Steelhead Fly Fishing Tricks and Tips

Steelhead fly fishing is an adventure for the serious angler. The sea bound rainbow trout, or steelhead,  are fast and strong and going someplace specific either on their way to mate or on their way back. The goal of the steelhead fisher is to get in their way. 

Know Where to Look

Position yourself according to the track the steelhead take in the water around you. Steelhead prefer to make the journey as easy as possible, so you will find them in the light current, which means the shallower water. Be careful if you are wading, that you don’t go past them or scare them into deeper water. They like rocky water

Know Where to Set your Fly

Steelhead likes to take bait at two different levels- on the bottom and on the surface. So, custom your flies, weight and size appropriately to go all the way down or to bounce lightly on top. This lets you know how far to cast if you are wading, to get to the deeper water and down to the bottom. Don’t be afraid to adjust according to what seems to be working. It’s not uncommon to have your fly closer to the leader than you would have thought and increase the distance from the sinker if the water is deeper. 

 Match your Fly to the Light

The color of your fly should go with the day light conditions, the water color . For a bright sunny day and bright clear water, go for a bright red or purple fly. Got a dark day and dark murky waters, go with dark blue or brown. You want it top blend in with the surroundings, but be ‘off’ enough to be prominent to you. 

Cast to Catch Steelhead

To fish for steelhead, you want to use a 9 to 10 foot rod and use line weights to handle the sinking, usually 6 to 8 feet. The flies should be cast upstream at 12:00 with floaters to keep track. The hook will be fast and towards the end of the arc. The best flies are wigglers, but some egg or nymph shapes work as well. Let your lure sink to the bottom. If you are really at the bottom, you will feel some snagging and dragging. That’s what you want. Keep your hooks sharp, steelheads are called that for both their steely shade and their tough as steel mouths. When they strike, it’s violent and powerful so be prepared to hold your ground. It takes some effort to get a precise cast with this weight so, be patient but keep trying.

Consider Hiring a Steelhead Expert

The numbers are not on the side of the inexperienced steelhead angler. It’s been estimated that ninety percent of the steelhead are caught by ten percent of the fishermen out there. They are challenging to catch, difficult to hook and real fighters even on the line.  Having the inside track to the best places to start and cast will greatly increase your luck. If you are out of the area, it’s worth the extra cost to make this unique experience successful.