friggin steelhead

logged another long, cold (well. not that cold) day yesterday on an S river. not that it matters which S river as all of them serve me up nothing but whities, rocks and logs. i seriously, no joke hooked and landed 2 (two) actual rocks. miraculous. both took my egg dropper dead drift and were bonked and tossed in my pocket, adi intact.

i know this is my first winter so i really cannot bitch about being 0-fer but seriously this is a frustrating game. im not a pro by any means but i can read water. i can present a fly. it just feels like there is NOTHING there.

i have zero confidence. i stopped expecting a hook up awhile ago. when my fly hits the "sweet spot" (do i even know what that is???) my butthole doesnt even pucker. its sad. bawling:

2 things i know would help with my current fishless status:
1) drift boat
2) spey

my single hander (maybe its mental) but i feel like im disadvantaged big time on the big water of the sky or skagit, therefore ive been sticking to smaller water.

oh well. im laid off and my unemployment benefits are finally straightened out after 3 weeks of hassle so i should have some income next week. im packin my shit as we speak. im gonna crash in west seattle for the rest of the week and terrorize the beaches for rezzies to get my swagger back. next week, i think im gonna go crash on my aunt's couch in PA and try again over on the bogey and the duc for the week.

at least exploring a new river brings its own rewards. :beathead:

ps, tilt + pickled herring = breakfast of champions.


Ed Call

Well-Known Member
Cool read Sean. Not sure about that breakfast combo, barf. Stand by for people to bash on you for wasting their time reading your post. I appreicate reading posts of futile trips so that I know I'm not alone. Best of luck with the job market first, the afore mentioned fishing plan second and that elusive winter steelhead third.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
It's all in your head. You don't need a spey rod. You can fish the "S" rivers with a single hander very good. I did but I'm not there anymore. I inquired about a spey rod to fish Montana waters but all I got was funny looks. So I just stick with my 9' rods. You'd be suprised to what you can do if you set your mind to the chore.

It's all in your head. You don't need a spey rod. You can fish the "S" rivers with a single hander very good. I did but I'm not there anymore. I inquired about a spey rod to fish Montana waters but all I got was funny looks. So I just stick with my 9' rods. You'd be suprised to what you can do if you set your mind to the chore.

people used to use bones for hooks. mepps used to be the only spinner. silk lines where the norm. sage used to be a bush, not a rod company. john f kennedy used to live. and rat used to be a rad band.

but now there are speys. i dont want this to turn into a single vs spey thread as we have had a million of those. you just cant deny the ability to cover more water with a spey, quickly and more profieciently, thats all.

why else would 9 in 10 guys on the sky be using them? :confused:

but i know it can be done, im trying, and i will eventually be successful. its juts tough to stay motivated right now. just venting.

sorry to waste everyones time on this usless read. go ahead and get back to the gallery again. take that 27th look at crump and anil's work. got damn! :eek:

Charles Sullivan

ignoring Rob Allen and Generic
I went years before my first winter fish. Steelheading is difficult because there is very little positive reinforcement. Steal positive reinforcement from others as much as possible. Shortly after seeing people catch winter steelhead I started catching them. Buying beer also helps with the theft.

Other than that I would:

1.) Learn what steelhead water looks like (see positive reinforcement above)
2.) Stop nymphing. If your gonna fish the big rivers, cover the water with a swing. Plus I detest nymphing. If you like it, ask a nympher what nymphing water looks like.
3.) Fish with those who are better than you. They need not be guides. Buy beer.
4.) Make sure you have at least Type 3,6 and 8 tips.
5.)Ask people what tip they were fishing when you steal their positive feedback. Then look at the water that feedback came from.
6.) Stop dating. Women don't help.
7.) Tie up a mess of ESL's in size 2 and never worry about your fly. The same could be said for orage colored marabous, Gp's, sculpins etc. ESL's are just cheap and easy ties.
8.) Contact other steelheaders, meet them, and buy beer.

Sign Tek,
i nymph the small unswingable water that can be found around here.

i got the whole beer thing down but im yet to make any fishing friends who i can learn anything from. i fish with evan, who is just as terrible at hookin steel as i am (except for his first trip), and tylor who i taught to fish so hes no help. other than that i am by myself.

thanks for the advice and encouragement to both you and mumbles.

ill keep at it. but uhh whos down to hit a beach this week? i need a tight line stat.
You are probably not doing anything wrong, and you don't need a spey rod - though it's more fun getting skunked that way.. If you are fishing a single hand rod, concentrate on single hand water (near shore, structure, high bank - etc.). You are right about one thing - there are just not many fish out there..

Join the WSC, join the CCA, keep fishing - You'll get one, someday..


MA-9 Beach Stalker
No worries Sean, it's still a little early in the year to be expecting glory. Keep at it Feb-April and you will connect once you learn a river and several runs thoroughly. Keep exploring and set up a game plan for the river(s) you fish. Steelhead don't hold still so it's about timing. Steelheading is more about finding the fish (hunting) than just showing up and catching one. To find them you need to build your knowledge of local rivers by hiking and floating and fishing with others who understand the rivers and areas favored by steelhead. Forget about flies, lines, and rods..... find the fish and you will catch them.


"Ride'n Dirty."
Sean, I'm no master but, in order to catch fish, you have to be where the fish are. And you aren't where they are.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
They are there. They just ain't taking what you are offering. There are fish in the rivers you just have to be in the right place and put the fly on their noses.

I have fished the Tolt one year and went thru a hole, a egg tosser was behind me and he hooked up. So they are there.



Keepin' It Reel
Sean, I love the Tilt in the picuture! lol There's nothing better than waking up early and getting a big cafinee buzz mixed with booze! Hell, next time I go winter steelheading I'm going to bring a bottle of Jager and a case of Red Bull to take Jagar Bombs. Haha, all joking aside, keep at it and I'm sure you will be rewarded!


Well-Known Member

It's hard to develop steelhead swagger when there's no steelhead in the water to snap at your fly and tell you're doing it right. That is the toughest part.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, you don't need a Spey rod to catch a steelhead. I've got, uh, I don't know, but more than a half dozen Spey rods, and all of them combined haven't landed a fraction as many steelhead as my old 8 1/2' fiberglass 8 wt rod, which caught a shitload - I have no idea how many as I fished it for 10 years when steelheading was darn good. I wish I could catch as many as that rod caught in one year on one of my Spey rods over 2 or 3 or even 4 years now.

A drift boat, or watermaster, or pontoon, or most anything that floats can help. A boat helps if it allows you to cover more steelhead holding water per day. With so few steelhead around most of the time, it's all about covering water. I figure 5 or 6 large Sauk Bar sized runs per day on the Skagit as a minimum bench mark for success. If you aren't hauling ass, you're not steelheading effectively in my estimation.

Print out Charles' post and put it in your pocket and read when you go fishing.

BTW, I don't know much about nymphing, but from what I've seen of it, nymphing covers water way, way slower than swinging. I would only nymph in water than can't be swung and just screams "steelhead live here!"

Never give up!



still an authority on nothing
I agree with all of Mr Sullivan's wise advice except the part about women. Some strange monkey will make you happy and possibly attract fish to you. If not, it'll keep your mind off the SKONK. Either way, you win.

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