5 Effective Fly Patterns for Great Lakes Steelhead

Steelhead are migratory rainbow trout born in rivers but spend a large portion of their lives in the Great Lakes or the ocean for that matter. These chrome missiles are known for venturing back into creeks or streams to spawn in mid to late October. The typical spawning season lasts until early May giving anglers the chance to tango with this feisty trout for all but 8 months out of the year. Steelhead typically feed to sustain their body weight and when they enter the river systems in the winter they are considered sexually mature. They are known to eat your typical trout patterns but are also attracted to bright colored flies. In this piece, we will highlight 5 effective fly patterns for great lakes steelhead, the materials needed, and step by step instructions on how to tie these killer flies.

The How-To tying videos in this piece are brought to you by Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions.

The Nuke Egg

Materials Needed:
  • A size 8 or 10 Scud/Pupa Hook
  • White thread (size based on preference)
  • Basic Orange McFly Foam
  • Loon Outdoors High Tack Wax
  • Otters Egg White Veil Material
  • Typical tying tools

Jeff Blood’s Blood Dot Egg

Materials Needed:
  • Size 10 Scud/Pupa hook
  • White thread (size based on preference)
  • Light Orange McFly Foam
  • Florescent Orange McFly Foam
  • Typical fly tying tools

Steelhead Woolly Bugger

Materials Needed:
  • Size 6 Bugger Hook
  • Black thread (heavier thread is necessary for this fly to lock in all of the materials)
  • A single black marabou plume for the tail of the fly
  • Peacock herl (4-5 will work perfectly for the body of the fly)
  • Sculpin olive saddle hackle
  • UV Cure Resin
  • Typical fly tying tools

Jeff Blood’s White Death

Materials Needed:
  • Size 10 streamer hook
  • Black thread (size based on preference)
  • Red thread (size based on preference)
  • Flat silver sparkle braid
  • White rabbit zonker strip
  • UV Cure Resin
  • Typical fly tying tools

Sucker Spawn

Materials Needed:
  • Size 12 scud/emerger hook
  • Red thread (size based on preference)
  • Crystal flash
  • Angora rabbit yarn (perfect material for the body and color can very based on preference)
  • UV Cure Resin
  • Typical fly tying tools

While these few flies are known for catching steelhead, there are many patterns that do the trick. Bright colors and flash are a must with steelhead flies and if presented properly, your reel will likely be screaming! Take the tips from this article to fill your box and the Great Lakes won’t know what hit them, tight lines!

Behind the Fish: Steelhead/Salmon Biology with Scientist John McMillan

Tips for Small Water Great Lakes Steelhead

A Taste of Steelheading

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