Steelhead beginner on the fly

Echskech
Echskech
After a long and fruitless history of Steelhead struggles I've decided to switch my conventional tackle to a fly setup. Why? Because I found a cheap offer on some gear and I like making things difficult I guess. I do have experience flyfishing under an indicator for trout, I'll plan to use similar tactics with my newly sized up presentation. I tie flies for trout (thanks largely in part to youtube), but have switched my efforts to Steelhead patterns that are easy.

Would you take a look at this box and tell me if I'm missing any Fly styles that may give me a better shot at coastal run Steel? (I fish on the Wilson and other Tillamook tributaries)
 
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DOKF
DOKF
That looks like a good starter setup. Of course you can and will add more ...

The trick is more about finding and presenting.

Good luck!
 
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Echskech
Echskech
@DOKF
Man I totally agree. I think ALL of my fishing failures are due largely in part to just fishing where the fish aren't. I'm hoping to learn a lot about steelhead holding waters real soon.
 
S
Snopro
Glo bugs? Where's the box of beads?;)

Looking at the size of your thumb, I think you need some larger flies. Not that steelhead won't bite what you have, but it looks like trout sized stuff to me. I'd add some intruders, egg sucking bunny leaches and some kind of large shrimp patterns. In cold water sometimes it takes big stuff for them to make a move.
 
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Echskech
Echskech
@Snopro
Hah! Glo-bug for the win (or so I'm told). So I had a sneaking suspicion that my flies were a little under sized for steelhead caliber fish. But most of the youtube tutorials were making flies even smaller then mine. Maybe they were specific to smaller great lakes fish. I will look into some shrimp patterns tho because they sound cool.
 
brandon4455
brandon4455
Lotta fish catchers in that box but I agree some more good size stuff in there is needed. Tie some of those jig flies on a size 1 or 2 hook like I showed the picture of.and you can also do a pink worm fly larger than Large trilobal Antron chenille secured to a jig hook with eyes, add a dubbing body or some hackle and boom ready to fish!
And I definitely wouldn’t rule out beads, unless you’re against that sort of thing. The hookup to land ratio sucks with beads but they hook a lot of fish. I like to trail the jig fly or bugger style fly with the bead, or I’ll fish a glow bug/yarnie with a split shot above and a bead dropper, or a weighted egg pattern and a bead or unweighted egg fly dropper.

I like sizes 2,4,6 for egg flies and sizes 10mm-16mm for beads but larger and smaller certainly work. It’s very non traditional “fly fishing” but it gets the job done well where applicable
 
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Chromatose
Chromatose
Echskech said:
@Snopro Maybe they were specific to smaller great lakes fish.

Echskech, could you elaborate on this comment please?
 
jamisonace
jamisonace
Black and blue MOAL
 
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Echskech
Echskech
Chromatose said:
Echskech, could you elaborate on this comment please?

I have seen quite a few Videos online about the Steelhead that run out of the Great Lakes around Michigan. Those videos always provide some fly examples and they regularly seem to be smaller presentations. Im guessing that maybe the fish are smaller as well?
 
Echskech
Echskech
@brandon4455 those are some awesome looking flies. Looks like I'll be picking up some dumbell eyes and learning the finer art of tying the dubbing loop. I appreciate the info on fly sizes as well.
 
Echskech
Echskech
jamisonace said:
Black and blue MOAL

Honestly that looks like a real MF to tie. No wonder they are a $4 fly online
 
jamisonace
jamisonace
Echskech said:
Honestly that looks like a real MF to tie. No wonder they are a $4 fly online
I bought all the crap to tie flies years ago and quickly found out I was money and time ahead paying someone else to do it. I used to fish steelhead exclusively on the fly. The best flies I ever used weren't flies. When I lost my last egg pattern I found a small red bead in my bag and put it on. Fishing the Mckenzie, which is one of the clearest rivers in Oregon, I could see the steelhead go out of their way to grab it. I once had one come ten feet to slam that bead only to miss it. Now I rarely fish for steelhead on the fly but beads are still my go to lure.

Also, when swinging, besides the black and blue MOAL I did well with red and black.
 
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hobster
hobster
Man those are some nice looking flies! I think the ones on the upper left would work best for winters, but they would all work well for summer steel, especially on clear rivers like the Mac. Would be nice to have size variety for different water clarity, my buddy was hooking them with 20 mil beads last winter! They looked like lollipops 😀 I tie my own flies/jigs as well, and it is extremely satisfying to land fish on flies you tied yourself. Definitely worth the effort, plus tying is lotsa fun too.
 
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Chromatose
Chromatose
Echskech said:
I have seen quite a few Videos online about the Steelhead that run out of the Great Lakes around Michigan. Those videos always provide some fly examples and they regularly seem to be smaller presentations. Im guessing that maybe the fish are smaller as well?

Short answer is, your guess would be wrong as I fish both the Great Lakes and the waters of PNW.

Did you by chance see the water clarity?
 
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jamisonace
jamisonace
hobster said:
Man those are some nice looking flies! I think the ones on the upper left would work best for winters, but they would all work well for summer steel, especially on clear rivers like the Mac. Would be nice to have size variety for different water clarity, my buddy was hooking them with 20 mil beads last winter! They looked like lollipops 😀 I tie my own flies/jigs as well, and it is extremely satisfying to land fish on flies you tied yourself. Definitely worth the effort, plus tying is lotsa fun too.
I laughed out loud the first time I saw a 20 mil bead. I don't fish them but my buddy got his first steelhead on one last year. The things look ridiculous but apparently they do catch fish. I rarely fish anything bigger than a 14.
 
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brandon4455
brandon4455
Echskech said:
@brandon4455 those are some awesome looking flies. Looks like I'll be picking up some dumbell eyes and learning the finer art of tying the dubbing loop. I appreciate the info on fly sizes as well.
No dubbing loop needed if you want to cut time, I just dub the thread and figure 8 wrap the head.slightly less durable though without the loop.

The Feather is schlappen on these to match the hook/profile size you want vs the giant marabou ones I was showing you for salmon, just have to select the section of feather you want, secure it, Palmer forward and tie off. Then add your dubbing.
 
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D
Dizzy Fisherman
If I were going to swing for steelhead I would fish intruders and more tube style flies. April Vokey has some good info on YouTube. The Fly Shop near Mt. Hood is also a good resource.
 
Echskech
Echskech
@Dizzy Fisherman
That's the very fly shop where I picked up my 8 weight fly rod. They have killer deals on new and used gear! Right now I want to just focus on a drifted presentation since it seems best for my local waters. Eventually I'll hope to pick up a Comando head from OPST or something similar and try my hand at larger waters. Maybe give the Deschutes a go.
 
Echskech
Echskech
@brandon4455
Last few questions about the jig flies as they seem pretty cool.
Would you consider the dumbell to be a large, medium, or small size for Steelhead specific use?
Do u fasten them on the top or the under side of the hook?
What type of hook are you using? (BigYflyco doesn't seem to stock a jig'd hook of any serious size).
Thanks a lot!
 
brandon4455
brandon4455
Echskech said:
@brandon4455
Last few questions about the jig flies as they seem pretty cool.
Would you consider the dumbell to be a large, medium, or small size for Steelhead specific use?
Do u fasten them on the top or the under side of the hook?
What type of hook are you using? (BigYflyco doesn't seem to stock a jig'd hook of any serious size).
Thanks a lot!
For eyes I either use hareline painted lead eyes large,

or the same hareline XL plates lead eyes I use on the salmon size ones.
The way I tie them on is on shank just behind the eye, hook point down and eye pointed down in the vise. This is so it rides hook up and eye up like a jig is suppose to. With the large painted eyes it does need extra weight to sink in most areas so I add a split shot when using the painted ones, about 2ft up the leader.

for hooks im using anything from a size 4 up to 1/0 but I prefer a size 2 for most applications.
 
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