Steelhead fishing both myth and mystery

— image credit:

There is no other angling practice I know of that is bathed in more myth and mystery than steelhead fishing.

While I have my own theories as to why, I choose to remain silent.  Keeping with my belief that the sport of steelhead fly fishing has been made way too complicated, I begin our look at steelhead flies with the simple Wooly Worm.

My favourite story of the Wooly Worms prowess is when I used this fly to trick my friend, Barry, into his first steelhead.

At the time, Barry was a novice fly fisherman, and had been out fishing for winter cutthroat. Upon his return, he told me about some large rainbows he had spotted but was unable to move.  Knowing Barry was unaware that the rainbows were steelhead, I chose to use his ignorance to set him up. Explaining that rainbows in winter are slow-moving and lethargic feeders, I suggested that he tie up some pink Wooly Worms and present them as close as possible to the noses of the fish. The next evening, I got a call back from Barry, who was ecstatic about the two large rainbows he had caught.

“Well done,” I replied. “Now that you have caught your first two steelhead on a fly rod, I don’t think anyone will be able to convince you that catching them is as hard as some believe.”


Fishing on our Lower Mainland lakes is fair.

Try a slow troll or retrieve with Coachman, American Coachman, Professor, Wooly Bugger, Micro Leach, Sixpack, Dragonfly Nymph, Halfback, Doc Spratley, Baggy Shrimp or Zulu.

The Fraser River is fishing fair for spring, chum and cutthroat. For spring try Popsicle, Big Black, Flat Black, Stonefly Nymph, Squamish Poacher or Eggo. For chum try Christmas Tree, pink and purple Wooly Bugger, Met Green, Holliman, Popsicle or Flat Black.

For cutthroat try Eggo, Rolled Muddler, Tied Down Minnow, Mickey Finn, Stonefly Nymph or American Coachman.

The Stave River is good for chum, coho and cutthroat. For coho try Christmas Tree, Rolled Muddler, olive Wooly Bugger, Bite Me or Coho Blue. The Harrison River is good for chum, spring, coho and spring.

The Thompson River is fair to good for steelhead and rainbow.



We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.