Several of my own patterns use Shumakov's tubes—one I call the Lake Erie Emerald Shiner. Remember, please, You asked me to move past the complexity factor, and so I did. Adhering to the old adage of "using dark flies on dark days and light-colored flies on bright days" helps steelhead see a fly better. Sucker Spawn Size 8 to 12 When the Time is Right a Deadly Steelhead Fly Around the great lakes steelhead run during and after the major run of the redhorse sucker. Flash – Purple Holo, Flashabou, or Lateral Scale After the fly straightened out below, he applied a short and quick strip retrieve. Rochus likes to dead-drift his stonefly pattern in rocky bottomed, fast riffles and runs where these stoneflies live. The topic? I thought it made such a nice image. Great Lakes steelhead have a varied diet before entering the tributaries in the fall, including feeding on freshwater shrimp like Mysis relicta (opossum shrimp). Flies with bright colored streamers, size 2 hooks, and beaded eyes will work best for sea-going steelhead. One of these fellows was fly fishing, the other was drift fishing with spinning gear, using the GBS tied onto his leader below a piece of pencil lead when drift fishing. Shock Therapy Intruder Recipe Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here. Although this is often thought of as a summer steelhead fly pattern, the Black Demon is a fly that is inherently effective to fish in any water conditions. Tube-fly vise adapters and other accessories are available from HMH ( I attach this section to the looped end of the mini-tip with a clinch knot or loop-to-loop connection. On the Grand River the caddis action occurs from mid-September to the end of October and the mayfly activity starts in April. A good searching fly I use in heavily to slightly stained water is a standard Glo-Bug tied with half Alaskan roe (top) and half chartreuse (bottom) Glo-Bug Yarn that I call the Half-n-Half. These are all tied by my friend Stan Davis. and the late Ohio steelhead guide Michael Bennet proved this by fishing dry flies early in the fall on many Ohio and Pennsylvania tributaries. Jay: You’re welcome, and for fun, here is the recipe for the Intruder pictured above: Shock Therapy. If the shrimp fly and the tube don’t lie in your fly box, I offer the assortment of flies pictured below, all of which fall into the more reasonable size-class of 2.0 to 2.25 inches long. And if you get right down to it, these will all fish summer steelhead, winter steelhead, and. The buggy, natural look of these flies is a fresh alternative to steelhead pressured with egg patterns. Place the indicator on the tippet section of the leader at a point approximately the depth of the water (distance from indicator to bottom fly), forming a right angle at that point on the leader. I will step ashore, enjoy lunch, and watch anglers drifting past me in boats. The hot colors are white, orange, and pink in #8-16. Another difference between choosing a reel for a single-handed rod and a double-handed Spey rod is the preferred arbor size. stocks a giant range of steelhead and salmon style fly tying hooks from numerous vendors like Umpqua, Daiichi, Kona and more. Get fluorocarbon, Steelies are notoriously line shy. Rib: Silver wire. Winter Steelhead season is now on for the Pacific Northwest, and most of us that love this time of year already have our Steelhead Boxes primed and ready to go with our favorite patterns and colors. They will grab flies smaller and larger, but I believe that a fly in this zone is more likely to be eaten than a fly smaller or larger. __ what the water clarity is, Question: Ok, Jay. There is such a wide array of flies available that many anglers have a difficult time determining which patterns to tie or buy and which to steelhead fly box to carry on stream. Assuming the fish will not commit to the smaller fly, I would step back upstream and swing down again, this time with a larger fly. Chartreuse has always worked well on Great Lakes tributaries due to its high visibility in off-color flows. Migrating, pre-spawn steelies school along slow current breaks as water temperatures drop in the fall. Final collar – Hot Pink Guinea Hatchery steelhead still have predator tendencies (if it is moving they are going to chase it and eat it!) __ whether the hydrograph is going up or down. photo courtesy Jim Lampros The rise in popularity of the Lake Erie steelhead fishery over the last decade has been well deserved. (High water calls for a large fly on the first pass.). From the remaining mini-tip loop attach with a clinch knot or loop-to-loop connection a straight piece of tippet in the appropriate size and length for the water conditions (2 to 4 feet long, 8- to 12-pound-test fluorocarbon) or a simple tapered leader. Butt – Senyo’s Eat A Peach + Aquaveil In high, stained run-off flows, big (#6-10), densely tied, bright-colored eggs have an opaque silhouette that steelhead see better in murky water. As far as fly setup goes, use a similar setup to the swing fly fishing method but use a different type of fly. Guide Greg Senyo of Holland, Ohio, has an articulated nymph he calls the Steelie Wiggle Stone that he ties with a blue or peacock thorax for clear to slightly stained water and in fluorescent orange, chartreuse, and pink for murky water. (Trip details here; my personal lessons learned here.) As you know, anglers who are bank fishing, in contrast with anglers drifting downriver in a boat, can be limited to fishing one or two places each day. Rib – Red Copper wire or holo tinsel Learn when and where to catch steelhead, Pacific salmon, and Atlantic salmon, how to choose tackle and flies for them, and the best way to swing a fly over their lies. Though not often used, dry flies have a place on some tributaries under the right conditions. Scandinavian-style salmon flies also have applications as baitfish patterns for steelhead. A very popular shank fly that is very effective for Steelhead, and all five Pacific Salmon, Char, Sea-Run Browns as well as Atlantic Salmon. Fly Lines Gear Videos Contact No Result View All Result No Result View All Result Nicholas’ Steelhead Fly Interview: Does the Size of Your fly Matter? For now, Jay, could we please tackle the fly-size question for winter steelhead here? Hook – Sized to fly (#4 – #1) This dependable hatch can give you some exciting fishing from summer until late fall. Intricate Spey flies with hard-to-obtain materials are not necessary. In 1872, in his book Autumns on the Spey, A. E. Knox presented a list of descriptions of old Spey flies tied by Shanks, a fly … On this river, the fish are heavily pressured with small flies, so he likes to fish large flies with lots of movement (especially when the water temperatures are in the 40s) to get the attention of the more aggressive fish that he calls "players." New York steelhead guide Greg Liu has been swinging tubes on the big water of Lake Ontario's Salmon River for years. I also tie marabou Speys, traditional steelhead wets, leeches, and various streamer patterns on these tubes. These are the Skagit and Scandi lines. Steelhead feel safe in stained runoff from rain and snow melt and are cooperative fly takers. Smaller nymphs, bead-head soft hackles, and egg patterns (#12 and smaller) seem to become more effective as water temperatures drop in late fall and early winter and eventually register in the 30s on a daily basis. Those steelhead have seen 4 hotshots, five spinners, twenty-five beads, 7 gobs of roe, three fresh sand-shrimp, 11 jigs, and 13 pink worms. Question: How should an angler fish one run several times in succession? Every season, nymphs catch some of the largest steelhead. Steelhead are more active and aggressively chase baitfish patterns in the warm flows (above 40 degrees F.) of early fall and early spring. This allows the fly to have better swimming action on the downstream swing. In water over 42 F, steelhead may move 20 feet to hit a fly. I call these multi-purpose flies. Recommendations for the best size of fly to fish for winter steelhead. Great Lakes steelhead become fussy in these icy flows and will softly take tiny dead-drifted flies in slow runs and pool tail-outs, but usually only after multiple, perfect drifts. The same is true for anglers holding strong opinions about what the best fly size is and if so – what exactly is the best size fly we should be fishing for winter steelhead. Nymphs with a movable joint between the thorax and abdomen drive steelhead crazy. Both summer steelhead and Atlantic salmon are prone to rise for small to medium size flies fished on or near the surface of the water. Erie and her tributaries unequivocally offer the best chance, be it East or West, for an angler to get his or her steelhead fix. Tied on braid line with #2 SSW Owner hook. I always thought of the Green Butt Skunk as strictly a summer steelhead fly. Well, that changes with two-handed rods... more about that later. This is true with the Green Butt Skunk. Steelhead are more secure there due to the broken surface water and routinely take dead-drifted egg, nymph, and streamer patterns. Jay: Why yes I do, and thanks for asking. Shumakov's Long Range brass tube is ideal for reaching deep steelhead lies, the Long Range Heavy for getting down deeper to winter holding steelhead, the Skittle for holding flies in heavy current flows, and the Summer Arrow for low-water situations. Jim Guida of Buffalo Outfitters in Williamsville, New York, has developed a simple baitfish pattern for steelhead in Cattaraugus Creek that he calls the Mirrored Minnow. Also, tubes last longer because they generally slide up the leader after hooking a fish, preventing the fish's teeth from tearing the fly, and you can easily replace the hook if it becomes dull without discarding the entire fly. Then two friends told me, independently, that they had been using the GBS as their go-to winter steelhead fly. Great Lakes steelhead anglers can choose from a variety of patterns and tactics ranging from dead-drifted egg and nymph patterns to swung streamers to skated dry flies. these anglers will keep their gear out of the water and not rest the steelhead, just as I am. Articulated Woolly Buggers and sculpin patterns are also effective. Subscriber Services. He agreed, so let’s get down to the results. Active steelhead (usually in water temperatures above 40 degrees F.) will "grab" a swung fly hard, typically at the end of the downstream swing. These are the Skagit and Scandi lines. This is especially true on tributaries with rich aquatic insect life. The fly at the top is 2-inches, the fly at the bottom is 4.5 inches. You will need some egg-shaped strike indicators, a split shot, a landing glove and a semi-dedicated fly box. Joe finds the lifelike action of this fly extremely effective on clear, heavily fished steelhead rivers. Tail (antennae): Orange bucktail. Imitating the prevalent baitfish triggers the feeding response of migrating Great Lakes steelhead, especially early in the run when the fish are fresh from the lake and have recently been actively feeding on lake gizzard shad, alewives, smelt, and shiners. Question: What about egg patterns? What was the question? Liu ties his 41/2-inch version of the Temple Dog Leech on light plastic or aluminum tubes instead of heavy brass or copper tubes because he believes that the light tube combined with fast-sinking-tip lines allow the fly to move in the current more than flies tied on heavy tubes. Adding a brass or tungsten bead (vary the size depending on the current flow) helps sink the egg pattern faster, and you don't need to use as much split-shot on the leader. This is my favorite Winter Steelhead fly. Question: Well, would you be so kind as to tell us a little about your opinions? How do egg flies fit in the fly-size discussion? Large, dark flies get the fish's attention at even farther distances in clear water during the low light of early morning or late afternoon or overcast days. Tying caddis larvae bodies with bright orange, pink, and red colors can also be effective since those colors resemble colors in eggs. This is two tubes staked together, making this a size-adaptation anyone can accomplish streamside if you wish. His technique was to cast up-and-across at a 45-degree angle and skate or wake the fly cross-current as it swung. Here’s a nice 3.75-inch Pink & Blue Tube Intruder. For an average size steelhead river I recommend a 7 weight 10 foot or 11 foot rod for the best line control and fighting ability, and the longer rod also provides better tippet protection by … Best Size for Winter Steelhead Flies Winter steelhead will, on average, respond better to a fly that is between 3/8-inch and 2.5-inches long. 3" long overall, unweighted and perfect for swinging in low, clear water. Even tributaries that have runs based on steelhead stocking programs have potential for dry-fly action. My mini-tip rig consists of a 4-foot-long section of .015-inch-diameter hard nylon (15-pound Maxima Chameleon) connected to a weight-forward floating fly line with a nail knot or loop-to-loop connection. May you all enjoy finding a little entertainment and a chuckle. As runoff flows drop and clear steelhead become more difficult to catch because of stress from increased light penetration, smaller physical confines, and increased fishing pressure. In the dead of winter, steelhead resting in "tanks" (large, slow There are two general types of lines you might use depending on the conditions and the size of fly you’ll be using. For higher, faster flows, shorten the tippet to keep the fly riding closer to the bottom; lengthen the tippet in slower flows to help prevent the fly from hanging up on the bottom. These dense, indestructible nymphs will improve your subsurface game. But the age old question a lot of us ask ourselves or our buddies “what Fly and Color should I use….” Depending on who you ask you could receive a dozen different answers. I would be remiss if I didn’t note the obvious: egg patterns are small, are usually dead-drifted, and fall outside the consideration of fly-size in this discussion. All Rights Reserved. A float/indicator with split shot to a bead, sucker spawn, or fly. Muskegon River steelhead guide Kevin Feenstra's top-producing sculpin pattern is the Emulator Sculpin, swung deep and slow. Approaching the likely steelhead water often causes the suckers to scatter, which in turn spooks the steelhead. Adding a little Krystal Flash or Lite Brite, or motion from marabou or rubber legs, can make egg patterns even more effective, especially in stained water. The most common and practical rigging methods for steelhead and salmon when fly fishing northern Michigan's Manistee and Betsie Rivers. Why no mention of Intruders? Tube flies are becoming popular with Great Lakes steelheaders primarily due to their ability to use small, short-shank hooks that can increase hooked-to-landed ratios compared with large, long-shank hooks. Nymphing for steelhead requires a heavier outfit due to the larger size of fish and the bigger rivers. Many Steelhead fisherman carry a Summer fly selection and a Winter fly selection, the difference being mainly the size of the flies. The author shows off a big Great Lakes steelhead, as his fishing buddy looks on. Steelhead guide John Rochus of Ohio has developed a Golden Stonefly pattern for Lake Erie tributaries tied with rubber legs in sizes 8 through 14 to match the different year classes of the insect. Also, the upward-slanting taper of the front part of the tube keeps the wing pointed up and helps to prevent the wing from entangling with the hook. Chip's Monster Magic. Under these conditions forget about fishing slow moving pools and try the fast, shallow runs and riffles. Under the right conditions, swinging soft hackles, streamers, Woolly Buggers, traditional steelhead wets, and Spey flies is both an effective and exciting way to hook a Great Lakes steelhead. What do you have to say about the effect a large Intruder has on winter steelhead’s proclivity to grab-and-go? This tube fly measures a whopping 2.5 inches nose to bend of the hook. All these tricks can be put to use on poppers or sliders for anything with fins, from panfish to billfish. The particular egg pattern you choose is not as important as varying the size, color(s), and density for the water conditions. __ how big the river is, and After seeing all this junk swim across their heads, the steelhead are likely to be intimidated, and my Intruder will be less effective than a size 12 Copper John fished with an indicator on a 3 wt  Euro Nymph rod. Jay: Yes, the size of the fly you fish for winter steelhead matters. The How-To tying videos in this piece are brought to you by Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions . Lengths 7.5 feet to 15 feet Fly Rod – Single Handed #8 if needed – 9 to 9.5 foot #8 … Guess what? Rainbows fear the giant brown trout lurking in California's most popular national park. Anytime I’ve stepped through three times with no solid grab to show for my effort, the steelhead need to be rested. Flies tied on tubes also are lighter than those tied on conventional hooks, so bulky flies become easier to cast. Guide Jerry Darkes of Strongsville, Ohio, ties a rabbit-fur-strip Spey fly with a collar of schlappen or guinea feathers that incorporates a rabbit-fur-strip overwing and tail. Feared by bothe steelhead and trout in ever river. Liu and his clients get most of their takes on this pattern when it is fished within 18 inches of the surface. The flies above all use a purple and black color theme with hot pink trigger emphasis. Fly is 2 - 2.25 inches long (small for a moal leech - summer size). Great Lakes guide Don Mathews's Fool's Shrimp works well in the fall for fresh run steelhead, especially in the lower part of a steelhead river. Shumakov's detailed instructions for tying his tube flies can be found at the Swedish fly-fishing site I know that all of. Bigger tributaries such as Cattauragus Creek have wide, long runs and pools with consistent depth and are ideal for this presentation. The photo above is an example of how anyone can tie a series of flies with the same general color hues in several sizes. These tips can save you heartache when fishing is hot. Butt collar – Purple Schlappen, Marabou, Ostrich Butt accent – Hot Tipped Crazy legs Most steelhead fly fishing is done on the swing so I will go with 8 to 10lbs mono. Certain fly patterns are ideal for swinging. All of these flies fall into the 2.0 size class, and I call this money. Your performance, comfort Winter Steelhead Intruder Fly. If I’m fishing over the same pod of fish that has been settled in a pool for the last 6 hours, the situation is far different. And there are some generalities about the fly-size that I believe, with only unquantified personal experience and hearsay to guide me. Steelhead are natural egg eaters and voraciously take egg flies even when no naturals are available. Question: Everyone who fishes for winter steelhead has their opinion regarding the best colors for steelhead flies. The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction. Thin-profile Spey flies are not only beautiful, but they are dressed with long, soft hackle materials that move as they swing down and across the current flow. Ideal dry-fly patterns for skating and waking include #8-12 Adams, Mosquito, Elk-hair Caddis, Bivisible, and Bombers. You can also swing flies in smaller tributaries with small slots and shallow, short runs and pools by downsizing your sinking system. When it comes to summer steelhead, there are some pretty good reasons to consider sizing down. John Arnold of Falls Outfitters (, 406-727-2087) carries Shumakov's tubes as well as the plastic tube liner, the silicon and vinyl junction tubing, and tying instructions. Joe Penich of Hamilton, Ontario, designed a simple and durable fly he calls the Buggsy Spey that uses a dubbing-loop collar of rabbit fur instead of hackle. Hobie's MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system offers ultimate kayak control with more... Everyone wants a definite answer to “How close can you get?”. Setting Up Your Fly Rig For Steelhead After you get that together, you will need some 9 foot 3x leaders and tippet that matches up. Sink Tips – Various tips from 3.9 inches per second to 11 inches per second. Rain is an important variable in the Steelhead equation. Shorter sinking tungsten leaders of various sink rates like Rio's Powerflex Core or Airflo's Polyleader work well for medium to lower flows. John Nagy is a guide and author of Steelhead Guide: Fly Fishing Techniques and Strategies for Lake Erie Steelhead (Great Lakes Publishing, 2003). Mark Kasubick of Chagrin River Gillies in Gates Mills, Ohio, ties a caddis larvae imitation based on his aquatic surveys of several southern-shore Lake Erie tributaries that have revealed a large (#10), uncased, bright green caddis. Question: Does the size of a fly influence how many winter steelhead an angler will catch. General Practitioner Hook: Gamakatsu T10-3H, size 2, or Alec Jackson Steelhead Iron, size 3. The liner's thin diameter helps reduce bulk. The second fly fishing technique is called the “wet fly swing.” Once you’ve had a steelhead grab a fly on a tight line during the swing and go deep into your backing, you’ll understand how so many lives are ruined, marriages failed Double taper fly lines were most popular in the past. All Fly Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. If I step into a run on a nearby coastal river like the Siuslaw, Alsea, or Nestucca, I might tie a fly like this 2.5-inch Orange Shrimp on my leader. Shoulder – Senyo’s Mountain Berry Aquaveil 1st – purple Ostrich, Marabou, Schlappen Experienced anglers don't have the time or inclination to use any but the most practical gear. Legs: Orange neck For single-handed rods, it's necessary to match the size of the reel to the size of the rod you're using. If you're looking for a f… The waters are crystal clear, with visibility being over 3 feet in some tribs, so the need to use light tippet down to low as … In this piece, we will highlight 5 effective fly patterns for great lakes steelhead, the materials needed, and step by step instructions on how to tie these killer flies. On sunny days, lighter colored flies like a blonde or white Zonker show up well due to their ability to reflect available light, but this effect is reduced on overcast days and in deeper or stained water. The matter of fly-sizes in nymphs and eggs that are fished for winter steelhead is a different subject for a different day. If you needa pattern with alot of flash, this is the Barry and Cathy Beck | Photography & Text - October 01, 2020. The brightness of this fluorescent flame and orange contrast nicely with the black and white in the tail and the black in the wing. Many types of fly lines can be used with Spey Rods. Jay: Under all but high water conditions, I would normally begin swinging a 2.0 or 2.5-inch fly. Michigan tributaries are well known for their Hexagenia nymphs and caddis larvae, and several Lake Erie tributaries like the Cattaraugus in New York and Conneaut Creek and Grand River in Ohio support Golden Stoneflies and caddis larvae. Steelhead are less likely to chase a fly even six inches in 34 F water. There were exceptions to all these features because there have never been actual rules for tying salmon flies, just well-defined conventions. This is a disorganized splat of Stan Davis’ flies dropped riverside. You can be a successful freshwater fly fisher with just the nine knots shown here. Best Size for Winter Steelhead Flies Winter steelhead will, on average, respond better to a fly that is between 3/8-inch and 2.5-inches long. Most of the summer steelhead flies I tied in the 1970s were #6s and the winter steelhead flies were #4s. George Daniels offers his advice on which types of fly-fishing leaders are best for the most... You don't always catch large trout in these alpine lakes and streams, but even the small ones... Pat Dorsey | Photos & Text - October 07, 2020. Atlantic salmon fly fisher Jurij Shumakov of Sweden solved this problem by designing new metal tubes that are 1/2 inch long and come in various models including the Long Range, Long Range Heavy, Skittle, and Summer Arrow. Jim likes to fish it on the swing or strip it, and he ties it to his tippet with a nonslip mono loop to give it more action. Q: What is the best size fly for steelhead? They will grab flies smaller and larger, but I believe that a fly in this zone is more likely to be eaten than a fly smaller or larger. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets. The fly is tied on the exposed forward portion of a thin-diameter, hard-plastic tube liner inserted into the metal tube. When it comes to summer steelhead, there are some pretty good reasons to consider sizing down. If you like tying tubes, I could recommend the fly below as a good candidate for the first pass through the run: a nice orange and red-hued tube with a gold cone. You can impart action to this fly at the end of a dead-drift by slowly lifting your fly rod and retrieving with short line strips and slight bounces of the rod tip. You can use rabbit-fur strips, Icelandic sheep hair, arctic fox tail, marabou, schlappen, guinea feathers, and some of the new long fibered, soft synthetic materials to tie Spey flies with tremendous movement. One, how big are the fish you're chasing? ©2021 Outdoor Sportsman Group. These crustaceans are prevalent in lakes Michigan and Ontario. How to rig: When nymphing for steelhead, it's best to use a 6-8wt fly rod that's 9-10ft (many anglers also use two-handed switch rods). The best winter and summer steelhead hook size is #4, 6, 2, 8, 1.5, 3, 5, 8, 1, 10; in that order; unless in a different order. He finds Emulator Sculpins especially effective in the spring, but they even work in the dead of winter. Dead-drifting egg patterns along the bottom in front of the fish is one of the primary late-fall to early-spring tactics for catching steelhead that become lethargic and finicky in the cold water, which is generally at or below 40 degrees F. during this time. Eyes/beads/cone – tyer’s choice, Your email address will not be published. I will add that I usually only stray out of this size-class (2-inches) with a fly like the Orange Shrimp because although longer, it is also sparser, and therefore seems less intimidating to the steelhead (maybe). Jay Ok, if you insist. Introduction: We caught up with Jay recently, fresh from a session at his fly bench, and asked if he would take time for an interview. As the rain falls, the rivers begin to rise and this triggers Steelhead to migrate high into their native streams. Now I rarely fish for steelhead on the fly but beads are still my go to lure. "When it comes to finding the right Spey rod... the best length really depends on how far you need to cast. Bigger tributaries such as Cattauragus Creek have wide, long runs and pools with consistent depth and are ideal for this presentation. Now I'm happy with this new pattern. Most of the fly fishers use the same techniques but the gear is different. Jay: If I swing a 4 or 5-inch intruder over a fresh pod of winter steelhead and I’m the first rod in the run, I’m probably going to get bit. Dwayne 'Chip' Cromarty - January 15, 2016. The bright egg fly attracts the steelhead in stained water, and if the fish doesn't take the egg, it often takes the nymph or streamer. The flies are rigged close together (6 inches or less) so the steelhead can see both flies at the same time.

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