BOTWW: Steelhead Fly Fishing

Days of steelhead past.

January 27th, 2021: Steelhead Fly Fishing by Trey Combs, Lyons Press

In the 1990s, at least among the group of steelhead addicts that formed my circle, this book was called, simply, “The Bible.” And if fishing the swung fly for steelhead can be considered a religion of sorts, the name is wholly appropriate and meant with no disrespect to other books of the same name. It was, in short, a primer for living, with all the stories of the great rivers, the characters who fished them, the flies and techniques…basically everything anyone needed to know about the obsession that had us in its grip. Today, while the flies and technical descriptions may seem dated and many of the characters profiled are gone, it’s still full of useful information and a great record of a time when there were a lot more fish. Personally, it reminds me of when all I ever thought about was steelhead, when, from my home in Seattle, I fished the Skykomish, the Skagit, the Sauk, the Green, the Stilly, and the Snoqualmie on a daily basis. Many of those fisheries are gone now too, but the book remains as a document to what was possible not so long ago, and inspiration to keep fighting to bring back what once was.

2 thoughts on “BOTWW: Steelhead Fly Fishing

  1. Screaming classic. In the early-mid 1990s it had a place on the shelf of a little private library belonging to a handful of fishers who stayed for the duration of each January to April season at a ranch house on the upper Argentine Rio Grande on TDF, as they tried to crack the NON-Wooly Bugger and Bunny Leach – non-Teeny fast sinkers, Much-Smaller and Shallower Upper River – Less-Suicidal but Sometimes Still quick-Run fresh Sea-Trout, Code – this together with my own, then little known by my American companions, knowledge of English chalkstream and European nymphing, North Country soft-hackle Spider fishing, Welsh sea-trout fishing and the greased-line and super-sparse “little scrap of nothing” / 1980s Icelandic micro-tube and size-18 silver treble / micro dark-green Francis prawn-shrimp pattern for Atlantic salmon….

    Then, a few years later, in the late ’90s and early ’00s, there were the steelhead of the Santa Cruz….

    My own copy of Trey’s truly great book is still on one of the shelves here.

    Glory days … hit it, Bruce!

  2. In the mid 2000s I was guiding on the Bulkley and just loved reading about all the Skeena tribs in this book. Sad that things have changed so much over the last 20 years.

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