Everything about swinging flies with a double-handed rod – from the constant awareness of how the river flows, the casting and the focus on controlling the line to making the fly pass through the lie at the perfect speed – feels amazing. And once a big fish hits your fly and you feel the sudden tug and weight – it’s simply magical!
It’s a moment that is nearly impossible to describe: A special feeling that makes you crave for more. You just have to go again – and again, and again!
For centuries, European anglers have swung their flies across northern rivers. Unfortunately, the population of Atlantic salmon in Europe has dramatically diminished. This has led many salmon fishermen to cross the Atlantic in search for steelhead.
What we have found in British Columbia is amazing. The scenery there is stunning: The golden colours during autumn and the snow-capped mountains – it’s not just something that exists on postcards. It’s there in real life as well.
In BC it is possible to find rivers that still live up to their full carrying capacity of wild steelhead. Think about that for a minute: It means that the natural maximum stock of steelhead is present in many rivers!
It means that you can find steelhead where they are supposed to be – and that is a really attractive starting point for both skilled and novice steelheaders.
Our Getaway steelhead fishing is not about numbers, it is about the overall experience. That being said, we’ve had less than 1% of our clients returning from BC without catching a steelhead. This is partly due to the potential of the fishing and partly due to the fact that we have spent years getting access to the right rivers at the right time.
We do both hosted trips with experienced tour guides and individual trips. Call us, and we will come up with a trip itinerary that suits your needs perfectly.
FLY TO: Terrace via Vancouver.
Day 1: Departure from Europe and arrival in Terrace.
Day 2-7: Six full days of fishing.
Day 8: Transfer to Terrace for the domestic flight to Vancouver and onwards to your final destination.
Day 9: Arrival Europe.
PRICE: From around EUR 2700 for tent camps and EUR 3400 for a lodge – without flights.
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Compared to fishing for salmon, steelheading is different. Surely, it involves the lovely act of swinging a fly crosscurrent, but looking back at more than 700 steelhead caught, Destination Manager Kim Jørgensen has a few essential tips to share:
– Since you are not limited to a small stretch of a river or a specific beat, when fishing in BC, I wouldn’t recommend anyone to go steelheading without a guide. Compared to our well-known salmon rivers back home, we generally have access to much more water in BC and on most rivers, our licenses cover areas of 30-60 kilometres. Some of our well-known salmon rivers don’t even hold fish for so many kilometres! That’s where a guide becomes really valuable. Besides their knowledge about how to fish for steelhead, they know the river and they’ll get you to the spots that most likely hold fish during your stay.
Steelheading is a bit more technical than salmon fishing. However, with all the literature written on salmon fishing you would be forgiven for thinking it was the other way round. In order to succeed with steelhead, you need to control your fly. When fishing for salmon we usually think that speed is good, especially when the water temperatures are rising. Despite the displays of raw power once hooked, steelhead approach our flies more carefully. They also seem to prefer slightly bigger flies than Atlantic salmon do. This is part of the reason why Skagit lines and sink tips have gained so much in popularity when it comes to steelhead fishing.
Of course, there are exceptions to these rules. For instance, just look at the increasing focus on skating surface flies for steelhead – you won’t need a sink tip for that. Just like with salmon, there are certain times when steelhead are very surface orientated, and not only during summer. I’ve caught steelhead on surface flies when it was snowing, reveals Kim.
In my experience, the traditional American approach to steelhead fishing over-complicates things. I remember reading literature on steelhead, written by- and for Americans. A lot of their thoughts and theories were almost unrecognisable to me when I started visiting the famous steelhead rivers. We Europeans – with our background in seatrout and salmon fishing, have a very different approach to steelhead fishing and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. No matter what, you’re likely to adapt effortlessly if you are already an experienced salmon angler, says Kim.
Several books have been written about steelhead flies. While some of the many flies resemble traditional salmon flies, some patterns and specific styles of flies are more unique to steelhead fishing. This is the case with the popular Intruder type of flies tied on shanks followed by a replaceable trailer hook.
Small, big, light or heavy – no matter the size, steelhead just loves a touch of colors like pink, orange, magenta and purple.
Don’t be afraid of bringing European tube flies. A light tube fly is actually what we prefer. We use the same single hooks and connect them to a loop on our tippet. The loop stops from passing through the fly, when the knot meets the inner tube. This clever setup makes it possible to control the position of the hook.
Skating flies for steelhead will make your heart stop, and it’s a small wonder why surface fishing for steelhead has increased in popularity. Steelhead will rise for skating flies more often than one should think, and though they can be extremely tricky to hook, this foam fly has been very successful.
While most of our clients prefer fishing for steelhead, we also offer fly fishing for king salmon in BC. Since the local fishermen can bring home a few salmon for the kitchen, the hotspots can sometimes get a bit crowded – but the fishing can be really good too.
A fresh-run, monster king salmon will take you into your backing like nothing you’ve ever hooked before.
Please contact us if huge and very strong king salmon are on your bucket list. Each year, we have a few groups heading for BC with nothing but salmon on their minds.
The go-to rods for steelhead:
13-14’ #7 or #8 double-handed rods
#9-10 reels with 200 m 30 lb backing
450-600 grain Skagit or Scandi shooting heads (and running lines) to match your rod
15 ft exchangeable tips ranging from slow to fast sinking + T11, T-14 and T-17
4-9 ft tapered leaders – 20 lb
0.30-0.40 mm tippet material – 15-20 lb