Every spring I head north in search of steelhead. For the past five years I have looked forward to this adventure for months prior to the actual dates that we fish. I spend countless hours at the tying bench preparing for what I always hope will be a fruitful spring of catching powerful steelhead. It is angling for the patiently focused fisherman who knows very well that his dreams may not be realized. With that said, when the water stays running clear, and the fish are moving through the system, the chase is on… and it’s worth all the anticipation.
I have now shared my four favorite steelhead nymph patterns with fly tying instructions and a fly tying video for each of them. I do 90% of my steelhead nymphing with these four flies. Check out the links below:
I’ve been lucky enough to have many friends, brothers, one uncle, and my dad join me on such steelheading trips. At the end of the day, it is the friends you fish with that make a trip of this sort memorable. Thanks fellas, here’s hoping for many more trips with such great company!
Steelhead flies are a blast to tie. They are big, colorful, and look really fun in a fly box. Each spring I reserve a considerable amount of time at the vise for these colorful creations. Among my favorites is the Black Jack Steel. About five years ago I created a trout fly that I named the Black Jack. It is a Prince Nymph variant with a thread body that is coated with Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails as the center piece of this pattern. It has found great success for trout throughout the Western United States. While dabbling at the vise with that fly in mind I came up with a steelhead variation that incorporates a hot pink (or chartreuse) bead, and a Semi-Seal dubbing collar. I have now fished this nymph for steelhead for the past four seasons, and done very well.
The two colors I fish this fly in are pink as a first choice, and chartreuse coming in second. I’m not sure why, but it seems to me that steelhead are typically more willing to take nymphs with pink on them over other colors. I’m sure that is not the case everywhere, and it is probably just the rivers that I fish. Either way, I always have a multitude of colors in my steelhead boxes. I think it makes it more fun that way!
There are multiple factors that make this a winning pattern including it’s ease of tying, durability, and it’s ability to catch steelhead. Give it a shot!
Hook: Dai-Riki 135 (Sizes 8)
Bead: Hot Pink or Chartreuse Tungsten (Size 5/32)
Weight: Lead Wire
Thread: Black UTC 140 Denier
Tail: Black Goose Biot
Rib: Fl. Pink/Chartreuse (depending on variation) UTC 140 Denier
Glue for Body: Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails
Collar: Black Semi-Seal (Pink) or Peacock Semi-Seal (Chartreuse)
Wings: White Goose Biot
Everyone knows that stonefly and egg patterns catch steelhead while nymphing. Here is a secret weapon to add to your arsenal of steelhead nymphs. For the past four years I have been Euro Nymphing for steelhead and the Scudmarine has proven to be an extremely effective pattern. My father is an indicator fisherman and he has had success as well, partly due, no doubt to the heavy tungsten bead and bright colors.
I started fishing pink scuds when a friend of mine, Devin Olsen mentioned that he had done very well with them in the past. I started by tying very basic scuds, gold tungsten bead, clear scud back, pink shrimp Sow-Scud dubbing, and a mono rib. I still think this basic scud that I began with fishes right there with the my latest edition of the Scudmarine, but the flashy, stylish scud pictured below is more appealing to me as a fly tyer, and the fish seem to find it attractive as well. I now have three primary variations for steelhead. Pink remains the dominant, but the Lavendar Pink, and the Chartreuse are also found in my nymph box.
I came up with the name “Scudmarine” because of the heavy, quick descending characteristics of this scud. The tungsten bead and lead wraps help get this fly down quick which allows for more time drifting in the zone near the bottom of the river where most fish are found.
Just last week while fishing the Salmon River in Idaho for Steelhead I found success, once again, with the pink Scudmarine. Conditions were tough and there were not as many fish in the system as we had hoped for. However, with persistence we found a handful of fish, and not surprisingly the picture directly above shows what I found in the lip of some. I have yet to run into very many steelhead fishermen on the river that fish pink scuds, but I highly recommend stashing a few in your box for your next trip. I would not be surprised if it is ticket to catching your next steelhead.