Fly Fishing for Steelhead in Northern California & Southern Oregon
I offer Steelhead fly fishing trips on the Upper Klamath and Rogue rivers. I specialize in Swinging techniques. The swing technique is the traditional method for catching steelhead. This is done by casting downstream and across, flipping a mend if needed, and letting the tight line “swing” the fly across the current seam or target water. Depending on conditions, we use floating or sinking lines to get the flies to the desired depth. Grabs are pretty obvious. We can use single and two-handed rods with flies like the Silver Hilton, Purple Peril, Green Butt Skunk, and Tiger Paw just to name a few.
The season can start as early as mid-September on the Rogue and mid-October on the Klamath through Thanksgiving on both waters. Every year is a little different.
The rivers are only an hour or so apart and both have easy access off I-5. The Rogue and Klamath rivers share some similar characteristics in that they are both tailwaters and both have a strong run of “Half-pounder” steelhead. These guys are crazed fighters and make up the bulk of action between adult fish. The Rogue also has a population of searun cutthroat that we occasionally tangle with.
The lodging is abundant and in every price range. For fishing on only the Klamath, Yreka, California is close and offers all the necessary facilities. For fishing the Rogue, consider staying in Ashland or Medford, Oregon. For a combo trip Ashland is a good base as it is pretty much between the Klamath and Rogue and has many dining and lodging options.
The cost is $450/day. This includes drift boat, guide, launch fees, lunch, and flies. You will need to get the appropriate state license and have your own wading gear. I encourage you to use your favorite rod if it’s a single hand 7 or 8 weight or, I have demo rods with the right lines to use as well.
In addition to the swinging trips I can backtroll flies or “twitch.” This technique is done from my drift boat and is a great option for those who aren’t interested in wading. It works well for the couple that only has one fisher person or ‘never-evers’ that want to check out the scenery, birds, and try fishing at the same time.
I prefer to swing for steelhead with a two-handed rod. There is something about the cast, swing, step down approach that I find relaxing. Then there is the “Grab” that pulls me out of whatever day dream I was in and the game is on. It all combines to have me more connected to the process than any other method. Perseverance pays off and the swinging technique is a traditional way to honor a great species of fish. I welcome the opportunity to share the experience with you.