Dean River steelhead are legendary in the angling world for good reason.
Photo: David Lambroughton
A mile and a half from the mouth of the river lies the Dean River canyon- a narrow, steep section with strong current and many small falls. For an anadromous fish to successfully navigate this section on its way to spawn, it must be not only strong but resilient. Evolution has dictated that there are simply no weak Dean fish- any steelhead in the Dean with less than world-class athletic ability will quickly fall out of the gene pool, losing its battle with the canyon.
Dean River steelhead crush flies. They jump repeatedly. They torch drags. They sprint downriver. They sometimes sprint upriver. They don’t quit, and they often leave shaken anglers wondering what the heck just happened on the end of their line.
If you’re looking for superstar steelhead, you’ll find them on the Dean.
Fly Tackle for Steelhead
Most guests at BC West fish most of the time with two-handed rods. For steelhead, most fishing is done with tips and rods are 8- or 9-weight, from 12 to 14 feet. Later in the season, some guests like to fish a dry line on a 7- or 8-weight rod from 12 to 13 ½ feet. Single-handed rods require a bit more effort but work just fine as well! 7- to 9-weight rods for steelhead have produced many fish over the years.
Dean fish are known for blazing runs and incredible power. Sturdy, quality reels with strong disk drags are the rule here. Expect to see your backing during the week. Tie your knots well and wind on a bunch of backing– we recommend at least 100 yards. Large arbor reels are very helpful when retrieving line after one of those legendary long Dean runs.
Since we fish tips and relatively large flies most of the time for steelhead, Skagit-style line systems are our recommendation and the choice of the vast majority of our guests. Any of a variety of modern popular floating lines may be used when fishing a dry line for steelhead.
T-14 in lengths from 7 to 15 feet may be used, as well as standard 15-foot tips from type 3 to type 8.
A straight leader or a leader terminating in 10 to 15 pound monofilament is most often used.
Although most of our guests enjoying tying and/or selecting their own flies for their trip, we do have flies available for your use as well.
Guests targeting steelhead fish a selection of larger strung or tube flies in colors like black and blue, purple, and any combination of orange, pink and white. Larger flies may be over 3” long. Popular patterns include variations of the Skagit Minnow and Temple Dog-style tube flies. To cover all possible conditions it’s helpful to bring some smaller, more traditional patterns like the Dean River Lantern or the Green Butt Skunk in sizes from 2 to 6, as well as a selection of dry flies.