Tarnish Your Spinner
In warmer water, steelhead are usually aggressive towards bait. This means that a small flash from a spinner will be able to get a quick and strong response from a steelhead, but a bright flashy spinner may scare it away. There are some spinners on the market that come in a darker sheen for summer fishing. Another way to get this effect is to tarnish the spinner yourself. Hold your spinner over a flame using tongs, just until it is brown and iridescent on all sides. Cool it off immediately in an ice bath, and you are ready to go.
Use a Larger Spinner in Cold Water
In the winter, steelhead are going to be much less active and will likely need more flaunting of the bait from you. In this case, it is best to get a larger, shiny spinner to catch steelhead. You will want to fish for steelhead in holding waters with these spinners along the river. Holding water can often be found usually near a side channel or at the beginning of some rougher water. It acts as a good place for fish to rest, and you will often find a good amount of fish here.
Choose the Right Size
Spinner sizes range from 1 to 5, with 1 being the smallest and lightest and 5 being the heaviest and largest. In general, you will want to use smaller spinners when fishing for steelhead in the summer and larger ones in the winter, but your decision will also be based on the water. If you are fishing murkier or deep water in the summer, you may want to go up in size a bit in order to help your spinner make it to the bottom of the river or stream. In the winter, you will most often want to be using a heavy and showy spinner, but if you happen upon shallow clear water, you may want to go down in size below a 4 or a 5.
Fish in Fast Water
Spinners are designed to catch the attention of the most active and aggressive fish. If you want a good fight out of your fishing experience, fish in the heavy riffles and small rapids along the river. These fast-flowing waters will have a lot of oxygen in them, and the more active steelhead will be in these areas getting energized by that oxygen as they migrate through the water. If you want to catch steelhead with a spinner, you usually will need to keep the spinner near the bottom but don't allow it to drag. The best rule of thumb is that in faster-flowing water, you want to do less reeling than you would in slower water. In faster water, let the spinner be carried upstream, and just reel in enough at a time to keep the spinner barely off the bottom. This is where the fish will be spending most of their time, and where you will be able to attract them.