Favorite winter steelhead patterns.

I've been geeking out on intruders this winter. Been dying my own grizzly, rhea and amherst too which has been fun. They have a great profile, a lot of movement and look perdy too. At least it gives me something to do when I can't go out and fish, and I also don't end up with a crap ton of flies that I'll never have the time to use.

I was previously all about the bunny leeches, but it's been fun playing around with the intruders. At least I know I can whip out a bunch of leeches in a hurry if I need to.


nice ties ralf...you should probably know though that the state of wa. considers beads flies...while most other states see them as gear fishing with a fly rod in an attempt to access fly only water. Funny how I found that out from an old timer from Or. out on the coast this weekend...wanted to see what I was fishing and saw an orange prawn and let out a sigh of relief...Think stew is bad about wanna be's , should have heard this guy....

Even heard from a guide on the OP that swung flies don't catch steelhead out there....so this culture is cultivated and the gear guys continue on with their quest to give all of us swing flyflsherman a bad name....

Funny how once we were famous for so much in fishing a fly for steelhead in this state....So many names and famous flies....now ask a question about how to catch something and some gear guy with a flyrod will tell you what color bead to use....

I'm embarrassed and refuse to fish or acknowledge anyone who uses that method.....
Thought it was a joke at first and now after fishing out on the coast a few times and realized we were the only ones swinging....and having some big fat lard ass guide plop his guys with beads in front of us...and have to listen to the shop guys tell us how bad it's gotten and how Fly guys are considered the worst fisherman on the river because of this kind of bullshit...

So when someone asks about what flies to use on this board, expect the losers to chime in with their bead bullshit...sorry if I passed this site on to you brother....very sorry...


Active Member
So, since I swing 98% of the time but nymph or use a bead the other 2% when conditions call for it, I'm a loser , low life? Oh, and you wouldn't acknowledge my existence as a human being..LOL!

I think I would enjoy fishing with you.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
It is all gear. Presentation is a matter of personal preference and there is no one right or wrong method so long as it is within the rules and regulations. Find your own path to fly fishing enjoyment.


I thought about this after posting....held it off for a bit and then decided to go with it....

It will be my last bitch about the bead thing...I didn't take it very seriously when I started fishing down here more as to be perfectly honest....I didn't see it that much anywhere else and when you heard about it or asked someone about it who was fishing the fly...They told me..."Use your pin dude and stop pretending"

I got NO qualms with fishing an indicator and nymphs for trout...I've moved away from the indicator myself but will carry one in case I get into a back eddy situation....but have moved on away from the slot it puts you in and swing or high stick the fly...IF I'm fishing for trout or coarse fish.....

I also don't have a huge problem with glo bugs if you feel the need....at least the hook is IN the fly and your not flossing with the potential to seriously harm a fish like you are with a bead stuck up the line...that's flossing no matter how cool you think you are and that's total crap....

If you live in the great lakes I understand that completely as I grew up there and know some of the rivers they are fishing and the ways of what they do....Very few rivers are like ours...I own a few centerpins and used to fish um when I was a gear guy...What they do is very different then what we do out here even as their rivers are not like ours...

Pan, I've read enough of your posts to realize you didn't just fall off the wagon or are some young guy who just doesn't know this stuff....I get very aggravated now because I've been fishing down here pretty steady this year and it's blown me away that almost no one swings a fly anymore yet pretend they are fly fisherman just choosing another method.....When you run into like I did an Old timer out of Oregon and he pretty much lights into you saying the same thing I am saying here....Well first off I was so happy to hear it wasn't just me or my bud who was thinking this....but secondly....It bothers the heck out of me no one else seems to want to say it....

When you read the history of our sport and guys like Kaufman, Alex Jackson, Harry Lemire, Mike Maxwell, Lani Waller, Trey Combs, Bob York, Les Johnson ( hope he's recovering well) Walt Johnson and on and on...and think about how they all heard it couldn't be done, found out it could and revolutionized the sport...think of what they fought for i.e. the Stilly being fly fish only in a time where that just wasn't done...
Guys like Hogan, Ward, Kinney who moved this sport to another level with lines and flies etc. etc.
and then see this happening to our sport and just sit back and say nothing to me means you've either given up or just don't care anymore.....

The guy in the shop in P.A. said it's time to make sure we're all signing the upcoming petitions to outlaw boats and possibly methods of fishing on the rivers out there....I will make sure I'm on that list...I don't like getting a black eye for this....I respect 99% of the guides I've met and the gear ones always seem to be the ones who are the easiest to get along with and give you the widest berth.....So why now the so called "fly only" guides using beads because "They catch more fish" are allowed to give us ALL a bad name...and telling people that steelhead won't take a swung fly out there???? How many years does that put us back???

Yup I'm really aggravated about all of this and hope that maybe I won't be the only one who tries and make a stand against it....I've asked a few times for someone to explain to me how fishing plastic is considered a fly? What's worse is I've asked anyone who does fish them to explain to me why they would for wild fish when they have to know the damage they can do? DO they know that or is it they just hear this b.s. from everyone else and assume it's OK and no big deal???

So I'm asking you Pan and all the old timers on here....If I'm missing something, explain it to me...If you've been around the sport as long as it sounds at what point does this whole swinging the fly stop for you and using beads become OK? ( hatchery fish in hatchery rivers I will grant you that..but again, why pretend with a fly rod and not use gear like a few of the so called experts on here revert to so quickly)

That's my bitch and I'll try to refrain from being such an asshole about it as much as I have been lately...but I need some answers from you guys....otherwise then all I can do is wonder what the hell is wrong with everyone?

Thank you for your time...
A guide corks you, that sucks, shouldnt happen. They should be stewards of the sport and teaching others good etiquite.

I dont think any of us got into flyfishing because it was the most succesful method, we enjoy fishing on our own terms and attempting to fool fish in our way. Some guys fish gear/beads with their flyrods. I do. I also swing. I will also fish a spoon and pull plugs. Respect the resource and respect each other. Enjoy your time on the water and live and let live.


Well-Known Member

Not sure how you really feel, but it reads like you're about to hyper-ventilate and pop a gasket.

I'm a bit of a traditionalist, probably because it goes well with my tweed jacket and silk ascot. Fly fishing evolves, and even its definition evolves, and I'm not saying it's for better or worse. Who was it, Hewitt or Halford who scorned anything but the upstream, drag free dry fly? Anything but, and you're a scumy worm dunker! Nymphing is easily as accepted as dry fly fishing for trout. It certainly hasn't done the trout any favors, but that's never been what it's about. It's always about me, me, me. It's just a matter of degree.

Look at the early steelhead fly fishermen and how they deviated from the generally accepted traditions of Atlantic salmon fishing. C. Jim Prey developed a series of flies he called "Optics" that had a brass bead closed on the hook, much like today's bead heads that are used on trout and steelhead flies. The sole purpose of the Optic was to fish deeper than unweighted fliles could be fished on silk fly lines. Another CA innovation was the Brassie, I think it was called. Same idea, wrap the hook with wire and tie a sparse pattern so it would sink more deeply. More subtle were Ralph Wahl's Lord and Lady Hamilton patterns that soaked dope into body wool or silk to create a denser than water fly body, again with sparse tail and wing on heavy hooks to get that fly to sink deeper at Jackman Creek riffle. Later Syd Glasso varied the approach from heavy and fast sinking flies to faster sinking lines. Imagine the effort and mess of mixing red lead with varnish or paint to make a "fly line" that would sink faster than silk, faster even than the early SA Wet Cell lines. His flies respected tradition, but they way they were fished on crude fast sinking lines was anything but traditional.

You wrote that we were once famous for so much about fly fishing in this state. I've got to question that. Fame? Is it really fame when the knowledge is limited to a very small, quite obscure, segment of the angling population, which itself is a segment of the overall population?

So here we are where nymphing for steelhead may be outpacing the traditional wet fly swing. And how does this give us who swing the fly a bad name? As far as I know, my name's still good wherever I go.

Regarding the pegged bead, all the info I've come across says that hooking from the outside in results in fewer instances of damage to fish than fishing with "conventional" globugs. This is especially so with trout fishing in AK, where egg patterns really do match the hatch. I haven't got much information about it pertaining to steelheading. Whether it's flossing or not is irrelevant to this part of the assessment.

Lastly, you're schlepping more romance about some older guys revolutionizing the sport who did nothing revolutionary, and some who were pretty innovative. Well maybe it depends on what you mean by "revolutionized."

Seriously, the downside of the bead and nymph fishermen is that they are more like the gear and bait fishermen on the rivers. They are like them is the way that they leave fewer fish untouched in the river that might have hit a swung fly, but won't get the chance because they've already hit bait, lures, beads, or nymphs. It's the competition factor. More gear that is more effective in the water competing for an ever decreasing supply of fish, especially fish that are ready and willing to rise to a swung fly. We're dinosaurs.



Active Member
Hey Paul, I hear you. How many times have I razzed you about your fave fly? lol You know my story about glow bugs, and why I wont fish them but if a guy has to fish them I would rather see them pegged a couple inches away from the hook and hung under a float. Less chance of gut, tongue or gill hook that way.

Anyways, the fry are starting to come out up here now so back to my fave way of targetting winter run steel. Swinging a fry pattern or grease lining a long leader if the water is above 40 or on a type 3 tip if closer to 38.

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I don't think we're dinosaurs.....Conservation I would hope is everyone on here's concern and that's what I'm asking..

Ralf missed your post writing this one...maybe some experiences with your groups would help on here..your experiences so far outnumber anything I can relate..

I have zero problem with nymph fish or single hand or switch rods...a lime green caddis larva bigger then normal trout fishing can be deadly...as well as other flies...it's fly fishing...plastic beads are not flies...

too much schlepping romance over the old guys? Maybe, but my respect for them only seems to grow the more I learn....

I am also a firm believer in the advancement through technology of the sport...I love the debates about the lines, if skagits are cheating etc. those debates can get as heated as any...but I never have to question the guy on the other side about his ethic's when it comes to the fish...If anything you could say those who argue skagits are too easy are more worried about the fish...worried that making it too easy will harm the fish populations etc. etc. even that I get...

I have sat in on arguments up north where the dry line guys get pissed at anyone using tips and intruders...Their incredulous that anyone would need to resort to such methods when those fish will take a dry or grease line...Shit, those guys I could say are dinosaurs....but again, their respect of the fish is that great... I know a few and they have caught hundreds and some are into the thousands of steelhead....I don't think they are worried about someone catching more then them anymore...

I don't hear anyone in the shops...anyone up on these rivers....anyone I know who tells me "Dude lay off it's all good with the beads" What I do hear is how bad they are for the fish...from all these groups..

So I appreciate the response Sg, and I respect it and think we probably have a lot more in common then not..and I want to hear from guys like you and Pan, Kerry and Philster...would love to hear lelands and kinneys takes...anyone who's been in this sport for more then a couple years and what their opinions are on it?

Honestly I would love for someone to prove me wrong on this...It would make me a helluva lot happier to get back to having fun on here...instead of pissing everyone off...

The guide low holing me even wasn't all that bad, I've been low holed so many times by so many different fly, gear, animals...you name it....that I just chalk it up to part of the experience...though it bothers me more when it's a fly guide for some reason....

If I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill then just show me...and I'll shut the fuck about it from now on...promise..