Winter is here and for many anglers that means it is time to put the rods away and get ready for hunting season. That is unless you seek the thrill of a hefty steelhead on the other end of light tackle. If so then your fishing season has just begun and I would like to share some of my favorite steelhead flies to help get your season off to a bang.
Steelhead anglers on the West Coast tend to prefer lures and large streamers, I guess they prescribe to the theory that big lures catch big fish. But fish the Great Lake tributaries and you will see very little of this, in fact you will see that little is the name of the game. My home state steelhead hunters prefer to use small line and small flies, probably because the gin clear water and narrow streams make the use of anything else almost impossible. The problem is that outside of the local fly shops it is difficult to find many of these lures and many pro shops don’t even know what they are. So let me enlighten you.
The skein egg is one of the most popular fly patterns on the tributaries of Lake Erie and with good reason – it produces. When eggs are laid naturally they often have a small membrane or skein attached. This fly imitates not only the egg itself but this natural membrane as well, which not only make the fly appear more realistic but also adds a little bit of movement to the offering. Sometimes this extra flutter in the clear water is just what it takes to get the fish biting.
Skein egg flies can be tied in a variety of colors or sizes making it extremely adaptable to different conditions. Red or orange colors for when fresh spawn is taking place, pink or lighter colors representing older dying eggs or bright non-egg colors to function as attractors.
The Cotton Candy and Tootsie Roll flies do not represent anything; they are simply brightly colored attractors. But steelhead must have a sweet tooth because they work! Both version are simply designs consisting or a size 4-12 hook, Glo bug yarn body, chenille body, Glo Bug yarn wing and optional white bead. When tying the Cotton Candy use bright pinks, peach, fluorescents and whites. If opting for the Tootsie Roll version add browns, tans or black to the body.
The Glo Bug fly is the first fly I learned to tie. Not only was it a highly recommended fly for my first steelhead trip, it was also something I could mass produce in my hotel room cheap. Over the next three days I learned that the old saying “you get what you paid for” does not apply to this fly, despite its low production cost they payout was enormous.
As I said, the design is simple – some Glo Bug yarn secured to the hook, wrapped, fluffed and trimmed into a small ball. Like the skein this fly is designed to resemble an egg and color can be altered to include pinks, reds, orange, white or even yellow and green. Color selection depends on whether you are attempting to imitate fresh eggs, older eggs or just and egg like attractant. For a little added flare you can combine two colors also.
Good luck, good fishing!