Winter Steelhead

Catching a winter steelhead 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. Regardless of the technique or tactic used to catch fish, anglers willing to brave the cold and wet conditions relish in the thought of landing of these special fish.

With a wide range of techniques available to use to catch winter steelhead, Senior Rod Designer Fred Contaoi created the following rods for a specific fishing tactic.

Conventional Rods for Winter Steelhead

Bobber Dogging

Drift fishing with a float, bobber dogging is an effective way to cover water without as many snags. Douglas Pro JD Richey explains how to bobber dog for steelhead.

Side Drifting

With the bait and weight bouncing along, side drifting provides one of the most natural presentations available. Interested in learning more? Douglas Pro JD Richey explains how to side drift for steelhead.

Spoons & Spinners

Fishing spoons and spinners is an exciting way to target steelhead. Anglers who fish this technique are sure to experience explosive takes and bites.

Bottom Bouncing

Bottom bouncing gets the bait down in front of the fish, even in faster water. This technique works best on rocky-bottom rivers.

Backtrolling & Plugging

Starting at the head of a run and working your way down, backtrolling and plugging is known for aggressive takes from explosive fish.

Twitching Jigs

Effective in deep pools where other techniques don’t work, twitching jigs will get you aggressive hook-ups.

Fly Fishing for
Winter Steelhead

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.

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.

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.

West Coast Shops

RMI Outdoors
(707) 443-7029
1240 Broadway St
Eureka, CA 95501

Tillamook Sporting Goods
(503) 842-4334
2205 N Main Ave
Tillamook, OR 97141

Black Bird Shopping Center
(541) 779-5431
1810 W Main St
Medford, OR 97501

Outdoor Pro Shop
707-588-8033 ext: 2
412 Houser Street
Cotati, CA 94931

Clearlake Outdoors
(707) 262-5852
96 Soda Bay Rd
Lakeport, CA 95453

Clearlake Bait & Tackle
(707) 994-4399
14699 Lakeshore Dr
Clearlake, CA 95422

Stabi Daves Tackle & Bait
(541) 961-3770
3807 SE Ash St
South Beach, OR 97366

Culmar Outdoors
(503) 396-1392
565 S Columbia River Hwy
St Helens, OR 97051

Great Lakes Shops

Tangled Tackle Co
(231) 887-4242
226 W Parkdale Rd
Manistee, MI 49660

Fish Tech
(847) 966-5900
5802 Dempster St
Morton Grove, IL 60053

Anglers Outlet
(541) 779-5431
17036 Oak Park Ave
Tinley Park, IL 60477

6960 West Ridge Road
Fairview, PA 16415

Colville Outfitters and Custom Tackle
(716) 627-7335
4475 Lake Shore Rd
Hamburg, NY 14075

Captain Bob's Outdoors Store
(716) 407-3021
10295 Main St #6
Clarence, NY 14031

Sonny's Fishing Center
(315) 298-5945
4589 NY-13
Pulaski, NY 13142

Fat Nancy’s Tackle Shop
(315) 298-4051
3750 NY-13
Pulaski, NY 13142

Pineville Sporting Supply
(315) 298-7203
2836 NY-13
Pulaski, NY 13142