Fly Fishing Techniques: Nymphing for Steelhead

Andy Simon and Mike Davidchik offer up some of their experience in dead-drifting nymphs for steelhead on Among the tidbits: “Anadromous fish do not use the same lies as fluvial (stream and river resident) fish. Fluvial fish will select lies than allow them to feed easily, and are willing to fight a little more current and expose themselves a little more than anadromous fish to accomplish that. Anadromous fish, on the other hand, will commonly lie where the current is soft….” It is interesting to note that the authors repeat the importance of getting flies to the bottom — somewhat at odds with Dec Hogan’s advice in his recent book A Passion for Steelhead. Of course it is entirely possible that they all agree, and the difference is only in what their definition of “bottom” is.

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  • Andy Simon

    Thank you for the link. While in nymphing it is very important to get your flies to the bottom, Dec and I are targeting different fish.
    A fish that will move to a swung fly on the surface is a very agressive steelhead, maybe one in 20 steelhead will be a biter for a surface swung fly.
    However, traditional steelheading is practiced by swinging and often fisherman put more worth on a fish caught with the swing because there is a lower chance of hooking up.
    Conversly, nymphing can target nearly every steelhead in a run. It is considered by some died in wool traditionalists as unethical, but that is for the fisherman for decide. It is much like the dry fly vs. wet debate for trout.

  • Andy,
    Thanks for enlightening us on the swing vs. drift debate. Great article.