Fly Fishing for
Winter Steelhead

Catching a steelhead on a fly in the winter is one of the most exciting and rewarding experience an angler can have. With the added difficulty of the elements, and the lethargic state the steelhead are in, connecting with a fish does not come easy.

Whether you prefer to swing flies or fish under an indicator, anglers willing to brave the cold and wet conditions relish in the thought of coming tight to one of these special fish.

Here are a few of our favorite rods for winter steelhead.

Photos courtesy of Brent Van Auken.

Best Fly Rods for Winter Steelhead


It is hard to beat a tightline grab – especially in the winter. Here are the rods we are fishing for smaller rivers that hold steelhead.


Nymphing for steelhead is a very effective way to hook fish. When the indicator goes down here are the rods we are holding.

Winter Steelhead
Fly Fishing Tips

A few tips for anglers looking to get into winter steelhead fishing:

  • Focus the bulk of your fishing when the day temps are higher. Late morning until the evening typically produces the best results.
  • When swinging, control the speed of your swinging fly by mending your line. Focus on fishing slightly deeper, slower water where the winter fish like to hold.
  • When fishing with an indicator setup, adjust the depth of your flies so that they are presented well to the fish. Fish are less likely to move large distances for your fly so make sure not to fish too shallow in the water column.
  • Cover water! Steelhead are migratory fish and not every hole or run has a fish in it. Focus as much time as possible fishing the best water. If the river is highly pressured and fished, try focusing on water that others may have overlooked.