Fishing forum > Fishing for winter steelhead, floating line or sinking tip?

Author Topic: Fishing for winter steelhead, floating line or sinking tip?

Hey all,

I am about 2 years into fly fishing and I am loving every minute of it. Caught a few rainbows, and other fish here and there using both float line and sinking tip. I have a 9 weight rod with float line, sinking tip, and full sink fly line. I have never caught a steelhead using any fishing method for that matter. I am reading and gathering as much information as I can in drift fishing and fly fishing for steelhead because catching one is a dream of mine, specially on the fly. Anyways I tried my sinking tip at the Vedder about 2 weeks a go but I had no luck. I do realize it takes a lot of time and effort to catch a steely, but I was starting to question myself wheather I should be using a floating line instead. From what I've read, some fisherman will tell you they will use a float line, and others a sinking tip. It was kinda 50/50 across the board. I was thinking a sink tip line would be better, because winter steelhead usually take the lure, fly or bait when it's place directly infront of it's face while they stay low to the rivers bottom. While summer steelhead will take a fly from the surface or anywhere in warmer waters.

I just wanted to know from fellow veteran fly fisherman, what fly fishing methods you used to catch a steelhead? Do you prefer the floating line, or sinking tip? What is your setup? Do you fish with a indicator and stonefly nymph? Anyways thanks for the read. I am just trying to soak up as much information about steelhead fishing to greaten my chances of landing one.


In my experience, I've found the sink tip of about 12 to 16 feet, to be most effective for steelies, you don't need to get too focused on swinging your fly, or gear, right near the bottom. Fly or gear fished within 24 inches of the bottom will get the job done. The most important aspect of steelhead fishing, is locating the fish, next, is a good presentation. Believe it or not steelhead aren't particularily picky, a well presented offering and a little stealth is key. When the water is high and coloured, I like to fish bigger flies, in darker colours(black, blue, purple) and a short leader of around 3 feet. As the water comes down and clear's up, I down size and move to brighter flies. (reds, pinks, oranges, yellows) and legthen my leader to around 5 feet. A couple good dependable patterns that won't let you down are, the "black bunny leech" and the "intruder" in blue and black. Hope this helps, good luck out there!

Fishing forum > Fishing for winter steelhead, floating line or sinking tip?


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