Taryn Bowman and Doug Pullen were our guest presenters this evening. Both Taryn and Doug love to steelhead and they have had plenty of success! Tonight they shared three steelhead patterns. All three patterns were affectionately named after a "Lady!" Great idea! The library was filled to capacity and the fly tyers had their nose to the vice to get all three patterns completed! This was Taryn's first time teaching the group and she did a great job! Doug is an old hand at doing a presentation and tonight he left everybody with a great overview of steel heading! It was neat to see Taryn's Dad, Lee, out to take in the presentation and tie some flies with the gang as his daughter instructed the group!
Just a reminder that next Monday is Family Day and there is no fly tying.
The following Monday, Larry Prowse is our guest fly tyer. Larry has asked everybody to bring tan 70 denier and 140 denier tan thread (8/0 and 6/0). Larry also asked you to bring small copper wire, small gold wire, medium opal mylar and lead (0.015 and 0.020). see you then!
What is a Steelhead? (Also known as a Steely)
It is a complex question that has many answers. It depends on who you ask. A taxonomist (tax-on-o-mist) would answer one way, a fisheries biologist would provide another and a fly fisherman may say something else. But a general definition would be: A steelhead is a rainbow trout that goes to sea, but it comes back to the river of its birth to spawn. But unlike Pacific Salmon who spawn once and then die, Steelhead can spawn multiple times, 3 to 5 times.
Taxonomist - a person who applies an orderly classification to plants, animals, fish and birds according to their presumed natural relationships
Where are Steelhead located?
Basically in any stream or river that has access to the ocean.
When do Steelhead return to spawn?
There are usually two main runs. These are known as the Summer Run and the Winter Run. The summer run season is usually August to November while the Winter Run is Feb to April
Where in the river are Steelhead located?
A complicated question but summarized as Everywhere and No Where.
Some years are better than others.
There are two types of water that a Steelhead occupies. Travelling water and holding water. Locating these is key to your success. Steelhead are always moving in travel lanes. They stay in holding water to rest before resuming their journey up the river. Steelhead do have a preference to a certain current flow. Not dead calm nor torrent, but just right. Look for a water surface that is wrinkly and travelling at a fast walk. Also the edge of current seams are good places.
Tip: If you’re catching Dolly Vardens, you’re in the wrong area for Steelhead.
Why do fishermen go after Steelhead?
This is a gamefish where size does matter.
But beyond their size is their physical and mental endurance, meaning their strength, speed and attitude. You will find that every steelhead is individual. Some have more attitude than others.
In 1963, Karl Mauser landed the current world record fly-caught Steelhead of 33 lbs. This was in the Kispiox River. Since that time, a good many larger fish have been caught and released. All Steelhead are now catch and release.
Fishermen from all over the world go after Steelhead. Once you have been bitten by the Steelhead bug, no other fish comes close to the adrenalin rush to get when one of these freight trains bites your fly.
Steelheaders are a tough bred. Dry and warm conditions are seldom the case. Expect rainy and cold conditions. Expect long waits between strikes. Sore muscles and mental exhaustion. Is it worth it? Your damn right it is.
I usually purchase an annual non-resident BC non-tidal fishing licence - $57
Steelhead Conservation Surcharge Tag-$60
Classified Waters Licence -$20/day/river
Why are Steelhead attracted to a fly?
Good question with no clear answer.
Steelhead are in the river for only one reason, to spawn. When they leave salt water and travel upriver, the presents of freshwater suppresses their appetite and can survive over 4 months without food.
Steelhead may be attracted to the fly out of aggression, some say they respond instinctively to flies that resemble food items.
There are literally thousands of patterns that have been developed. Whatever patterns you decide on, fish them with confidence.
Wet Fly – Greased Line
Old silk fly lines were greased with animal fat so they wouldn’t sink.
This presents the fly close to the surface.
Cast across and slightly downstream
Mend the line upstream so the fly faces upstream
Mending the line upstream or downstream to vary the speed of the fly.
This puts the fly under tension which gives the fly action
There should be a straight line between you and the fly.
Wet Fly – Sink Tip
Different weights of sink tips are available depending on the speed of the current and where you want your fly to be in the water column.
Cast across and slightly downstream
Mend the line upstream to allow the fly to sink.
Dry Fly – Floating line
Used on some rivers and under the right conditions.
The fly skates across the surface of the water. The waking of the fly provides the attraction.
Cover the water thoroughly by applying a system approach.
Make your cast, let it sweep, take 2 steps and make another cast.
Steelhead are known to be a fish of 1000 casts.
Cast and sweep = 1 min
Therefore 60 casts/hr
If you fish 8 hours, therefore 480 casts
This equates to roughly 1 fish/2 days. Most say this catch rate represents good fishing.
Single handed rods or 2 handed rods. (7wt to 9wt)
2 handed rods allow you to cover more water using less energy to make the cast.
2 handed rods provides casting ability when you have no room to make a back cast.
The length of 2 handed rods helps to reduce your wading depth (no deeper than your knees)
Some people still use single handed rods for reasons of increased sensitivity.
You can even spey cast using a single handed rod.
large arbor reels allow you to retrieve your fly line faster
click and pawl or drag systems
Multi- tip systems
Long Belly, Skagit or Scandi
if using sink tips, leader length about 3’ of 10-15lb Maxima monofilament
if dry fly fishing, 12-15’ leaders 1X size
Personal Floatation Device – PFD
built in vest style
Waders and Rain Jacket
rubber tread or felt
wool or synthetic blends, avoid cotton
wool or synthetic
Bear Spray, Bear Bangers, Air Horn
UV protection and glare reduction
Guard against fly hitting your eye
Don’t step in below anybody.
If you had a solid hook-up, reel up and go back to the top of the run and allow upstream anglers an opportunity.
Be polite to other anglers on the water
Thread – 3/0 Black
Shank – Senyo’s articulated 1”
Eyes – 5/32 Dumbell
Trailer Loop – 65lb Power Pro Microfilament Braided Line
Hook – Stinger hook #1
Butt Collar – Cactus Chenille Pink
Butt Collar Flash – Pearl Flashabou
Rear Collar 1 – Hot Pink Marabou
Rear Collar 2 – Silver Doctor Blue Marabou
Rear Collar 3 – Purple Marabou
Side Wings – Grizzly Hackle
Front Collar – Black Schlappen Feather
Thread - UTC 70 White
Hook - #4 Salmon Hook
Tip – Silver Flat Tinsel
Tag – Red Floss
Tail – Cerise Hackle Tip
Body – Peacock Herl/Pink Yarn/Peacock Herl
Hackle – Pink
Wing – White Bucktail
Wing Accent – Light Blue Hen Feathers
Lady Nightingale (Doug Pullen design)
Thread – 6/0 Black
Hook – Gamakatsu Octopus #2
Trailer Loop – Knottable Wire 30 lb
Shank – 4/0 Mustad 36890
Butt Collar – Purple Arctic Fox
Butt Collar Accent – Yellow Ostrich
Butt Collar Flash – Purple Krystal Flash
Butt Collar Topping – Purple Ostrich
Body Hackle – Purple Saddle Hackle
Body – Sparkle Braid, Pink/Pearl
Front Collar – Black Arctic Fox
Front Collar Flash – Black/White Krystal Flash
Front Collar Topping - Black Ostrich
Wing – Purple Grizzly Saddle Hackle
Cheeks – Jungle Cock
Eyes – 3/16 Silver Hourglass
Front Dubbing – Black Craft Fur
Taryn's Dad, Lee, was tying a Lady Gaga; while his daughter, Taryn, was doing the instruction!