A Beginners Journey Into Steelheading: An Introduction
Let me preface this right off by saying I am not a steelhead expert. Actually I know nothing about steelheading other than the fact that they are heralded as one of the top targets in this sport of fly fishing. In my my mind, steelhead are the untouchable species of gamefish left to the greatest and most patient anglers of our sport.
Now I know; I should know a little something about how to catch a steelhead, I do work at a fly shop after all. Being an Iowa boy transplanted to Colorado, I know very little. Well here is what I do know: I know what a spey rod is, steelhead swim up rivers from the ocean to spawn, a Green Butt Skunk is the ‘Elk Hair Caddis’ of the steelhead world, wild steelhead numbers are declining and need help, and these sea run rainbows fight extremely hard. I know this last fact from Youtube videos…deal with it. I do also know that switch rods are extremely fun for Colorado trout but I am still terrible at casting them.
Don’t get me wrong, the staff and guides at Duranglers know more about steelheading than most. After all; Duranglers owner’s Tom and John have been running yearly steelhead trips to the Babine River in BC for almost 30 years. Many of our guides spend their time off in the fall and winter on rivers like the Clearwater, Babine, Skeena, Deschutes, and McKenzie.
So what is the point of this? Well, due to schedules and vacations my family and I will be taking a trip to Oregon and camping on the Rogue River for a week. Here is something I learned: the Rogue River has steelhead. Yep. It has steelhead AND you can fish for them. Outstanding deduction, I know. Since I have this rare opportunity on the Rogue, I figured it was about time I spent some time learning the steelhead and spey game. Thankfully I have a lot of experienced anglers, guides, and gear reps who can help show me the ‘bropes‘.
So with my lack of knowledge and the resources of knowledge I have at my disposal, I figured it would be best to write down and chronicle all of these new discoveries…and what better place to write them down then the Duranglers blog. Hopefully my discoveries and lessons of the spey will help other beginning and aspiring steelhead and spey anglers. Hopefully we can discover that getting into the game isn’t as hard or scary as I make up in my head that it is.
This will be an ongoing blog series for the next few months culminating in my trip to the Rogue River where I will put all my new found knowledge to the test.
Again, please note that I consider myself an absolute beginner. I will however be seeking advice and knowledge from the spey sages around me and will put their lessons into blog format here. A few of the things I will seek divine wisdom on are:
- • Gear (rods, reels, line)
- • Flies (and tying)
- • Setting up terminal tackle
- • Locating fish
- • Spey casting
- • Techniques (Swinging, skating, nymphing, etc.)
- • Steelhead themselves and learning the differences between a summer and winter steelhead…among other things.
- • Anything else that comes along
So, if you have been interested in steelhead fishing, keep an eye on this space. I will be posting frequent updates on all the things I will be learning. If you consider yourself an expert steelheader (or even a novice) and there is something you feel I should cover, or you disagree with something I have said; please comment below or on the upcoming blogs. You can also shoot me an e-mail with any information you wish at [email protected] and I will get it put up for the novices like myself.
I look forward to taking this journey with you. We will probably laugh, we will probably cry, we may even get angry at one another; but hopefully in the end it will be just like a feel good episode of 7th Heaven or some Oxygen network tv show with us having learned a valuable lesson. Hopefully that lesson is some chrome in hand.