Steelheading in Eastern Washington?
Bring These 5 Flies:
Its steelhead time on Eastern Washington’s Methow, Wenatchee and Klickitat rivers. If you’ve never ventured over the pass to fish for steelhead then you are missing out on some of the finest steelhead fishing that our state has to offer. If you have, then you know that along with good numbers of steelhead, the fall can bring a variety of conditions to challenge you as a fisherman. One day the temps could be in the mid-sixties and you could be skating a dry fly across glassy tailouts, the next maybe you’ll be swinging leech patterns through choppy deep runs. Fall steelhead fishing can be a wonderful experience. The beautiful fall colors combined with generally mild weather and (hopefully) good fishing can make for a very memorable time, however varying weather patterns, river flows, water and air temperatures can also make fall steelheading one of the more difficult fisheries to predict. This article will help ensure that you are prepared with the right flies for the conditions, and you know how and when to use them.
Ska-opper, Natural Size 4
The window of opportunity for skating flies in Eastern Washington is short, but if you hit it right it can make for some of the most enjoyable fishing a guy can have. Clear water and consistent weather make for ideal conditions to skate the fly. Savvy anglers choose low light conditions to wake their flies over fish looking up in smooth, calm runs and tailouts. Areas where there is shallow holding water are ideal. The shorter the distance the fish has to travel to get to your fly on the surface the more likely you will entice a take.
The Ska-opper is a great, high floating pattern that makes a commotion on the surface and catches fish. Make sure you have a few of these in the box and you’ll be ready to wake ‘em up!
Benett’s Halo, size 5
No box is complete without a few standard summer steelhead patterns, and while there are many to choose from, Benett’s Halo is a proven winner. This fly can be riffle hitched and fished on a dry line or swung deeper on an intermediate or medium sink tip. Cooler water, sunny days or as a follow up fly for a player, when conditions call for a small fly fished below the surface the Halo is a fine choice.
Silvinator tube Leech, Black/Orange
There are times when summer steelheaders have to resort to winter methods in order to catch fish. When the weather turns and temperatures plummet, when recent rains leave the rivers high and off colored, or even when the water is clear but the sun is high in the sky midday, the Silvinator is the fly for the job. This fly is small and sparse, sinks well and packs a ton of action to drive steelhead bonkers. If I had only one fly to fish in summer or winter, this would be it. It is a go anywhere, get the job done type of fly.
Extractor Mini, Purple/Pink size 6
Purple and pink are the official colors for Eastern Washington steelheading. If you don’t believe me, try it sometime! This color combination just plain works under a variety of different conditions. The Extractor is the perfect fly when conditions call for a slightly larger fly with lots of movement. It has a good profile and pushes lots of water so fish can track it in turbulent or off colored water, great for when the rivers are slightly off, or when temperatures begin to drop.
Pink Headed Stone, Size 6
There are situations when swinging just doesn’t seem to get it done. Tricky seams, pressured fish and bitter cold conditions are only a few of the more common ones we face in Eastern Washington. When faced with these kind of conditions, nymph fishing under an indicator can be a trip saver, and Idylwilde’s Pink Headed Stone is as good a nymph as we’ve seen for this type of fishing. It is only slightly weighted so it moves quite naturally with a couple of split shot ahead of it to get it down. Trail it with a bead or some type of egg imitation and you have a deadly combination for when the bite is tough.
So there you have it! Five super picks to get you through any situation you might face while steelhead fishing on the Methow, Wenatchee or Klickitat this fall. Now get out there and wet a line!