Erie steelheaders use a wide array flies in their pursuit of this
most worthy game fish. One can classify them broadly in the same way
trout angler’s classify flies. In general the Erie steelheader carries a
variety of streamers, egg patterns, and nymphs.
Steelhead feed heavily on schools of shad, smelt and other fish
in the summer months. And when they first enter the river they have fish
on their brains. Streamer patterns are the thing to start off with,
when steelhead are first stacking up to make their run. Primary patterns
used are the Woolly Bugger, Mickey Finn, Muddler Minnows and other streamer patterns. Dead drifted or swung they are deadly in the early months.
Steelhead consume lots of eggs in their lifetime. Especially in
the winter, when suckers move up the rivers to spawn. The most popular
egg pattern is the Sucker Spawn, with the Crystal Meth a close second. Egg patterns are generally bounced along the bottom. And are a good choice all winter long into March.
The last class of flies fished for Erie Steelhead is
the basic nymph and beadhead nymphs. Like trout, steelhead consume lots
of nymphs in their lifetime. The same nymphs that are popular for trout
fishing are used in Steelhead Alley. With Hare’s Ear, Prince, caddis larva and stonefly imitations
being the most popular. Buggy nymphs seem to work best, and although
bug life is fairly dormant in the winter these are never a bad choice.
Some classic steelhead patterns from the Northwest are used as well, including the Green Butt Skunk. And in murky waters the Popsicle is popular along with other bright streamers.
After reaching the water, use some of the same techniques
discussed on out other steelhead articles, clearer water go smaller and
more subtle colors, high, murky water go brighter and larger.