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One of the draws of both winter and summer-run steelhead fishing is the wide array of angling techniques that prove effective on these anadromous trout.

Many of these techniques are also effective for most Pacific Salmon species, especially those techniques that present offerings that are moving slowly through the fish's field of view.

Here you can find a general overview of some of the most basic principles of steelhead and salmon fishing. Click on any of the links to take you to a page that will cover each technique in added depth.

Sinking your boat between fishing holes IS NOT a recommended method!

Backtrolling Plugs Tadpolly-caught winter steelhead

  • Far and away the most popular method of catching steelhead and salmon on the Olympic Peninsula as well as boat anglers on the Kenai Peninsula. Allows anglers of all abilities fishing aboard the boat to stand an equal chance of hooking a fish.

  • Consists of angler letting around fifty feet of line out with plug attached. When held against the current, the plug dives to the bottom and wiggles about ... the boat is then slowly moved downstream into likely fish holding areas ... it is hoped that the action of plug irritates the fish enough to entice an aggressive strike.

Drift fishingSpring chinook fooled by pink aerofly and shrimptail

  • The preferred method by most accomplished conventional tackle steelhead anglers. Requires casting skill and a 'feel' for the often light bite that we encounter. Used occasionally for salmon.

  • Consists of casting a bait / drift bobber combination (with a small lead weight attached roughly thirty inches up the line) slightly upstream and letting swing down and across ( towards you) the current. Fish will generally pick up more out of curiosity ... when fish stops the moving bait, strike fast and hard.

  • We prefer to use sandshrimp for bait for steelhead (although eggs are preferred for salmon and generally work equally as well on steelies) and 'rags' and aeroflies as driftbobbers (although we will also use 'lil corkies, spin 'n glos, cheaters, and sometimes, just straight bait.

Hardware  (spoons & spinners)Silver steelie fooled by silver spoon

  • Specialty steelheading technique tried by many but mastered by few.

  • An excellent producing technique at times for salmon, especially silvers.

  • Most anglers that have spent much time fishing for either salmon or steelhead are probably familiar with the cast and retrieve method of fishing hardware ... those that are very successful with hardware generally do more cast and swing presentations, retrieving just enough to impart the action of the chosen hardware type.

Float Fishing (bobber & jig, bait, or worm)

  • Yes Art, it actually does work!!!A style of both salmon and steelhead fishing that is gaining in popularity in both the general steelheading population as well as our boats. Easy fishing overall if you know the proper depth at which to rig your offering, but casting with level winds (float fishing is best done with one) can be a tad tricky.

  • Similar to rig that most of us caught our first trout or panfish on, the bites are generally very easy to detect and the fishing style allows anglers to fish areas that are often difficult to effectively fish with other techniques.


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