Skating Drys for Summer Steelhead

Does summer Steelhead fishing get you as excited as it does me? That heart pounding excitement you get when your float goes under or your fly lines goes tight in mid swing.... Catching a summer run Steelhead is the epitome of Steelhead fishing Vancouver Island


Nothing compares to a fresh chrome summer steelhead leaping from the water as your reel screams. Now take two steps back and think what else could be just as thrilling?  Perhaps catching a fresh fish on the dry fly..


Thats right! Taking the aggressive fish on the surface. When  most anglers think of steelheading it’s winter time on the river, high cold water conditions with heavy sink tips and large bright flies. It's true that winter one of the best times to fish Vancouver Island, but if you really know what you're doing or willing to ask a guide for help summer can be productive too.


But it’s no secret steelhead will take your fly off the surface, it’s been happening for years. Anglers like Roderick Haig- Brown and his steelhead bee have built a path that every steelheader should follow. If you’re like me and enjoy pushing yourself, then skating or dead drifting dry’s for summer run steelhead is a must do. You might think this is a monumental task but summer run fish will leave the safety of the river bottom to feed on the surface insects on a regular basis. These fish are still feeding as they enter our river systems and rely on any food source available when the water is low and clear… 


Your waking dry fly will stick out like a sore thumb.


For this reason alone the thought of catching a summer fish on a skater or a bomber is not impossible as it first may seem.


I’m not saying fishing with dry flies is for every situation but it certainly has it’s place in every system. Time of year and water condition play an important role. On your next outing for the elusive summer run steelhead be prepared, invest some time and give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed.


Summer Steelhead Technique tips:


As for technique, the down and across action is best to get the most action out of your fly. The size of your fly should be relevant to the conditions and the amount of pressure that specific river experiences. The clearer the water and the more pressure the smaller the fly. In low light a brighter fly might be more useful, 20lb steelhead will slurp up your dry fly the same as a 10” trout.  Knowing where your fly is at all times is very important for a fast clean hook set. The slow water at the end of a tailout is a good bet since steelhead tend to hang out there in most river conditions, but never over look that slightly faster water with a good riffle,that pocket water holds fish, behind a boulder or along a cut bank are great places to dead drift your dry fly through since it’s great cover for a lurking summer-run to hide. 


Below I have listed a few great patterns used in BC and the pacific northwest they will compliment your fly box well.

Grantham Sedge

The Ska-opper

The Steelhead Beetle

Quigleys Dragon Gurgler

Babine river bombers