As a steelhead "nut" and guide, I have recently decided to try a Pacific West method. Rubber worms.
I have never seen it done here, but know it's success out West. Would you explain the water conditions as well as the rig hook up
you prefer. Typically, we use eggs in sacs or skein under floats and a centerpin or traditional fly gear.
Bob Amico NYState Guide#3816
Answer from Dave Vedder:
Glad to tell ya, but I want a report. I know they will work for you, but still like to hear from other areas.
The worm originated in British Columbia where they use floats and centrepin reels. Sound familiar?
Rigging is simple. Remove the spawn bag and replace with the worm!
Many of us thread the worm on the hook using a long darning needle. Snell a hook size 1-4 here in the west,
pass the leader through the eye of the needle then slowly work the needle through the worm.
Most of us prefer the worm to end up with the head up and the tail down, but I don't think it really matters.
We use big worms, up to six inches long, in dirty, fast water and smaller ones, as small as three inches long, in low clear water.
My favorite colors are beanie weenie and bubblegum - both reddish pink. Fish them the same way you would a jig or spawn bag.
Send a photo of the first steelies you get on the worm or Jake the Snake as many of us call it.
Answer from John:
Also known as "Count Wormula" I fish the worm quite a bit when the big Natives start showing themselves.
I rig mine a few different ways; First, as Dave described above, only I use a 1/0 hook on 4-6 inch worms with about a 3-4 foot leader.
Leader length depends on the buoyancy of the worm. First thing I do when buying a new package of worms is to fill a pale with water
and throw in a few of the new worms to see what they do. Some sink, some float and some are neutrally buoyant. On floating worms I'll
use a shorter leader, 2-3 feet when fishing them under a float, or even drift fish with them using a 4 foot leader.
Neutrally buoyant worms, my favorite in classic float fishing water, I'll use a 3-4 foot leader depending on water clarity. The clearer the water
the longer the leader.
I use the sinking worms in faster moving water only, using a 3-4 foot leader.
In low clear water another great way to fish the worm is to find the smaller 3 inch worms and pinch the first 1 1/2" off the head and slide it on to a jig hook.
My favorite colors are Methiolate (a reddish orange) and Bubble Gum Pink. I fish the Methiolate in colored water and Bubble Gum Pink in
the clearer water. Hope this helps you out and like Dave said, send us some pictures and let us know how they're working for you.
Spoon Question for Bill Herzog:
Thanks for all the great info from your books, articles and column.
I consider you the "burning bush" of drift and spoon fishing advice.
For better or worse, I fish the Snohomish and Skykomish and love spoon fishing.
With the low and clear conditions, what would you suggest for coho?
I'm thinking a 1/4 to 1/3 oz. Little Cleo in chrome or gold. Also, do you think that added color is really unnecessary?
The spinner guys like red and kelly green.
Gerry from Snohomish
Answer from Bill Herzog:
Gerry From Snohomish-
Tiny, subtle Cleos like the 1/4 and 1/3 oz'ers are great in low water,
especially nickel and brass. I love throwing bent metal for coho but
they get tough when the water turns clear. And yes, color does help for
coho, they are especially turned on by chartreuse. When the rivers run
"just right' with three feet of vis, it's chartreuse bodied/silver bladed
#4 Vibraxes or half silver/half brass 2/5 th oval spoons. There is
something about the half-n-half finish on spoons and spinner blades that
really light up coho. The weirdest part? Never do you see anyone
throwing spoons for coho. I truly believe when rivers run from 2 to 4
feet of vis that no castable lure works as well as a 1/2 and 1/2 finished
spoon. This season I've consistently outfished my buds throwing
spinners, pulling Kwikfish, bait, etc., with silver/24K gold oval spoons.
However, when the rivers clear, they hit spoons poorly and you are
better off going to tiny Dick Nites and finesse baits.
"General Question" Ice in your guides for Winter Steelhead Fishing:
Sorry about this one guys. My e-mail account got to large while away over on the Olympic Peninsula fishing for Salmon this fall and the question was
deleted from my files.
Question was what to do about ice in your rod guides during winter-run steelhead fishing.
Answer from Bill Herzog:
As for ice in the guides, here is the best solution- wait until the air
temperature climbs above freezing. The best times to target winter
steelhead is when the air rises above freezing. This makes them active-
regardless of time of day- and responsive to baits, lures and flies.
Save yourself a lot of misery and fish during those times when daytime
temperature climbs above 32 F.
If you want to fish during freezing temps, then do this- spread a dollop
of Vaseline on your guides (not the dude you hired for the day rowing the
boat). This prevents any water from hanging on the guides, therefore no
ice can form.
Oh yes, two words: Fleece underwear.
General Zog -a.k.a.- William The Impaler,
Czar of the Flatulating Horde.
Answer from John:
When fishing for winter-run steelhead and temperatures do not rise above freezing this is what I do.
I have taken an old plastic film canister and placed in it a small piece of cloth saturated with fly floatant gel.
Make your first cast in the morning with just weight making sure you cast enough line off your reel to cover your furthest casts.
Place the rag soaked in fly floatant paste on your line close to your reel and retrieve your line. Coating your line with fly floatant gel
will prevent your line from holding ice and will also keep ice out of your guides.
Zipper Lipped Coho Question for Bill Herzog:
I am a big fan of STS magazine and make a point of reading your articles. I am from BC and fish BC rivers around 100 days a year.
Situation is this: Cohos come in and hit spoons or spinners or roe, or whatever for a morning bite.
Then just sit there in the pool, holding. The higher the water, the longer the bite.
Ditto if the water is a bit colored. However, there is a big lull in the day, when the fish just sit there and won't bite.
What do you do for these stale fish? Thanks for the help Spoon Man.....
Answer from General Zog:
Your experience with coho sounds like all the rivers down south, the more
colored the water, the longer and more aggressive the bite. You didn't
mention if you move to a different run, or are simply staying in the same
area. No matter how many fish are present, or how much visibility you
have, if fish are being caught in one hole then they will definitely go
off the snap. Look for new water and seek out aggressive cohos that have
not been pounded on, then for sure you cam find biters all day...as long
as the rivers are not gin clear and you happen to be dealing with direct sunlight.
Side Note from John:
Sounds to me like a similar situation experienced just this fall over on the Olympic Peninsula.
This is what I do and it works extremely well.
After getting the biters to hit your spoon and spinner in a hole and they turn
"Zipper Lipped" tie on a small rabbit or marabou jig and jig them.
This is what I do; I tie on a #10 snap swivel to the end of my line
and attach to it a Orange or blue and green "John's Jig" (of coarse)and add a #3 split shot about 10-12 inches up the line away from
Cast into the same hole and let the jig drop. On your retrieve use small wrist snaps "gettin jiggy wit it". Swim it in slow as you
jig and DO NOT reel up on your slack between jigs. The fish will always hit your jig on the drop. As you come up on your next jig
it will feel as if you hit a brick wall,...set the hook and "Fish On".