Favorite Flies for Steelhead
The "Favorite Flies" series started a few issues back with a relook back to the flies that our contributors have submitted and several new submissions. From this point on we will be concentrating on newly submitted flies for a particular species and these new flies will in turn be added to the rich Salmonfly.Net archives. In this issue we'll see several new and several more traditional flies for steelhead.
Ard Stetts Flies
Alaskan Lady is an original creation of of Salmonfly.Net contributing author, Ard Stetts. Ard writes "The Real Skinny" series which is always chock-full of good advice and he always includes many of his original flies with his articles. In his email, about this fly, he wrote, "Iím sending you another fly, Alaskan Lady, yeah I know about the other white Alaska flyÖ but this is different enough for me to call it what I want. I fish them in turbid water and can attest to their attractiveness to fish. " See Alaskan Lady and several other originals in Ard Stetts's article this issue, FISH ON!, Now What?
You can see many more of Ard Stetts flies by visiting his contributor page on this site, The Flies of Ard Stetts.
Steelhead Flies from the Trey Combs' Winter Series
One of my favorite fly fishing books is Fly Fishing for Steelhead by Trey Combs. Mr. Combs is perhaps one of the finest writers about the history, art, and techniques of fly fishing for the species that I am aware of. I really enjoy reading his advice and historical anecdotes, but I also really enjoy tying his flies. His Winter Series steelhead dressings were developed as a "fast sinking fly that swims well under tension" and that "work equally well for high, discolored summer water, and fresh spring-run steelhead". They are really, both traditional and newer patterns dressed in a particular style for a purpose and to find out more about them, I would suggest that you read pages 468-470 of Fly Fishing for Steelhead. What follows are my attempts at tying the Winter Series flies. Click on the links for the patterns and more tying tips.
Midnight Sun is one of my favorite's in the Winter Series. It is appropriately named color combination of yellows and oranges that remind you of just that, but more importantly, have become successful attractants for winter-run steelhead. Trey Combs likes this fly for water of some color, mentioning that Jimmy Hunnicutt took two 20 plus pound steelhead on the Dean with a full-dressed Midnight Sun
I am not necessarily displaying these in order, but I would have to say that Pink Pearl is one of my next favorites. It is the aesthetics that appeal to me, though, and I am not the fish. Trey Combs recommends this fly in his book for the same conditions as the Midnight Sun and he says he has also caught some fine summer fish on this fly, the Midnight Sun, the Skykomish Sunrise (below), and the Winter's Hope (below), dressed down and fished grease-line.
Some of the flies in the Trey Combs Winter Series are traditional flies dressed with marabou. Winter's Hope, a traditional fly usually tied as a featherwing, is one of those. This is another fly that he likes for water of some color and he'll overdress it for for badly discolored water.
Winter Orange is yet another fly with attractive coloration for human and fish eyes. According to Trey Combs the Winter Orange attracts steelhead in clear and discolored water and also notes that dressed down with shorter wings, it is a good clear water pattern in sizes 1 and 1/0. I find the fly attractive in all sizes!
Coal Car, modeled after the Randall Kaufmann fly, is one of the flies that Trey Combs says he overdresses for badly discolored water in winter but will dress down and use for summer-run fish as well. Perhaps it is appropriate to mention here that the reason the marabou plumes are tied shorter for each section is that in addition to providing the slimmer profile, it helps prevent the marabou from wrapping around the hook. ...Makes sense.
Mr. Combs says he thinks of Winter Red as a clear-water pattern "generally fishes it then, though the combination of red and cerise are 'hot' and very visible". For some reason, I am not exactly sure why, he writes that the first wing should extend to the end of the tail (unlike the other flies in the series), but I am sure there is good reason for it.
Winter Rose is another in the series that fits into the general category for high, discolored water and for fresh spring-run category, but given a few of these in your fly box, I am sure you can put it to use for many conditions. It is less flashy than many winter steelhead flies and would probably work equally well for steelhead in clear water conditions.
Skykomish Sunrise, a fly modeled after the colors in the famous fly originated in the 1940's by by Ken and George McLeod. Trey Combs likes this fly for water of some color an mentions it as one of the flies that he has caught some fine summer fish on, dressed down and fished greased-line style.
I think of a purple fly as a summer fly, but Trey Combs uses an overdressed version (with three wings) of Winter Purple for badly discolored water in winter. There is also a photo in the book of a Winter Purple with a two-part wing and red tail which I assume is the dressed down version for high discolored summer water or less turbid winter/spring water.
William Lovelace Fly Series
William Lovelace has several traditional steelhead fly patterns listed in his article for this issue, "Favorite Flies, Fly Shops, and Rivers", but my favorite is Mack's Canyon Blue, a Mark Melody variation of the well-know Doug Stewart fly. Take a look at Bill's article and see more of the traditional flies that he has on display.
That's it for another month. Each month, we'll be presenting new "Favorite Flies" and targeting different species, so there will always be new flies and fresh ideas to look forward to in addition to the ones submitted by contributors. As always, Salmonfly.Net invites other contributors to submit their flies or ideas. That can be done by filling out and submitting the form on the page, Showing Your Flies or Photos on Salmonfly.Net.
Happy Fly Tying,
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