Winter Steelhead Fishing and Flies - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-22-2001, 05:36 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3,411
Originator: Mr.ShanksDate: 11/22/2001 1:36 PM
Looking for information on Winter Steelheading and flies:
What works for you,
Flies ( size, colours, type, and under what conditions ( clear, dirty, shallow, deep etc.)
Lines ( floating, sinking, etc. and why you choose these)
What rivers you fish, East and West and what you look for when fishing in the winter (ex. big slow pools, tail outs?)
Just your general thoughts on Winter Steelheading.
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-23-2001, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
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Originator: loco_altoDate: 11/22/2001 9:14 PM
I'll bite.

As I alluded to in the prior post, the flies and techniques that I most often use are dictated by the diminutive waters that I most often fish - small coastal OR streams about 10-30' wide, with well defined holding water (holes and slots the size of a bathtub in pools the size of a mini-van). Some of these waters are a mere mile from the ocean's wave. Here I fish a floating line with weighted flies for about 75% of the time, essentially stealthy steelhead nymphing (with or without indicator). So yes, I do play the part of a nymphing heathen, but you won't see me doing this on waters where flies can reasonably be swung. The other anglers on these waters don't care either way, as they overwhelmingly fish drift gear -- which I have never done -- but there isn't that much of a distinction in my eyes (nor do I really care, as long as they are courteous gents). On these waters I also carry a homemade interchangeable tip line for the occasional lies that are broad enough (pushing 30' wide here - not much) for the swing. Most of the lies are so small and swift that nymphing is simply the only way to get the fly down before it is swept out. In both cases I use spey casts to great advantage, since it is otherwise quite impossible to fish with all that streamside cover. Mostly small flies (#10), in pink or black, as larger fare spooks fish in these intimate waters. If the water is off color I'll go to #6 - maybe.

Given my druthers I'd be waist deep throwing the double hander with a 3/0 leech or GP, as it is simply a more enjoyable way to fish, and I get fewer twigs poking me in the eye.

el loco heathen
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-24-2001, 02:10 AM Thread Starter
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Originator: Nooksack MacDate: 11/23/2001 10:10 PM
   I sometimes think that winter steelheading with flies is a rationale for getting mild exercise in fresh air, rather than a serious attempt to connect with steelhead.  One looks for suitable water to the extent that it's available, but it involves a lot of making-do.
   My home stream, the Nooksack River, was probably magnificent in its pre-civilization days.  (As a boy in Virginia, I thrilled to the outdoor scenes in the 1931 "Call Of The Wild" with Clark Gable and Loretta Young, particularly the climax where the gold thieves were capsized by a sweeper and drowned by the weight of their ill-gotten gains in the swift, clear currents, me never suspecting that one day I'd be fishing where those scenes were filmed.)  The Nooksack's three forks are fast, medium-small streams, mostly faster than a fly angler would wish.  Thin soil, glacial currents and heavy-handed logging keep them muddy most of the year.  Here I use heavily weighted flies, though I'd rather not have to, and my deepest-sinking tips.  I've hooked fish in water like thin cement, with six inches of visability.
   It's usually more worthwhile to drive an hour or more to the Skagit and Sauk Rivers.  The Skagit is normally clear above the Sauk, which muddies up early and often.  One can play these against each other, finding just the right water clarity a certain distance below their junction.  These rivers justify the biggest spey rods a person may want to use.  Even heroic casts may not reach to midstream, so the drill is to look for suitable water and ignore the rest.  Some of my favorite drifts slope gradually toward the deeper, far side, maintaining the same bottom profile in high water or low.  I look for the usual walking speed water from knee- to bald spot-deep, and rocks a little too large to comfortable wade through.  My flies are normally #1 to 2/0, unweighted.  Sink tips are usually mediums, Type 3 or 4;  sometimes  a floating line with lead wraps on the rod-length leader.  This really is the home of the modern spey rod.
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