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I am new to fishing with a fly rod, but not new to steelhead fishing. I have been told to limit my fly selection to two flies until I get my technique honed. I fish north Puget Sound rivers. What two flies should I consider?
 

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For winter steelhead? I would go with something big and black, and something big and pink :)

Well, I often find myself fishing black marabou patterns with either blue or pink mixed in. Some are weighted, and some aren't. This allows me fish the correct depth without changing tips too often.

It will be interesting to see what others say - but its hard to beat a simple marabou spider type pattern, preferably with a #2 stinger hook.

The Sandy Blue as shown on Fly Fish USA is a good example of an easy to tie, and very effective pattern.
 

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No need to limit yourself...

For fishing winter-run Steelhead any version of Dec Hogan's marabou flies swing very well and show up in heavier flows. Easy to learn how to wrap them up if you're planning on tying your own flies too. Colours can be whatever tickles your fancy. Google "Popsicle fly" to get some results. Also searching the Hooks, Feathers & Floss forum on here for winter patterns will be useful.
 

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For winter steelhead? I would go with something big and black, and something big and pink :)

Well, I often find myself fishing black marabou patterns with either blue or pink mixed in. Some are weighted, and some aren't. This allows me fish the correct depth without changing tips too often.

It will be interesting to see what others say - but its hard to beat a simple marabou spider type pattern, preferably with a #2 stinger hook.

The Sandy Blue as shown on Fly Fish USA is a good example of an easy to tie, and very effective pattern.
Great stuff above, Sub surface this fall was nut's on a fly du jour. Technique is more important than fly selection, What ever the pattern be, your favorite will be the one that catch fish on. Mine seem to change season to season.
 

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On the Rogue River ... small and dark seems best.

At least for me. Bead head Prince Nymphs in size 10, really feeling 'adventures' (did I spell that right?:rolleyes:) and I'll go to a size 8. Pulling out all the stops and a 'Royal Coachman.'

Had to laugh (that's pretty darned easy) at myself earlier today. Driving to WallyWorld and adjusted the stuff on the the passenger seat in the Jeep. Most of 'it' was fly boxes! The best was a full box of trout flies I'd purchased from a fellow in England. Too beautiful to 'waste' on the end of a leader?

Perhaps. As a tier, fellow is WAY BEYOND my pay grade.:(

fae
 

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A little off topic here but I suppose a tip of the hat is in order for your 10,000th post Fred. Did the Spey Pages admin dept at least :smokin:send you a new rod or something?
 

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I am new to fishing with a fly rod, but not new to steelhead fishing. I have been told to limit my fly selection to two flies until I get my technique honed. I fish north Puget Sound rivers. What two flies should I consider?
I suggest that pattern is not important (except maybe for the Lady Caroline) as long as it is presented near and slow to a steelhead. Also stay away from weighted flies for now...
 

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Intruder, intruder, intruder

Your friend was wrong - you only need one fly pattern - the intruder - in various colors - the most important being a black and blue beauty and and orange and pink one. You might want several of each as the fish will do all they can to take them away from you.

BTW - this is a crazy question to ask fly tiers. Its likely to cause severe mental distress as we routinely carry at least 20 patterns, each needed for this or that situation. Still, most of us would reluctantly agree that flies like moals and intruders are more effective than most, they're just a bit boring. Nobody stares at a well-tied intruder but I find it hard not to stare at one of FSHNAZN's Victorian era beauties.
 

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Geeze 10K???

A little off topic here but I suppose a tip of the hat is in order for your 10,000th post Fred. Did the Spey Pages admin dept at least :smokin:send you a new rod or something?
WOOZER! Knew I was close, but I guess being #6 (so I was told) here on SpeyPages kinda adds up over a Decade plus.
 

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North Puget Sound rivers means from the Snohomish basin to the Nooksack, I take it. You don't have to limit yourself to two fly patterns since fly patterns are not usually specific to your fishing technique. The main issue in this regard is whether you tie your own flies or are limited to what you can buy.

If you're going to fish these north sound rivers this winter, a marabou streamer is about as good as it gets, although Intruders and General Practitioners are good choices that are more complicated to tie. Marabou in red, orange, pink, purple, black, and blue have all been known to seduce a steelhead now and then. The fish are not as particular as most fishermen.

Sg
 

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Disagree

Your friend was wrong - you only need one fly pattern - the intruder - in various colors - the most important being a black and blue beauty and and orange and pink one. You might want several of each as the fish will do all they can to take them away from you.

BTW - this is a crazy question to ask fly tiers. Its likely to cause severe mental distress as we routinely carry at least 20 patterns, each needed for this or that situation. Still, most of us would reluctantly agree that flies like moals and intruders are more effective than most, they're just a bit boring. Nobody stares at a well-tied intruder but I find it hard not to stare at one of FSHNAZN's Victorian era beauties.
I disagree that moals and intruders are more effective at taking Steelhead. The fly on the end of one's line in front of a willing fish is the most effective.
 

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Just to play devil's advocate

I don't think you've had anything but good comments and advice so far, however you could look at this an entirely different way...

Cary as many sizes, colors, and styles as you can possibly stuff into your pockets, vest, down the front of your waders, and bring a few extra fly boxes (BIG ones) in the car/boat "just in case". Try to judge which fly feels best based on some algorithm based, but not limited, on the following: fish size, run timing, water level, water color, water temp, run structure, weather conditions, wind speed, barometric pressure, time of year, day of the week, and the "mojo factor" (don't ask me about that last one, I have no idea myself...)

This is serious btw...

After tying on "THE ONE" fish it well, and fish it hard until it is no longer "THE ONE" then try tying on a smaller pattern, or a bigger pattern, a little more or less flash, etc. Repeat; fish carefully and methodically, knowing that the fly you have swimming through the water is THE best fly possible for the situation at hand. Keep this up until you hook a fish or two, then compare and adjust.

The important part of all of this is to find a fly that YOU will fish with ultimate confidence, which may change due to any number of reasons (some of them very legitimate, others not so much). I do think that the importance of focusing your time on learning to read water, and to cast and present the fly is key. Not wasting a lot of time fretting over fly selection, or changing flies incessantly, is good; but I don't think you need to limit yourself to just 2 patterns in order to due so. I think that the fly pattern (size/color/profile) can be a factor...sometimes... but there are far more important, and more controllable variables to worry about generally speaking.
Best of luck,
JB
 

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I'll take a little different take here: what flies to avoid as a new spey caster / fly fisherman.

Avoid really really big flies, weighted/lead-eye flies, and flies with materials that soak up a lot of water. Common examples of the first would be large intruder patterns, of the second, rabbit. Rabbit moves great, but, it really soaks up water.

All of these flies are a little harder to cast, and what you don't want as a "newbie" is anything that challenges your casting and distracts from the way more important aspects of reading the water and presenting the fly properly. I've seen numerous beginners, even in practice sessions, struggling with big weighted stuff. Struggling leads to frustration, distraction, overpowering the cast, and other bad habits. Some of these guys are also trying to cast 10' of T-14 on a 6-wt switch rod but that's another thread.

I'd suggest a couple flies of medium-large profile, meaning around a #2 single hook size, one in black, one in orange or pink. In my opinion, of the above suggestions the general practitioner, the marabou flies, the Sandy Blue, maybe the ESL depending on how it's tied, fit the bill.
 

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All good advice here, which goes to show you, fly selection is so very personal, and confidence in your fly is paramount. Pick a fly you think is pretty and was tied for steelhead in mind, and you will eventually find a fish with it. After 2 years hitting this game hard with very few results (fish to hand), you learn, you analyze, and you realize, there is no rhyme or reason. One week you hit a fish every day on classics then 4 weeks touching nothing.

Don't fret much about flies. Remember, guys catch steelhead with foam circles, spoons, and yarn balls.

the trick is getting your fly in front of a player. Thats the difference between guys who are consistent and me. Finding the players.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
A Big Thank you!

I appreciate all the replies and advice. I have fished since I was four years old for several species of fish. However, steelhead fishing is by far my most favorite and challenging. At sixty years old I decided I needed to try another method of taming these grand fish. I have never fished with a single hand rod and have started my quest with the two hander about nine months ago (lots of classes and practice). I am aware of the learning curve and am looking forward to traveling along that curve with help from folks like you all. Before I caught my first steelhead from the bank, I had fished eleven fishless seasons with my father and friends. When I finally "broke the ice" and got my first steelhead, the fish just kept coming. I am looking forward to that with my fly fishing endeavor. Hopefully I won't go another eleven skunky years!

Thank you all and keep the nuggets of advice coming.
 

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Two flies! God, say it isn't so. :chuckle:

I cut my teeth on your same rivers back in the early 90s and had lots of luck with two dressings. Marabou spiders that are simple to tie, sink well and catch fish.

Payoff - purple marabou hackle palmered in front of a shoulder of purple chenille, 4-6 strands of purple and silver flashabou for a wing, a collar of red schlappen.

Volcano - same as above but with orange marabou and chenille and gold and red flashabou.

You can forget the body all together or use a body of wrapped diamond braid. I always used purple for the Payoff and red or orange for the Volcano.

Size 1/0 or 2 Tiemco 7999. Tie them sparse.
 
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