Everyone is looking for that magical combination of fur and feather, flash and fabric that will induce a steelhead to take. There has to be as much debate over whether or not the fly makes any difference at all, as there is debate over which fly is best.
I will say that I have caught steelhead on elegant Syd Glasso-style spey flies complete with long heron hackles but I have also caught a steelhead on a strip torn off of an old white and red gym sock.
Therefore, I will not attempt to use the word ‘best’ in the title of this list. Rather, I will simply call it…
5 Popular Dean River Steelhead Flies
1. General Practitioner
This is a classic pattern that has been popular on the Dean for decades. Orange is a very popular color on the Dean and an orange GP is a great choice.
2. Dean River Lantern
Another long time favorite and a fine fish producer. The Dean River Lantern is a great marriage of synthetic and natural materials. If for no other reason, it has to be included in this list because of its name.
The Wombat is a modern stinger hook style fly that was developed by former Alaska West guide Brian Kite, a.k.a ‘the Wombat’. It is a very productive fly and easy to cast for its size. George Cook simply refers to it as “Gob O’ Eggs”. George fishes this fly religiously on the Lower Dean each summer.
This is not really a specific fly but rather a style of fly. It simply has to be in this list. The Intruder was made popular by Ed Ward (head guide at Alaska West) and remained somewhat of a secret for a number of years. Now Intruders and Intruder wanna-bes are everywhere. And why not – they have a large profile, great movement, and surprisingly little bulk.
5. Idylwilde Quigley’s Dragon Gurgler
I had to throw in a skater because everyone should skate a dry on the Dean at least some of the time! This fly is fairly new and is a great one. It skates in heavy riffles or calm slow water and will not sink – at least it never has for me. My favorite thing about this fly is that the hook is fully exposed away from the body which I feel improves your ability to hook fish…that is, assuming you wait for the fish to take it and don’t yank it away like a fool!