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drift fishing for steelhead

3167 Views 12 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Large Edward
I seen some people drift fishing today and they caught two steelhead. I think im going to try it out but I have a couple of questions:

1. What size hooks do you use for spawn bags when drift fishing? What size hook for beads ?

2. What else can you use other than bait? Can you use flies or jigs ?

3. Any suggestions for someone who is new to steelhead drift fishing
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Ask 100 guys and you'll get 100 different answers so here's my take on it. I'm old school when it comes to drift fishing. I stick with #1 hooks when fishing nickel sized spawn bags, squid strips or straight dime sized pieces of prawn the few times I use them. I bump it up to a 1/0 when using sand shrimp the slightly larger gap seems to hold the shrimp better. But the majority of the time I fish a simple corky and yarn combo. For that I use #1 hooks but stick to the old adage that the corky and/or bead must just pass between the hook point and shank. I peg my corky/bead with yarn. After threading it on my leader I take a scrap line double it and pass both free ends through the corky stick my yarn into the loop and pull it into the corky when it is nearly through the corky just drop one free end and pull the scrap line out. This is will hold your corky in place without damaging your leader and it is adjustable. I set it about an inch or so above my hook add a touch of scent and it's good to go. As for what else you can use is only limited by your imagination. There are dozens of drift lures, Spin N Glo, Wobble Glo, Spin Floats, Corkys, Gooey Bobs, Yarnies, Puff Balls, Hard Beads, Soft Beads, and Hybrid Beads are just the tip of the iceberg. I've experimented with rubber worms, curly and straight tailed grubs, crappie tubes and even Gummi Bears (red seems to work the best). Keep your leader length reasonable mine are generally about the 20 inch range. Use the type of weight you feel comfortable with Slinkies, Pencil lead, split shot and others all have their pluses and minuses. As does how you attach your weight be it a simple snap swivel, rubber tubing or one of the newer drop swivels. Just use enough weight so your rig glides through your chosen water how much is variable start out with what you think will work if your pounding bottom and hanging up keep on using less weight till your bait glides through without a hitch then add a touch more weight so you tick bottom every several feet. Good Luck.
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Get a copy of Color Guide to Steelhead Drift Fishing by Bill Herzog if you can find one. Really helpful.
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Lots of you tube videos on drift fishing from fixed lead to a sliding lead system.
Choose a decent level wind reel.with a thumb bail. Buy some hollow core lead, swivels and hooks. I was a sliding slinky guy for forever up until a decade ago or so, then just went with the ol fixed hollow core lead at the swivel. Easier to adjust and it slips off easier when snagged. Couldn't tell difference between the success of the 2.
1 to 2 ought hook with any raw meat like a worm, eggs, hunk of prawn, shrimp tail. Smaller the bailt the better. Or corkies. Heck I've even heard of steelhead biting a pop can tab rigged on a hook.
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Drift fishing to me is the only technique for steelhead that you will want a high quality/sensitive rod. Don鈥檛 get me wrong, I have caught many steelhead and salmon by drift fishing with a cheap rod but the difference is noticeable enough to fork out the extra dough.
I like to run size 2 hooks for winters and size 4 for summers. You can pretty much drift anything you want. I prefer yarn balls and bait for winters and just straight bait for summer fish.
I would say the most important part of drift fishing is using the correct amount of weight to stay close to bottom and maintain a natural drift. I see a lot of people that use too much weight to where they are constantly dragging the bottom and really slowing down their drift. While I have caught fish doing that, I really started catching A LOT more fish when I would tap bottom only 2-4 times per drift. It made it so much easier to feel the bite as well.
Hope this helps and don鈥檛 expect to learn drift fishing over night or even after trying for a month or two. It takes time but once you get it, it will become a deadly technique to add to your arsenal.
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Old is new again. Love it! Makes me feel 20 something all over, unfortunately the body isn't. Hollow core lead and the last sentence in 4Lifes post above are the points I would pass along.
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There's something special about picking up a fish on a good drift. Tap, tap, tap....WHAM!!! Love it! Need some of it!

Have fun in your learning!
Ask 100 guys and you'll get 100 different answers so here's my take on it. I'm old school when it comes to drift fishing. I stick with #1 hooks when fishing nickel sized spawn bags, squid strips or straight dime sized pieces of prawn the few times I use them. I bump it up to a 1/0 when using sand shrimp the slightly larger gap seems to hold the shrimp better. But the majority of the time I fish a simple corky and yarn combo. For that I use #1 hooks but stick to the old adage that the corky and/or bead must just pass between the hook point and shank. I peg my corky/bead with yarn. After threading it on my leader I take a scrap line double it and pass both free ends through the corky stick my yarn into the loop and pull it into the corky when it is nearly through the corky just drop one free end and pull the scrap line out. This is will hold your corky in place without damaging your leader and it is adjustable. I set it about an inch or so above my hook add a touch of scent and it's good to go. As for what else you can use is only limited by your imagination. There are dozens of drift lures, Spin N Glo, Wobble Glo, Spin Floats, Corkys, Gooey Bobs, Yarnies, Puff Balls, Hard Beads, Soft Beads, and Hybrid Beads are just the tip of the iceberg. I've experimented with rubber worms, curly and straight tailed grubs, crappie tubes and even Gummi Bears (red seems to work the best). Keep your leader length reasonable mine are generally about the 20 inch range. Use the type of weight you feel comfortable with Slinkies, Pencil lead, split shot and others all have their pluses and minuses. As does how you attach your weight be it a simple snap swivel, rubber tubing or one of the newer drop swivels. Just use enough weight so your rig glides through your chosen water how much is variable start out with what you think will work if your pounding bottom and hanging up keep on using less weight till your bait glides through without a hitch then add a touch more weight so you tick bottom every several feet. Good Luck.
can you re use yarnies ? or do they just get wet and aren't the same
To be a good drift fisherman you almost have to have a 6th sense to recognize a take.........you'll understand when it happens.

Good luck with your learning, it's a fun technique.....
9鈥 1084 IMX Loomis Rod. 12Lb Maxima Ultragreen line and leader. Yarnies with Shrimp or Eggs. Corkies in Pink Pearl or Peach color. Hollow core pencil Lead on a dropper off your swivel or Slinkies on a slider. Thousands of Steelhead have been caught on this system. Thousands more will be caught in the future. It does not get any better with this technique. Keep it simple. Bobber Doggin. All it is,is Drift fishing with an Indicator/Bobber. Steelhead aren鈥檛 that hard to catch. They are ready biters. Just figure that and how to read and fish different water conditions and you will have it made. :) (y)
You can reuse yarnies they just slide off your leader but they are cheap and easy to make so if you don't want to go through the hassle its not hard to just pack a bunch in a sandwich baggie that could last years
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Get a copy of Color Guide to Steelhead Drift Fishing by Bill Herzog if you can find one. Really helpful.
That鈥檚 my suggestion as well. Very helpful book.
9鈥 1084 IMX Loomis Rod. 12Lb Maxima Ultragreen line and leader. Yarnies with Shrimp or Eggs. Corkies in Pink Pearl or Peach color. Hollow core pencil Lead on a dropper off your swivel or Slinkies on a slider. Thousands of Steelhead have been caught on this system. Thousands more will be caught in the future. It does not get any better with this technique. Keep it simple. Bobber Doggin. All it is,is Drift fishing with an Indicator/Bobber. Steelhead aren鈥檛 that hard to catch. They are ready biters. Just figure that and how to read and fish different water conditions and you will have it made. :) (y)
Yes, the Loomis IMX 1084C is the ultimate drift fishing rod in my experience. I highly recommend starting off with and learning to use a bait casting reel for bank fishing steelhead. Once you get the hang of it and learn to consistently cast without bird nesting your reel, you can spool off line toward the end of your drift to extend it down the hole, all the while having your thumb on the reel spool to gradually let out line if you want and then press down hard on the spool to stop it and set the hook when you get a bite. It takes some practice, but to me it's much more fun to play a fish when I can use my thumb to add additional pressure especially when it comes time to land the fish. I do use a lot of spinning reels for boondogging out of my sled, but the plays are nowhere near as fun as they are with a bait casting reel. Good luck!
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