Don't Forget Your 8 Weight!

August 28, 2014

It's been a funny thing to watch Steelhead fishing evolve over the last 15 years.  I started fishing for Steelhead on the Grand Ronde River my first guide season in October.  Another guide buddy and I decided to hop in his Mitsubishi Montero at about 5 pm one night and drive most of the night to the lower section of the Grand Ronde.  Anybody that has ever owned a Montero knows what a leap of faith that was.  We made it. Barely. 

We were poorly prepared but caught an amazing number of fish!  We took our best 6 weights, we didn't own heavier rods at the time.  We used our biggest trout flies and fished our brains out.  Looking back we coincidentally hit the run just right which made the fishing way too easy.  It was an outrageous first experience.  

We swung flies on Type 3 sink tips (our trout fishing sink tips) and then mid day we changed spools and tied on floating lines and indicators.  This was a good system because the fish like to chase flies in the morning hours but mid-day they like to sit in the buckets and nymphs work better.

Looking back those were some of the funnest days of Steelhead fishing I ever had.  Immediately after that trip I took out a small loan and bought my first Steelhead fly rod.  A Sage 890-4 VPS and a Rio Versi-tip Fly Line.  I still have the line!  Most of the sink tips have been long since loaned, lost, or replaced.  The body of the line is in ok shape and I still use it for all sorts of stuff.  I bass fished with it this spring a lot and Steve Joyce has it in Alaska right now and is using it for Silvers.  "As you learn to fish for Salmon and Steelhead starting out with a traditional single hand rod allows you to focus on learning to fish, and not a new style of casting."  Once you have developed these skills, the natural progression will be to begin using spey and switch rods in order to cover more water and become more efficient.  

A trusty single handed 8 weight is priceless!  The angler above has had this rod for 15 years and still uses it for steelhead fishing for certain applications despite also having a Switch and Spey rod.  If you haven't invested in a good 8 weight, now is the time!

If you are newer to steelhead fishing I want to implore you to first purchase a sturdy 8 weight single hand fly rod.  Eventually you might evolve to using a Switch Rod or a Spey Rod but you will find a standard single hand 8 weight to be one of the most versatile rods you ever own.  I have used my 8 weight for LOTS of stuff.  Steelhead, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Carp, Bonefish, Silvers, Chum, Permit, and a bunch of other species that I probably can't even remember.  This is an important part of your aresenal and a wise investment.  While I very much enjoy casting switch rods and spey if I had to choose it would without a doubt be a high octane single hand 8 weight rod. The versatility is unparalleled.  

If you are thinking about getting a new fly rod to try Steelhead and Salmon fishing consider one of our "Single Hand Steelheaders Packages".  It comes complete with everything you need to get started including a RIO Versi-tip 2 Fly Line which is a super good investment.  Here is a video outlining this setup and hopefully some of you find the information helpful and order this online.  It is truly one of the most well thought out kits we have put together at Red's.

Already Have a Trusty 8 Weight?

Maybe you already have the core components of this kit.  That is great, now it is time to take full advantage of your investment.  Consider putting this kit together yourself without the rod and the reel.  A good plan is to have a RIO Versi-tip 2 Fly Line along with these accessories. 

Steelheader's Accessories for Building This Kit:

  1. Joe, Thanks for the post. As intrigued as I am by switch rods, this was a good reminder that the natural progression is based on learning to fish for salmon or steelhead before picking up a new casting style. As always, you guys are the best.