The same principles you use to find small-stream trout can help you pinpoint chromers, even on the largest waters.[by Dana Sturn]
STEELHEAD TO A FLY: It’s one of the great achievements in freshwater fly fishing and a pinnacle within the sport. For the committed (“afflicted” might be a more accurate term), steelhead fly fishing moves beyond passion and sport and becomes something else altogether.
Once bitten, steelheaders think they must meet several challenges in order to complete the experience. The first steelhead, first steelhead on a dry fly, and first 20-pounder are all-important milestones that may take a lifetime to achieve. But for many, steelheading’s ultimate challenge is catching fish consistently on big water.
What exactly is big water? It’s places like the Skeena and Thompson in British Columbia, and the Clearwater and Snake in the United States—large, wide rivers that make you squirm a little. If the surface area of the river intimidates you, chances are you’re fishing for big-water steelhead.
But don’t let big water scare you. Despite what you might believe, if you have any kind of steelheading or trout–fly fishing background, you can put your hard-earned skills to good use on any steelhead river—even the big ones.
I came to steelheading from a trout background, fly fishing back in the early 1990s. Much of what I learned from articles, books, videos, and the limited wisdom imparted by the experienced suggested that thinking like a trout angler wouldn’t hook me many steelhead. Steelhead, I learned, were different from resident rainbows. Steelhead are big, difficult fish that tend to hold in big, difficult-to-fish places where…