Deschutes River Steelhead

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Deschutes River Steelhead
Deschutes Steelhead Flies
Waking Flies
Simms Rivertek Waders

Deschutes River Steelhead Fly Fishing

Deschutes River Fishing Report Up-dated Daily
The Deschutes is world famous as a steelhead fly fishing river. This is because its steelhead will actively come to the surface for a fly. Steelhead start entering the river in late June and bright fish can still be caught in late November. The run is made up of three distinct races: the hatchery run, and two distinct wild races called the "A" and "B" runs. The hatchery run can start in late June during high water years and as late as August during low water years. It is comprised of fish which have spent from 22 to 30 months in the Ocean and average 6 to 12 pounds. The "A" run enters the river in July and August and is made up of fish that have spent 14 to 22 months in the Ocean and average from 3 ½ to 6 pounds. The "B" run enters the river from September through November and is comprised of fish which have spent 24 to 36 months in the Ocean and weigh from 10 to 16 pounds. Larger fish can be encountered any time.

During high water years a lot of stray upper Columbia River stocks take up temporary residence in the Deschutes and add to its fishery. Barbless hooks only are allowed and all wild fish must be returned to the river.

The Deschutes maintains a unique location being the most southern of mid-Columbia River tributaries. Its water flows and fall temperatures are the most predictable. Its north/south alignment keeps late fall water temperatures in the range that allow steelhead enough energy to rise to the surface for a well presented fly.

The size and topography of the river provide an ideal setting for the traditional greased line angler. Although many diverse angling methods will take Deschutes summer steelhead, floating fly lines and a traditional wet fly swing is accepted as one of the productive approaches. Most floating line techniques work best when the water is shaded by the canyon walls or by cloud cover. The angler usually begins at the head of a long run and fishes all of the way through to the tail-out. Aggressive wading and fly casting may be required to cover the most productive water. The fly is presented down stream across the current and allowed to swing on a tight line toward the anglers shore. A series of mends may be employed to control the speed and depth of the fly. Often two flies are fished on a cast or a single fly may be riffle-hitched. Waking flies are often employed in the same cast with a wet fly. Fly speed is very important.

Many hair-wing wet fly patterns take Deschutes steelhead. However dark patterns in sizes four or six are proven to be most productive over the widest range of water and light conditions. The favored colors are black or purple with a touch of chartreuse, orange or pink. The following is a list of proven Deschutes steelhead wet fly patterns that will take fish the majority of the time:

  • #4 BLUE MAX
  • #4, #6, DARK MACK'S
  • #4, #6 LIMIT LANDER
  • #4, #6 MACK'S CANYON
  • #4, #6 STREET WALKER

During times of very low water or heavy cloud cover a very dark, somber fly may bring more strikes. The following is a list of patterns that are proven for these conditions.

  • #4 PRISM
  • #4, #6 PURPLE PERIL
  • #4, #6 SILVER HILTON
  • #6 SKUNK

Periods of high cold water or glacial run-off from White River may require that a larger or brighter colored fly be used. The following are a list of patterns which have bailed us out of these situations.

  • #2, #4, POLAR SHRIMP

In the late fall, steelhead seek out smooth holding areas and often congregate in tailouts. These are prime conditions to bring a steelhead to the surface with a riffle-hitched fly. The following is a list of proven waking flies.

  • #1/0 CONRAD

Most Deschutes steelhead fly anglers concentrate on the early and late hours and rest in the shade during mid-day. This is because they have tried unsuccessfully to raise steelhead to the surface in the bright sunlight. Several years ago we started fishing with sinking tip lines and weighted flies during these bright light hours and found that steelhead will still take a fly if it is presented at their level. In fact about thirty percent of our catch is now caught by this method. If you want to increase your catch, bring a fast sinking tip fly line and the following fly patterns:


Chinook Salmon return to the Deschutes River from mid-September to late October. They are extremely territorial during their spawning cycle and they actively drive the steelhead from the fine gravel sections of the river. The steelhead often seek out areas in the river where the Chinook won't harass them, such as fast water with big boulders. Often these fast water places are downstream of major Chinook spawning grounds. In years of heavy Chinook runs steelhead and resident trout will station so as to intercept drifting Chinook eggs. Don't forget your Glo Bugs and split shot.


Thoughts about Steelhead Tackle


Pacific Northwest Summer Steelhead Fly Selection (The Deadliest Dozen).
A great Deschutes River Selection !!!
(2) each of the following flies:

Green But Skunk

Fly DeJour

Street Walker


Green Muddler

Purple Muddler

Black Egg Sucking Leech

Purple Egg Sucking Leech

Purple Flash-A-Bugger

Big Black

Red Rocket

Bulkley Mouse
Item Description Size Price To Top
SUMSTSET Deadliest dozen summer steelhead fly set. 24 flies in all, includes shipping in USA. Assorted Set for $45.95


Waking Flies for Steelhead & Salmon
Fish on! Top Spot Skaters
Bombers Grease Liners
Bulkley Mouse Muddlers
Caddis Waller Wakers
These flies are designed to bring Steelhead and Atlantic Salmon to the surface.

Surface fishing for steelhead is exciting and can be very productive during certain water conditions. These conditions happen on most rivers during the summer months when water temperatures and flows are moderate. Rivers, which contain a high percentage of wild steelhead from June through October, are the best bet. Wild steelheads seem more prone to rise to the surface than do hatchery fish.

In steelhead vernacular "Dry Flies" are fished up-stream and dead drifted, much like fishing for trout. Some steelheads have been taken by this method. However, flies, which are fished down-stream (under tension from the line and current), have proven more productive under most conditions. All of the flies reached by the links above can be fished "dry".  However, bushy flies such as the Royal Wulff, Greased Liners, Bombers and Wally Wakers fish best.

A "Damp Fly" rides in the surface film. It is often cast slightly upstream and then led across the current under light tension, down-stream from the angler. This method is called "Greased Line Fishing". Flies that are best suited for this approach incorporate semi-buoyant materials in their dressing. Muddlers, Bombers, Greased Liners and Caddis lend themselves well to this presentation.

…a waking fly grooves the surface…

A "Waking Fly" is usually presented down stream so that it will make a V-shaped disturbance in the surface film. Waking flies are often attached to the leader with a "Riffling Hitch" or are "Riffle Hitched". A riffling hitch is a series of knots, which changes the attitude of the fly/leader connection so that the fly pulls at an angle to the current. In this way the fly will always seek the path of least resistance which is the surface. The most commonly used riffling hitch is made when the fly is tied on in the conventional manner and then two half hitches are added behind the eye of the hook. These half hitches can also be placed behind the head of the fly or even behind the wing to change the angle. In this manner even very slender flies can be riffled…if you have fast smooth water and can cast a very straight line. Flies, which are constructed from buoyant materials and shaped to resist the flow of the water, are easiest to use where the surface is textured. These flies tend to ride high. Often the entire fly is visible above the surface. All of the flies listed in this section are commonly riffle hitched. The shape of the fly will determine which is best suited for a particular water type. You should carry a complete selection of waking flies.
Pay close attention to the new "Top Stop Skaters" as they can be fished with or without a riffle hitch and will wake on many different current speeds.  They are flies that fish a wide variety of conditions very well.

Steelhead Fly Fishing Etiquette
This is written at the request of several readers of the "Insider".  With another summer steelhead season getting under way on the Deschutes River it seems an appropriate subject.  The waters where large fish can be caught are our most cherished places.  These places naturally attract numerous anglers.  It is a physical law, the more moving bodies in an area the more friction they create.  Some anglers seem to forget that fishing is supposed to be a recreation and that the other guy is entitled to have a good time too.  

"The New Lexicon Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary" defines et-i-quette as: the rules of behavior standard in polite society.   In this letter they are simple rules to help avoid conflicts while fishing.   Most fly fishermen don’t want onstream conflicts, which are most often caused by someone’s ignorance or lack of fishing etiquette.
Rule #1: Do unto other fishermen only what you would have them do unto you.  
It only stands to reason.
Rule #2: Give other anglers their space.
Solitude can be an important part of angling. Be quiet.
Rule #3: Communication can solve a lot of problems.  
Talking to other angler can stop conflict before it happens. 
Rule #4: The angler who gets there first has first rights to a piece of water.
If he doesn't want to share, leave!  
Rule #5: Don't cut the other guy off.
Never get into a run ahead of an angler who is fishing.  Some anglers can cover a lot of water in a hurry. Ask if you can follow or go to the next run.
Rule #6: Leave nothing but your tracks.  
Leave nothing. If you have to go potty, bury it.
Rule #7: Don't hog the water.
Fish through a piece of water in a reasonable length of time and then let someone else fish.

Simms Rivertek Waders

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  • 3-layer Gore-Tex® Immersion® Technology fabric with reinforced knee

  • Patented waist high roll-up features lightweight polyester micro fiber Gore-Tex® fabric with low profile laminated pocket

  • Easy conversion from chest to pant wader

  • Roll-top includes shock cord cinch and 1" removable suspenders

  • Built-in belt provides easy adjustment to accommodate layering

  • Patent pending built-in Schoeller® Gravel Guards

  • Repair kit included

  • Every pair manufactured and tested in Bozeman, Montana

Sizes   Find your size.

Color  Sterling          

Suggested Retail

  3-layer Gore-Tex® Immersion® Technology

S, SK, M, MS, ML, MK, L, LS, LL, LK, XL: $279.95
XLS, XLL, XLK, XXL: $299.95

Item Description Size Price To Top
WG54320 Simms Riverteck,
stocking foot waders
S $279.95

WG54327 Simms Riverteck,
stocking foot waders
SK $279.95

WG54330 Simms Riverteck,
stocking foot waders
M $279.95

WG54336 Simms Riverteck,
stocking foot waders
MS $279.95

WG54337 Simms Riverteck,
stocking foot waders
ML $279.95

WG54338 Simms Riverteck,
stocking foot waders
MK $279.95

WG54340 Simms Riverteck,
stocking foot waders
L $279.95

WG54346 Simms Riverteck,
stocking foot waders
LS $279.95

WG54347 Simms Riverteck,
stocking foot waders
LL $279.95

WG54348 Simms Riverteck,
stocking foot waders
LK $279.95

WG54350 Simms Riverteck,
stocking foot waders
XL $279.95

WG54356 Simms Riverteck,
stocking foot waders
XLS $299.95

WG54357 Simms Riverteck,
stocking foot waders
XLL $299.95

WG54358 Simms Riverteck,
stocking foot waders
XLK $299.95

WG54360 Simms Riverteck,
stocking foot waders
XXL $299.95


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Mark Bachmann, Patty Barnes


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