NFR How do you fish for steelhead in a deep pool w/ a back eddy?


Swingin' for them shiny steel
Question for you guys...

One of my favorite trout haunts happens to also hold steelhead. I saw one cruising through a deep pool this past weekend, and had both my #5 and #8 rods with me, but had no idea how to fish for this guy.

The problem is that the pool has a big whirlpool current around it. Nearest to the bank, the water is actually moving "upstream." Further out, it's heading in the opposite direction. Also, because the pool is deep, the speed of the current there is fairly slow.

How the heck to you fish a pool like this? I'm also curious to know if there would be a different method for summer vs. winter steel. With my limited skill, properly skating a fly through there doesn't seem possible, and it doesn't seem a dead drift would draw the aggressive reaction these guys are so well-known for.

What to do! I would love to hear your advice.


Active Member
Back-troll plugs. Seriously, you could probably spend all day hitting fish in a position like this, but you probably won't get a hook-up. It sort of says something that you say it was cruising; it just never seems like steelhead in areas where they cruise around are prone to strike.
I have little to no steel experience but there is a large and well known eddy on the Snoqualmie. During the run you'll see dozens of fishermen lined up several hundred yards below, but almost no one fishing the eddy itself. I've never seen a fly fisherman there.


Indi "Ira" Jones
Very, very, very long leader, very very very heavy fly or flies and an indicator. This has only worked two or three times for me but in both cases it seemed that the steel were only there because kings had pushed them out of the water they really wanted to hold in.

Good luck, it might be worth the challenge of figuring it out, it might not.


Swingin' for them shiny steel
I like where you're goin' there, Evan. ;-)

I was thinking that it might be worth just dropping an egg pattern under an indicator and hoping for the best, but let's say I'm just in a "typical" deep pool with no back eddy? If the water is too slow to skate, what are my options there?

Old Man

Just an Old Man
Why did you mark this thread NFR. You are talking about fly fishing. Even if you aren't catching, you are still fishing.

Jim Darden

Active Member
I think irafly nailed's about the only choice but not too productive, or fun. Get up early or wait until dusk and fish up or down from the pool and you will probably find the fish there and ready to take.
I fish a pool like this and use T-16 tip with only 2 feet of leader-I will fish either the reverse current or the downstream current selectively casting to either-basically nymph the upstream current and mend like hell for the downstream current-tedious but can be productive-takes are difficult to assess on the upstream as i think the deeper current even in the upstream flow is flowing slowly downstream???
PS I sure haven't caught many fish in this type of water.
Perhaps it is the fish in those lies are not in a receptive or positive biting mood, and while that water may hold fish, you are better off finding fish in lies that want to play as opposed to trying to turn a fish on.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
Regrettably I'm thinking bait caster, pencil lead and cured roe. I might try to work a fly in a spot like this, but not for long. Seems like better water options should exist nearby.

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