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Throwing Streamers For Steelhead
If you're an angler that really loves to throw streamers but have only been nymphing for steelhead, this blog is for you.
This past year in between my days of guiding I would target fish on streamers no matter the conditions. Fishing “larger” streamers for steelhead is not a popular method of targeting these fish, but it can work regardless of conditions.
In the case of low and clear water, most people think streamer fishing would be worthless. I found that to be the opposite. In these conditions I ran a floating line with a 9ft 3x leader. These fish are not leader shy, but most fish get spooked with a fly line slapping the water on top of them. The 9ft leader helps to keep that fly line out of the fish's view. Downsizing flies is key in this situation. My most productive fly was an olive over cream articulated fly with a size 4 front hook and size 6 back hook and a small cone head. Finding the fish sitting in pockets outside of a rapid was where I found most of my success.
In high muddy water I fished for these fish as if they were predatory brown trout. My rig was an intermediate fly line with a 4 ft 12lb leader. Contrary to most belief I did not have as much success with these conditions as the low water. The most important thing to do in these situations to get a bite is using flies that push water and cast a large silhouette. Most fish sit on walls and creases of shale in this situation and will eat if you can trigger them.
Just remember animating your fly to trigger a strike is the most important part of fishing large streamers. Just stripping the fly back to you is not going to do it. Use the rod tip, fly weight, current, and structure to your advantage to change your retrieves and trigger the predator out of an Erie steelhead.