Steelhead fly fishing is a true sportsman's game full of anticipation, exhilaration and despair.

Steelhead Tactics
Steelhead Waking Flies

Steelhead Reports
Spiked sole wading shoes.
Why we love the Deschutes
Up-to-date on Fly Reels
Sandy Watershed

Do you like our new home page?
Please take a look and let us know.
It is designed to load very fast (1/4 load time of the old page).
It is designed for ease of navigation with three times as many links as old page. 

Why Steelhead Eat Flies
When Pacific steelhead return to fresh water rivers they have  "nearly" stopped feeding.   Rivers flowing from the Pacific rim do not provide enough food to sustain the metabolism of growing steelhead.  Steelhead in fresh water become masters at conserving energy.  They can go for
months without eating.
 However steelhead can ingest and digest food throughout all stages of their lives.  They feed only when the capture of food expends less energy than the energy consumed by the capture.  All animals feed this way or starve to death.

In the Ocean, steelhead can easily obtain food in big nutrient rich bights of shrimp, krill and squid.   This is high octane stuff.  Ocean prey provides enough energy to be worth large expenditures of stored energy for capture.  In the Ocean, steelhead are able to collect enough nutrients to store surplus energy as body mass.  They grow very quickly.  The larger the fish, the larger the prey.  The larger the prey the more energy surplus.  Growth continues as long as the fish feeds systematically.  

Then some hormonal exchange happens and the "feeding mechanism" begins to take a back seat to the "go home and procreate mechanism".  Steelhead reproduction can only happen in flowing oxygenated fresh water.  Fresh water food organisms are much smaller than salt water food organisms.  Can you imagine how many Baetis May Fly nymphs it would take to sustain a ten pound steelhead.   The answer is: more than it could ever catch.  It would take more energy to capture the nymphs than the energy they contain in food nutrients.  The fish would be going in the hole with every pursuit.   It is better to ignore them all together and concentrate on conserving energy.

However, if something the size of a squid or even a krill (or even your fly) came within easy striking distance, then the energy expenditure could be on the positive side and worth a go.  When the prey is analyzed and the expenditure meter registers a plus flow the decision is instantaneous.  A synapse fires in the pencil eraser size brain and the attack is made.   This is because your fly has turned on the memory of something this fish was feeding on out in the Ocean.  This memory is called a search image.  This memory fades as the fish remains in fresh water.  Eventually it is replaced with a fresh water search image.  Some steelhead that remain in fresh water for a long period of time can start to feed like rainbow trout.  

The acquisition of food isn't the only reason that steelhead will take a fly.  
(to be continued in 07/09 FFS Insider)
Have you looked at: STEELHEADQUARTERS recently? 

These steelhead waking flies will add to your success!
Top Spot Skater, Green Butt Skunk is an outstanding searching pattern any tine the water is between 50 and 60 degrees.  The "spot" of white deer hair forming the top of the head and front of the wing is tipped up for maximum visibility to the angler.  this makes the fly easy to track and to control swing speed.  The tightly spun head is clipped to an angle that provides lift.
Item Description Size Price To Top
01145-04 Top Spot Skater, Green Butt Skunk 4 3 for $5.95 -->SALE ENDED

Top Spot Skater, Fall Caddis is a unique pattern that fishes most of the spring, summer and fall seasons, but is at its best when the big orange caddis are in flight during the fall.  This is a jazzed up version of Bill Bakke's Dragon Fly that has been around since the 1960's, but you will find that the "Top Spot Skater" wakes in a wider variety of waters.
Item Description Size Price To Top
01146-04 Top Spot Skater, Fall Caddis 4 3 for $5.95 -->SALE ENDED

The Bulkley Mouse is an outstanding searching pattern any tine the water is between 50 and 60 degrees.  Originating in British Columbia on the world famous Bulkley River, the "mouse" has migrated south.  Several very astute anglers have been using it as their searching fly on such divers waters as the Kalama, Deschutes, John Day and Imnaha.  

Item Description Size Price To Top
99701-06 Bulkley Mouse Waking Fly 6 3 for $5.95 -->SALE ENDED

Up-to-Date  INFORMATION on Local Steelhead Rivers.
Scroll this table for instant information.

Clackamas low & clear, fish are sparce, except near dams
Deschutes low but very fishable, fish are just starting to show
Hood River hot as a pistol in lower river
Kalama just getting going, but worth a look
Klickitat hot with both surface and sunk flies
Sandy has slowed, but still good numbers from Marmot to Dodge
Santiam fish are there, but in doldrums


For serious steelheaders, we offer your choice of the  three best spiked sole wading shoes on the market.  All have been extensively tested by our staff.  You may order on-line or phone and ask us for comparisons.                                          To Top

**(continued from 06/25 The Fly Fishing Shop Insider)

Why we love the Deschutes River

The last fading warmth of the sun illuminated the top third of the shear face of the towering basalt cliff on the opposite shore. This same gigantic stone bulwark would keep the Deschutes in the shade until noon tomorrow morning. Now the shade from the lower canyon wall to the east made me rush through the dry grass to the smooth ledge studded tailout above camp. I had left Brad and Al in the camp riffle water where they had been moving Steelhead all afternoon. They didn't need my help or criticism.
My side of the river broke along a brush covered bank so steep that the rail road was literally over head. Part way down the run a huge red alder leaned out over the water, its lower limbs nearly touching the surface. I had rowed by this place dozens of times and it was always deserted. It looked like great holding water, but formidable to fish with a fly. My confidence had never equaled my curiosity...until this afternoon.
I stopped just down stream of the alder and surveyed the river from a high vantage point on an old deer trail twenty feet above the water. I decided that the water above the alder looked too tough for the time I had left before dark. I would start just below the tree. Then there was a huge splash as a Steelhead rolled upstream of the alder. A fish you have located is always the best option.
A short hike and climb down the steep grade brought me to the waters edge twenty feet upstream of the fish. A narrow submerged ledge gave me footing three feet off the bank. I stripped ten feet of bright floating fly line from the reel, checked the leader and the hook point on my size four Street Walker. Everything was in perfect order. A brisk roll cast shot the fly forty five degrees down stream across the current. The line and leader landed straight. The fly came under tension as it entered the water. I let the fly lead the rod tip. The fly swung with a very light touch and gentle action. It had moved two feet when there was a very positive pull that increased until it was moving line from the reel. I raised my hand and let the middle of the rod absorb the shock and drive the hook deep into solid bone. The silver fish writhed to the surface and exerted his power against the screaming drag until he had reached mid-river in front of me. The fight was ferocious but over quickly and the bright ten pound hatchery buck was tailed, revived and released. The barbless hook had been stuck through the edge of the upper pallet, like a nail in a hard wood plank, the point protruding from above the middle of the maxillary. I re-surveyed the water in front of me. I had been so focused on the placement of that fish and the strike had come so quickly I hadn't taken the time to read the water. The surface of the water was greasy slick but moving at a good speed clear across the river. In places the underwater ledges broke the surface with flat seamy boils. The nearest ledge was sixty feet in front of me above the alder. The stream side brush nearly touched my back and was higher than my head. Leaning out from my purchase on the narrow ledge I could expect no more than five feet of clearance for a back loop to form my roll cast.

(to be continued in 07/09 FFS Insider)

If you would like to read a more detailed Deschutes River Fishing Report, click here.

Trout have been looking up on the Deschutes.  Dry fly fishing has been very good.  If you have trouble seeing your elk hair caddis, try a Twilight Elk Hair CaddisTo Top


When a really large steelhead is hooked up, the piece of gear that most often determines the out come of the battle is the reel.  Check out these comparisons of reels used for spey rod fishing.

Sandy River Fishery Information Bank

Daily Fishing Report

Watershed Over-view
Sandy River Book
Biology Etc. 
Watershed Council Web Site

Want to escape the "trout madness" crowds in Central Oregon? 
Try the "COOL" side of the mountain. 

As you fish the upper Sandy basin waters you will notice that the area has been signed by local volunteers in an attempt to explain the fishing regulations to the fishing public.  This took a lot of work by some people dedicated to making the restoration of our wild fishery come to life. We at the Shop would like to say, "Thank You for this Community Service". 

If you would like to read past "Insiders", click Archives

Your commentary is always welcome.  Drop us a line: 

  The Fly Fishing Shop, Welches, OR

1(800) 266-3971

To Top

Fish long & prosper,
Mark Bachmann, Patty Barnes



Top Fishing Websites at TopFishingSites.Com 4reel fishing top fishing sites Top Fishing Sites