How to Catch Steelhead

Seminar by Fish Alaska’s Marcus Weiner and Guide Dave Manners of Big Dave’s Fishing Adventures 

How to catch steelhead is a wide topic that is of particular interest to Alaskans, anglers who reside in the Pacific Northwest, and resident anglers of British Columbia. Steelhead fishing is also present and popular in certain fisheries in the Great Lakes region. Anyone who’s ever caught a rainbow trout knows how exciting and explosive they can be on the end of the your line. Steelhead, being anadromous rainbow trout, take the action to a whole new level.

In the Pacific Northwest, conventional anglers often employ free drifting and bobber dogging tactics as their preferred methods of how to catch steelhead. These methods are migrating north to Alaska, as the presentation works well for salmon as well as steelhead and trout.

Both methods are highly effective at making the bait look natural, as if it were untethered to a line and simply floating downriver. This is a critical component of how to catch steelhead, or salmon and other trout for that matter, when presenting roe or egg imitations. Salmon or steelhead spawn that floats down the river doesn’t get pulled cross current, rather it tumbles and drifts downriver with the current. These techniques allow you to make your bait look natural.

In this seminar, Dave Manners from Big Dave’s Fishing Adventures and Fish Alaska magazine Publisher Marcus Weiner target steelhead in the Wilson River in Oregon. Dave explains how to rig for free drifting and bobber dogging, and goes over the technique with each. When free drifting, the bobber orients itself vertically, and the name of the game is line management and to keep the bobber tracking downriver without being pulled across the current. To do this, anglers throw upriver mends with spinning rods, typically in the 10-foot class. Longer rods aid in line management.

Bobber dogging allows the bait to drag along the bottom, putting it right in the strike zone. The Bobberdogging bobbers are designed with a flat end and a tapered end and are made to ride laying down on the water facing upriver. Anglers using this presentation throw a downstream mend into the line, so the the bobber has a small belly below it. Anglers continue to let line out or wind in line as necessary to keep that small belly in the line. With either presentation, it’s imperative to reel until you feel the fish before attempting to set the hook. In this seminar, Dave and Marcus use BnR Soft Beads to catch steelhead.