Top 10 Winter Flies, Steelhead Schools, Catch and Release

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Top 10 Winter Steelhead Flies Revealed
Guide Intruder, Pink a Prom Dress, Copper Hoh Bo Spey, Wine
Signature, Intruder Black/Red Pick 'Yer Pocket, Orange Red Rocket
Prom Dress, Blue Pick 'Yer Pocket, Purple Sandy Blue
Hoh Bo Spey, Orange/Pink

Winter steelhead have a reputation for being difficult for the fly angler. The winter weather and water conditions, as well as sexually developed fish, create some of the most demanding conditions that the angler will encounter all year. Winter steelhead are most often bottom hugging denizens of cold, often rain swollen rivers.  Sometimes it is very difficult to present the fly at the depth where the fish are holding. A sinking tip fly line is most often used to present the fly at the right depth. Often large expanses of water must be covered to find a fish that will bite.
Flies that are easy to cast are essential in this game. Flies that cast small, but fish large are ideal.  My favorite winter steelhead flies are made from soft flowing material that collapses when pulled from the water and puffs up when submerged.  Marabou and rabbit strip are two key components on my fly tying bench.  These materials breath with life when submerged.  Marabou drains out almost instantly when it leaves the water.  Even very large flies constructed from marabou are easy to cast.  When the water is cold,  large flies will often move fish that small flies won't.
Because of their mating instincts, winter steelhead, especially the males, can be territorial and will attack a fly to drive it from their hold.  Large flies dressed in steelhead spawning colors can bring jolting strikes. Fresh steelhead have an acute search image of the marine organisms that nurtured them. Flies dressed in the form of squid or krill can trigger a feeding response.
In most cases your fly must be presented to fish that are holding fairly close to the bottom of the river. Sometimes these holding areas are deep with a cover of fast water. This condition most often happens when the water is low and clear. When the water is high and colored, steelhead often hold in slower edge-water.  For that reason, an angler should carry a selection of flies that are not only different colors, but also different weights. For that reason many seasoned anglers carry flies that have large weighted eyes, medium weighted eyes and no eyes.
Interestingly our year-end fly inventory revealed that our customers are onto the game.The ten winter steelhead fly patterns and sizes listed below are the top sellers for 2011. They run the gambit of sizes, colors and weights, and come very close to the selections carried by each of our professional guides.

To view the most comprehensive and up-to-date selection of winter steelhead flies found on the world wide web, just click this link: Winter Steelhead Fly Directory


Guide Intruder, Pink 
Scott Says, "My years fishing in BC also made me a strong believer in the color pink. I had too many fish pulled out behind me by friends fishing the notorious pink worm to not be an advocate of pink.  As a result, there was a time when a pink Guide Intruder was about all I fished in BC unless colored water forced me to go darker.  As I look back at the photo albums from my time spent up North, it is no coincidence that just about every fish has a pink mop hanging from its jaws.  I have since found

Guide Intruder, Pink

pink to be productive on most steelhead rivers up and down the coast."
Our experience with this fly is that it will move fish in the toughest conditions. It is big and bulky and is difficult to cast unless you get your line perfectly straight before you start your forward stroke. An 8/9 weight rod with a heavy tip is also a help.  In our experience this fly is best when the river is cod and clear. Then tie on one of these bombs and fish the deeper faster water.
Item Description Size Price To Top
  STO79PK Guide Intruder, Pink 1/0 3 for $10.50

Signature Intruder, Red & Black

This is a mid-weight, mid-size fly that has proven to be a deadly device on steelhead year around. More than a few spring Chinooks have eaten it also. Black and red kind of bridges the gap between dark flies and bright flies, and is proven in both bright light and darker conditions. Signature intruders are fairly easy to cast with rods of seven weight or heavier.
Item Description Size Price To Top
ST078RB Signature Intruder, Red & Black 2 3 for $10.50

Prom Dress, Blue
As a sport, fly fishing is the scientific  exploration of the aquatic world with tools, which deliver information about game fish that no other equipment can render. Often this information is collected and the fish is released with a minimum amount of wear & tear. It survives to possibly be re-examined by someone else.  Even the most experienced anglers are often reluctant to try to explain why anadromous salmonids will strike any fly while in fresh water. Nothing bright blue lives in the water with these fish. Maybe that's the key. 

Item Description Size Price To Top
PD-BLUE  Prom Dress Fly, Blue 3 for $10.50 

 Prom Dress, Copper
It's pretty safe to say that nothing in a bright metallic copper color lives in the rivers with your intended quarry either. Yet, copper colored wobblers are known to be deadly at times, especially in tannin colored water. No matter why, this fly is one of the top sellers and top producers sold at our shop.

Item Description Size Price To Top
PD-COPPER  Prom Dress Fly, Copper   3 for $10.50

Pick 'Yer Pocket, Orange

This thing looks so much like a squid you might be tempted to eat it yourself. This fly is deadly on fresh fish are that new to the river. Coastal steelhead think it is candy, and the Orange Pick 'Yer Pocket is one of the top sellers of all time. It is weighted perfectly for many fish holding spots.

Pick 'Yer Pocket, Orange

Item Description Size Price To Top
ST197OR02 Pick 'Yer Pocket, Orange 2 3 for $10.50

Pick 'Yer Pocket, Purple

Purple is the sleeper color on many rivers.  It is the main color east of the Cascades. But, purple is also a key winter color, especially for fish that are farther from the Ocean. Pick 'Yer Pockets are fairly easy to cast with medium to larger size Spey rods, or even smaller rods if you have pretty good skills

Pick 'Yer Pocket, Purple

Item Description Size Price To Top
ST197PR02 Pick 'Yer Pocket, Purple 2 3 for $10.50

Hoh Bo Spey Fly, Orange/Pink

This beautiful pink and orange fly mimics both shrimp and squid, two favorite foods for early winter steelhead as they traverse the shallower water over the Continental Shelf. Pink and orange flies are perfect during the tail end of winter spates, and show up well during "steelhead-green" water conditions.  Fish this fly on a slow swing using a sinking tip designed to keep your offering within a foot of the bottom.

Item Description Size Price To Top
ST0705OP Hoh Bo Spey Fly,
Orange and Pink
2 3 for $10.50

Hoh Bo Spey Fly, Wine

This is a sleeper pattern for any summer or winter steelhead river. Wine is a good early morning bet for the Clackamas or Sandy when the water is running clear. Has been proven throughout Washington, British Columbia and Alaska as well.

Hoh Bo Spey Fly, Wine

Item Description Size Price To Top
ST0705WN Hoh Bo Spey Fly, Wine 2 3 for $10.50

Red Rocket
The Red Rocket is proven in all conditions, but is best when the water is low, clear and cold. This fly is unweighted and will fish in many types of water where other flies get hung up too often. This fly has a lot of life-like movement in the water and has been one of the top sellers in our store for the past ten years.

Item Description Price To Top
06284 Red Rocket Steelhead Tube Fly
tied on lightweight soft plastic tubes
3 for $10.50

Sandy Blue
The Sandy Blue is very reliable during medium flows and temperatures from Southern Oregon to Northern British Columbia. It is by far the most popular winter steelhead fly sold in our shop for the past ten years. Don't leave home without several in your fly box.

Item Description Price To Top
06287 Sandy Blue Steelhead Tube Fly
tied on lightweight soft plastic tubes
3 for $10.50

Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing Schools - 2012
Entry Level Spey Casting  School Steelhead Fly Fishing 101 Save $25
Spey Casting Finishing Schools DVD Deal Where To Stay
FREE VIDEO TO WATCH For Basic Casting Stroke Lesson: Echo 5120-4TR Outfit
SIMPLY THE BEST !!!
We know that steelhead are often uncooperative and unpredictable. That is why they are such great sport fish. It takes skills to get them, and acquiring the skills takes dedication, and a well laid out plan. Many anglers stop half way to their goal because they weren't even able to lay out a comprehensive plan. Now you don't have to, because your plan has been designed by a team of anglers who have landed hundreds of steelhead with flies in the most traditional manner. No we're not talking about side-drifting with a slinky on the end of your fly line, nor are we talking about harassing spawners with glo bugs and split-shot. We are talking about swinging flies with a Spey rod for bright moving fish in the most respected fashion possible. There is probably no more experienced steelhead fly angler than Mark Bachmann. He is joined by the talent of Josh Linn, Travis Johnson and Hawkeye Hawkins. You have a formidable team to help you get to the finish line. Our plan is as simple as it is effective. First you u learn to cast precisely. (You can only catch a fish when your fly is in the water and you can only catch fish that you can reach.) Then you learn how and where to find your prey. Then you learn to present the fly properly to the prey, covering vast amounts of water in the most efficient manner. The method is academic, show the fly to the largest number of fish in the shortest period of time in the most enticing manner. When you finish our curriculum, you won't have many doubts about how it works. Winter steelhead are available in fishable numbers by mid-November.

Fly Fishing: “SPEY” Casting, Entry Level

 Spey Schools Available Now !!!

Spey casting can be learned quite easily with the assistance of a professional instructor. This class starts with the most basic fundamentals so that you will have a foundation on which to build your "Spey Casting Skill Set". Our approach allows you to easily understand the scientific principles of how a rod and line work together to propel your fly to the target. br> Our crash course starts in a nice warm class room with donuts and coffee. Here rod and line theories are discussed in detail so that before you get to the water, you have an understanding of the principals you are going to use. Then you will ride to the river with your instructors. There your instructors will demonstrate the theories you have already explored. Then you will take a rod into your own hands and be able to practice what you have learned. You will be amazed at how easy it is. All the major Spey Casts will be explored. Both floating and sinking tip lines will be learned.

Time: 8 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Lunch is provided).
Meet at: The Fly Fishing Shop - Instructors: Josh Linn, Travis Johnson and Marcy Stone.
Spey Casting Classes are offered on Thursdays so that they can be taken consecutive with our One Day Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing Schools, which are offered on Fridays.

Cost (8 hrs.): $150.
You will need the following equipment:  Waders, boots, rain coat, hat and polarized glasses. You may bring your own rod and reel if you want to. Properly balanced Spey Outfits will be provided.
(9) Students total.
First come, first served.
Deposits are payments in full.
Deposits are non-refundable unless water/weather conditions prohibit class. 
SEE CLASS POLICY
Item Description Price To Top
SPEY-CL-011912 Spey Casting Class, January 19, 2012 $150

SPEY-CL-012612 Spey Casting Class, January 26, 2012 $150

SPEY-CL-021612 Spey Casting Class, February 16, 2012 $150

SPEY-CL-022312 Spey Casting Class, February 23, 2012 $150

SPEY-CL-031512 Spey Casting Class, March 15, 2012 $150

SPEY-CL-031512 Spey Casting Class, March 22, 2012 $150


One-Day Entry Level Steelhead Fly Fishing Schools
This is Steelhead Fly Fishing 101.
Take a pontoon boat ride down a Local River with: 

Mark Bachmann and Josh Linn.
These classes are scheduled on Fridays so that they can be taken consecutively with our
Spey Casting Schools.

During a school, you have the benefits of watching an experienced guide show you how to fish the water that he has fished dozens of times. Steelhead fly fishing is very practical if you know how.  Being able to find fish and being able to present the fly properly are key factors.  Save yourself five years of experimenting on your own. 
We will show you how. 

This school will cover a lot of water and fishing knowledge in one day.  Length of the class is 8-hours on the water.  All schools conducted on the Sandy River.  Big, safe, roomy pontoon boats will enable us to cover 12-miles of river during the class. Two students
per boat/instructor format. Learn how to locate steelhead water and how to approach it. Emphasis will be on giving you a foundation of skills to build on, with a high priority given to hooking fish during the class. We want to give you maximum advantage by having as many fish hooked during this class as possible.  Nothing teaches you more about fishing than being where fish are being hooked and landed.  Emphasis will be on spey rod use and sinking-tip line fishing. Students should at least have moderate casting skills. This is a fishing class. Nothing teaches you about steelhead like catching them.
If you need basic knowledge or a brush-up on Spey Casting skills, we suggest signing up for a Spey Casting School and be ready to use these skills to catch winter steelhead.
Catch winter steelhead with flies... What you need to bring:
Bring your own waders and rain gear.  Bring your own rod/reel set up if you want to.  
A variety of premium quality 2-hand rod/reel set-ups will be available for you to use at no extra charge. Flies are supplied.
A hot lunch will be served on the river.  
There will be a very short rest period after lunch.  
Meet at The Fly Fishing Shop at 6:30am for half-hour orientation.  Coffee and donuts will be served.

Watch an expert guide as he fishes and discloses the secrets and proven methods that put fish on the beach. Get a lot of hands-on help so that you too can be productive.
Arrive back at The Fly Fishing Shop at 6:00pm.

What our customers say.  
A report on a Steelhead School.

First come, first served.
Deposits are payments in full.
Deposits are non-refundable unless water/weather conditions prohibit class. 
SEE CLASS POLICY

Catch winter steelhead with your Spey Rod...

Item Description Price To Top
EST-CLASS-012012 Entry Level Steelhead Fly Fishing School
January 20, 2012, Sandy River, 2-students per boat, 8-students maximum
$250

EST-CLASS-012712 Entry Level Steelhead Fly Fishing School
January 27, 2012, Sandy River, 2-students per boat, 8-students maximum
$250

EST-CLASS-021712 Entry Level Steelhead Fly Fishing School
February 17, 2012, Sandy River, 2-students per boat, 8-students maximum
$250

EST-CLASS-022412 Entry Level Steelhead Fly Fishing School
February 24, 2012, Sandy River, 2-students per boat, 8-students maximum
$250

EST-CLASS-021612 Entry Level Steelhead Fly Fishing School
March 16, 2012, Sandy River, 2-students per boat, 8-students maximum
$250

EST-CLASS-022312 Entry Level Steelhead Fly Fishing School
March 23, 2012, Sandy River, 2-students per boat, 8-students maximum
$250


Two Day Spey School  -  Save $25

Acquiring skills helps achieve success.
This school is for beginning and intermediate fly fishers, who want to acquire new winter steelhead fly fishing skills in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. Spend the night between the two days in our community. We know the best places to stay, and we know the best places to eat. We will be glad to help make the arrangements. We will be glad to show you around our home turf on the way to and from schools. It could turn you on to your next fly fishing playground.
Save $25 by taking a Spey Casting Class followed immediately by a Winter Steelhead School.  Get twice as much for your money and save money while you are doing it. It will be a lot of fun.
Community Links
Item Description Price To Top
EST-CLASS-01192012 Spey Casting Class, January 19 - PLUS - Entry Level Steelhead Fly Fishing School January 20, 2012 - TWO DAYS. $375
EST-CLASS-01262712 Spey Casting Class, January 26 - PLUS - Entry Level Steelhead Fly Fishing School January 27, 2012 - TWO DAYS. $375
EST-CLASS-02161712 Spey Casting Class, February 16 - PLUS - Entry Level Steelhead Fly Fishing School February 17, 2012 - TWO DAYS. $375
EST-CLASS-02232412 Spey Casting Class, February 23 - PLUS - Entry Level Steelhead Fly Fishing School February 24, 2012 - TWO DAYS. $375
EST-CLASS-03151612 Spey Casting Class, March 15 - PLUS - Entry Level Steelhead Fly Fishing School March 16, 2012 - TWO DAYS. $375
EST-CLASS-03222312 Spey Casting Class, March 22 - PLUS - Entry Level Steelhead Fly Fishing School March 23, 2012 - TWO DAYS. $375

Spey Casting Finishing Schools


Improve your Spey Casting techniques and learn how to deal with the tough spots.
This class is for the angler that wants to take his/her casting to the next level!
These are "Finishing Schools" for intermediate and accomplished Spey casters.
Spend a day with expert casters Josh Linn and Travis Johnson and focus on expanding the fundamentals and mechanics of Spey rod casting.
The steps in this class will be toward any subject you feel that you need more information or practice in order to bring your casting up a notch or two.  Whether you need help casting a Skagit or Scandi line farther, controlling a sink tip, or learning how to handle a mid or long belly line, let us save you the energy, time, and frustration.
These classes are offered during the summer and fall seasons, and each is a full 8 hour day of learning.  The first part of the day will include a classroom style tutorial and PowerPoint presentation, after which the real nitty gritty begins—on the water!
While on the river, the class will have a regimented style at first and, towards the end, provide an in-depth question and answer segment, along with  hands-on problem solving situations for real life applications.
With this open style forum, an angler can really bring to the table what they want out of the class, receiving the one-on-one attention that makes this class worth the $175.00 cost (per student).
Lunch and beverages will be provided.  Bring your favorite setup and we will also have a lot of rods for you to try.
Spey Casting Finishing School limited to six students per class. 
Private lessons are also available. $50 per hour, 4 hour ($200) minimum. Please call for an appointment.
Item Description Price To Top
SPEY-CL-012112 Spey Casting Finishing School,
January 21, 2011
$175

Rio's Modern Spey Casting, (3)-DVD Set, 4-hours
Cast of Characters: Simon Gawesworth, George Cook, Mike McCune, Scott O'Donnell, Dana Sturn, Ed Ward. 
The most comprehensive film on spey casting ever made.  This triple disc DVD from Rio stars the notable team of experts listed above. Not only learn from these masters the classic Single Spey, Double Spey, Switch cast and Roll cast, but also the modern spey casts such as the Snake roll, Circle Spey, Snap-T, Snap-Z, Wambat cast, Underhand cast, Spiral Spey, Spiral Double Spey, Jelly
Roll, Perry Poke and Skagit casting.  This film also teaches the viewer the most common faults to recognize and avoid and has superb bio-kinetic footage so you and study the hand, arm and body movement of each cast.  There is also great information on casting sinking lines, saltwater spey casting and trout fishing spey casts with single hand rods.br> Save $10 on these instructional DVDs when purchased with a Spey Casting Class or a Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing Class. Click this button when signing up for either class.
Item Description Price To Top
260695 Rio's Modern Spey Casting, 3-DVD set. Save $10 on these instructional DVDs when purchased with a Spey Casting Class or a Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing Class Reg. $49.95
With A Class $39.95


Catch and Release
A Management Tool For Self Sustaining Fisheries
Jason Hambly Josh Linn

Ten days ago, a good friend, Jason Hambly gave me a picture of himself holding a beautiful wild steelhead he landed and released on the Sandy River. It measured 40" long with a 21" girth. The day before yesterday, Josh Linn landed that same fish at another location on the Sandy River and released it again. The two anglers compared notes and identified this fish because of some distinctive healed wounds. Jason used a pink plastic worm & bobber. Josh used a spey rod and fly.  The fish is still in very healthy condition...and probably wiser. Catch and release works, and both men can say they got a twenty-pounder this winter.
This year is a little different than most years, because we have a very strong steelhead run.  There is optimism in the air.  The fish are fat, and there has been good Ocean survival.  Both self-sustaining steelhead returns and hatchery produced steelhead returns are much stronger than in the past eight years.  This year is a model of how it is supposed to work. Hatchery steelhead are robust and for the first time in many years, they look like wild fish with deformed fins. As usual, naturally reproducing wild fish are also a major factor in our catch rate. In the past several years, most local anglers have worked real hard to limit angling mortality on wild fish...and it's paying off..
On our home waters, fly fishers and gear fishers are seeking ways to contribute to the sustainability of our great fishery...by working together.   As sportsmen & sportswomen, our single highest compliment to the Sandy River steelhead run could be it's immortality.

How to Catch and Release Your Fish
Treat wild fish gently

Wild and hatchery steelhead, and salmon are commonly found together in many Oregon rivers. Hatchery trout may be found with wild trout in many lakes. Hatchery-reared fish are used to supplement natural production or compensate for lost production (e.g. dams). However, catching and keeping a wild fish has a greater effect on a fish population than catching and keeping a hatchery fish. Here's why:
Hatchery fish are protected in a hatchery pond until adulthood, while wild fish must survive stream disturbances and predators to become adults. Adult wild fish that survive are the strongest and most cunning of their kind. Also, wild fish are much more likely to spawn successfully in a stream than hatchery fish. So, returning wild fish to the

stream allows those fish to spawn and pass on their ability to survive to their offspring - enabling the wild fish population to remain healthy and grow.  In most Oregon waters wild fish are protected by law and must be released unharmed.

Hooking and Playing the Fish
(Our perspective).

  1. Use hooks that are barbless to reduce trauma.
  2. Set the hook immediately. Try to prevent a fish from swallowing your fly.
  3. Land your quarry quickly; don't play it to exhaustion.
  4. Decide to release a fish as soon as you determine it is wild.
  5. Don't beach a wild fish or let it flop around on the bank.
    6. If a picture is to be taken, get the fish back into the water quickly as possible.
    7.  Always keep release tools handy.
Treat wild fish gently Handling Your Catch
1. Leave the fish in the water (if possible) and don't handle it. Use a tool to remove the hook.
2. Keep the fish from thrashing.
3. Netting your fish is often the quickest way to  control it. Rubber-bag nets remove less slime and fewer scales than mesh nets.
4. When you must handle a fish:
  • Wet, clean bare hands are best, or use a wet glove or rag to hold on.
  • Turn a fish on its back or cover its eyes with a wet towel to calm it.
  • Don't put your fingers in the eyes or gills of your catch.
  • Avoid removing mucous or scales.
  • Don't squeeze a wild fish or let it bang against things.
Treat wild fish gently

Get the fish back into the water as quickly as possible.
Releasing the Fish

  1. Place the fish in the water gently supporting its mid-section and tail until it swims away.
  2. Resuscitate an exhausted fish by moving it back and forth or tow it gently alongside the boat to force water through its gills.
  3. Watch your quarry to make sure it swims away. If it doesn't, recover the fish and try again.

A released fish has an excellent chance of survival when handled carefully and correctly.

Wild Fish: This is a fish that was naturally produced without man's assistance.  Normally all fins are straight, and have branched fin rays and the adipose fin is intact. These fish are usually protected by special laws. Be sure to read the fishing regulations.

Hatchery Fish: In Oregon all hatchery anadromous salmonids have had the adipose fin surgically removed and healed before they are released from the hatchery.  Also, possibly a ventral, or a pectoral fin may also have been remove for further identification. Some hatchery fish may have a maxillary flipper removed instead of the second fin. To confirm hatchery origin, look for the healed fin clip. Once you are sure you want to kill a fish, do it quickly with a sharp blow to the head. Remove the blood, gills and guts immediately to have the best table fare.


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Fish long & prosper,
Mark & Patty