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Hooked4life
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Discussion Starter #1
One of my earliest big steelhead came on a #12 Partridge and Orange that was dead drifted under a big willow tree on the Credit River, that has since been washed away. I lost the fish just as I was beginning to land it and I always remember the amazement that such a large fish would take such a small fly.

Since then I've caught quite a few steelhead on small wets and soft hackles, but I rarely use them for any length of time.

Small flies were de rigueur in my neck of the woods when I first started and I was constantly told that my big streamers would not catch a steelhead. What a difference from the "go big or go home" mentality of today. I spent Saturday with MarkyZ fishing the Credit using hairwing wets on a slow sink 40+ Expert and PRO 4X switch rod. Even though neither of us hooked up, just the fishing of smaller flies on a smaller rod and a finesse line got me thinking of what I had been missing. I have to do more . . .

So I thought it might be cool to spend a bit of time talking about our favourite small fly methods and get away from chucking T14 and dead chickens for a while.

Here's a few of the fish taken on small wets and a couple of the small flies that have done the job. The small stocker was taken on NY's Cattaraugus using a little pink hairwing, while the two larger Grand River streambred fish were taken on small wets supplied to me by GR8LAKES FLYER.
 

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Registered
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2,705 Posts
Love your posts

Keep em coming more stuff to tie LOL
 

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I love this. I keep promising myself to use smaller wets, especially when the water is clear... but have a hard time getting away from my leeches and sculpins. A few fish on "medium" sized muddlers has been encouraging.

Peter: when fishing the GL tribs with these hairwing wets, especially in the cold, do you prioritize depth or a slow swing?

Thanks,

Slint
 

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Hooked4life
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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Peter: when fishing the GL tribs with these hairwing wets, especially in the cold, do you prioritize depth or a slow swing?

Thanks,

Slint
I'll go both ways, opting for a down and across swing with an intermediate line to get a very slow swing, or casting slightly upstream with a floating line, using low tension to sink the fly and then swing it out at the end.

The former is usually my big river, big rod method while the latter tends to get used more on the smaller waterways with single handers or switch rods. The stocker was taken on a 10' 7 wt. and a floater while the other two were on a 15' 10 wt. and an intermediate.
 

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seaterspey
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2,198 Posts
Soft hackles are my passion that is all I fish with when targeting trout. Never thought of tying these for Steelies!

What size hooks do you use on a general basis?

Do you a bit more flash and is a tail used very often. Most of my trout SH do not have tails, I try and keep them as clean and simple as possible.

SH's are a blast to tie and fish!

Great post thanks,

KC
 

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seaterspey
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2,198 Posts
I also forgot to ask if can you incorporate a SH with a hair wing fly. I was thinking of trying this tonight as a experiment to see how they come out.

I'm excited about this I know they work very well when I trout fish it has to wrk with steelhead?

KC
 

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Hooked4life
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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I like to mix the steelhead versions up with tails and wings, though I've caught steelhead on nothing more than a floss body and soft hackle. The orange double has been tied that way. Hook sizes range from a #8 low water all the way up to #2 heavy salmon doubles,

My trout soft hackles are tied and used traditionally - I haven't messed with them -- yet. My best producing wet fly is a diving female caddis that is a combination of a soft hackle and a downwing dry tied on a wet fly hook. It's taken loads of trout over the years.

This video features fishing this fly in the first part, then I switch to a classic winged wet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOFGoK5za2o A little creek, cane rod and a wet fly . . .
 

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Drags are for Sissys
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312 Posts
I caught my first fly caught steelhead on the Credit more than 20 years ago. The fly was a red soft hackle, tied about the size of roe bag - and imitating a dime sized roe bag was my motivation. Back then; it was uncommon to see anyone fly fishing for steelhead on the Credit - just pinners. That first steelhead was a stocker and was not doing well after I unhooked it, so I laid the fish down on the ice (it was a wintery day) with the intention to keep it for the table. About 5 minutes later I realized I was late and my wife was waiting for me at home. So I grabbed the near frozen fish jumped in the car and scooted home. I live only 10 minutes (in traffic) from that river so I rushed in the house and plunked the frozen fish down on the kitchen table just in time. A few minutes the later the fish started to warm up/thaw out; and began flopping around on the kitchen table, scaring my wife and the dog - hilarious! The cooked fish didn't taste very good and as a result was the last steelhead I ever kept/killed.

I quickly adopted the large fly mentality many years ago after I watched a friend hook 4 steelhead in 10 casts at the island run on the Grand. He told me I likely couldn't achieve the same feat since my flies were not big enough. - brainwashed I was.

I think large flies invoke the a territorial reaction from the aggressive fish in the pod. I think they also invoke a feeding reaction in some fish when the steelhead think the large fly is a minnow or leach or ... ?

I gotta believe the small soft hackles invoke an insect feeding response. I bet not all steelhead in the pod are aggressive and not all steelhead are looking for a big meal.

I wonder if anyone has tried swinging through a run with larger flies then after having exhausted all the hooking from those one or two large flies switched it up and then swung small soft hackles - taking a few more fish that key on the insect response. Might be a strategy to explore.

Here a few small flies tyed on heavy hooks that I swing on the Cattaraugus.
 

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seaterspey
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Really like the second! Amazing that the fish stayed alive that long? Makes me think if we could do to humans!?:hihi:

Kc
 

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Hooked4life
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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
The fish with the bubbles and the copper fly was caught doing exactly what you have suggested. Fishing beside Ramsay Park and had made a couple of passes with large flies then went back down with the little one.

Also had two passes and two misses on a fish in the same spot then suggest Jin have a go with a fly that looked a bit like yours. He landed it.
 

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FISHIN' FREELANCER
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waynev; your tie on the Bartleet with guinea is pretty sweet. Clean.. Well done.
 

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Try Silver Invictas in size 6, 8, 10 or 12 and Silver Rats in size 6 or 8......they have been very effective on Browns and steelheads......
 

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Administrator
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18,151 Posts
Most excellent thread Peter , you have my wheels turning now !!
I'm very curious to know which of the wets I sent found some love for you ??


Mike
 

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Hooked4life
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Discussion Starter #17
Most excellent thread Peter , you have my wheels turning now !!
I'm very curious to know which of the wets I sent found some love for you ??


Mike
One was a copper body with brown hackle, very simple. The other was a small black and yellow double.
 

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Hooked4life
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Discussion Starter #20
Here's the trout sized diving caddis featured in the video. The bit of beige fluff at the front of the fly is debris from my dry patch which I didn't notice until after the photo was taken.

This pattern is tied in both caddis green and cream bodies to imitate local Hydropsyche species. The female's body also changes colour a bit depending on whether she is still full of eggs or has dropped them. The hook is a #14 Kamasan B175 and the Mustad equivalent is a 3906B.

Partridge soft hackle wrapped on a downwing style dry, tied on a wet fly hook with a gold wire wrap to help it to sink.

Fish the fly in riffles and pulse it on the swing. It's much more effective when pulsed as the females actively swim down to drop their eggs and back to the surface to fly off after egg laying. They can repeat this multiple times as unlike mayflies, they can feed and live for about two weeks after emerging into adults.

I haven't given this fly a name yet, so suggestions welcome.

I've also been fiddling around with a steelhead sized version to either be riffle hitched in the fall (orange bodied) or fished the same as the trout version for spring fish holding in riffles.
 

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