Choosing Winter Steelhead Flies
Winter steelhead don't venture into the rivers from their feeding grounds in the
Great Lakes or Pacific Ocean to eat. They enter the rivers to spawn. It has
always been a little controversial as to why steelhead take a fly. I guess until we
can learn to think like a fish, we will only be able to speculate about it.
It's my belief that spawning fish take a fly because it's their way of protecting their
territory. Most steelhead anglers agree that the fish takes the fly because they
want to attack it, not because they intend to eat it. If the steelhead are in the
spawning mode and you get the fly into the right area, at the right depth they will
attack the fly.
I do think it's important to have flies that have a natural profile, or resemble
something found in the streams the steelhead are spawning in. For example, flies
that imitate sculpin usually work. That said, it's also possible that flies that don't
appear to imitate anything found in the streams work at times. Steelhead are very
opportunistic in their attacks.
It's very important to have flies that work at various depths. Contrary to what
many anglers think, winter steelhead don't always attack flies on the bottom.
They will attack them at various depths. You should have flies that range from
those that are heavily weighted to those that have no added weight.
It's also very important to have flies that are visible in various water levels of
water clarity. Spawning steelhead can be found in water ranging from murky to
clear. The time of day, type of sky (clear or cloudy) and other lighting factors can
affect how the steelhead view the fly and it's effectiveness. Having a good range
of winter steelhead flies can save the day regardless of conditions.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
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