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Coldwater Fly Fishing Trout, Salmon, Steelhead, etc...

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Old 09-26-2009, 05:25 PM
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Default Idaho steelheaders, need some help

I have been trolling around this great forum for quite sometime and finally registered. Right now i have gotten the steelhead fever. With over a half million steelhead over bonneville dam already this year I couldn't ignore them any longer. I had never fished for steel head before this morning and just got a new orvis 8 wt set up, so i went out and threw a line. After today, my suspicions where confirmed that i have no idea what i am doing. I have no idea where to start. This morning i woke up at 530, and was on the Clearwater just outside of lewiston by 7. I don't know if the spot i pulled off to was good or not. I just know you can't catch fish if your line isn't wet. So i just went. I am not new to fly fishing, just steelhead and salmon. If anyone has any advice on flies, spots, technique, riggings, or anything else they wouldn't mind sharing, it would be greatly appreciated. Also, I wouldn't mind finding some fishing partners in the northern ID area if anyone is interested.
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Old 09-27-2009, 12:29 PM
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Default Re: Idaho steelheaders, need some help

I don't know if my California techniques will work in your neck of the woods. Basically I use the same techniques as I would for trout. If you can find some "trouty" looking spots, you can find Steelhead. Tailouts and deep pools are great holding spots.

Dead drifting nymphs is effective. If I'm working flies behind salmon, my point fly is an egg pattern with a caddis dropper behind it. In the deeper holes, I'll drift a Rubberlegs Stonefly followed with a caddis or mayfly dropper. My two fly leader is a 7.5' 2x leader to the point fly with 18" of 3x tippet to the dropper.

My favorite way to fish for Steelhead is to swing flies. My favorite flies are articulated egg sucking leeches, Silver Hiltons, and Anderson's Euphorias. If I am swinging with a floating line or an intermediate tip, I use a 9' 1x or 2x leader. If I use a type 3 to type 8 tip, I'll tie on 4' to 5' of Maxima Ultragreen tippet to the butt section.

My leader sizes are based off of Northern California Steelhead which are smaller than Pacific Northwest Steelhead. Hens usually range from 4 to 8 pound. Bucks usually range from 6 to 12 pounds. There are some fish that are caught outside of the upper ends of those ranges.

MP
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Old 09-27-2009, 01:10 PM
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Default Re: Idaho steelheaders, need some help

Thanks for the advice. I was just swinging egg sucking leeches, wolly buggers, and zonker like patterns when i went. I have a hard time bringing myself to put on the purples and bright blues and things like that when it comes to flies. I like the more natural looking fly approach. But whatever approach works is really what i am after.

Currently i have a 9 ft 3x leader on. I feel it might be a little under gunned.

Thanks again for the advice.
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Old 09-27-2009, 01:16 PM
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Default Re: Idaho steelheaders, need some help

You can get away with the 3x leader on the swing since many are rated around 8 pound test. I like heavier ones mostly for abrasion resistance.

MP
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Old 09-28-2009, 07:41 AM
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Default Re: Idaho steelheaders, need some help

Don't be afraid to try some of those blues and purples when you're swinging flies, they can be great colors. You can't go wrong with the advice MP gave you, it will work for you. If you tye, tye up some large black wooly buggers and add some blue flashabou to the tail; it really cranks a steely up for some reason ...

Dan
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Old 09-28-2009, 09:14 AM
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Default Re: Idaho steelheaders, need some help

idahoflyfisher,
Great timing for this thread. I'm giving the Steelhead game a try myself this year, we're hitting the Salmon River in mid October. Fortunately a good friend of mine is going to be showing us the ropes and supplying the needed equipment.

The number of fish returning this year looks good, I just peeked at the #'s @ Bonneville this morning. OUTSTANDING!!

Been trying to get on this train for a couple years now. All aboard!!
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Old 09-28-2009, 09:39 AM
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Default Re: Idaho steelheaders, need some help

Well good luck to you fyshstykr. Steelhead numbers are for sure on our side this year. You will have to post how things went. It doesn't look like i will be able to get back out for maybe another two weekends. When i do though i will have to throw some of the blue and purple buggers and see how they go.

Thanks again for the replies.
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Old 09-28-2009, 10:03 AM
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Default Re: Idaho steelheaders, need some help

Thanks, and right back at ya.

I will certainly have some of the aforementioned flies in the arsenal and ready to fly. My buddy told me to stock up on some Trainwrecks and Green Butt Skunks in size 6. He likes to swing smaller, slimmer flies.

He also gave me his Sage Z-Axis 11' 6wt Switch Rod to try, I guess I need to hit the local pond to see what this rod can do.
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Old 09-28-2009, 10:12 AM
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Default Re: Idaho steelheaders, need some help

Quote:
Originally Posted by fyshstykr View Post
He also gave me his Sage Z-Axis 11' 6wt Switch Rod to try, I guess I need to hit the local pond to see what this rod can do.
If you put the right line on the rod, you're going to love it. On my local tailwater, 11' 6 weight Z-Axis is my main stick. I use a 325 grain Rio Skagit Short line when I am Spey casting. I also have another reel loaded with a 260 grain Sage indicator taper for close in nymphing.

MP
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Old 09-28-2009, 10:42 AM
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Default Re: Idaho steelheaders, need some help

Another thing i have been wondering about. Right now I have just a regular Orvis steelhead/salmon floating fly line on and i typically throw bead head flies or put a split shot or two on the line otherwise. I was wondering what kind of rig you guys have to get the fly in the "strike zone". I ordered some orvis shooting line in the fast sink or whatever it is called so i wouldn't have to have another spool and a whole other line. Where exactly in the water column am i trying to get these flies. I know deeper is better but how deep? 6 inches from the bottom, one foot from the bottom, 6 inches from the top?
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