How To Fly Fish For Steelhead
Learning how to fly fish for steelhead, to put it bluntly, is not exactly a fit for the novice fishermen. It takes real knowledge of fly fishing technique, presentation and lure selection to master the art of catching steelhead. That being said, it is certainly possible to pick up the necessary skills as long as you devote enough time and practice to fishing. If you’re new to the whole fly fishing for steelhead experience, check out the following guide to increase your odds of doing well on the water.
- Go to where the steelhead are. Fly fishing can be done anywhere, but fly fishing specifically for steelhead requires that you go to the places where this somewhat exotic species resides. Steelhead live in both freshwater and saltwater, so Northwestern rivers fairly close to the Pacific are most popular for North American steelhead fishermen. States like Washington, Oregon and Alaska are generally considered to be among the best.
- Work on your general fly fishing skills. Those aforementioned Northwestern rivers tend to be tricky to fish. They’re rocky, large and have swift currents. You’ll have to work on being able to find fish holding spots like eddies and structure. Additionally, work on your fly casting technique on local waters before making the trip to a steelhead holding body. The ability to sidearm and roll cast really helps in tight areas of Northwestern rivers.
- Learn the principles of lure selection. According to most steelhead fishermen, the best way to fly fish for this species is with a lightly weighted fly. In stores, you’ll find these kind of flies under the label “wet fly.” Additionally, paying attention to the feeding habits of steelhead is an important aspect of fly selection. Steelhead aren’t a particularly picky species, but it’s still best to use a fly with natural looking colors. Overturn some rocks at the river you plan to fish to observe local bug species, and use a fly that closely resembles it.
- When you’ve got a bit, learn to land the steelhead. Because they’re current loving river fish, steelhead have a reputation for being strong willed bruisers when hooked. This means you won’t be able to horse it in like you would a panfish or bass. Keep your reel drag relatively high, and maintain enough patience to let the fish wear itself out when you’ve hooked one. In general, the most effective way to land a steelhead when fly fishing is to give it a few minutes to make a run, and go on the offensive when you feel its energy dwindling.