Posts Tagged ‘Steelheading


Steelhead Fly Fishing’s Culture Book Review

An enticing book promo/review, at the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog (MS), about John Larison’s book, Holding Lies. 


Fly Fishing’s Barometer Rising


River's Edge and Frozen Sand (SwittersB) PP

A few days ago, I was fishing in a frustrating combination of events. Now the temps are rising, fronts are coming in and offering up rain, but maybe not too much to blow things out. Warmer temps, more manageable conditions, less stumbling around in a pre-hypothermic state, safer wading…a definite incentive to get out in this window of opportunity. Like much in life, one cannot be left with an outing that was so void of positives re technique and efficiency. A positive imprint with some successes must be created. Without those, frustrated fly fishers fall away. I vowed to use that two hander more, and I too require some successful outings to build upon. Now that I think about it, maybe the barometer is falling…….


Steelheading & the Loop



TM with Loop (SwittersB)


“The first thing is you need to carry a substantial loop, not just several useless inches as I see a lot of people fishing with. You want the loop to be at least the length of a fair-sized steelhead, say, 30 to 36 inches. Cut this in half and you get a loop hanging 15 to 18 inches below your reel. That length is usually sufficient, but I sometimes use more.” (excerpt from Dec Hogan’s book @ Midcurrent)

Present day: a must have book. Along with John Larison’s


Spey Rod Magic (Ed Ward)

I was checking out the always informative and current BusterWantsToFish blog and saw a piece about Ed Ward and a for sale dvd highlighting his skills as a master innovator in the spey rod world. I watched a trailer and once again I marveled at how images so affect my moods and motivation. Some people put together glimpses of a world that so resonate with me. You are immediately transported to that familiar place and also become acutely aware of how important humility is when assessing one’s skills with a two hander. I am way behind on waving the wand. The Deschutes R. is peaking.

Take a good look at Buster’s site and it should be on your links list, especially if you reside in the NW…but even if you don’t! Oh, I bought Ed Ward’s dvd….



Fish eat fish (inciting the bite, or some provocative creature)

Fish Eats Fish by Michael Rossiter of Leurna, Australia

Fish Eats Fish by Michael Rossiter of Leurna, Australia

This pattern is not typical of West Coast Steelhead patterns. But it obviously has a good look. I imagine it would be great for Brown Trout. (East Lake-Oregon) The olive color would be a good color to experiment with in the low, clearer waters of Summer for steelhead . I am by no means an expert, but I do find the differences in Great Lakes Steelheading and West Coast very interesting. I think an open mind is important in order to borrow from all the people out there doing it for real on their home waters and figuring out what works and what doesn’t.  An example is the trend a few years ago, of using trout nymphing techniques with oversized nymphs for steelhead…this flew into the face of the traditional technique of swinging patterns. But added to the arsenal of steelheading. Today the craze or passionate addiction of a two hander further adds to the arsenal. All good!     

Sunny Delight

Sunny Delight

Steelhead Streamer Pattern

“Sunny Delight”

inspired by Kevin Feenstra‘s pattern the “Reflector”

  • Daiichi 2461 Size 2-6
  • Black Ultra 140 Thread
  • Olive Marabou
  • Olive Ice Dub Chenille
  • Olive Schallpen Feather
  • Pearl, Gold, and Red Flashabou
  • Olive Ice Dub
  • Bead Chain Eyes

Steelheading, the Spey and Paying Your Dues (All for ‘the moment’)


The fly carried with it a lot of expectations. A lot to ask of a fly I know. Only thing left was to make the casts and take the steps.

I’m sure the guide started me up away from the bucket cause he knows how giddy a newbie can be and he didn’t want me blowing it on the lame warm up casts. I was on the inside of a soft bend that opened up into a wide pool. The near side dropped moderately fast and the far side was broken up by a small downed tree forming a seam along the cutbank. The depth looked consistent across the whole run. You could tell from the surface that there were a few nice sized rocks below that could hide a steelhead or two.

Cast after cast…step after step…I fired that fly to the far bank, mended, and settled into the swing. I felt at any moment it could happen. At this point I must have made three dozen casts. Then, at the sweet spot of the 37th swing I felt it…three deliberate taps. Instead of waiting for the fish to commit and burying the rod low and to the bank, I got anxious and effed up the whole thing……………With so much water left, I figured one of us was walking away a winner. Unfortunately for us, the rest of the day just turned into a beatdown of epic proportions.

As I read Yi’s account of a Late Fall flyfishing trip with his brother, I am reminded of a trip I posted here this past October. It is universal isn’t it? All the planning, tying, pumping eachother up, but a lingering voice of doubt developed over the years from failures…many disappointments. It is a glimpse of life to want something so bad and to try hard for it, yet walk away empty handed. The euphoria of success on the river is equally powerful. I have found the normal FFer is also burdened by the price of a guide, the price of optimum gear, the prepatory stories to friends and acquaintances re your pending trip and your probable success (were you careless enough to suggest success) and perhaps the getting there. These factors create tension, in advance, and when the day is one big refusal, these factor add to the weight of a long drive home. The nagging feeling stays until the next time. Of course, there will be a next time, on and on. The preparations and chatter long ago eliminate any twitch over a $$$ set up or guide fees. It is all part of the culture. Go it alone or in someone’s drift boat, it is all ‘paying your dues’ for ‘the moment’.       


Flyfishing Tattoo (Eric McMillan’s Good Luck Charm)
















One of the definite benefits of working at a flyshop is you meet interesting people. Tony recently met Eric McMillan and they have been exploring the rivers in Oregon and Washington. Tony relates that Eric is very good with a single hander and appears to be equally upto learning the two hander. This weekend Eric and Tony fished the Kalama all day and tested the quality of their rain gear. Eric, twenty seven years old, long ago, cut his teeth fishing for steelhead on the Kalama River in SW Washington. It was evident to Tony that Eric knew every run on the river. Tony experimented with new tubes and together the two accounted for six walloping takes, turns and departures…all good for instant adrenaline dumps and assorted exclamatory phrases. Salmon were brought to hand and a great day was enjoyed…and the rain gear stood the test!


Eric allowed Tony to photo his tattoo and upon close inspection the artwork combines the good luck of the saucy mermaid and portrays the ‘fish on’ in the background.     (Tattoo Advice Before the Needle Hits the Skin)


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August 2020

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