Guide for Steelie Newbie [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Guide for Steelie Newbie

07-29-2003, 06:05 PM
Been flyfishing for about 4 years now and interested in learning how to fish EFFECTIVELY for NW steelhead. Located in Seattle and will probably head North to Sauk, Stilly, Skagit, etc. Any guide recommendations for a newbie, time of year, river, etc.?
Any and all recommendations will be listened closely to...

Thank you oh sage flyfishing comrades!!!

Tin Pusher
07-30-2003, 04:54 PM
I recommend Dennis Dickson. He has courses on flyfishing for steelhead that will greatly speed up the learning process. I wish I had taken one of his courses when I first started flyfishing for steelhead as it would have cut out a lot of fruitless days.

He also has a great website.
Post edited by moderator becasue of sponsorship policy. 7-30-03

07-30-2003, 05:38 PM
Dennis is a good source and his website is certainly an entertaining read. He is but one of the good steelhead guides that specialize in the waters you are talking about. I would also recommend Rob Endsley, John Farrar, Mike Kinney and Ed Ward. If you need contact info. for any of these or would like more information, drop me an e-mail message.


07-30-2003, 07:47 PM
"He also has a great website. Post edited by moderator becasue of sponsorship policy. 7-30-03."

The power bill is paid for by the Board Sponsors. Remember to send them a e mail (cc the Admin. Guy - Sean, Juro, Dana, et. al., correct this part!!) asking them to financially support the Board.

Advertising is cheaper than dirt .. and the good part ... is ALL the readers are their "target group." Can't get much better than that; the readers are the do-ers. KaChing, KaChing.

(That was the sound of a cash register?)

07-30-2003, 10:26 PM
I second the recomendations regarding both Rob Endsley and Ed Ward.

I've known Rob for many years and every person I have sent to Rob over time has had rave reviews.

Ed Ward would be another excellent choice and I can say that based upon a day spent with Ed but it is my understanding that this past year Ed was more or less not really guiding. Although next year maybe differnt...

If you want to have a blast, head over to the OP and book a trip with Bob Ball. I have fished with Bob many times as have other members and he is as about as good as they come.

Shoot me a PM if you want contact info.

07-31-2003, 03:08 PM

Thanks for the heads up but Tin Pusher and I have already covered the referral policy off-line.


07-31-2003, 04:16 PM
Welcome aboard.
Most of the guides mentioned are good guides and worth spending a day with. But pick a guide not because he is going to promise you how to catch steelhead but because he truely becomes a river friend for that day and shares the most important wealth of information. That being a shared conversation about the history of the rivers he fishes and the great fishermen he has met in the years as a guide. That in it's self will help you understand the ways of a fly fishing steelheader.

Tin Pusher,
Also welcome aboard.
Is there really such thing as a fruitless day of fly fishing for steelhead? If you love it then there never will be a fruitless day on the river nor a frustating day because every hour, every day on the river is a learning experience that you alone have accomplished.
Good luck to the both of you in your pursuit.

Tin Pusher
07-31-2003, 05:29 PM
I knew one of you old timers would speak up when I used the term "fruitless". Is going years without your first tug simply the right of passage for anyone wishing to join the elite few who cast feathers for steelhead? I went 3 years fly fishing for winter runs before my first take. I am very passionate about steelhead fly fishing and only wish newcombers get a taste of what its like to hook up before they give up in frustration and return to their trout ponds.

To all newbies I give forth the following thoughts:
I judge the quality of a day on the water based on the following factors, in order of importance.
1. Was the river crowded?
I enjoy meeting other fly chuckers and particularly other dryline purists but I would sooner read a book on the shore as follow a gear fishermen through a run. Not so much as I despise their methods as they are so damn efficient. Nobody can clear a run of steelhead like a knowledgeable gear fisherman. I have a gear fishing friend and a farm I am willing to bet on him if there are any challengers.
2. Were the river conditions good?
Not too low or high and atleast a few feet of visibilty. Preferably 50+ degrees to improve my odds of rolling a fish.
3. Was the weather pleasant?
Wind is your worst enemy on the river as you cannot just swing the boat around and cast the other way.
4. Was I confident that there was steelhead in the river?
I will fish a week without a take if I know I am over steelies. I will go longer if I can see them.
5. Did I bring a fish to my surface fly?
6. Did I hook him?
The take is the climax. After that I don't care if he comes off and I prefer to have them fall off before I have to land them.

OC...agree or disagree?

PS Airedale if you want to start fishing for these fish I suggest summer runs between say July and October.

07-31-2003, 08:31 PM

Thanks for letting newcomers to steelhead fly fishing know that a day astream is never fruitless. Perhaps that is why it is called fishing instead of catching.

08-01-2003, 10:33 AM
Tin Pusher,
My thoughts like yours to airedale were just that, ideas to one who asked for a little advice. Airedale did not ask for the world in his post like so many new to steelhead flyfishing do just where a good place to start and should it be with a guide. If airedale wants to start with a guide then he should and there are the names mentioned above by those who spend many hours on the river and in conservation meetings with the guides mentioned who can give airedale some good advice about a guide. I will most likely always believe after many years of steelhead pursuit that the one on one with a good guide will be far more rewarding and a more enjoyable day on the river than any commercialized group school one can go to. And the good guides mentioned above are more likely to be abstarct in how they spend a day with one new to steelhead. I think it is safe to say that most of us who steelhead fish realize just how abstract one day on a river can turn into many days, months and years of enjoyment. Again that is just my belief as is the belief that this new idea of a school on how to fish that's been around for 10 or 15 years is as foolish as it can get. Monkey see monkey do retards the creativity in ones own spirit. If one is in a hurry to be a good steelhead fly fisherman then he will need to make it his or her total passion in life and become a steelhead bum and that is no sure thing anymore. I don't really believe in the right of passage and I also don't care if someone gets discouraged just because he does not catch a steelhead and quits and goes back to his trout pond. Who cares as long as there are those new to steelhead fishing who do fall in love with it and carry on with the tradition for the right reasons and understand how difficult a passion it is. One more observation. I've been lucky in my years of steelhead fishing to have met many fine steelhead fishermen, some young and some old both gear and fly. They are men and women that don't believe in such a thing as a fruitless day on the river and you know what? Not one of them to the best of my knowledge ever went to a steelhead fly fishing school.

All the points you brought up I will agree with you on the most part and I'm sure we all have many more to add.
Go fishing and enjoy the river.

08-01-2003, 12:44 PM
So my take home from posting this message is this:

TRUE STEELHEAD CHASERS ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT THEY DO!!... and this is why I have become a 100% flyfishing addict. I got off work at 4pm yesterday, went to the Snoqualmie to practice casting, came home and watched a recorded Fly Water program and then fell asleep with Fly Fishing Washington on my chest.

Thank you all for your genuine words. I am going to research some guides and book a day in September or August. My goal is not just to catch a steelhead, although that would be nice. My goal is to spend a day soaking up as much knowledge as I can from an expert so I can feel more confident when I head out on my own in pursuit of steelhead.

thx all - cu on the river...

08-11-2003, 08:48 PM
I'd avoid Dickson like the plague.

Tin Pusher
08-11-2003, 11:04 PM
I have a friend who once posted on a newsgroup warning people of a certain stock brokers shady practices. He is now $20,000 poorer. You would think that "avoid like the plague" should be worth atleast 10 Gs. Thats a dozen good spey rods or 2 dozen _ _ _ _ _ _.!

Company name intentionally left blank as I don't want to also be on the speed dial of Dewey, Skrewum, and Howe.:chuckle:

08-12-2003, 06:41 PM
I too have not had the benefit of a guide. not that there's anything wrong with that lol. I spent 2 years fishless and I tell you what man I'd walk off that river wanting to break my rod in half. But I would always review make notes and on certain days not even bring a rod. I would walk the banks just looking at the river and the spotting Steelies and do a lot of reading about it and I came to some conclusions. I am probably not going to catch 40 in a day ! and if I do catch one I am a success. My first Steelie was on a dry and it was totally awesome! but I did it without someone's first hand knowledge. I did it on my own, that's one thing you can be proud of Tin Pusher. Yeah it's great to have someone tell some of the secrets of Steelheading, but it's even better when you discover it.! Now my steelhead days are filled with trying to improve on my own fly designs. Talk about rewarding. Nothing beats coming up with your own design and having a big fattie try to rip it from your hands ! :)

wet fly
08-12-2003, 07:16 PM
I bump into quite a few very good steelhead fishers each season. I can tell by the the self confidence and the gleam in his eye when I better listen to this one. The conversation is never about how many, or how big. If I listen a while and don't ask these personal questions, a treasure of knowledge will flow. This knowledge will come from many years on the river. He may have just landed a big one around the bend. He will not dwell on this and may fail to even mention it. There are still a few of these folks out there. Jerry

Tin Pusher
08-12-2003, 09:27 PM
I am proud of it Stephen. I have never used a guide in my life and don't plan on starting now. However if I was to go back in a time machine I would enlist ones services for my first trip to show me the basics. That is why I recommended who I did. I have 2nd hand knowledge of his course and think it is a great idea for rookies. During my early years I ran into a lot of snooty stuckup flyfishers who would'nt give me the time of day when I asked them questions. For that reason I go out of my way to help people who approach me with the same questions I was once was asking. For the record I ran into a lot of very nice and helpful fisherman as well. My personal rule now is to stay clear of the guys who look like they just fell out of a Simms poster.

08-13-2003, 10:01 AM
LOL :chuckle: How True ! bout the Simms poster! Those Dudes Are just weekend warriors who just clutter up our waters striking there poses. I too would recommend Dennis Dickson not because I know him or anything. But from everything I have read about him and his experience, he seems to be very good. I have not heard anything bad bout the guy yet. Airdale sounds as though he is on the right path to becoming an excellent Fly fisherman. So if your ever in my neighborhood and you meet some guy who likes give away his flies that would be me ! Tight lines! :smokin: :smokin: :smokin:

08-13-2003, 11:11 AM
Let me see here.................

I wear Simms boots, waders, vest, wind breaker, rain coat, gloves, underwear. They make a quaility product.

Thank you very much for staying clear of me. I like my solitude. If it will help you keep your distance I will carry around a Simms poster.

08-13-2003, 11:36 AM
Oh Puleeeeze ! I don't think anyone said anything bad about Simms and there products. We were merely referring to the "look" .

Tin Pusher
08-13-2003, 12:28 PM
Careful Stephen. Posers can be a defensive bunch!
Look what you have started Airedale. I was wrong about the country club anglers they will give you the time of day. But only after you have already got it and they need to correct you.

08-13-2003, 01:20 PM
Pnwflyfisher & Tin Pusher,

I am not a poser and I definitely don't have the "look", but if my impression of you on the river was the same as it is after reading these last few posts I would not give you the time of day either before or after you asked for it. Why don't you add something to the conversation that enlightens us or take your brand of "humor" somewhere else.

08-13-2003, 02:36 PM
I use similar expressions, but normally they fell out of an LL Bean ad (for hunting) or simply (fell out of a flyfishing mag).

It's not WHAT they are wearing, it's HOW they are wearing it. There are "looks" out there. But you can tell the guy who's out there for show. I don't judge on how the look, I judge on how they fish. That's what truly counts.

I've never used a guide, never plan to. Born and raised fishing around here, and did alot of "searching" on my own growing up looking for good holes, and working on my skills (what I have of them lol). I've found, it's a matter of confidence and/or dumb luck most of the time. If I have a "go to" pattern on, I seem to work it a bit harder. Subconsciously probably, but I do. But there are times (like last weekend) I just go out to test the waters. Or maybe just screw around with a new pattern. Whammo, bammo, FISH ON!!!!!! Didn't have to try, just happened. It's all about having fly in right place at right time. Sometimes you're on the money from years of study on the river, sometimes you hit it on pure dumb luck. But, in the end, we're ALL fishing. I always say "Hi" on the river, but get alot more grunts or silence back.

Tin Pusher
08-13-2003, 03:13 PM
Thanks steelheader69. I was getting worried that this low water year had got everyone cranky. Glad to see there are still some out there willing smile.:)

Hey MJC last time I looked I was the first response,in this thread, when a new guy had a question. Guess he gave you the wrong impression too.:tsk_tsk:

08-13-2003, 03:39 PM
Tin Pusher,

Yes, you were the first to answer the new guys question. I didn't answer his question because the new guy gave me the wrong impression but because I have little knowledge of the rivers and guides he ask about. The nonsense started on the second page.
As for the low water making everyone? cranky, my water isn't low.

08-13-2003, 04:19 PM
Well MJC (and for that matter anybody) anytime your in my Neighborhood you are more than welcome here ! I do not live up in the area in which Airdale was talking about but I have been up there a bunch of times and the rivers to which he refers are some of the top rivers in the state. But I have to tell you we have our own trophy rivers down here. I live two blocks from the Washougal and I fish the Kalama "alot". And I think you have to know Washingtonians to know they like to pick on each other in fun, (least the ones I know anyway) we just laugh at each other cause we like to keep it light. I can't tell you how many times my buddies pick on me for having an Orvis reel. :hehe: And if your water isn't low I hope your pulling them in. After all it's all about the fishing ! and Steelheader69 all I can say is "Dude you are the Man":smokin:

08-13-2003, 05:18 PM

I meant what I said. If a poster will get me more space. I will staple one to a stick and tape it to my back. If my "look" keeps the gabbers away, good. If you see a guy on a river wearing head to toe Simms then please find a different hole. I don't like sharing water with people who judge others by what they are wearing or not wearing.

Kerry L. Stratton

08-13-2003, 05:35 PM
Okay thanks for the notice but I don't judge others by what they wear. Sorry you feel that way. :(

08-13-2003, 07:45 PM
Tin Pusher,
you will never understand

08-13-2003, 08:33 PM
I COMPLETELY understand. In fact, I have a setup I'll wear JUST for stretches that are fly only, or places where you'll see alot of fly only guys (upper Hoh for one). I have a set of grungy old jeans, old red/black flannel, orange Stihl suspenders, and an old orange "elmer fudd" style hunting hat. You'd laugh if you've seen how many guys I've spooked from holes when I'd walk down with my gear rod and spoons. Have actually waited for them to leave, then ran and got my spey rod. :hehe: Don't do this alot. Hate wearing those clothes, and only works about 60% of the time.

Tin Pusher
08-14-2003, 12:05 AM
I guess I will never get it:confused:
I like to meet people and talk fishing. I like to share ideas with other anglers. But more than anything I like to help new steelheaders who show an interest in what I am doing. I would get far more out of a day drifting a river with a keen newcomber, explaining some of my thoughts on where the fish may be laying and the techniques that might get a response, than spending a day with the river to myself. Maybe thats partly because I fish rivers where I rarely see another human being for days. Maybe if I had to do battles with the sort of crowds you apparently do Kerry I would also be antisocial. Two rats in a maze are friendly, 20 rats in the same maze want to kill each other. If anyone happens to find me on my maze you will know its me because I will be looking at my watch just waiting for you too ask the time of day.

I hope I never understand as I am having too much fun not getting it.:hehe:

08-14-2003, 09:34 AM
You know that you owed me lunch next time I'm over on the Clearwater but for your efforts I will be honored once again to buy you a cheese burger deluxe. Poor airedale, he just asked for the names of a couple of good steelhead guides and he gets hit with advertisements for fly fishing schools. Ya know Simms equipment sure is somewhat loud looking on the river but no where near as loud as a fly fishing school in 6 to 10 pontoon boats going from one run to the next. A bunch of guys standing elbow to elbow looks like snag fest on the Quilcene River. Monkey see monkey do.

Next time there is a Simms sale up your way give me a PM, I'm in.:hehe:

08-14-2003, 12:21 PM
If you think my apparent attitude comes from fishing crowded rivers your are proving to me once again you don't get it.

wet fly
08-14-2003, 01:10 PM
Kerry, I always knew you were the exception to the rule. Jerry

08-14-2003, 03:47 PM
OC's got it right. Nothing worse than being invaded by a crowd of water slappin' sea donkeys from a "fly fishing for steelhead" school. You'd think etiqutte would be part of the curriculum, but several experiences on the river have shown me otherwise.

stay off my river.

08-16-2003, 04:34 AM
DD is an excellent business man.
There is a certain satisfaction from learning things yourself. Read a few books.

Mean Mr Mustard
08-16-2003, 08:16 AM

DD has, in my estimation, sunk from steelhead guide to steelhead pimp. The man would sell his ________ for a dime. He's almost as bad as those confused individuals stuck halfway between gear and flies - an unnatural perversion!

two bits worth,


08-17-2003, 02:07 AM
Mr Mustard, I just said he's a good business man. He's a salesman marketing a product. He markets his classes on the web, then markets his flies and lines in the classes. From talking with people who have taken his classes, I think the actual fishing info can be found for free elsewhere.

Tin Pusher
08-17-2003, 10:05 AM
There was only one succesful guide, that I can think of, that did'nt advertise. If I remember the movie correctly he ended up working 7 days a week for 40 years before retiring and he was'nt even thought of as that good of a fishing guide. Seems his rivers were either running high and red or so low you could walk across them without getting your feet wet.:chuckle:

Remember the 11th commandment:
Thou shalt not provide for thou offspring if by doing so offends thy neighbor.

08-17-2003, 01:40 PM
Originally posted by cupo

There is a certain satisfaction from learning things yourself.

So true. And it applies to a lot more than fishing.


08-18-2003, 08:31 AM
With regard to your "get up"...I find that an okey blow or two will raise it up to 65% or more. Light up a realy bad cigar or two also...just don't stick it in the water of coarse.