I have tied many different Steelhead flies in the past. I’ll continue to tie many more with different colours and materials. That’s what a Steelheader does. It is a passion.
However the more I guide for our Ontario Chrome I find I am struggling with tying these flies either with a Stinger/trailer hook or just tying the conventional way directly on the hook shank. Don’t get me wrong, the Stinger hook style works like a charm, but so do the others.
This year my clients have had much better luck on the conventional style hook with very little “bumps” or non takes. As a swinging fly moves across the current our feisty Steelhead snap at the fly. Sometimes chasing it from behind and sometimes from the side. Many people believe the Steelhead mostly attack the tail, hence the stinger hook will hopefully catch these quick nips. They are not wrong, however they are fish. There is current and with the high waters these fish will attack the body and the head of the fly also.
For a conventional fly, I like a a full, but short rabbit tail. Lots of movement to entice a strike. Movement is the key to success. The Rapala is probably the best lure in the world in my opinion. Not because it looks like a minnow but because it has incredible action. When ever I see a Steelhead that has crushed this bait it is always farther up towards the head of the lure. Therefore, like the Rapala, a furious moving fly will also bring on an intense hit.
Have both styles of flies in your fly boxes but when the going gets tough, bring out your most “dance like” flies to entice these fish.