steelhead fishing without an indicator


Active Member
In reading the recent post regarding the types of strike indicators people use when fishing for steelhead, it did not suprise me to see that there are a few who appear to have a degree of "disdain" for such and approach when pursuing these fish. Not that I am against "tradition" or swinging flies, but I find that the use of indicators can be extremely helpful and important, particularly to those who may be new to fly fishing. With that, let me also say that I do not use indicators, neither when I am fishing for trout or steelhead. I believe that this type of fishing (nymphing blind if you will) is one of the most challenging and rewarding ways to fish. I have tried to fish the "traditional" way for steelhead by swinging flies, but to be honest I have not found that method to be as enjoyable or as productive.

As such, I am curious to know if those here who have a dislike or disdain for the use of an indicator when steelhead fishing also hold that same disdain for those of us who fish exactly the same way as those who use indicators with the only difference being that we do not use one.
The only things I "disdain" are those methods which are not sporting in my view, that is, they don't really seek to elude the fish, but rather to take unfair advantage of him, employing gear or tactics which do not allow the fish a reasonable or "sporting " chance. Such gear or tactics include but are not limitied to:
The use of treble hooks with weights that rip the hooks into the side or the mouth of the fish when the fish is trying to flee or simply hold station.
The use of a single hook when employed in the same manner.
The use of a float in order to cause the hook to drift directly under the fish or alongside and then when the hook rests against the fish, either the side or the mouth, to rip the hook into the fish by that means.
In none of the above did the fish intend to bite the hook as if it were food or an irritant of some sort. On the contrary, the fish was alarmed by the prescence of the hook and was trying to flee but was unable to do so.
Now if you fish as such, you know what you are doing and I personally would not be very proud of it or defend it in these pages. If you wish to rationalize your efforts, be my guest. But don't expect any applause from this corner. If that makes me an elitist, then I will wear the title with pride.

Bob, the Now Pissed Again.x(
BTW, I see nothing wrong in float fishing and I often do, particularly with chironomids or scuds or with a nymph in a river.
I do use a float for steelhead as well. The swing is classic but is limited. I, too, fish along the bottom with a sinking line and fly that is not really a swing but more of a dead drift. I have nothing against a twiched retrieve. And I think we have all fished long enough to know the difference between right and wrong. Just my view.:professor


Active Member
Indi fishing?

About 15 years ago I was into trout fishing 3 to 5 days a week. Mostly fished two nymphs, shot, and small corkie. Caught fish after fish after fish. In fact caught too many fish and the luster wore off. Since taking up steelheading, about a dozen years ago, I rarely get out trout fishing more than one or two days a year. I have to drive 8.5 hours to get to the nearest decent steelhead river while there is a great trout stream 35 minutes away.

Now to get to the point. Nymphing is a technical game of inches, and it is also the most effective form of day in and day out flyfishing. Once the limited required skills are attained it becomes a simple method to plainly wage war on the fish. What I once thought I was looking for on the river is now viewed with shame and I no longer enjoy trout fishing. The rivers, and targeted species, revealed their secrets and challenge was gone.

I only swing for steelhead and have no desire to nymph them up. It is the unpredictable nature of steelhead on the swing that makes my day. Swinging flies is usually not as technical as dead drifting but it does have a wonderful rythm. As I have matured as an angler I have come to realize that it's not entirely about catching fish that draws me to the river.

But is nymphing sporting? That is a personal view. 15 years ago I vehemently believed it was. Today I feel that it is a shortcut to the learning curve. Since my views of the method do not, and should not, have any bearing on the regulations, and it is legal on nearly every steelhead stream in the NW, fish as you like and form your own opinions. That is the most enjoyable part of the whole experience. If you call it flyfishing, then it is flyfishing. The last time I checked the "Flyfishing Constitution" has been misplaced so everybody is safe to practice whatever legal methods they prefer. :p

Merry Christmas,

Welcome to the board, William. Or at least, welcome to writing your views up. And some good points. I'm a bit envious of your trout experience; I wish I could attest to the same "shame." My trouting has gone steadily downhill over the years. For me, it's the same long, boring drive but in the opposite direction and I've sort of sworn it off. Just t'ain't worth it. So I'm going to fish the O.P. for 365 from now on. You are definitely right about personal preference as long as it is legal. Nymphing, to my knowledge, is not legal everywhere in the NW unless you consider the North Fork of the Umpqua as not being in the NW. It's not legal there I have heard.
Bob, the Getting Tired.:eek:


Active Member
i agree with all of the above. on the grand ronde with a temp of 34 or less swinging is out. the only way to get a bite is with an indicator. i hate it but that is life because i love to to swing. mww.


Creating memories one cast at a time
So how do folks feel about, say, on the Yak, fishing a small copper john as a trailer from a bushy stimulator?


Banned or Parked
>So how do folks feel about, say, on the Yak, fishing a
>small copper john as a trailer from a bushy

Poachers!!! All of 'em!! Just a bunch of damned, dirty poachers!!!!



Be the guide...
This topic and others closely related is really starting to smell like an old dead horse that has been kicked a few too many times.

Check the regs, check your concience, and go fishing. There will always be someone out there who will find a reason to look down on you. Life is too short to worry about what they think. The more you play that game, the more chance you'll wind up old and bitter and just not enjoying the sport like you once did when you were just starting out and just having fun. Is there a serious side to it - absolutely! But save that energy for things that matter - like conservation and such... For those of you with years of experience and skills that you have been hording up - try sharing and teaching your craft to kids and others new to the sport. Watching the joy they get out of it may just re-spark the love and passion you once had...

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and celebrate the day with friends and\or loved ones.


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