Let’s start off with the most effective way to catch steelhead. I didn’t say the traditional or “purist” way to catch ‘em…
My go to set up is a 9’6” 6 weight Redington Crux, paired with a Redington Grande reel and a six weight RIO Elite Salmon / Steelhead line. The line works great for roll casting, stack mending, overhead casting, and water loading from a boat.
Bobber Rig Setup
I use around I a 3 foot “butt” section of 15lb fluorocarbon that my Jaydacator bobbers (best bobbers made, highly recommend) are attached to. Then I barrel swivel that to the 15lb butt and add a 3ft section of ten pound that's finished with a varying length of 8lb attached to my flies.
Bobber Rig Flies
This may be where I anger more people, but believe it or not Steelhead really enjoy eating salmon eggs. So when there’s salmon around run those beads right behind that salmon redd. If there’s no salmon around rubber legs and some kind of attractor nymph. Steelhead aren’t extremely picky creatures in my experience it’s more a matter of putting it in their face. So stick and move, cover more water and you’re going to find more fish. Try different types of water, deep slow pools, perfect looking runs aren’t always holding them, some of my favorite water is a tail out right above a gnarly rapid, they like to rest right there.
Before all the purists hate on me I was a swing only guy for a long time. I learned how to fly fish on the trinity with a single hand rod, floating line, and traditional flies. For the longest time I didn’t even know there was another way to catch 'em. However, nymphing is very effective…so things changed. I do still love to swing and I still love guiding folks who want to try and swing one up. Just had a guy recently land his first big adult ever on the Trinity!
Setup For Swinging
12’6” 6 weight Spey rod with a matching reel. My setup right now is a Claymore and Grande reel. Spey lines get a bit more complicated but when the water temp is above 55 I still like to try and catch em' on a floating Scandi line with a traditional fly like a Burlap or Green Butt Skunk. However, if the water is colder or bigger then I’ll switch to a scandi 3D line. You’ll have to play with grain weights and sinking rates for the water you fish. I run the intermediate, type 3, type 5 line. I absolutely love it.
The greatest thing about Northern California is fish are around as early as August and will still be around through March.
So, get out there and enjoy our beautiful rivers no matter what technique makes you happy.
- John Fochetti
Hire John - https://www.johnfochettiflyfishing.com/