Friday, December 6, 2013

Steelhead taking a trout fly?

Norm with his Steelhead.
A number of years ago my friend Norm Anderson and I made a trip in February to a small coastal stream in quest of winter steelhead. He was primarily a trout fisherman and a good one at that. He was also a very creative fly tier and could tie exquisite size 20 dry flies as well as size 6 realistic stoneflies. One of his patterns became a very popular pattern called Norm’s Stone. He was also an unorthodox fly caster because he would cast the fly using a lot of wrist action, but he caught fish. However, since he had never caught a steelhead, I wondered about his chances for success. 

As we rigged up our outfits, I suggested that he use a sink-tip line and a typical winter steelhead fly, but he flatly said that he’d rather use his dry line and one of his own patterns. I tried to offer him a pattern that I had caught fish with, but he politely thanked me and headed downriver.

I began fishing with a 10-foot sink-tip line with a Polar Shrimp tied to a 6-foot leader. To my chagrin after an hour I had nary a strike. As I began to tie on another fly I heard Norm yell, “Fish on, fish on!” I couldn’t believe his luck. I immediately went down to help him, but by the time I got there he was hoisting up a nice 7 to 8 pounder that he had caught on his Norm’s Stone.

Sometimes, when the water is low and clear, bright patterns can spook fish. But, if you switch to flies that are buggier and represent natural insects, steelhead will often take them instinctively. Caddisflies and Stoneflies are good examples. 

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