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

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Old 06-19-2012, 10:01 PM
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Default stealhead questions

I have a few questions regarding steelhead.

First question. Where would be a good place within reasonable driving distance from great falls Montana to fish for stealhead. I see the clearwater in Idaho. Is there really anywhere else?

Number two. Good stealhead rod load out. Spey, switch, or single handed? And a good line weight.

Number three. Flies. Just some general patterns and maybe techniques.

Number four. The best time of year.

These are just a few questions I would like answered. Is there a good book to read on this stuff. Ive never fished for steelhead before but I had a friend that went over there for a week and caught nothing. I know it can be hard but its something I want to try.

Thanks!
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Old 06-19-2012, 11:12 PM
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Default Re: stealhead questions

Boy, Trout...your questions 2-4 kinda require an answer for #1 first. Once you identify the water the other answers will fall out. My question would be "how would YOU like to fish for them?"

There are smaller waters here in Ca that I fish with a 9'6" 5wt 1 hander, nymphing almost all the time. Many guys ONLY swing flies on the same water and they use anything from a 1 hander to a spey. On bigger waters and coastal streams I swing flies a lot more than I nymph, and there's a lot of switch/spey on those for sure...and I've got a 7 or 8wt in hand.

I've fished a switch for steelies a few times and really think that's a great answer when wading. Not so much from a drift boat.

I think you'll get some great info here. Remember there are a lot of opinionated folks who are attracted to these fish and most of their opinions, while somewhat conflicting, are probably correct in the context of where and how they fish.

Good luck...it's an addiction issue for many, this steelie thing...-Mike
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Old 06-19-2012, 11:42 PM
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Default Re: stealhead questions

You summed up why I asked this question to the tee Mike. There are so many conflicting views I dunno where to start.
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Old 06-20-2012, 12:08 AM
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Default Re: stealhead questions

Mike has given you some good stuff. Once you identify where you intend to fish you will have to go there and learn about the river. How much fishing pressure there is, how do the people fish (cautious stalking or devil may care thrashing with the rods & lines) where the fish travel, where they hold, and how many can you locate.

Observation and the locating of fish goes a lot farther than casting blindly because rumor has it there are steelhead there. I believe that one of the biggest factors in these fish being hard to cast would be those devil may care thrashers who are conditioning the fish. Once they associate fly lines and flies with danger the game becomes a lot harder.

I made at least half a dozen trips to some steelhead rivers before I had things figured out. Observations and learning about a river, those will be the key to success whether you fish steelhead, trout, or salmon. I spend a lot of time watching and a little time casting. I'm not the greatest caster but I do manage to catch fish.
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Old 07-16-2012, 12:42 PM
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Default Re: stealhead questions

I both swing flies and Nymph. I own a 12'6" Spey which is great for the American River, Trinity River and Coastal Rivers. However when you are on the coastal rivers a 7 wt would be great to handle heavier sinking tips (13" of T-14 with a large intruder/tube on the end); I also use a 7wt to indicator nymph.

I would suggest that a 5wt switch rod would be great especially if you are going to wade the Upper Klamath (I thought that my 6wt Spey was too large for the size of fish).

It is definitely an addiction and I am already thinking of the Fall and Winter .........

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check out speypages forum

Best Advise.... get out a lot and do not get too worried about the fly if you find them they will hammer the **** out of it ....
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:57 AM
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Default Re: stealhead questions

Steelhead Fly Fishing the Nez Perce Country, by Dan Landeen is a good book on the Snake River Tributaries. I found it a very interesting read. It gives the reader a historical overview of the area and the experiential perspective of many passionate anglers from the 1930's to present. I began steelhead flyfishing on small summer steelhead streams in SW Washington fishing a muddler minnow on a wet fly swing with a single hand rod. I now prefer fishing large rivers with a two hander. I skate and swing flies with a floating line in the summer and swing large flies using a shooting head and sink tip in the winter. My favorite fly patterns are the ones I have confidence in for the method I am employing. They all work. Great Falls is a ways from Steelhead waters. I would suggest practicing casting and swinging streamers on that large trout stream over there before you head out.

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This is my first post.

Last edited by dillon; 08-23-2012 at 12:00 PM. Reason: add details
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:02 PM
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Default Re: stealhead questions

If you want to fish steelhead you really need to get to the coast of Washington or Oregon. Any of the fish that reach as far inland as Idaho will be almost worn out. Steelhead right out of the ocean are the colors of chrome and chrome blue and are not to be missed and just a few extra miles. The only caveat if you want to beat the locals hire a guide.
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:45 PM
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Default Re: stealhead questions

Looks you will have to decide weather you want to go after ocean run or great lakes run steelhead. Since you are about in the middle of both. Well, after a closer look, I see you are on the west side of Montana. You should try to either go with someone with experience or hire a giude, this will speed up the learning curve greatly.
I've been flogging Steelies on Lake Ontario streems for quite some time with egg, bugger, nymph and wet flies. I am using a 9', 8wt single hand rod. I've done pretty well on both Steelheads and Browns, I learn something most every time I get out.

Good luck

Mike

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Last edited by nockhunter; 08-24-2012 at 01:34 AM.
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