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You can see the influence of traditional wet flies in the patterns of masters like Bob Arnold, Randall Kaufmann, and Bill McMillan, just to name a few. True, swinging a soft-hackle on a greased line is pure poetry. You want to present your flies where the fish are.

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When I have to make a hour drive and stand in degree water for nine hours in swirling lake effect snow, purism can wait. Whether you choose to fish with an indicator or not, get your flies deep and in front of steelhead and let the fly swing photo by Barry and Cathy Beck. Anglers frequently tend to overcomplicate matters. You can avoid that pitfall by remembering these four basic considerations: With those factors in mind, show the fish something different—something that entices them with movement and creates the illusion of life—like a soft-hackled fly drifted along the bottom of the river.

The fly may sport fluorescent colors, it may be a pure attractor pattern, or you may tie it in muted natural colors. So to get my fly down quickly, I rely on weight attached to the leader. Enough to get your fly down to the bottom without hanging up on every cast. A Soft-Hackle Indicator Rig My favorite setup employs a six- to eight-foot piece of pound Maxima line under an acrylic yarn indicator.

Add or detach shot just above the swivel on the indicator end of the leader as needed. Also note that some situations call for more shot—think faster, deeper water.

Winter Steelhead Fishing Options from $225

Other times, you may want to increase the weight to incrementally slow the drift speed of your flies. Sometimes that reduction in speed is the difference between catching a fish or getting skunked. Whether to use an indicator or not is purely a personal choice. The takes of winter steelhead can be beyond subtle. Look for a reason to set the hook on every drift and remember to check your hook points early and often. Any hook repeatedly traversing the river bottom is susceptible to dulling. No matter what your preferred method is, begin by presenting your fly on a dead drift.

Let the soft-hackles do their job, which is to move and flow and entice a steelhead.

Let the fly continue downstream. Track the drift with your rod tip as the fly begins to swing upward. TMC , sizes 6 to Fluorescent fire orange Antron. Small holographic silver tinsel. Grizzly hen cape hackle, palmered. The Woolly Worm first gained widespread popularity when Ray Bergman featured it in his landmark book Trout.

The original fly had a tag of red wool.

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You can and should play around with different-colored tags. Some of my favorites are blue, hot pink, chartreuse, and metallic copper. The steelhead will let you know if they have a preference. Bergman thought the Woolly Worm was a caterpillar pattern. In low, clear flows, I like this fly tied in a size TMC , size 6 or 8.

Soft-Hackles for Winter Steelhead - American AnglerAmerican Angler

Hot pink hen hackle fibers. Hot pink hen cape hackle. White arctic fox, tied sparsely. One of the keys to effectively fishing a spoon or spinner is working the lure completely to the end of a drift. These lures are primarily used from a boat, although a tackle company did come up with a side planer a number of years ago that allows a bank angler to use them. Plugs are most effective when more than one is used.

The key, though, is to have the plugs out the same distance, generally 50 feet.

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The same thing goes from the bank if you're using a side planer: Plugs are best fished in the tailout of a drift where fresh fish are moving into a drift or holding up. This method, under certain conditions, can be just as effective as any other technique. The downside to fly-fishing can be the cost of equipment. But from what I've learned so far, the better the gear such as rod and line , the easier it is to make good casts.

Fly patterns vary as much as anything in the sport; fly and color choice boil down to personal preference. The exposure I've had to fly fishing has taught me that steelhead will lie in shallow riffles a couple of feet deep near the edge of the river.

Winter - Fishing Stamp River Winter Steelhead

This water is not effectively fished by any other means. There isn't any one method better than the other when it comes to catching a steelhead. As I discussed last week, drift fishing is the most popular. But that method won't always cut the mustard in all situations. That's why we have alternatives. When you look at all of the methods you could use to catch a steelhead, it usually boils down to one choice: The one you're most confident with. The traditional method, known as drift fishing, is by far the most popular There's also Water temperature plays a big part, as do rising and falling river levels.

When a river rises, it's usually from a heavy rain, When the rivers finally decide to settle, steelhead anglers who have been chomping at the bit can try an up-and-coming technique: Float fishing isn't that common around here, but it is rapidly catching on. Canadian anglers fishing for steelhead and salmon When you take a look at all of the methods you could use to catch a steelhead, it usually boils down to one choice: The one you're the most confident using.