new to steelhead [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: new to steelhead

06-15-2004, 08:25 PM
I live in Kansas City and fly fish for bass, bluegill, the occasional carp and trout (colorado/ozarks). I am planning a trip to Portland to fish for steelhead, brook trout (my favorite in colorado) and whatever else i can get on the Deschutes and the Sandy.

My question is, what should i bring? I don't want to bring everything, but would like a versatile collection to bring.
My gear consists of:
TFO TiCR 9' 8 wt.
Redington WFR 9' 6 Wt.
Redington RS2 9' 4 wt.
St. Croix 7.5' 3 wt
Cabela's 7' 1 wt. (my only rod for bluegill, small 'bows' and brookies)
All my reels are mid priced high quality disc drags.
All my lines are Orvis Wonderline WF except for the SA Bass Bug taper for the 8 wt.

Should I get a Multi-tip line for the 8 wt?
Do I need to get a higher weight rod?
Are there any other things I need to bring or know?

Thanks for the help,

06-16-2004, 05:09 PM
When are you coming?

You definitely don't need a higher wt. rod.

You might want the 8 wt. to throw tips and bigger flies on the Sandy, otherwise you could use the 6 wt on the Deschutes. It is an advantage to cast far, and with the wind you might want the 8, but you don't need sinking lines on the D except for fishing mid-day.

You might consider a steelhead taper line for the 8 wt.

If you were to limit it to 3 rods, I would bring the 8, the 6, and the 3. The 4 might be better than the 3, but the shorter length of your 3 could be handy for fishing under the trees.

I've never fished a 1 wt, and I haven't fished the Sandy much, so this info is weighted toward the Deschutes. The Deschutes steelhead average small (3-10 lb, with most fish under 6 lb), and the flies are typically small (size 6 is common, although you can fish much bigger or a bit smaller) so the 8 wt is a bit much, but it might be better on the Sandy and when it gets windy on the D. A powerful 6 is fine for steelhead on the D; a light 6 might not be enough.

I like to use a wading staff--it doubles as something to hit on the rocks to get the rattlesnakes to hide. There are more than a few, but they're not a problem if you don't stick body parts in places you can't see.

Don't sweat the equipment too much, though. Steelheading is a lot of casting and enjoying the scenery; the equipment is not critical. You're well equiped for trout.


06-16-2004, 09:58 PM
Thanks for the input.
What steelhead line would you recommend?
If I was to get a sinking line, should I get a full sink or a sink tip?
I am trying to come out Labor Day weekend, if things work out with work. I was playing with my 8 wt tonite and realized I couldn't get more than 50 feet in the air and keep it up with double hauling and yet keep a good loop with the bass taper. With the bass taper, I get 40 feet out, forward cast, backcast, then shoot it out. Keeping length airborne to get a lot of distance is really hard on the bass taper for me. I have no problem with the 6 wt and 4 wt. I will need to get a steelhead taper to practice with before the trip. What about getting a 9 wt. line for my 8 wt. to help overload it for distance? Everyone I've talked to or read about the TFO TiCR, say to get a line heavier to help with loading on them. Maybe I just need to get used to the TFO, I've only had it a few months.

06-17-2004, 03:10 AM
Go with a sinking tip and a full floating line, not a full sink. Steelheading is not about casting far, though by watching some anglers you wouldn't know it. In the rare circumstances when you need a long cast there's no need to false cast a lot of line. Shooting it out works fine. I've never fished in Oregon, but around Labor Day you shouldn't need a sinking tip that much, if at all. With the water low and "warm" a floating line should cover most of it. A 6 and an 8 would be a perfect combo for steelhead.

06-17-2004, 05:48 AM
LabanTayo -

You're in for a treat, steelheading still blows my mind even after over 20 years of doing it. You fish pristine places with big wild rivers and as the mind melts into the beauty of the scene something furious takes hold of the fly and chaos erupts for a while. Some fish make you wonder if you will ever see them, except for the leaps that can be as high as you are tall, flashing mercury bright flanks in the fall sun as it rips the line from the reel. Then, if you survive, the fish comes to rest in the shallows and you say "holy **** it's a trout". I still do.

It would be remiss not to mention Spey casting and rods, which is ideally suited to steelhead fishing. When you go there you will be in the minority with a single hand rod, or close to it - because the two-hander solves a few distinct and important problems for the angler:

1) Reduces backcasting room required dramatically

Let's say you are using a Windcutter spey line (54ft head) and a 14ft rod. To cast up to 120ft, you need about half the head+leader length behind you, less if at an angle. So with 30 ft of room you can multiply the cast to room by 3 or 4 to 1. Try that with an overhead cast.

2) More time in the water

A spey cast can take as little as 3-4 seconds, no more than 5-6 seconds even when doubling the move. The rest of the time the fly is fishing. Over the course of a day, weekend, or week - that stacks a significant amount of fishing in the anglers favor.

3) Line control

The same length that provides casting ability without a full backcast facilitates amazing line control. I recall mending the line too far when I first went to the two-hander. Since steelhead like tension on the fly, this is a real plus.

4) Dealing with wind

Although some overhead casters know how to cast backwards or across the body to deal with wind, the ability to cast on either side of the body is a basic part of spey casting and it's not uncommon for a caster's strongest cast to come from the opposite side of the body. There is a clear protocol for dealing with wind whether it's whipping downstream or upstream, left bank or right bank.

5) Pleasure of pursuit

One thing I never take for granted is the pleasure of learning new things in flyfishing. Spey casting has been among the highest sources of this satisfaction for me in this regard. It's not as easy as chucking a shooting head or nymphing a short line with an indicator, but damn it's satisfying and in the end that's what I fish for - satisfaction.

Hope you have a fantastic trip to steelhead country!



06-17-2004, 11:37 AM
Cupo and Juro,
Thanks for the nice words.
I would love to learn how to spey cast, but finances and location prevent most of it. The rivers here are small. I think fly casting and especially spey casting is one of the most beautiful things in this world. Most of my time in colorado is spent enjoying the enviroment. catching a fish (especially a brookie) is just iceing on the cake.
What about single hand spey rods?

Sharp Steelie
06-17-2004, 01:02 PM

Looks like most everything has been covered very well.
If your on a tight budget and going to be in the Portland
area would highly suggest SW Washington. A 2 day
license is a lot less expensive than in Oregon - it's only
6.57. I live in Vancouver and have had so much fun
fly fishing for Steelies and Salmon on the North side of
the Columbia that I haven't even picked up an Oregon
license in the last 4 years - Even though love to fish the
Deschutes! You will do just fine with a 8 wt single hand.
I have a 9.5 9 wt and also a 9.5 7 wt that works just
fine. One of these day's would like to do the spey thing
but have to stick with what I have at the moment. You
will have a lot of options when it comes to rivers in
the Portland and SW Washington area. Around labor
day you could run into Chinooks/Coho's/Steelhead and
the always present normal river resident fish. All kinds
of amazing scenery, absolutely beautiful rivers, and
some really cool wildlife. Oh, kinda been able to find
a few nice fish - can send you in the right direction
when you get here.


06-18-2004, 09:54 AM
Sharp steelie,
thanks for the offer, we'll have to trade info before i get there.
What about single hand spey vs double hand spey?
pros and cons of each?

06-18-2004, 10:48 AM
With either of your 9' rods you already have the rod for single hand spey casting. If you want to learn more about the single hand spey casts you might want to get Rio's International Spey Casting Video. Simon has a good section on the single hand spey cast.
I think with the tackle you have you are already well suited for your first trip with your 9' 6wt and your 9' 8wt. If you want a "Steelhead" taper line since you like Orvis lines I would buy one from them. All the major fly line companies offer a line or lines with this taper. Cabelas has them also.
There are several great fly shops (Kaufmanns and Fly Fish USA to name a couple)in the area where you are going. Both are sponsors here and a phone call to either will fill you in on your tackle needs as to leaders, flies, ect.
Have fun and catch a BIG one. Take care, MJC

Sharp Steelie
06-18-2004, 11:11 AM
LabanTayo - you'll have to check out the spey section on this site -
all kinds of good info from the spey fishers. The nice thing about
the spey thing - you don't have to worry about a back cast! Guess
you could call it a super roll cast - it's quite something to be able
to roll cast over 100 ft - watched some guys at the spey clave on
the Sandy river. Once you get the hang of it - can really put a line
out there!


06-18-2004, 11:12 AM
Thanks for the info, I feel more confident in my gear now.
Do you need moving water to practice/execute spey casting?
All I'll have here are lakes or grass. The rivers are too far away to practice on.
I've been to Paul Arden's site and I am amazed at the single hand spey casting he does. Hopefully someday before I kick the bucket, I'll be close to that good.

06-18-2004, 11:47 AM
No you do not need moving water.

06-18-2004, 04:31 PM
I'd stongly suggest to you that if you come out to fish steelhead, that the easiest way to hook your first summer run is on a single-hand rod, a dry line and dark sparse wet fly.

Techniques of effectively fishing a sink tip take a fair while to learn and are not forgiving wrpt mending, casting etc. The same can be said of the 2-hander.

These fish will move to the fly.