Winter Steelhead-The Swung Fly Secret Recipe

Cody and his brother Ian from back east had never hooked a steelhead on the swing.  Each had a glow of enthusiasm that comes early to the quest of steelhead on the swung fly.  Sometimes that is what one of my old time clients calls “unwarranted optimism” – I think that it is the perfect ingredient for the winter steelhead fly angler.  Sometimes anglers go blindly into a new aspect of fly fishing with the untarnished optimism that comes from inexperience.  Today was a day of brimming excitement and I knew that with that much good vibes going on something good was going to happen!
Sure enough the first run of the day Cody’s brother hooks up and is quickly taught the brute strength and weight of steelhead- nothing close to the trout he had been used to finding back home.  This connection was short and sweet but stoked the flames of the steelhead fire.  Another mile down river working through a run into the tail-out we saw a fish roll.  Good sign.  Cody swung carefully into the tail-out.  Each cast thinking about the angles of the line to the current as the water speed changed farther into the tail-out.
Then as if right on cue and as it should be – slam the line came taunt and the rod bucked- Cody was fast into his first swung fly steelie.  Up, down and around the pool the hen steelie ripped and jumped but couldn’t shake the fly.  After long minutes of what seemed like Cody anxiously holding his breath he was  soon sporting the biggest grin you’ve ever seen and holding his first swung fly steelhead.
Later in the day the optimism level topped out and with unshakable confidence we worked into one of my favorite swing runs.  The 10′ Mow Tip of 7.5′ of T’11 and 2.5′ intermediate combined with a Crandall’s Provider pattern by Aqua Flies balanced perfectly for this run.  Cody worked into the heart of the run and was met with a blasting grab that got the drag going and made quick work of dissipating the running line.   Soon another fish was to hand and we were all smiles and high-fives.  Not to be outdone by Cody, Ian jumped into the run where Cody had left off and literally made one cast that was met with another smashing grab.  This hot fish ripped out line in an instant, jumped and came off!  Shaking with adrenaline the brothers grins couldn’t be wiped off their faces.
Unwarranted optimism is that secret ingredient that sometimes can work for you- believe it can happen and keep working that fly through the run.  Cast, swing, step and repeat always at the ready knowing it could be this cast that everything changes!
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