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Dezod

Going Steelheading

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This summer my family planned a trip to visit the Pacific coast Redwoods in Northern California in the middle of August. After the fact I found out that we are going to be there around the first and second week of the steelhead run camping on the Klamath River. This all sounds awesome, but here is the problem...

 

I typically fish very small high mountian streams for small brook trout with a 3wt rod. My "Streamer Rod" is my 5wt I throw a #6 wooly Bugger. I am pretty sure that you don't go steelheading with a 3wt and a #22 BWO, but I don't know what I need to tye, or what weight rod I should be looking to build or borrow for the trip. I am asking early because I want to tye most of the flies that I will use, but it will take me a long time to do so.

 

Please offer any help or opinions I would really appreciate it.

 

Thanks

 

C

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From what I've heard you definatly need something heavier than a 3 wt., like a 6 wt. minimum.

Egg sucking leaches are one of the more populer steelhead baits, but glo bugs are sopposed to be really good too.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Jan

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You are going to need (as pointed out) a 7 weight or 8 weight rod, with a decent reel (you will actually use it to fight the fish). On my single hand steelhead rod, I run a 8 weight with the Rio Clouser fly line, 150 yards of 20lb backing, on a 4" reel. You will likely want a fast action rod.

 

You may be fishing sink tips. Depending on the water conditions, they will vary in length and depth, but you will probably want 3 types, a slow, fast, and medium sinking speed tip. These tips are heavy, and are totally different to cast than anything else you are probably used to. The tendency for casters new to heavy sink tips like these is to drift too far back on your backcast. This comes from picking up way too much line. In order to pick up a sink tip, strip the line in about to around 20 ft instead of the normal 30 ft you are used to picking up. Work on shooting lots of line with this rig, and practice your double hall. Without it, your arms will be toast at the end of the day.

 

Most western river steelheading is fished on the swing. You typically don't fish eggs or stonefly nymphs. You will likely fish spey type flies, tubes, or intruder/massive wooly bugger patterns, in sizes of 2, 4, 6, 1/0. If it's a summer run (sounds like it is) the water may be low, then your fly patterns will be brighter, and tied in low water style. Sparse patterns are better in the low water, you will have less current to work with, and in a low water condition you will fish your lightest sink tip.

 

A good idea is to get Dec Hogan's book A Passion for Steelhead. This will fill you in on a lot of the stuff you need to know. The Klamath is a big big river, at least where I have been on it. Depending on the runs you fish, casts of 50-75 feet may be needed to reach the proper locations for your swing. Since this is in August, the water may be low enough to prevent some of the huge casts, but be prepared. Are you fishing guided? If so, call your guide and get more details of what he wants you to bring. There are many books on steelhead flies, and most steelheaders who fish the swing will tell you the same thing, it's probably not the fly you fish, it's how good your swing is. If it's set up right, and at the right depth, and their is a fish there you will get bit. Steelhead are hungry fish by nature, certainly wild steelhead that are incoming from the ocean.

 

Hope this helps. Others who specifically fish out west may be able to help, I have only done it a few times out there, I normally fish Great Lakes steelhead.

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Thanks everyone

 

Hardyhead I figured I would need a 7 or 8 wt rod. I have a very low end 7wt, single hand rod I use very occasionally for bass. Do most people use a 2 hand switch rod?

 

I will look into that book that was mentioned. Some of the terms used, like on "the swing" I don't understand, that is part of the reason I was starting to look for information now. I rarely fish further than 25ft away and I have never, and I mean NEVER had a need to cast 75ft.

 

I was assuming that people were going to say eggs and stonefly nymphs, so what are the names of some of the basic western steelhead patterns so that I can differentiate those from the great lakes steelhead flies.

 

Thanks again for information.

 

PS trying to figure out a way to work a guide into the budget, but the wife is having almost nothing of it.

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Think 8 wt, or better yet a spey rod, you'll be casting with wind most of the time. Have a good selection of dry to full sink lines. And most importantly of all, you need to find where the fish are at, when you arrive.

 

I know you will want to get out to the park and start throwing to get your arm ready. On the swing is as your fly is starting to cross current and your line is going straight at the end of a drift, as it starts to rise, is the most deadly time for a strike. You are also about to have a chrome rocket head downstream in a hurry with you along for the ride. PM E. Oregon Midge, Old Hat, and Flytyinfreak as they are in the area, but not exactly on the Klammath, but I am sure they know someone who is.

 

Good Luck and have a blast.

 

Cheers, Futzer.

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On the subject of steelhead books, I really like "The complete steelheader : successful fly-fishing tactics" by John Larison (2008). I read it and Dec Hogan's book a few months ago, and while Dec's book is beautiful and a great book by a very accomplished steelheader, Larison's was. for me, a more thorough and informative treatment - lots of detailed info on equipment, riggings, flies, different waters and how to fish them. Less spey, and a little more accessiblle.

 

I'd go with your 7 weight - unless you have lots of time and money to burn on learning to spey cast, and getting outfitted. I use a 7 wt, 10' rod. Eggs are popular around here (central Oregon coast), and more folks are using nymphs than used to. I would save your gear money and spend it on a guide with a drift boat.

 

Michael

 

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From my very limited experience - In late August there will most likely be "half-pounders" and some summer run steel. The weather will play a big role (rain). The term "half-pounders" is kind of a misnomer. They can come in at 5 or 6 lbs, maybe higher depending on who you're talking to. It means the fish has not been in the salt that long and is not sexually mature.

 

Flies for swinging would be Brindle Bug, Mossback, Silver Hilton, Green Butt Skunk, Burlap, Assassin, Chappie, Brads Brat, Herniator, Purple Peril (almost in that order)

 

6 or 7 wt 9 ft or longer single hander is fine. You will need to put out a cast though, but if fishing on the swing it doesn't have to be pretty. Intermediate sink tip and a WF floating line.

 

For some (semi)local discussion on the Klammath check out Kiene's forum http://kiene.com/forums/ and search Klammath. There will be tons of discussion. There is also some discussion on some precautions to consider.

 

Checkout the fly tying database here for Pacific Steelhead Flies. Especially some of the flies tied by Old Hat.

 

Dec Hogans book is a great read, he is devoted spey caster but that guy knows steelhead.

 

Also, like Futzer said you would do well to get Old Hat to chime in.

 

Maybe I'll see you up there. I'm planning on taking about a month off (mandatory furlough) late in the summer/early fall to do some fishing around the North California Coast.

 

 

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8wt is a good all round rod. A good drag is a must other wise all I can say is if you feel the fish start to run keep your knuckles away from the spool handle! OUCH!

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Cencalfly covered it well. You will probably be OK that time of year but it is early so it may be hit and miss just depends on the weather. A fast 6 or 7 weight will be fine. The water will be low and warm. If the fish are in you'll want to find "cool" areas of the river. Your just there for vacation. Keep it simple and don't put a lot of time into all the "steelhead" stuff. There are some good videos and books out there on western steelheading. Get an idea for the swing cast. You don't need to cast that far but it won't hurt if you can. Stock up on a couple of flies like Cencalfly mentioned in #4-#8. Keep your expectations low and have fun. It's all about finding where the fish are. It is an absolutely gorgeous river.

This is what you can look forward to if you drive up river. Some classic west coast steelhead water.

post-13329-1233726950_thumb.jpg

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As mentioned earlier...

"A good idea is to get Dec Hogan's book A Passion for Steelhead. This will fill you in on a lot of the stuff you need to know. The Klamath is a big big river, at least where I have been on it. Depending on the runs you fish, casts of 50-75 feet may be needed to reach the proper locations for your swing."

 

 

I would suggest also learning the "Snap-T" and the Spey Cast. If the water is big and wide and you simply can not wade out to where you want to be, then a Spey cast (with a single hand or double handed rod) will make all the differece in the world. I learned this one by a master caster guide on the Ausable River. Now, I use it all the time on big or fast water.

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I use a 10 foot 7wt up here for steelhead, seems to be the norm in my area.

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