Whether you’re chasing trout or steelhead this winter—East, West or anywhere in-between—these proven patterns, straight off the vises of some of America’s best tiers, should serve well. . . provided your hands are warm enough to tie them on.
Galloup’s T&A Bunker ●
When cast from the bow of a drift boat, Kelly Galloup’s T&A Bunker looks like a swallow crash-landing on the water . . . until it gets wet. Then this creation—originally tied as a Great Lakes alewife imitation—comes to life, and the big bank rats can’t refuse it. Says Galloup: “The T&A Bunker may be my favorite fly that I’ve designed. It just has everything that a big-fish fly needs. It has a big profile, it is incredibly light to cast, it is fun to tie, it swims in an S-turn fashion and fish love it. This is my go-to fly on bright days. I generally fish it with the across-stream jerk-strip retrieve, but it can be fished upstream or on a swing with equal results.” ’Nuff said. Own this fly and throw it.
It looks like an egg. It’s squishy like an egg. It must be an egg. Get in the heads of those rainbows, browns and bulls with this killer pattern.
Hickman’s Flash Taco ●
Nobody sniffs out steelhead better than Jeff Hickman. That’s because he spends time guiding in Oregon and British Columbia, and on his off days—you got it—he goes after steel on his own. His Flash Taco is a game changer on coastal streams, even when the water is high and colored. If you need a fly to stand out, tie on a Taco and force a fish’s hand.
Bring your readers and/or a bottle of Prozac to tie this size-20 mini-nymph to 5X or 6X tippet. You’ll be happy you did when the Baetis get active. Tier Greg Garcia, after pumping the bellies of trout, says the red head is what trout key on. Drift a few of these, and you make the call.
World-champion spey-caster Travis Johnson is a West Coast steelhead junkie based in Portland, Oregon. The Lady Gaga is one of his go-to flies while fishing his home waters—the Sandy, Clackamas and Deschutes rivers—but it serves well elsewhere too.
Morejohn’s Bantam ●…