Steelhead on Dry Flies???

Hello, I was told that when using BIG dry flies for steelhead that you should use a different "Hooking" technique? What is that hooking technique. Do they take dries different from regular dry takes as say from Big Trout? Thanks!

PS, having a Steelie take your dry fly has to be the ULTIMATE RUSH!!! I'm still on that search and obsession! :EEK


Be the guide...
Maybe this is what they are talking about...

When the fish hits, be sure to wait until the he has turned on the fly and is heading back down. This will increase your chances of a solid hookset in the corner of the jaw. If you set the hood as soon as you see the fish strike, you may end up pulling the fly right out of his mouth. For trout, this may be the same or different depending on several factors. The trout are probably feeding, and if they have learned about the sting of the hook, they may be smart enough quickly spit the fly out before commiting to the take. Here, you would have to have a fast hook set. But other times, the more agressive, hungry, and less educated trout will be more likely to completely turn on the fly and start chewing on it as it swims back down. In this situation, waiting for the fish to turn will increase your odds of a solid hook set.


Taking that same question and reworking it a bit...

There are two common ways to fish dries for steelhead, the dead drift and the riffling hitch. The dead drift fishes in the old traditional style and often requires you to set the hook (be patient, though). The riffling hitch fishes much differently as it imparts much action to the fly as it "skates" through the surface film or directly on top. Depending on which side you "hitch", the steelhead may set the hook for you. A small but rewarding book on the subject, "Tying and Fishing the Riffling Hitch" by Art Lee would be invaluable in learning the technique of tying the half hitch(s) and how to fish.

If this is what you were referring to, post and I will explain what little I have picked up on the riffling hitch.


Kyle Smith

DBA BozoKlown406
Umm....What patterns and what sizes? Should I use a #4 neon-orange stimulator? Or a spun deer hair mouse? Sounds pretty exciting!
If the water you are fishing is less than 50 degrees, forget it and just swing and nymph. When the water is this cold or colder the Steelhead will tend to not move at all to dries to converve energy and just hug 12" or less from the bottom during the cold months.
Now if the water was say 60 degrees, watch out and look for slow takes or cannon ball drop like takes on the water!


Ryan Haseman
Thats what I was just going to say. It's pretty pointless to swing a dry on high, cold fall waters. I thought that technique was really for low, clear water in the summer
When swinging or skating down and across, I hold a coil of line in my non-casting hand, about 12"-15" length, and drop it as soon as I feel the heavy pressure of a steelhead take; when the line comes tight again, hit it hard with the rod tip toward the near shore. This will greatly reduce the number of lost fish.

When fishing dry flies you are looking for the exceptional fish, a player, that will aggressively go after a meal, even though you may be casting over many other fish that are not as aggressive. I've had steelhead chase down a dry, and repeatedly grab for it, and while doing so push the fly away from itself by the bow wake it creates. Hold steady, wait for the actual take. Not an activity for anyone feint at heart, as the adrenaline will start to get you shaking.

Lower temps certainly do decrease the likelihood of a fish moving to the surface to take a dry. But even on cold water days, if I see a fish rising I will change up to a dry to throw to it. I know of a few masters that pursue Steelhead, even during winter, with nothing but a dry fly, and seem to regularly create irresistible enticement that shakes off the cold water lethargy in at least some fish. Truly masters of the art and at the pinnacle of their game.

Zen Piscator

Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.
coolkyle said:
Umm....What patterns and what sizes? Should I use a #4 neon-orange stimulator? Or a spun deer hair mouse? Sounds pretty exciting!

Well, earlier today i was fishing with my buddy and an interesting thing happend. He saw a trout rise while we were steelhead fishing, so put on a sz 16 ehc. First cast through the pool, the water opens up and a steelhead slashed at the caddis. He missed the hook set but it was still pretty amazing.

Sounds like fun Zen. I had a friend catch a steelie on his two weight last year while trout fishing.

I wonder if I could fish a #16 EHC with my spey rod???????


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