The Steelhead Bullet

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31" of Steel Photo by Kent Klewein

The Steelhead bullet is a controversial fly. Some people don’t even think it’s a fly at all because it’s tied on a jig head. You may be able to argue it’s pedigree, but you can’t argue with the results. On a recent steelhead trip we were faced with tough conditions. The water was high and stained and the temperatures were low and numbing. I spoke to my friend Rick Whorwood who had just fished out target water and he described the trip as a waist of time. This had me worried. Rick is a much better Spey fisherman than me and if it was tough for him, it was tough. I knew I’d need to be creative, so I decided to tie up some steelhead bullets. This fly gets down quick thanks to the 1/16 oz jig head and will produce fish nymphed under an indicator or on the swing. The bright color and great action are hard for a fish to resist. This 31″ steelhead couldn’t and she made my trip. Watch the video to learn how to tie this simple but effective pattern. It just might save your next trip.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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14 thoughts on “The Steelhead Bullet

  1. Now that guy looks like a steelhead fisherman! All the work LC does on a stream managing and using more gear than you can imagine carrying on a stream. With a price tag exceeding that of a luxury SUV. If anyone deserves a great pic like this it’s him. Makes me want to break out into a song…. Red solo cup…you fill me up…lets start a party.

    • Murphy you said it best dude… I’ve been on the front of the boat and tarpon busting top 360 deg of the boat in the middle of the worm hatch and he never picked up his rod only help on to the camera.. And proceeded to watch a 15+ ft hammerhead trash my tarpon and all I could hear in the background was shutter of the camera blasting off 10 frames per sec… Nice fish Louis you earned it!

  2. I am so happy I found you. Informative articles of places I can only dream of getting to.

    Can you please explain the prejudice relating to jigheads I use them on a variety of flies and have been scoffed at by the purists. All I can tell them is they surely catch fish. Why are they shunned and beadheads celebrated?

    • Thanks for the kind words! As far as an explanation for the attitudes concerning jig heads I’ll offer this Nick Cage quote from Wild At Heart. “Honey, the way your mind works is God’s own little privet mystery.”

    • Mark – I think we as fly fisherman enter many grey areas especially talking about aspects of our sport that we define as “purist”. I mean honestly if we are going to fish in the “purist” form then we would all be wading in the streams with bows and arrows lol! I think the biggest reason most “purist” as we define them turn their nose up at jig head flies is because they originally are used to put a plastic bait on for bass fishing etc… Well if that’s the case next time a “purist” gives you s?!t about using that fly ask him where his bamboo rod silk line and cat gut backing is? Fair question don’t you think? Listen in my opinion there is nothing wrong with using a jig head as a fly . In my opinion what’s the difference in tying lead on a hook versus it already being poured on? NOTHING. Look at any fly catalogue and you will see numerous flies tied on bare jig hooks. It’s just one less step in tying a fly.. In the keys where I fish there are a lot of new permit flies being tied on jig hooks.. I compare this to swinging flies to steelhead vs dead drifting nymphs give me a break!

      • Thanks for the support. The Idea is to catch fish on something you created. As far as I am concerned when I outfish the purists big time, that is all the motivation to use the jigheads I need.

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