Why ask why? Try dry flies for Steelhead

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Photo by Jeff Hickman

Photo by Jeff Hickman

By Jeff Hickman

Catching a steelhead by skating a dry fly is the coolest way to catch them.

I always have said that one fish on the dry is worth ten on wet flies…but why? It’s not like it’s impossible to catch them on dries. It can actually be quite productive at times but people are often just too afraid to try. If you only have one day to fish there’s a lot of pressure to catch fish, so why opt for the most challenging method? Well, there is, in fact, only one way to catch a steelhead on a dry fly and it start with tying it on your line!

Is a steelhead eating a fly off of the surface that much more unbelievable than a fish eating a fly swung just under the surface, or for that matter, a fly swung deep with a sink tip? It’s not. In fact, I think that there are times when a dry fly can work better. The disturbance and wake it cuts through the water’s surface can excite fish and elicit savage grabs.

The visual display you get when watching the fly skate across the surface is super fun and you can learn a lot by seeing where your fly actually is.

Watching a fish come airborne for it, slap it, thrash at it, boil on it or just gently suck the fly down is one of, if not the single, most exciting experiences there is in fishing. Seeing them come for the fly is super exciting even if you don’t hook them. It is that extra element of playing with the fish that is the coolest for me!

photo2But what is even better than the visual display you get from the fish is the satisfaction that comes with catching one on the dry fly. Knowing that you caught a steelhead in the most pure and sporting method possible gives you a sense of satisfaction that is tough to rival. That is the very reason I began fly fishing in the first place. It was not to catch fish in the easiest way possible, it was to learn how to catch fish in the most challenging way possible.

After all, the harder they are to catch, the more valuable each one you do catch is. So I always encourage people to make their fish as valuable as possible. A great way to do that starts with tying on that dry fly! Just remember, when you see that fish come for your dry fly, don’t yank it out of its mouth. Wait until you feel the weight. Good luck!

Jeff Hickman
Gink & Gasoline
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2 thoughts on “Why ask why? Try dry flies for Steelhead

  1. Over 30 some years of fishing for steelhead, I found the “surest” way to fish a dry is right across the lip of a pool, at daybreak, at about a two foot depth of water. You can cast across and mend line to “walk” the fly along the lip. My favorite fly was a Gartside Gurgler. Enjoy.

  2. Awesome article, Jeff. Succinct and to the point – like fishing dry flies! If you want to catch fish on dry flies – just fish dry flies. There is no better way. Nothing, but nothing, beats the visual grab – or even a miss – of a steelhead on a dry fly skated or waked across a long tailout on the Dean or the Babine. Nothing! And – a nice bonus – even if he misses, now you know where the fish are!

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