Winter Steelhead Tactics
In thinking about the difficult conditions we encounter this time of year, I remembered one of the best tips I ever got for cold weather steelhead. It started with an article by Dec Hogan in the first issue of the now defunct Steelhead Journal from Amato Publications.
He talked about needing to deliver the fly really low and slow in the soft water that these Dec/Jan/Feb steelhead hang in. Fishing a spey rod is essential for this technique. You cast out diagonal to the current, then pull the line tight by lifting the rod vertically (pointing it straight up). A belly of like forms and you try to keep the fly swinging Very Slowly (and broadside to the fish) by gradually lowering the rod to point at, then lead the fly thru the swing. The ideal is to keep only the slightest tension on the fly to monitor it for subtle takes and keep it swinging.
Use a lighter tip than normal, as this presentation will allow the fly to get deeper than the normal wetfly swing. For those who like to use the greaseline techniques in summer -this is essentially the same.
Later that year I ran into Dec on the Sauk and he helped me a bit with my technique. And it helped me the next year, aiding me in hooking a large native buck in the Snoqualmie on Feb 4 with snow on the banks and the water at 36 degrees.
If you have that issue, it's worth a look back before you venture out this year. If not, I hope my brief discription of the technique gives you some ideas!
See you on the water,