Dry Fly Fishing for Steelhead
Your fly slowly wakes across the surface of a crystal clear pool were earlier you sighted a dozen good Steelhead. A huge boil, you wait for the agonizing second or two required for the fish to turn, and then strike. The water erupts into seething foam and a 15 pound mint bright hen Steelhead shoots into the air tearing line from your screeching reel. 15 minutes later and 150 yards down river you have her. You admire her beauty, click a quick snap shot, and release her to continue on to spawn.
We offer the supreme experience of Dry Fly Steelheading on the highly Exclusive Upper Copper River Helicopter Fishery, Lower Copper River, and Remote Coastal Streams. This is an experience of a life time with Steelhead averaging 8 to 15 pounds (with fish up to 30 pounds) slashing at your skittering dry fly in the unsurpassed natural splendor of Northwestern British Columbia. This time frame is the most exclusive timeslot. We are usually booked over 1 year in advance with indefinite standing reservations. Booking early is critical.
The season is limited for Dry Fly Steelhead Fishing and runs mainly from August 1 to October 15th each year. This is a unique time of the year with the fish still very aggressive from their recent adventure from the ocean, and the water temperature being just right to keep the fish aggressive and active.
Its possible to fish the coastal rivers in late July to hit the real early Summer run Steelhead. Dry Fly Steelheading is also possible later into October and Early November if the weather cooperates and the water temperatures stay reasonable.
This is the most requested time of the year and individuals fly in from Europe, Asia and the USA to Dry Fly Angle for fresh – ocean run Steelhead. This is the last location of its kind to catch Large Wild Steelhead on a Dry Fly.
One of British Columbia’s top Summer run Steelhead River is the Copper River which has classic dry fly pools and runs.
The Copper is a classified river where only certain Guides have the right to guide on this river for a limited number of days and clients.
The Copper River has two main sections, the lower-mid section which is accessed by truck and floated with rafts, and the Upper Copper which is Helicopter only access. Both regions have many different premium drifts that take all day to fish so you will not fish the same spots twice.
In addition to the Copper, we Dry Fly Fish the many Coastal rivers. These rivers are accessible only by Helicopter. These smaller coastal Rivers hold smaller Steelhead, 4-12 lbs but are incredibly aggressive and powerful for their size. They are strong and fast swimmers the odds of holding on to the fish once they hit the fly are very low. This represents one of the most exclusive and remote fishing opportunities in North America. It is highly likely that no angler will have presented a fly to the fish you spot in these gin clear coastal pools.
The presentation is a quartering downstream cast with the dry fly and as the line tightens in the downstream drift, you wake the fly across the pool. It is critical to ensure the speed is right and that the belly of the line is not to big as to accelerate the fly when as the belly straightens out.
Speed, wake and a little twitching of the fly makes for a presentation that those chrome bright Steelhead can not resist.
The reason the fish are attracted to the big, skating Stone Fly patterns is when they were rearing in the rivers as smolts they fed on Stone Flies that are very large by nature. The theory is that the instinct kicks back in once they return to their native rivers.
It is not uncommon to have multiple hookups on the dry fly in a day, especially when you know were and when to find them. Landing them is another story.
Fly Fishing Gear
For Dry Fly Steelhead fishing we use slightly lighter gear than for wet fly fishing since we are usually fishing in smaller streams in fairly low water conditions.
For the Copper river a 7 to 8 weight single handed or spey outfit is ideal combined with a floating line and a reel capable of holding 150 yards of 20 pound backing.
For the smaller remote coastal streams an light spey rod in a 6 to 7 weight models is ideal to help cast in the sometimes brushy conditions. This should be matched up with a floating line and a reel capable of holding 100 yards of 20 pound backing.
Wake flies that represent giant stoneflies are the preferred pattern. The challenge is to make sure it produces a strong and consistent wake as it skates across the pool, stays high in the water and does not sink after multiple casts. The lodge provides an assortment of flies that are tried and true for these river.
Color is not a big factor, more important is the shape and presentation of the fly. Speed of the skate is critical and the slower you can make it, the better.
Just make sure to wait till you feel the fish before you hook set. The most common mistake is to hook set immediately when you see the fish hit the fly. A steelhead keeps its mouth open with the fly in the roof of its mouth till it returns back to its resting spot. Its somewhere between the initial take and the return to the resting spot, that the steelhead closes his mouth so you can set the hook. It’s a real art to get the feel and timing for this and represents one of the biggest challenges in fly fishing. But when you feel that hook set in the fish, and watch it explode 6 feet in the air, nothing feels like that, it’s a memory you will have for the rest of your life.
This time of year the fish are mean, fast and aggressive, that is a good thing. However the dry fly gear tends to be lighter so the chances of holding onto the fish after they hit are slim. A very light and skillful technique will land you the lodge record. So far, on the dry fly the lodge record is 24 lbs on the Copper river. Who knows maybe this year is your year to capture the lodge record.