the end of the drift that I felt it. I may have been underneath the fish on the drift, but pulling it throught the zone on the slow retrieve, trying my best to imitate the fly rising to the surface (yeah, in swift water). I also hooked another one that way, but lost it within 2-3 seconds. I can still see the flash of silver in my nightmares. :beathead:

I thought for sure the size 6 would be way too large, but who knew? It was the first fly I ever tied and I wanted to give it a shot.

Jeremy Husby

Is there a Vahalla for fishermen?
I hooked into some with size 10 & 12 fishing through a run that I knew had fish, I the key was that it was a good rock garden with a high caddis count on the rocks and the water was gin. I used a couple different colors but the black floss with a over body of Larva Lace w/ UV krystal flash threaded through the "Lace" did the trick. The water temp was quite cold and it was January & Febuary of last year.

Latest posts