Droppers with Nymphs
I've always had an aversion to strike indicators and weighted flies, but I must admit there are pocket water runs that would produce thru the winter using the same techniques that the entire great lakes fishery relies upon - small dead-drifted nymphs.
I won't go as far as indicators persoanlly, but I was shown a great technique by Bob Desplaines, a former Colorado guide now guiding in New England. It uses a hollow-fibered spun fly with a dropper off the bend of the hook to drift a nymph. Stimulator, sofa pillow, trude, etc. This technique is no secret in trout circles, and is a good way to hook fish either/or - on the surface, or down in the column.
But I haven't seen anyone using it for steelhead. I've watched jig and bobber guys hammer fish after fish in frog water, wishing I could get a few drifts thru, but I have yet to see a dropper rig being fished in that manner. With so much water in the PNW, you'd think someone would experiment with that.
RE:Droppers with Nymphs
I have seen the rare steelheader fishing the indicator/nymph setup for winter fish but never the two fly setup that is used so effectively for trout on the Deschutes. One thing to note is that the weighted nymph method is coming under scrutiny in southern Oregon. As I understand it, there is some evidence that it a) too effective and b) increases accidental mortality. Jeff knows a lot more about this than I do so maybe he will chime in.
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