The oh so pretty silver bow that ventures to the glorious great lakes and makes it return ….for many fly anglers – spending countless hours on the river on a frigid cold n’ damp day swinging for steelhead is dreamy, and landing a chromer is the icing on the cake!
ROD: Single hand 7 wt / 9.5 foot to 10 foot in length fly rod – medium to fast action
Two handed spey rods and “switch rods” are used as well by the advanced fly angler.
REEL: The reel should match the 7 weight rod , and it’s strongly recommended to have a quality smooth drag. The reel should have a large enough arbour to hold the fly line plus 100 yards of gel spun 20-30 lb backing.
LINE: A good quality 7 wt , weighted forward floating line is a must – I use RIO fly lines.
LEADER: There are tapered, pre-made cold water leaders available at any fly shop. I use the RIO brand. To extend the life of the tapered leader, have a spool of 1x and 2x tippet material to tie on when your store bought leader becomes too short.
10 – 15 lb test tapered leaders are recommend, depending on location and average fish size.
FLIES: You can use a variety of flies and tube flies. There are the classic egg patterns, traditional wet flies, stone flies, (I like the stone flies with a bright orange bead head) , egg sucking leach, whoolly bugger and much more.
A fly with contrasting colors is almost a must in cloudy water. In the lowest, clearest water, large bright flies can be effective at times, but going small and natural is the rule in those conditions —especially where steelhead face heavy angling pressure.
Steelhead can seldom resist a dead-drifting egg pattern or a steelhead woolly bugger in the right colour! A good fly box runs the spectrum from small and dull to large and bright!
Indicator fishing: An technique that’s popular and is to give a “drag free drift” . Basic rigs are some what simple; they consist of a fly, a weight, and a leader/tippet, and a indicator (called a “thingamabobber” in fly lingo) all fished off the end of a floating fly line. This rig is designed to fish vertically in the water column, suspended under a float ( thingamabobber).
Some choose to have no indicator and prefer to “tight line” aka czech nymphing, and many times that’s my preference over indicator style – If I choose to fish this method! Tight lining a nymph rig is an acquired taste!
Above all, I love swinging a wet fly or casting a streamer and I will cover those techniques in another issue.
* Waders: A good set of waders are needed, and boots with vibram rubber soles are my personal favourite as they grip rocks very well. I add studs to my boots for extra grip.
* Forceps/ fishing pliers/ nippers for line
* A rubber coated net to land the fish in (please don’t bank your fish)
* A trash bag ( if you see trash / old fishing line, please help keep our rivers clean (even when others don’t)
* Layers of clothing (steelhead fishing is usually good on cold and rainy days – dress well and keep dry!)
* Back pack (to stash all your day gear)
* SPF buff (bandana)
* Polarized sunglasses – in amber lens
* warm hat