I had been out daily this week at my backyard steelhead creek and each day learned a new tip or technique. Here are my findings:
1. You can never have enough leader. I use simple hand tied tapered Maxima ultra green tied in 30#, 20#, and 15# sections. Believe it or not, breaking off is easily done with lots of jagged rocks, and snags that end up shredding the leader. I carry extra strike indicators, fly rigs, #3 shot and smaller to fish different selections of water where I think fish will be holding.
2. Carry a net. I lost several nice fish this week and could’ve benefited with a hand net with large enough bag. These fish are strong and should be brought in quickly, playing them out too long gets them into the fast water and you don’t have time or space to lose.
3. Observe where others have hooked fish, steelhead like to hold in the same type of water. If you don’t get a hookup move to another spot. Return to those familiar holding runs ad work them systematically.
4. Talk to the locals, they have tons of valuable information. I’ve only fished this Creek for my second season and have met guys that have been coming here for decades. I saw more pencil lead and yarnies than any other set up. I mimicked this by tying egg patterns and using my dingleberry shooting, which uses the tag end of a blood knot at the leader to fly connection. I like to keep those ends long and not trim them. They become a good spot to crimp a split shot and helps bounce along the river bottom with less hang ups. If the rig does become hung an swift upstream motion most all the time dislodges the set up.
I blew off this fishery for many years but have grown to appreciate the technical aspect of it and learning how to read water. It has helped me to become a better nymph fisherman and how to adjust, set up and adapt to different water speed and depths. Usually I keep the indicator around 5-6′ but adjust the shot so that it’s just ticking and giving the indicator some hesitation so that your fly rig is on the bottom.
I have taken a less serious approach to catching and learning more fishing, talking to others, observing and watching the experts, and practicing good casting, line placement and dead drifts. The result today was 3 hooked and one cookie cutter landed. I did harvest this fish for my youngest sons birthday as we enjoyed ribeyes and fresh winter run steelhead.
On a sad note, I couldn’t finish out the day with a limit as my Helios 2 Orvis rod taco’d and broke off at the 2nd section and the tip was lost as the tippet broke. I can attest that this is the finest casting 8 wt rod that I’ve owned. Nicer than the Sage One, enough backbone and quality hardware than the Native run GLX, quicker action than the Scott S8. The major benefit is the light weight, I can cast for hours without arm fatigue or tennis elbow. It will take 3-4 weeks for the repair, hopefully back sooner as I have my sights on chasing Oahu bonefish next month and don’t want to be without this stick in my arsenal.