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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

Dorsal view of a Holocentropus (Polycentropodidae) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
This one seems to tentatively key to Holocentropus, although I can't make out the anal spines in Couplet 7 of the Key to Genera of Polycentropodidae Larvae nor the dark bands in Couplet 4 of the Key to Genera of Polycentropodidae Larvae, making me wonder if I went wrong somewhere in keying it out. I don't see where that could have happened, though. It might also be that it's a very immature larva and doesn't possess all the identifying characteristics in the key yet. If Holocentropus is correct, then Holocentropus flavus and Holocentropus interruptus are the two likely possibilities based on range, but I was not able to find a description of their larvae.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Posts: 77
Goose on Oct 4, 2011October 4th, 2011, 5:21 am EDT
Anyone care to share a steelhead leader recipe for Erie steel?
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Oct 4, 2011October 4th, 2011, 7:01 am EDT

Good article in this month's Flyfisherman mag. on going dry and swinging/waking flies when the water is clear on Steelhead Alley...the guy gets down to 5X !!!!Depends on how you are presenting the fly...strike indicator fishing, or swimming/waking approach.
Posts: 77
Goose on Oct 4, 2011October 4th, 2011, 9:23 am EDT
Yep. I'll just be throwing nymphs. I've never seen anybody fish dry flies up in Erie. I'm not saying it has never happened, but I just never heard of anyone doing it. I usually just use my regular nymph tapered leaders. I thought maybe somebody had a neat (easy) leader formula.
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Oct 5, 2011October 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm EDT

The picture in the article shows low water, and but a slot of green water with some depth. This guy is a guide, and says it extends his days he can take clients and have a chance to hookup. Says the split shot plopping on the water will spook them in low, clear conditions. I'm of little help on indicator fishing. I was a West Coast steelhead guide, but always swung the fly wet fly style. There is an increasing number of strike indicator fisherman now since I moved to Idaho, and a lot of them during the cold water Spring steehead fishing over here, but I don't partake in it anymore.
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Oct 7, 2011October 7th, 2011, 9:28 am EDT
Has anybody out there ever tried swinging/skating dries on Michigan streams for steelhead? I have thought about using popper-type bugs or other large hairy dries for this, and wondered if anyone has ever tried it. If no one has, perhaps I'll be the first...a local fishing friend of mine has suggested trying things the fish have never seen, the idea being that they become jaded to the same old stuff (nymphs, eggs, streamers, etc.) and that something new just might be the ticket. Any thoughts, fellas??

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Oct 7, 2011October 7th, 2011, 9:56 am EDT

Here is what I have experienced out West, and a lot of experience. There is a big difference between hatchery fish, and big native Spring spawner fish when it comes to taking a waking fly. The natives will attack a big waking fly where the hatchery fish will seldom be aggressive towards them...maybe a refusal at best. I often fished trout size subtle colored softhackles for Fall hatchery fish where big bomber types were used for Native steelhead. And if I got a refusal on a say size #8 Mustad 3906 nymph hook, I would drop down to a #10 when fishing for hatchery steelhead. Those Lonnie Waller videos where he used big surface disturbing dries were for Skeena River system big native steelhead. Same out here in Idaho. ON the Salmon River, that gets huge hatchery runs of steelhead in recent years, they damp fish smaller patterns.
PaulRoberts's profile picture

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on Oct 10, 2011October 10th, 2011, 8:03 am EDT
I use the same general formula's (Harvey-esque) but with the colder water and usually deeper holds I go longer than for trout. Instead of 7 to 9ft, I run 10 to say 14. Fine tippets help in cold water, but you have to balance that with fish size, and hazards. Too light and the lack of control sucks.

You may want to run a dropper for your weight bc of rocks, which will save you re-tying time. Slinky weights are good in large water, but jaded fish can be weight shy. Don't use a knot tag end for a dropper -too much potential for leader damage. Use a high quality (small and strong) swivel for your dropper as it is AMAZING how much torque a hot steelhead will apply to your rig -even with a light tippet. They can open split rings, pop swivels, and straighten hooks.

Maintenance is critical. Be paranoid about your terminal rig, and be willing to re-tie. If you hit it right and have a hot day you will see. They can tear things up and expose any weakness.

Good luck. Steelhead was the one fish that I could have left my family and friends for lol. Hit em on an Indian summer day when the water is above 50 and you will quit your job. That is the time when you'd have the best chance with surface flies. I never tried it though. I did get them to "rise" up in the water column, and quite a ways, to big streamers and also to bright aggressive conventional plugs. It'll probably come down to conditions, and individual fish.
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Oct 12, 2011October 12th, 2011, 3:32 pm EDT
I fish the Erie tribs a couple of times every season and never use a special "steelhead" taper. I use any decent heavy butt (.021" - .024") 7 1/2' 2X leader, then add on a piece of 3X Seaguar flouro about 24" long. Actually I like to tie on a micro barrel swivel at the end of the 2X and clinch knot the 3X to the other end of the swivel. It's alot easier to tie on tippet this way instead of trying to tie a blood knot in cold weather. If the water is colored and up I'll use 2X Seaguar and catch plenty of fish. 3X Seaguar is 9.2# test and only .008" diameter.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Oct 13, 2011October 13th, 2011, 5:16 am EDT
Wbranch...I'd buy that set up. I'm using the tippet rings at the end of my leader for the same reason. Good place to attach a small split shot if you need to as well...above the swivel. I'll be off today fishing that setup, and dry fly fishing with a #14 lt. cahill attached before I go. I am optimistic they will be on the water this afternoon the same as they were on Sunday.
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Oct 13, 2011October 13th, 2011, 1:38 pm EDT
If u really want to get cute u leave the tag end on the tippet section you tie to the other end of the swivel, then add your split shot to the tag and and often if u get snagged the split shot pull off and u don't lose your rig.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
CaseyP's profile picture
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
CaseyP on Oct 14, 2011October 14th, 2011, 11:55 am EDT
thanks for all the good info in this thread. BFB #1 and #2 and i are off on 11/5-6 to give it a try, conditions permitting. please post a report before then, WBranch!
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Oct 14, 2011October 14th, 2011, 8:26 pm EDT

I'm leaving for the Erie creeks, PA & NY, on Sunday night about 10:00 pm. Should arrive about 4:30 am, jump under the covers for two hours to get some rest then probably fish Elk a few hours, or will stay if it is good. If not will fish some of the east side creeks and ultimately get over into Westfield, NY where the motel I'm staying at is located. Am staying at least through Wednesday, if it's good I'll stay until Saturday morning.

Remember you want to try and time your trip on either falling high water or when there has been enough rain that the surrounding topography is well saturated so these spate creeks will hold the water for more than two days. Once the creeks get very low and clear the fishing is very tough. If u can see them they probably can see u too. Also if it is low and there are many fish you often wind up foul hooking more than are fair hooked. Go to 4X and micro egg patterns and #16 - #20 nymphs and either no indicator or only a very small white Thingamabobber.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.

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