Techniques

Swinging Flies For Steelhead

100% of our fishing is swinging flies in our many rivers, mostly with small Spey rods. However, we also utilize a single hand system with short,  light Skagit lines to Spey fish with single hand rods.  Spey fishing these small rivers can be challenging with heavy canopy and tight casting lanes, but with advances in modern equipment it is now not only practicle but very effective. 

If you are used to large BC rivers where throwing a 13.6 foot spey rod is the order of the day you may feel claustrophobic in some of our small coastal rainforest streams.  With the right gear however you can quickly feel right at home.

When we are talking about small streams and creeks we are speaking of water less than 50 feet wide.  This means short, controlled, accurate casting is crucial to being successful. 

Although fish can turn up anywhere in a run, the majority will be found in the deep buckets, and in and around logs and rocks. 

We recommend a few switch rods and a 10 foot single hand rod for the rivers of Haida Gwaii.  

  • For the larger rivers an 11 ft 9 switch to a 12 ft 6 spey is the most effective.
  • For the medium sized rivers we prefer switch rods in the 11 ft to 11 ft 6 inch range. A slightly softer rod can help with accuracy working shorter casting ranges. 
  • When the fishing the small creeks a 9 or 10 foot single hand rod with am ambush line will have you covered with ample power and ability to cast.

With winter fish who have small strike zones your fly has to get down quick and start working at the right depth to seduce a reaction. The more in tune you are with what your fly is doing right off the bat the more successful you will be.  

Our rivers have a huge margin between high and low water, and you could see both over one week at our lodge. Therefore, you need to be prepared for fishing 10 feet of T14 with weighted flies, all the way down to grease lining the shallow riffles. The rivers can yo-yo water levels up to five feet over mere days. This is what makes our guides so invaluable for a trip fishing Queen Charlottes steelhead.

The Yakoun River is a perfect river to swing a fly. It offers run after run of accessible gravel bars, deep slots and large seams just screaming for a swung fly. A Skagit short with a 10-foot MOW tip system is the line of choice. Most casts are made as short roll casts with a stiff rod, mended and swung out through the holding water. 

Most of the other rivers on Haida Gwaii leave you very little backcast space.   We will show you the best fly water on all of our rivers along with what to use and how to target them.  No matter how experience you are in steelhead fishing you will gain valuable knowledge on a trip with us.

We are the only people fishing some of our small rivers ensuring you the best water each and every day. You will typically be on a river holding beautiful wild steelhead and have the entire thing to yourself.

This is a unique experience not seen anywhere else in North America. We swing flies for winter run steelhead exclusively, and this is the true definition of steelheading off the grid