Steelhead Fly Fishing on the Salmon River
There is something special about pursuing and catching a fish that’s traveled nearly 800 miles to the ocean, spent one to maybe even three years swimming out past the Aleutians, then returning another 800 miles up the Columbia, the Snake, and into the upper Salmon River country. Hooking a steelhead on a fly rod is a thrill you never tire of and taking one of these sea-run rainbows on a skating or waking fly on the surface will almost red-line your ol’ ticker – it’s the ultimate! Your bucket list is not complete without a check next to steelhead fly fishing on the Salmon River.
Contrary to what some of the elitist pundits would like you to believe, there’s nothing mysterious about catching a steelhead on a fly rod, an I.Q. just short of Einstein’s isn’t required, you don’t need a zillion dollars of fancy equipment, and you don’t need to be able to cast a mile.
If you have equipment suitable to the task, can reliably cast and control 20 to 40 feet of line, and have a fish out there that wants to play the game, you’ll do all right.
The two most important items for success in my view? Man, without patience or persistence you’re not going to weather those days – often numerous – when every fish in the river has “lock jaw” and make it to those magical moments when the stars align, you feel that heavy surge at the end of your line, and…”fish on!”
Line control, line control, line control! If you can control 20 feet of line, you have a good shot at a fish. If you can lay out 60 feet with ease but have no clue what your fly is doing out there, all bets are off.
Your outfitter and/or guide will supply fly fishing equipment if you don’t already have your own. Check out my posts for a list of basic gear and advice or recommendations if you are looking to buy your own gear.