are a few basic steelheading techniques that every steelhead fly
fishing angler knows, or should know. Which one you use will depend on
several things including water lever, clarity, temperature and speed.
Also one must take into account outside temperatures, time of year, and
time of day. And finally which fly you are using, which also depends on
all of the previously mentioned things and more. But we are here to
simplify, to present a few basic techniques to give the fly angler a
foundation on which to experiment.
The most popular steelhead fly rodding technique is the wet fly
swing. This is used traditionally when steelhead are in fairly shallow
water (less than seven feet) and water moving at about walking speed. To
begin the technique, you cast upstream from where you are standing, you
should be also be standing upstream from the designated target. Once
you cast you need to mend your line immediately. And then do nothing
else. The mending allows the fly to sink without hindrance. The fly then
swings down in front of the desired target. When the swing is done
allow the fly to dangle for a few seconds. And be alert, often this is
when the strike occurs. Generally I give the same spot a few casts and
then move a little and try it again.
Another technique is the dead drift. During this technique it is
crucial that the fly drift without tension, and be allowed to drift
freely. A strike indicator is mandatory, and a strike indicator that
allows you to see whether or not your fly is floating without being
impeded is the best. Some fly fisherman use macramé yarn, others use a
corkie and a toothpick, both indicate whether the fly is floating as it
should. Traditional indicators also work. The idea is to keep the fly
directly below the indicator, than free floating has been achieved. Dead
drifting is used primarily in pools or slower riffles. Dead drifting
does not cover as much water as the wet swing, but when fishing in
smaller streams, or a narrow concentration of where steelhead are lying
it is a very precise and effective method. The indicator can be adjusted
to vary the depth at which your fly is presented.
One last popular method is bottom bouncing. Bottom bouncing works
well in faster water, when steelhead are lying on the bottom. It is, as
the name describes, bouncing your presentation along the bottom. Cast
your fly upstream and allow it to sink to the bottom. Generally a couple
of split shots BB sized placed twelve to eighteen inches above the fly,
will get the fly down. But sometimes more weight is needed. Once the
bottom is hit, lift the fly line out of the water by lifting your rod
tip up, keep excess line in your free hand. As the fly moves downstream
away from you gradually lower the line and let more fly line out.
All the above methods work with nymphs, streamers or egg patterns. More on fly selection will be presented in upcoming articles.