Indicator steelhead

Unlike Salmon, Steelhead that have entered a river system are “normally” in no rush to spawn or do much, especially early in the season. As most Winter Run Steelhead do not spawn until the Spring time, you will often find them swimming upstream and constantly dropping back lower in the river system, or holding in some spots for a long period of time. Imitating the size and color ot the nymphal stages can be the only way to hook any fish at all for hours....sometimes days. 


Which is not to say steelhead can't be selective, sometimes just down right stubborn. It does pay to know which species of mayfly, stonefly, and caddis exist in a targeted system. After all they are trout right, born in a riverborn enviroment, yes they do go to the ocean to become big and strong to come back to spawn, but there first food was insects. Just like nature calls them back to reproduce, so does the food they first remember, dead drift bugs. The only way to present a drift bug is to suspend under a indicator at certain depths with the correct speed and flow of the current. Yes bugs also work on the tail of a drift on a tight line swinging, as if the insect was emerging. Very deadly at times when the bugs begin to hatch. 

In my experience I have found more dead drift bugs to be more effective than swinging flies in the runs I fish. Always, there is a time for one thing or the other but if you want your rod bent more than not I suggest to get familerized with what bugs excist in each river you fish. Almost like fishing a big trout river full of sea run rainbows so to speak. Having the right bug or two at the end of your line can mean everything, especially when you are making " A thousand cast or two". 

So this brings us to our next category of Best Steelhead Nymphs Volume 2  -  The Dead Drift Bugs...and yes indicator fishing.

Best Steelhead Flies - Nymphs


The list of Stonefly Patterns goes on for ever and ever. This is a selection of some of my favorites. 

Beadhead 3D Nymph

Beadhead 3D Nymph

Sizes - #10-12 

New Style nymph pattern. This is a great attractor fly for steelhead. The long rubber legs provide a ton of movement. Great Skalawa stone fly representation which exist in our western steelhead rivers. 

Beadhead Epoxy Stonefly, Golden

Beadhead Epoxy Stonefly

Sizes - #8-12

Colors - Golden Stone / Dark Stone

Extremely realistic stonefly imitation. This nymph's detailed features and flash make it extremely effective for steelhead. This fly works best fished in fast water.

Beadhead Kaufmann Rubberleg Stonefly, Brown

Beadhead Kaufmann Rubberleg Stone

Sizes - # 4-8

Colors - Golden Stone - Brown - Black

This is a legendary stonefly imitation. It is the perfect replica of larger stonefly nymphs. The rubber legs add an extra enticing wiggle. This fly is hated by steelhead

Beadhead Slim Pickens Ice Blue

Beadhead Slim Pickins - Various Colors

Colors - Black - Purple - Blue

Sizes - # 6-10

With a fire orange bead, and plenty of wiggle, this attractor nymph is guaranteed to grab any fishes attention. Especially steelhead that have been sitting for long periods in a run.

Hothead Skinny Stone

Hothead Skinny Stone

Sizes - #6-10

This stone fly pattern can be fished as a leech imitation as well. Long rubber-legs give this pattern a lot of movement and a bright orange bead makes it hard to miss or resist.

Beadhead Giant John

Beadhead Giant John

Sizes - #6-10

This is a huge version of the Copper John. A great attractor pattern with a ton of movement from the rubber legs. An excellent choice for a steelhead in a mood for a big meal.

Mayflies and Caddis

So stonefies are not the only bugs that are around during the steelheads migration. Mayflies and caddis flies come into play as well in the fall and winter months as well as spring. When these bugs become active and start to hatch they can defiantly get the attention of some steelhead waiting to move up river. Most of theses bugs look most natural on a dead drift like the stonefly. So again indicator fishing is the best way to present the offering.

Blue Beadhead Copper John Nymph Fly Fishing Trout Patter

Beadhead Tungsten Copper John

Colors: Red / Blue / Copper

Sizes - #8 - 14

This is a favorite and proven pattern the world over. The combination ot the weight, profile, and flash make this pattern an absolute must have. Feared by bothe steelhead and trout in ever river.

Beadhead Psycho Prince

Size - #10-14

Colors - Purple / Natural

This attractor nymph pattern has quickly earned a great reputation. If you needa pattern with alot of flash, this is the perfect choice. Great for steelhead and trout alike.

Beadhead Flashback Hares Ear Flyfishing pattern

Beadhead Flashback Hares Ear

Sizes -  #10-16

Color - Natural

A Variation of the Hares Ear which is probably the most popular nymph in all of fly fishing. A great pattern that looks "close enough" to almost any kind of aquatic life. A top choice for steelhead when they begin to get familiarized to the natural insects in the river. Covers the bases for your mayflies in most steelhead rivers.

Beadhead Bird of Prey, October Caddis

Beadhead Bird of Prey

Sizes - #8-12

Colors - October Caddis

A tried and true pattern, tied with orange dubbing and designed to be fished during October Caddis hatches. Yes steelhead loves these caddis when they are active. Time the hatch and you will be happy.

The Northern Rivers of California can have some really good insect hatches while the steelhead are present. Doesnt always have to be an egg or a swung fly at times. Just go fish as you where trout fishing and let the bug drift right to there nose, in the dead of winter thats what it takes at times. Be aware of any movement in your indactor what so ever, remember sets are free all day and one of those will result in a hook up if drifted right. Again, a good varience of bugs and eggs are always a good call when going after the most amazing species of fish on this palnet.

Last -  Volume 3 - Best Steelhead Flies will go into the Spey/Swing Flies. The most traditional stlye of fishing for steellhead! 

Dead drift steelhead

As Always!!! Tight lines my friends. Fish On!!!