Fishing a dryline and skater for steelhead rules.
Hitched muddlers. Bombers. Big foam creations—whatever. Love it all. There’s just something magic about the way our big, hot, Dean steelhead respond to the dry and the fact they tend to absolutely crush them makes the whole business of surface fishing even better!
For those who agree, here’s a great tip inspired by our friend Rich Zellman, ace young gun North Umpqua guide and a very fishy, extremely mellow critter of a human being.
While in camp one early North Umpqua season searching for that needle-in-a-haystack steelhead to kick off the year, Rich and your editor got to talking about dryfly theory and what to do when a fish has risen to the dry, but then won’t come back on the successive cast. Rich asked if I’d ever ‘twitched’ my dry before resorting to the comeback wet. I sheepishly responded, “Um no.” then plied him with more libations until he spilled the goods. Credit where credit’s due, Rich was adamant about mentioning this was an age-old Southern Oregon trick that works a lot of other places, too.
His advice? Mark the spot you earned the rise, take two steps back and two the bank, and recast the dry. Right around the vicinity of the rise, give the rod tip a sharp pop up, making the dry fly shoot forward a few inches with a little twitch. Fish out the next 4 or five steps this way before tying on a wet.
Since getting that river schooling from Zellman, your editor’s happy to say it’s worked everywhere from British Columbia to the lower 48 and even in the Great Lakes (yes, GL fish will take a skater!). That twitch can drive a newly dour steelhead into taking bigtime—and typically with more craziness than the initial rise. In fact, we put the twitch to a highly scientific test one recent fall in BC and found the steelhead—at least the ones in the pool we were fishing—preferred a constantly twitched muddler over a skated dry, loud popper, or even a dryline wet. Give it a try and we think you’ll enjoy the results—we sure did.