Posts tagged: Steelhead

Video: Fly Tying - Egg Fly

Video: Fly Tying - Egg Fly

From steelhead to trout and salmon, a good egg pattern can be an essential part of your fly box. Here is a simple way of tying this pattern in various sizes!


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When Does a Trout Fly Reel Become More Than Just a Line Holder?

When Does a Trout Fly Reel Become More Than Just a Line Holder?

It is a very rare occasion that the term “line holder” doesn’t come up in conversation when outfitting customers with reels for trout and landlocked salmon. But, when does a reel become more than just a line holder? Here are a few reasons why you may want to consider investing a little more in your trout reel and why it can be much more than just a line holder. 

Trophy Trout:

Whether you’re targeting them or you just happen to come across one in your adventures, losing big trout sucks. Most trout reels these days have drag systems that are more than powerful enough (provide enough drag pressure) to handle any trout or salmon situation. The advent of more modern/sophisticated drag systems such as disc drags are an improvement on click and pawl systems. However, there are a couple of other major factors that play into what makes a good reel for big trout. A smooth, consistent, high quality drag system plays a crucial role in dealing with light tippets. A reel with a drag that is, for lack of better words "jerky" and erratic, have tendencies to break lighter tippets or pop out hooks, especially when dealing with with large and/or sporadic fish. You would be surprised how much of a difference a quality drag system can make when protecting lighter tippets. Most quality fly reel manufacturers spend a lot of time engineering and constructing their drags, especially higher end models. You can have all the "stopping power" in the world with your reel/drag, but if it cannot provide smooth pressure with a good start-up inertia, it really doesn't matter much. In addition to being smooth, a drag that can be easily adjusted can also be important. This has a lot to do with personal preference, however one thing that should be considered is that it is advantageous to have a drag that doesn’t increase too much with tiny incremental adjustments. This way you can tweak the pressure you are putting on a fish by micro amounts without risking making too much of an adjustment and breaking off that fish when they make a run.

"When I am guiding and one of my clients hooks into a large trout, I will immediately tell them to "get that fish on the reel!"" This is one of the best ways of increasing the chances of landing that fish especially in faster or pocket water." (Josh Thelin)


In many places, including here in Maine, sea run trout are becoming more and more popular to target. In a very similar way for our local striped bass fishery, we suggest using a fully anodized reel for sea run trout. Corrosion protection, as well as a sealed drag system can greatly increase the life of the reel. It is really the only way to prevent a reel from breaking down in saltwater. Saltwater is notorious for being rough on gear and can destroy lesser quality reels in a single season. So, even if the reel does not have a sealed system, a better manufactured reel/drag with higher quality components goes a long way!

Another fun opportunity with a saltwater worthy reel is targeting schoolie striped bass in the spring before the big ones show up. A 20” striper on a 6 or 7 weight rod will give you a run for your money and since they are usually first keyed in on small bait, a 6 or 7 weight rod can be a great way to target stripers in the spring.

Remember: No matter what reel you have, please remember to rinse your gear off after use in saltwater! Bringing a water bottle with you to quickly rinse your gear afterwards can be helpful if you are not in a situation where you can use a hose, sink, etc. 

Cold Weather:

Cold weather fishing isn’t for everyone, but for those who are brave enough to fish in sub 32 degree weather, gear is everything. From warm clothes, to putting de-icing paste on the guides of your rod, to a durable reel, everything needs to be considered. A sealed drag system on your fly reel comes into play big time when fishing in freezing temperatures. If water is allowed to make its way into a drag system, freeze, and expand, it can cause problems. In the least it will cause short term performance issues with the drag that day. Another thing to consider is durability. Some of the super light weight reels made these days are so fragile that an ice jam in your reel can cause the metal to crack. It is not always wise to go with the lightest gear possible if it compromises durability. A lot of the very weight forward fly lines these days cast and balance better on reels with a little more mass. 


This should be the most obvious reason. As the saying goes you get what you pay for. This is very true with trout reels. It's likely that a lesser reel might get you by for a season or so, but it will need replacing/repair sooner than later. If you want a reel that will last a lifetime that you can also hand down to your grandchildren, consider making that slight just up to a better quality reel.

Our Favorite Trout Reels:

Hatch Iconic

Hatch Iconic Fly Reel

Galvan Rush LT

Galvan Rush Light Fly Reel

Waterworks-Lamson Guru S-Series

Waterworks-Lamson Guru S-Series Fly Reel

Sage Spectrum

Sage Spectrum Fly Reel

By: Joe Webster + Josh Thelin 

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Winter Fly Fishing: How to Stay Warm

Winter Fly Fishing: How to Stay Warm

Though many people hang up their gear, especially here in Maine, the winter months can be a fantastic time to get out and wet a line. The peaceful solitude of winter fly fishing, which can actually be quite productive at times, is not to be missed out on because it’s too cold outside. Here are 5 things that are guaranteed to keep you warm and happy when venturing out even in the coldest of days.  

1. Bootfoot Waders:

Bootfoot waders are a game changer for winter fishing. The number one discomfort when fishing water below 40 degrees is cold feet. Bootfoot waders essentially solve this problem. Though there is no argument that stocking foot waders are more comfortable (though you would be surprised at how comfortable the boots are in the Simms G3 Bootfoot Waders) and a better tool for walking long distances, however they will not keep you warm because there is not enough room for air to reach around your foot. This is the same reason that foot warmers often do not work as well as you would want them to in stocking foot waders (Side note: foot warmers will often prematurely wear out neoprene stocking feet). Bootfoot waders allow for circulation and for allowing warmth from other parts of your body to transfer down into your feet. Bootfoot waders will also accommodate layering of socks, or one pair of thicker socks, much better than stockingfoot waders. Generally speaking, when investing in a pair of waders for spring, summer, or fall, people are not accommodating for extra layers which does affect boot size. Circulation is everything. Another perk of bootfoot waders that is worth mentioning is how easy on and off they are. Just slip in and go. 

Check out the Simms G3 Guide Bootfoot Waders

2. Gloves:

Two or more pairs is best but one is not enough. You never know what’s going to happen and gloves have a tendency to attract water just like fly line attracts to your feet (haha). You can try to prevent it but the reality is it’s going to happen. Your gloves will get wet. Keeping your hands warm can affect how your whole body feels. The best thing to do is carry a pair of fingerless or fingerless/mitten combo gloves for when you are actively casting, and another pair of mittens or insulated fingered gloves for when the other pair gets wet. Mittens work better than fingered gloves to keep you warm fast for the same reason boot foot waders do, circulation. Hand warmers will also distribute heat to your fingers in mittens vs. fingered gloves. Whatever your preference may be, make sure you have a pair you can use while casting, and a warm pair (that might not be suited so well to casting) to throw on when the fingerless gloves aren’t cutting it anymore. 

Check out the Simms Lightweight Wool Flex Glove

Check out the Simms Gore-Tex ExStreme Foldover Fishing Mitten

Check out the Simms Gore-Tex Infinium Flex Glove

3. Towel:

If you’re lucky enough to catch a fish in cold water and you’ve removed your gloves to safely release the fish without affecting its slime coat, your hands will be cold. Don’t just stick them back in your gloves because then your gloves will get wet. Always bring a towel to dry your hands off. This is a simple thing to bring that will improve your post fish celebrations greatly.

4. Face Covering:

No, for once we’re not talking about masks. This means the combination of a gaiter (or baklava) and hat. The neck warmer can often be shed when moving spot to spot, but when sitting in a location, something to keep your neck warm can turn an uncomfortably cold day into a balmy day. There are many options from lightweight wool gaiters to full baklava’s that go under your hat and cover your whole face. For hats, something that goes over your ears is a must. If not bring ear warmers. A visor is especially useful when there is snow on the ground as it is another tool on top of your sunglasses against glare. Wearing a beanie over a hat with a visor is a great option because the beanie can be shed if you get too warm. 

Check out the Simms Gore-Tex ExStream Cap

Check out the All Points Beanies

Check out the Simms Lightweight Wool Neck Gaiter

5. Waterproof Pack or Dry Bag:

Whether you buy a waterproof pack, or carry a dry bag in your non waterproof pack (often a more budget friendly option), it is important to have something to keep your extra clothes dry. Moisture is what will make you cold the fastest. On top of a place to store your extra gloves and towel, make sure there is enough room in your dry bag for a jacket or two. Because layering is so important during the winter months, you can often find yourself adding and shedding layers constantly. Walking through snow requires so much physical energy, you can find yourself getting very warm when moving around, and freezing when standing still. Make sure to shed layers when walking, and to bring enough layers to keep you warm when standing in one location. Bringing an extra pair of clothes when hiking too far away from your vehicle is always wise when hypothermia is a risk.

Below are some great waterproof pack options that we carry

Check out the Fishpond Wind River Roll-Top Backpack

Check out the Simms Dry Creek Z Backpack

Check out the Fishpond Thunderhead Roll-Top Dry Bag

Check out the Simms Dry Creek Simple Pack

Check out the Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Sling Pack

Check out the Simms Dry Creek Z Sling Pack

Other great cold weather gear to consider!

Simms G3 Tactical Wading Jacket

Simms Insulated Challenger Jacket

Simms Challenger Jacket

Simms Freestone Wading Jacket

Stanly's Ice Off Paste by Loon

- Joe Webster

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Fall/Winter Fly Fishing For Brown Trout & Steelhead In New York

Fall/Winter Fly Fishing For Brown Trout & Steelhead In New York

While most of our local fisheries here in Maine have either closed or slowed down for winter things are just heating up in upstate NY for lake run steelhead and brown trout. 


From late October through mid may steelhead and brown trout migrate from Lake Ontario into the tributaries that feed the lake. The infamous salmon run that occurs in September and goes through mid October is what attracts the first push of steelhead into the rivers. In October and November the steelhead are primarily in the rivers to feed, specifically on the eggs of the salmon that spawn in September and October. Brown trout are fall spawners so their motivation to move in to the rivers stems for the same reason as the salmon: spawning. However brown trout will gladly pick away at eggs and nymphs on their way up stream and can provide good opportunity throughout the winter months as many will hold in the rivers after they spawn as well. Steelhead will constantly enter river systems throughout the winter months often using bumps in water flow to move upstream. When they first enter they are dime bright silver fish that fight comparably to our landlocked salmon here in Maine. Expect long runs and jumps. Once the fish have been in the river for a while they tend to color up and become a little lethargic behaving more like your average resident rainbow trout. Steelhead will hold in rivers and feed all winter long. Late winter and early spring signals steelhead spawning time. At this point the fish in spawn will be mostly colored up and in skinny water sitting on or near their redds. It is always best to leave spawning fish alone but once steelhead finish their spawn, unlike salmon, they drop back into the lake and feed voraciously on their way out. This time of year is your best bet to catch steelhead while swinging flies or stripping large streamers. Early spring brown trout fishing can also be spectacular. 


Most tributaries that feed into Lake Ontario will hold steelhead and or brown trout at some point in the year. The Salmon River located in Pulaski NY is a good place to start as it will reliably hold steelhead and brown trout throughout the winter no matter what the flows are. Many other smaller tributaries are flow dependent. Ideal flows for someone venturing out for the first time on the Salmon River would be 335cfs-750cfs. Above 1000cfs wading becomes difficult. The salmon river is very easy to navigate as many of the pools are named and easily accessed. The lower fly zone is a fly fishing only section of the river and almost always holds fish but is often crowded. Upper fly zone is the only other FFO water but is seasonal and closed for much of the winter so be sure to check the regulations. If the crowds are not your thing the Douglaston Salmon Run is a pay to fish section that includes the first 3 miles of river. The freshest fish are always caught here and in the winter crowds are very manageable as they have a cap on number of anglers per day. Full day and half day passes are available for purchase. The middle section of the salmon river is also good for finding solitude. Many of the sections near parking lots between Town pool and Pineville will have people fishing them but if you're willing to take a short walk away from the parking lots there is often plenty of space to be had. 

Fly Fishing Steelhead New York


Rod and line setup: For single handed rods 7wt and 8 wt in a 9ft to 10ft length paired with a floating line is recommended for fishing with an indicator. Shorter 2 handed rods (13' and under) paired with a skagit line system and a variety of balanced sink tips is recommended for swinging flies. Make sure your reel has a good drag and some solid stopping power.  2x tippet is recommended.


The two most effective ways of catching fish are fishing under an indicator and swinging flies. Bottom bouncing is also a popular technique though it is not one I would recommend as it is a good way to loose your whole fly box in a day and also results in many foul hooked fish due to the amount of weight required. Fishing flies under an indicator is by far the most productive way to catch the lake run fish on a fly rod. Egg patterns and nymphs dead drifted past steelhead are irresistible to them. Swinging flies, though usually not as productive, can still produce good numbers of fish. For those die hard swingers fall and spring are recommended times because the fish are usually more active and willing to move to grab a fly.

       Note: While nymphing, or fishing flies under an indicator, only one fly is allowed to be used at a time. No dropper rigs are allowed on the Salmon River or surrounding tributaries. Always check regulations before venturing out.


In the fall it's all about the egg patterns. With salmon just finishing their spawn it is what the steelhead key in on the most. Egg patterns are deadly during the entire time steelhead are in the rivers but in the fall it's hard to throw anything else because they catch so many fish. Glo-bugs, blood dots, sucker spawn, and estaz egg patterns will all produce very well. During the winter months it's good to throw a variety of nymphs in with your egg patterns. Copper Johns, caddis larvae, and various stonefly patterns will all produce fish through the winter and spring months. Wooly buggers are a great versatile flies that can either be swung or fished under an indicator. Smaller buggers (size 10-12) work well in the dead of winter whereas the bigger flies (up to size 4) will produce more results in the spring and fall. If you want to catch fish on the bigger swung flies such as intruders, buggers, or zonkers, the spring is the time to do so.


Dress warm! Especially during the deep winter layer up and dress appropriately. Leave your cotton at home. It's no fun to hike through a couple feet of snow to your spot and have your sweat freeze up 15 minutes after you start fishing. Spikes on your wading boots are a must. Do not cross the river unless you know the right lane to take.

Useful Links: (Regulations) (General info and river map) (Purchasing passes, lodging, reliable fishing report on website) (local tackle shop and fishing lodge with reliable report on website) (water flow from the dam @ salmon river) Ideal flow for beginners is 335cfs-750cfs (mid river water flow taken @ pineville on salmon river)

Photos + Words By: Joe Webster

Joe Webster is a local angler to Maine waters but also spends a lot of time in New York chasing fish around the Great Lake's waters late in the season. Joe is kind enough here to share his knowledge on this subject 

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