Steelhead Wet Flies: P - R, Classic Patterns

Steelhead Wet Flies: P-R, Clasic Patterns in-stock, no sales tax - $50 orders ship free in USA.

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Steelhead Wet Flies: P - R, Classic Patterns

Patriot Prism Red Butt Skunk
Polar Shrimp Purple Peril  

Chuck Magliocca with a Deschutes Steelhead caught on a Red Butt Skunk, 09/28/02.

In this web site,  "Classic Patterns" are defined as popular steelhead flies that have been in constant use for more than 20 years.  In order for a fly pattern to stay popular for this long period, it must be proven over and over again. below are patterns that catch steelhead from a wide variety of rivers around the Pacific Rim from California to Kamchatka.  Chances are you will see some of these flies in nearly everyone's fly box.  

Quoted from Steelhead Fly Fishing by Trey Combs, "The bright pattern was called the Patriot. I had used nothing else for three days. My first steelhead of the trip, a hen of nine pounds, had struck the fly as hard as any steelhead in my memory. The impact knocked the reel's pawls out of alignment, and only by frantically palming the free-running spool was I able to prevent a massive orerride."
Patriot Fly
The pattern recipe in Trey's book calls for a hackle of dark purple, but the one Frank gave to me in about 1985 had a hackle that was blue. It caught several steelhead before I lost it to a big colored-up buck on the Deschutes. Over the years the Patriot has proven to be a very reliable pattern to try when fishing with a floating line while the sun is still on the water. It can be especially good when the water clears in late fall. MB
The other evening, I opened my fly box just as the sun was leaving the water.  The Patriot stood out against the background of darker flies that surrounded it. It was like it was begging for attention. So it got tied to the end of my leader and got a hard pull on the very first cast in water that had already been fished by another angler. Of course it was much different colored that all of the rest of the flies we had used. Sometimes it's good to be different. MB


Item Description Size Price To Top
21200-04 Patriot 4 3 for $7.49
21200-06 Patriot 6 3 for $7.49

The Polar Shrimp has been one of the best late fall and early winter patterns for years.  It was first tied in the 1960's by E. H. "Polly" Rosborough as an imitation of the little cocktail shrimp that are prevalent off the Oregon coast.

Polar Shrimp

Item Description Size Price To Top
21210-02 Polar Shrimp 2 3 for $7.49
21210-04 Polar Shrimp 4 3 for $7.49
21210-06 Polar Shrimp 6 3 for $7.49

Prism Fly

Tilda Runner with a nice steelhead landed on a Prism...

The Prism was first tied by Mark Bachmann in the early eighties.  He designed it to be an unobtrusive pattern for low, clear water.  The Prism works any time of year, but is especially effective during the late season after the steelhead have been pressured. Several very large
steelhead have been tricked by the Prism. In October, many summer steelhead have been away from the Ocean feeding-grounds for several months.  They start to forget about the brightly colored marine organisms that nurtured them there, and begin to turn "trouty" in their behavior, looking for things with more freshwater coloration. The Prism turned the trick. Several very large steelhead have been taken on this pattern.  It has proven itself very useful as a come-back fly, after steelhead have risen to, but have refused a brighter colored fly.

Prism Fly

Item Description Size Price To Top
20150-04 Prism 4 3 for $7.49
20150-06 Prism 6 3 for $7.49

Purple Peril


The best flies become classics simply because they work.  The Purple Peril is one of those flies that seems to take steelhead from varying watersheds and under a wide range of water conditions.  First tied by legendary Northwest Washington angler Ken McLeod in the mid '60's it has taken steelhead from California to British Columbia.  This somber colored fly is particularly reliable for Redband Steelhead in the Columbia River tributaries east of the Cascade Mountains.  As fly tiers turn more  to the glitz and glitter of synthetic materials to create their

"magic-bullets", the Purple Peril remains as proof that bright colors and lots of flash aren't always the ingredients for success.  Many takes on the Purple Peril are very soft. The fish is just there with no perceptible shock.  This leads me to believe that many of these fish would have been too timid to respond as favorably to a brighter fly. 

Purple Peril
Hook: TMC 7999
Thread: Black 8/0
Tail: Dark Purple Hackle Fibers
Body: Purple Chenille
Rib: Flat Silver Mylar

Hackle:  Dark Purple Saddle
Wing:  Natural Red Squirrel Tail
Head:  Black
Common Sizes: This fly is most often used in sizes four and six in rivers like The Deschutes, John Day, Grand Rhonde and Clear Water, although anglers use Purple Perils as large as

2/0 in the Clear Water and in some British Columbia Rivers.  My experience concludes that dark purple materials tie more successful Purple Perils than bright purple materials.  I choose purple hackles that are died over brown rather than white feathers.  This give the fly a deep, dark purple shade.  A plump silhouette achieved with a medium fat chenille body is proven.  Size #4 and #6 flies are dressed with #14 tinsel. Size #2 flies are dressed with #12 tinsel and larger flies are dressed with #10 tinsel.  This gives a pronounced segmentation and contrasting flash to the body. 

Item Description Size Price To Top
21265-04 Purple Peril 4 3 for $7.49
21265-06 Purple Peril 6 3 for $7.49

Red Butt Skunk
We are not sure who first tied this pattern.  We first saw it being used by Bill Howland on the Deschutes River.  It has also been proven as a winter steelhead fly.
Red Butt Skunk
Item Description Size Price To Top
21275-02 Red Butt Skunk 2 3 for $7.49
21275-04 Red Butt Skunk 4 3 for $7.49
21275-06 Red Butt Skunk 6 3 for $7.49

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