Steelhead are famous for their selective nature and elusive behavior. They’re nicknamed “the fish of a thousand casts” because it’s not uncommon to go days without catching one on the fly. Many anglers target Steelhead with two-handed rods and their popularity has increased recently as the guide business in the Pacific Northwest expands. Many anglers travel from around the world to target these fish in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Once hooked, a Steelhead can be feisty. They’re known for tearing line off of a reel and jumping acrobatically downstream which is part of what makes them so alluring. Many anglers also target Steelhead on the tributaries of the Great Lakes although those fish are a different breed than the sea-run fish in the Northwest. Whether you’re new to the Steelhead game or a veteran, the right flies play a large role in your chances of success on the water.
Typical Steelhead flies include tube flies, skaters, intruder patterns, and more. Fishing egg flies is a popular technique in Great Lakes tributaries and Alaskan rivers. Steelhead enter freshwater rivers to spawn, so when they’re in freshwater, they become defensive of their redds. When there are eggs in the water, Steelhead often capitalize on a floating egg for a protein-filled meal. The Soft Egg Fly we carry is a great fly option for targeting Steelhead that are eating Salmon eggs or trout eggs in freshwater. These eggs can be dead drifted under an indicator and come in a variety of colors and sizes.
Other productive Steelhead flies include ‘skater’ patterns that are fished downstream on the swing to imitate skating insects. The Grillos Boilermaker Fly is one such skater pattern and features a foam body for increased floatation and a green butt for high-visibility. These flies work best when fished with a floating line and a swinging style on a two-handed rod like a traditional Spey rod. The Boilermaker causes Steelhead to leave their lay and triggers a defensive strike that often results in a ‘boil’ on the surface of the water. This fly comes in a traditional Green Butt Skunk color pattern and is available in two different sizes.
If you’re hoping to target Steelhead with the more traditional approach of swinging streamers, the Silveynator Tube Fly is a great fly option. This tube fly casts easily when fished on a Spey rod and is a great fly to fish blindly in likely-looking runs and riffles. A tube fly allows extra movement in the water and is ideal for swinging, especially when Steelhead are likely to be aggressive in subsurface conditions. There are many different types of Tube Flies but the Silveynator is one of the best.
If you’re an angler who is just getting into fly fishing for Steelhead, choosing flies and techniques differs depending on where and when you’re fishing. While our Steelhead fly selection is somewhat limited at this time, check back often as we’re always updating and adding flies to our selection. These Umpqua Steelhead Flies are perfect for fish in a variety of scenarios and will improve your chances of success on the water.