Many of the success stories like the one I described at the top include a statement along the lines of “Your flies have done it again, man!” In reality, it was the angler who actually was the one that “did it again”, but the fly, in part, gave that angler the confidence needed to do it.
Follow me here for a second.
Any reasonable fly will catch a steelhead in time, but not every angler can catch a steelhead with any fly. To catch a steelhead, an angler must have enough confidence in what they are doing, and in the fly that they are fishing, to stick with it long enough to beat the odds and make the magic happen. As a steelheader, you must believe, without wavering, that a steelhead will take the fly you present to them.
And that is where we come in. Tiers of steelhead flies. Peddlers of Confidence. The goal of our craft is to create something that will not only inspire a fish that is no longer feeding to bite, but that will also inspire an angler to tie it on the line, and fish it long and hard, through high and low water, rain and shine, until a steelhead is fooled. It’s a bit of a voodoo science - combining materials, colors, and concepts in a way that will seduce both fish and fisher. To fool one into eating and one into believing.
And for different anglers, it is a different type of fly that inspires them and gives them confidence to fish dawn until dusk. There are beautiful, classic hairwings that come in dressings ranging from bulky full dress to anemic low water variations. There are leeches in every color and form, flashy and drab, modest to enormous. There are Intruders by the hundreds these days, which may take anywhere from 2 minutes to 2 hours to tie. There are egg patterns in more variations than any Easter basket could hope to contain. And there are tubes – so many tubes - that have migrated from Scandinavia all the way to the rivers of the Pacific Northwest, farther than any steelhead has migrated to get back to the spawning grounds.
That’s one of the coolest parts about steelhead flies – there seems to be a nearly endless variety of patterns stemming from what turns out to be only a handful of effective themes. The number of steelhead flies that could be described generically as “three and a half inches long and wiggly” is astronomical. But the number of those that a given angler is personally drawn to and will fish with confidence might only be counted on two hands.
That’s the game. That’s the fun of tying flies and fishing for steelhead. What makes YOU believe that it will happen?
Take Care and Fish On,
PS - The Pic is of my "Hobgoblin" fly, which is 3 and a half inches long and wiggly. Normally tied in traditional steelhead colors, I dressed this one in the theme of a crayfish.