It’s one of the toughest situations in steelheading, but it happens quite a lot.
Most often it’s early or late in the day, and light is relatively low. Feeling safe, a steelhead tucks himself in right against the bank. You make a long cast (because even though the fish are in tight, that’s what we do, right?) and maybe a mend or two, and let it swing. Your line straightens out below you and you think “well, nothing on that cast”. Just as you’re ready to strip in and make your next cast, yank! There he is, right on the bank.
What Not To Do
What you do next has a lot to do with whether or not you catch that fish. If you’re like your fearless editor, you probably can’t contain yourself long enough to wait for the heavy pull, so you set, and…nothing. That fish was stationary and your fly swung right onto his nose, and you pulled it away from him when he ate.
What You Should Try To Do, Probably
Theories abound on the best way to actually hook steelhead that eat on the hangdown, but the most commonly-accepted idea is that you need to let him eat. And eat. And eat some more. And then finally turn downriver with your fly, at which point you finally feel the deep pull and can set your hook right into the corner of his mouth. If you don’t wait long enough before you set, he hasn’t turned yet and you’re trying to set the hook into his nose, which is a pretty low-probability proposition.
What Do You Think?
Since we look at evil web statistics frequently from our evil lair at the top of the Space Needle, we know that a lot of you like fishing for steelhead. What’s your take? What should you do when you get that hangdown grab? Leave us a comment and let us know!