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Just got back from the Cowlitz River today, fished my arm out! I fished a "secret" hole to no avail! Used 20 dif. flies and not one take. There were only 3 other guys around me, one kid around 14 hooked a 15 pounder so did his friend, but they were using balsa wood bobbers with corkies. Also this other guy who hooked 3 in an hour, and landed 1. His second one was a mammoth! The steelie took him for a train ride, at least 100 down the river! He was drifting lead with a #14 wet tan wet fly?
I almost gave up flyfishing and was going to go to my car and get my spinning rod and try the other guys technique with the fly and lead but it would of been a 25 min walk back to the car, so I stayed.
What do you guys do after zero hook ups, do you "sell out" and get out your lead/spinning rig?
What flies are the best for the Cowlitz? I tried everything I had; general partitioner, green butt skunk, skunk, etc, etc.
I have yet to catch a Steelhead on a fly, let alone a Steelhead period!
My technique is pretty solid; roll casting, zero-drag drifts, 75ft casts,etc.
The obsession continues! All advice is welcomed, I need it!
:DUNNO :THUMBSUP
 

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Mother Nature's Son
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Fly fishing for Steelhead is just a tough gig. As you may have heard them called, "The fish of a thousand casts". When I first started fishing for Steelhead I went out every weekend for nearly 1 year before I hooked into my first fish! My casting sure improved but I have to say I was starting to get a little bored.

I was convinced I was fishing for a Unicorn! (Did the damn things really exist?) I'm sure that is probably longer than most but even still, they are just tough. I spoke to a guide friend of mine and he mentioned that last year he took a number of people out and only managed one client with a fish.

As for the Cowlitz, I fish it a fair amount with flies. I was there last week and saw a guy with a spey rod accross from me nail one but I didn't have any luck. There were plenty of fish around, but the flow was about 2300, (it was 10,000 three weeks ago) and so the fish are not that aggressive.

For technique, you really have to get your fly down to the level of the fish. My experience is that they are not too prone to moving very far for a fly. One option would be to fish egg paterns like nymphs with an indicator and some weight. This way you'll know that you're presenting your fly at the right depth.

If you're fishing tailouts, fish with a sink tip line (type 3 or type 4). If you just have a floating line, use a little weight to get your fly down. You should feel your fly ticking the bottom from time to time. Try using a fly called a Burlap, it is a rather sparse brown fly and won't the fish spook so much when it is low and clear like it is now.

The other advice I would offer is that during this time of year when the water is slow, look for fish. You may see them rolling and/or you may be able to climb up and have a peak and spot them. Knowing that their are fish in the section you're fishing is of some comfort. At least you know you're presenting your fly to fish.

I once saw a book titled "Steelhead fishing- a meditation". I think that somewhat sums it up.

Hope that helps,
Skinny
 

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I'm by no means an expert with steelhead on a fly. I moved here from wisconsin back in December. I've been flyfishing for about 4 years now all of it with small rods for trout in spring creeks. I finally picked up a rod that I feel comfortable using on steelhead about 2 weeks ago. (13ft 8/9 Redington Spey) I have been fishing with that rod seriously for about a week now. I still haven't gotten a the spey cast down yet so I have been doing rollcasts and overhead casts with it.

In that last week I have hooked and landed two steelhead. One one the Kalama last friday and one on the Cowlitz just yesterday.

It seems I have been doing better than most beginners. Rather than pass it up as dumb luck I have been trying to determine what I do different.

1. Because I'm using a Spey rod and because of my limitations with that rod I'm using relatively short out and down fly swings. This mean I'm always in close contact with my fly.

2. I'm using a non traditional fly. It's a cone head leech I saw tied at a sportmans show a couple of weeks ago. My wife is the one who ties them so I'm not sure how descride the fly recipe. It uses a florecent orange or chartruese cone head on a #8 3x streamer hook. With black or purple zonker stip wropped around the shank. If anyone wants a picture send me an email. (dsiplacedcheesehead"at"hotmail.com) I met three really nice spey casters yesterday at blue creek who chuckled at my fly. I think if I hadn't actually caught a fish on it they would of told me that my fly wouldn't work.

I think the key to this fly is its small size and weight getting it deeper than tradtional wet flys.

--Mike
 

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I am also new to steelheading with a fly and have spent a total of 5 days on the water and have had 8 hook ups and 2 landed. The first steelhead I landed was a 23" inch buck and my second one was a 29" inch buck. I would like to fish the cowlitz during the summer but have not yet.
My family and I are going camping for a week up on the O.P. I will be trying to entice a few steelies with my flies. I fished the North Fork Stilly for half a day on 8-10-02, saturday. I hooked two and lost both of them unfortunately.
Keep trying it will come, and the best advice I can give you is fish rivers with the highest amount of fish in them during the time of year where there is the most fish in that river, for example you can spend 8 days on the green with less luck than 1 or 2 days on the North Fork Stilly.

GOOD LUCK

fly15 :THUMBSUP
 

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The first one I lost I had on long enough to take off across the river and give me a few head shakes, it looked to be about 6-7 pounds and the second one took some line came back at me and gave me some head shakes then came free, that steelhead looked like a 8-9 pound steelie. The first and smallest steelie came with a floating fly line with an indicator a 12ft. leader and a heavily weighted fly. The second came on a 10ft. sink tip with a 6ft. leader and black soft hackle fly while I was using the standard wet fly swing. Can't wait to get back out there and chase some more steelhead. Anybody ever do any good down by Oso and Deer creek we went down that way for an hour or so and didn't even see any steelhead. There were three others guys down that way and none of them had done any good. any Body been fishing the O.P. lately for steelhead?
 

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Just an Old Man
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I might be old---but I'm good.

displacedcheesehead. Why don't you take this fly and post it the thread called "Fly Patterns" so we can all take advantage of this fly. I tried to tie some of these up but they don't quite look like yours. Their close but not quite. I used crosscut rabbit because it's eaisier to wrap on a hook.

Jim S. :THUMBSUP
 

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I've been thinking about your post in the context of my own experiences this summer. I have been working with several people that are starting in fly fishing. I'm somewhat surprised by how much there is to teach - things that I take for granted, but are all parts of the recipe for success. Perhaps it's time for a mentor. A guide could play this role for you. Think of the trip as an opportunity to learn, not as the opportunity to finally hook up with a steelie (though doing so would be a plus). A guide can watch you fish and in pretty short order do some diagnostics about your technique. If that's okay, maybe you need help with reading water, understanding where fish hold, etc. This would require a guide that is a good teacher - and you would have to being willing to learn from that teacher. Sounds like you are in that mind set. There are probably a number of guides that can help, but I found Dennis Dickson to be very good at this. He's not focused on the Cowlitz, but lessons should be transferable. Just my 2 cents.
 

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Here it is

It hard to see the colors the top fly has a purple body, the bottom is a black body. I painted the cones using "Powder Paint" I was having trouble with the paint chipping off. On our second batch I scuffed up the brass before painting it seems to be helping.
 
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