Steelhead flies: Color choice for water conditions???

unrooted

Active Member
#1
I've been seeing contradicting info about color choices for clear water. I have been using really bright flies in clear water and high-contrast flies in dirty water (black and white). Is this right? I've seen suggestions for natural colors in clean water and bright colors in dark waters. What do you guys use??? Do steelhead actually go for flies nowadays, or just eggs???
 

Nate Dutton

I'm a teacher, I fish to eat!
#2
Have confidence in whatever fly you use is my best advice which i received from Dec Hogan. Make sure you brush up on your presentation before you worry too much about changing flies. Read A Passion for Steelhead by Dec Hogan.....an AMAZING read, will change you as a fisherman, it did me! :) As a guide line, if its clear low water I got to smaller darker or drab colors, muddy waters i got to bigger flies color will vary.
 
#3
a black fly is a good bet...ANYTIME! As is purple in my opinion. The vast majority of my flies I fish use black or purple as a base color, and have accent colors like chartreuse, blue or fuschia. Orange is another great color, and I use it on brighter days. White and pink are also excellent colors, and I like to combine the two, and again use them mostly on bright days.
 

unrooted

Active Member
#4
a black fly is a good bet...ANYTIME! As is purple in my opinion. The vast majority of my flies I fish use black or purple as a base color, and have accent colors like chartreuse, blue or fuschia. Orange is another great color, and I use it on brighter days. White and pink are also excellent colors, and I like to combine the two, and again use them mostly on bright days.
So black, blue, purple, orange, fuchsia, chartreuse, white and pink. SO avoid red???
 
#5
i wouldnt avoid it at all. but after years of fishing and catching most of my fish on the colors I mentioned, I pretty much gave up tying in other colors.

I am tying more natural colored stuff lately using more natural, instead of synthetic materials though. Ginger is a kick ass color. And Im doing a ginger/orange combo that I will fish with confidence for sure.
 

Salmo_g

Well-Known Member
#7
Steelhead will eat cigarette butts, strike corkies and yarn of any color, so what's a fly fisherman supposed to think?

I began by tying steelhead flies that were known to produce steelhead: bucktail royal coachman, polar shrimp, Brad's Brat, skunk, and woolly worm. Then I heard of using a black marabou streamer, and it worked well. Then I met Ed Nevens on the NF Stilly; he was using a purple marabou, and that worked too. Since then I've tied whatever I want, and they all work. For years I had one basic winter fly that is red and orange. I never used pink flies until about 5 years ago, when a friend was using a pink GP style pattern. I started tying my basic red/orange in pink for variation, and it works fine.

Like Stilly Stalker said, black is always a good choice. There's a saying, "any fly is good, as long as it's black." For some reason I like an orange and chartruse combo when the river is turning from brown toward "steelhead green," although other colors have worked for me then as well. I generally use larger flies when the water is discolored and smaller ones when it gets clear. I don't often use dark flies for winter fishing, although they are popular and work just fine. I use black almost exclusively in the summer, with an occasional neutral or brownish fly for something different.

If it ever seems confusing or overly complicated, just remember that they'll eat cigarette butts, and that should simplify it a lot for you.

Sg
 

JS

Active Member
#9
I fish black and purple 75% of the time. For me it depends on the watershed, I have colors that I feel more confident in on specific rivers. Nate hit it on the head though, it doesnt make two sh@ts worth of difference usually.
 

unrooted

Active Member
#11
This one says to stick to three flies, black purple and orange Egg Sucking leaches. I guess I'll go with that advice, since it keeps things simple.
 

Grayone

Fishin' to the end, Oc.P
#12
This one says to stick to three flies, black purple and orange Egg Sucking leaches. I guess I'll go with that advice, since it keeps things simple.
corrected and deleted.......I was just a dumbass..... (just me being a little pissy, I need to fish, just ignore)
 

Red Shed

"junkyard spey"
#13
I don't think unrooted is a troll. There is a great deal of info out there. Ask 6 guys on any of the forums for advice and you will get 16 answers, anyone of which could be right or wrong depending on who was asking and who was answering.

My advice is to keep it simple. As has been pointed out many times steelies will sometimes hit anything. Winter fishing can be on the slow side when it comes to tugs on one's string and it can be hard to keep one's confidence so it is natural to start second guessing one's methods.

I think size is more important then color but all that really matters is what the OP believes. Find a fly that one likes and fish it and nothing else in a couple of sizes. Concentrate on the casting/fishing and not the fly. I believe that is also what Riveraddict is saying as well.
 

Grayone

Fishin' to the end, Oc.P
#14
I don't think unrooted is a troll. There is a great deal of info out there. Ask 6 guys on any of the forums for advice and you will get 16 answers, anyone of which could be right or wrong depending on who was asking and who was answering.

My advice is to keep it simple. As has been pointed out many times steelies will sometimes hit anything. Winter fishing can be on the slow side when it comes to tugs on one's string and it can be hard to keep one's confidence so it is natural to start second guessing one's methods.

I think size is more important then color but all that really matters is what the OP believes. Find a fly that one likes and fish it and nothing else in a couple of sizes. Concentrate on the casting/fishing and not the fly. I believe that is also what Riveraddict is saying as well.
Poppy.............It was just my dumbass not reading things correctly............oops
 
#15
This one says to stick to three flies, black purple and orange Egg Sucking leaches. I guess I'll go with that advice, since it keeps things simple.
Its hard to go wrong with those, and you can easily tie them big, small, weighted or not to cover all the fishing conditions you'll encounter