Nymphing For Steelhead, Nymph Rods For Steelhead, Nymphs For Steelhead, Taking Care Of Your Sleeping Bag

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Nymphing For Steelhead
Catching steelhead with a dry fly skittering across the surface of a river is about as much fun as an angler can have. The visual display of a steelhead coming to the surface and the jolt of the strike can be epic; but, let's face it, sometimes for what ever reason, steelhead can be available in large numbers that won't rise to the surface for a fly. Often these same steelhead will take a dead-drifted fly that is traveling at their level. It could be "the convenience factor". As an illustration, let's say the the closest grocery store is 100 miles away.s You aren't going to go there very often. If that same grocery store is 50 miles away, it is more convenient, but you are not as likely to shop there as often as if it were only a mile away. You might shop at the 50-mile store once a week, but you might shop at the 1-mile store every day. If that same store is next door, you might go there multiple times in the same day. That is because the next-door store is very convenient. It stands to reason that the angler who puts their fly the closest to a steelhead's mouth is going to get the most bites.
In big rivers, it is hard to cover very much water with a deep sunk, dead drifted nymph rig, so you have to pick your water carefully. Seams that offer water velocity changes, such as the riffle pictured above, are very good places to try nymph fishing. Steelhead like to travel and hold near water speed changes. Water of moderate depth is easiest to fish. Fishing multiple colors and sizes of flies on the same cast is also an advantage. You need to get your flies down near the bottom, but avoid using flies that are so heavy that they get hung on the bottom very often. A large buoyant strike indicator can be an advantage for detecting strikes and for keeping your flies suspended in the water column. Cast your flies quartering upstream and make them act as though no line were attached to them. When the strike indicator stops drifting naturally, lift your rod to set the hook. Sometimes your fly will be stuck on the bottom, but often it will be a fish.
Most steelhead will take nymph type flies if they are presented properly. Pacific Coast steelhead return to fresh water after a long stay in the ocean. These fish are often still keyed on the marine organisms that nurtured them while at sea. Many of these creatures are brightly colored, and some are fluorescent or phosphorescent. Brightly colored flies often work best for fresh fish. But even very bright steelhead take on trout behavior pretty quickly after entering fresh water, and dull colored flies can be deadly (as witnessed in the picture above). Since steelhead from the Great Lakes don't have an ocean life style, they act more like trout their entire lives. Nymph fishing is the most common used for Great Lakes Steelhead.
Nymph Rods For Steelhead
Being able to keep your flies near the bottom and making them look like they have nothing attached to them is important for catching steelhead. Having the right rod is important. Longer rods offer advantages over shorter rods, because they will allow you to direct the placement and movement of your flies with more precision. Most successful steelhead nymph fishers use rods that are 10-feet long or longer.
NRX Spey, Switch, Nymph Rod
The G. Loomis 12' - #5/6 NRX Spey/Switch Rod may be the perfect summer steelhead rod for mid-Columbia Basin summer steelhead tributaries, such as The Deschutes, John Day, etc. It has enough length and backbone to help cover a lot of water with traditional "swing" type methods with either full-floating or sinking tip Spey lines. It also has the reach and is light enough to be a very effective "nymph-rod" for many different sizes of rivers. Of course many different Switch Rods will do the trick. The 12' length seems to offer the most adaptable advantages for the widest range of applications and methods. A #3.5 LiteSpeed Reel is an ideal match for this rod. For nymph fishing, a RIO Switch 350-grain line is as good as it gets, but for fishing on the swing with summer size flies a RIO Scandi Short Versitip 370-grain line is perfect.
Echo Shadow II Nymph Rod
Tim Rajeff & Pete Erikson have designed what they call a Euro Nymphing Rod, but what is also probably the perfect all around nymph fishing rod for western states; and while it is rated as a #4-weight, this rod has plenty of butt for playing many steelhead. The rod comes stock at 10 1/2 feet long, but an optional competition kit lengthens this rod to 11' and 11 1/2'. These longer lengths are huge advantages for both trout and steelhead fishing on larger rivers. I mated up my Echo Shadow II rod with an Abel Creek #2 Reel that is filled with a WF5F Royal Wulff Ambush line, which lobs three heavy weighted flies with ease. If you want to have some real sport with some steelhead, try this rod for them, and you will enjoy catching trout with it during the same day.
Nymphs For Steelhead
Nymph vs. Swing...what the hell...if you have a grin on your face and aren't endangering wild fish, it's all about having fun. Nymph fishing is very effective in certain kinds of water, especially small streams or where steelhead are concentrated in large numbers. In big open rivers, where fish population are more dispersed, fishing flies on the swing covers more water and therefore in usually more effective. Knowing how to use all methods will make you the most effective fly fisher. Ignoring what you don't like to do also works. No matter which method you like to use, it pays to cover lots of water. Stay on the move to find fish, and remember that tying up the same piece of water for long periods is regarded as bad manners.
 

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Taking Care Of Your Sleeping Bag
Tony Barnes (pictured above) is a logistical expert. He runs the Shipping Department for www.FlyFishUSA.com. He also helps Mark and Patty set up their popular hosted Deschutes River steelhead trips. Tony knows that if any item doesn't make it to camp in good shape the "Old Man" is going to be cranky. Tony takes especially good care of Mark's bed roll, by keeping it clean and dry inside a Simms Dry Creek Roll Top Bag. These bags make it easy to see what is inside through the clear window. That way he can make sure the "Old Man's" favorite pillow is going to make it to camp and he is going to wake up in a good mood. If you want to wake up in camp in a good mood, pay special attention to your bed roll by carrying it safe in a Simms Dry Creek Roll Top Bag. It's cheap insurance. Few things are as important as a good night's sleep in a clean, dry bed.
Simms Dry Creek Roll Top Bag

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