As the steelhead rivers rise with spring run-off, you need to adjust your game plan to be successful. Here are a few things to remember when the water is high.
1. Look for the soft water –In high flows, most of the usual runs are moving way too fast for steelhead to hold. Look for the soft “inside” water that isn’t raging fast.
2. Wade shallow –Steelhead will rest in extremely shallow water in run-off. Don’t wade deeper than your knees so your fly can swing into the shallows.
3. Fish a light or short sink-tip –Given the fact that the fish will be holding shallows, you need to fish a sink-tip that wont dig too deep. A 12’ Type III or a RIO T-14, 7.5’ MOW sink-tip work perfect.
4. Fish an un-weighted fly –Many “Shank” flies or weighted tube flies will continuously snag in the soft water. I love un-weighted tubes for high flows.
5. Cast short –One of the biggest mistakes you can make in high water is to cast too far. Just remember, the higher the river, the shorter the cast.
6. Cast an Airflo Skagit Switch -In high water, your back will be against the willows. Consequently, you need to make a small D-Loop, tiny in most cases. An Airflow Skagit Switch head is the answer. Line your rod 30 grains lighter than your Skagit Compact and go to work.