Steelhead Fly Fishing Techniques

Steelhead Fly Fishing TechniquesDepending on the water you are fishing and the time of year, there are several techniques you can use when fly-fishing for steelhead. Techniques are often changed according to hatches of local insects because flies are modeled after them. Steelhead are strong swimmers, and catching one on a fly rod often includes a long drawn-out fight.

Dry Line

Dry line fishing refers to when the fly and line float on top of the water. Because many insects and larvae float on top of moving water, this technique is successful. Use a floating leader that will keep the fly on the top, or near the surface, depending on the weight of the fly. Steelhead usually prefer larger flies that make a disturbance as they move through the water. Flies should be cast upstream and then let to float downstream targeting ripples and deep holes if possible.


Sink Tip Line

For sink tip fishing, use a sinking leader that will cause the fly to fall to the bottom or near the bottom, depending on the strength of the current. The sinking depth can be adjusted by the length of the sinking leader. This technique is used to target the fish that are in the deep holes and won't bite a surface fly. Flies should be cast upstream and let to float downstream targeting deep spots or any areas with a gravel bottom. It will take some practice to keep the fly moving across the bottom without getting hung up on obstacles.


Fly-fishing using a float or bobber is a technique sometimes used with spawn sacks. A small bobber or float is placed an inch or so shallower than the depth of the water. This is to suspend the bait just above the bottom. The bait is usually a small spawn sack that is secured on a small treble hook. It is quite a bit heavier then a normal fly setup, so it takes some practice. This setup is usually cast upstream and floated over gravel stretches and into banks in the curves of a river or stream. It is a good way to present spawn sacks for beginners who don't have the experience with a fly rod.

Article Written By Matthew Knight

Based in Southwestern Michigan, Matthew Knight has been writing outdoor and technology articles since 2008. His articles appear on various websites. He holds a bachelor's degree in computer information systems from Western Michigan University.

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