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Steelhead Fly Fishing Gear Suggestions

Fly Fish Casting

Fly Fishing Gear For The Klamath River ? First and foremost, note that our Marble Mountain Ranch fishing signature is targeting steelhead on a SWUNG fly.  We very rarely dust off our indicator rigs for fishing this remarkable stretch of the Klamath River, which is perfect for the classic ?greased line? swung fly.

How Many Fly Rods And What Weight Rods To Bring

For the mid-Klamath we suggest you bring rods in a 5 wt - 7 wt range. Our boat rods, which you may use, are 7 wt Sage Z axis rods with type 3 (sinking about 3? per second) or type 6 lines (sinking about 6? to 7? per second).  You might also consider bringing a second rod with a stealhead floating line or intermediate sink tip (1.5 ? per second rate).  Our strategy in fishing from drift boats on the mid Klamath is based on covering a lot of water while probing for fish pods.  In doing so, we move place to place and quickly choreograph casts from the boat or sample wade fished gravel bars.  Moving downstream we fish different lies, until we locate fish and then more thoroughly fish that location.  Because of the quick movement downstream, we do not usually have time for lots of line changes, tip changes, gear modifications, and line trade-outs.  In our experience, two rods with differing sink rate lines is a nice compromise that allows some flexibility as we ?caddy? your rods in different water conditions.  We hope to avoid getting too bogged down in the technology of fly fishing while moving to constantly changing types of holding lies.  A quick swap out of a ready-rigged rod, and fly/tippet changes allows us to focus on the aesthetics of the day and not the gear of the moment.

Wild Steelhead Fly Fishing

Sink Tip Fly Lines - Suggestions For Steelhead On A Swung Fly

The Rio OutBound is great for fishing from drift boats.  It?s short head is nice for easy one-shot casts to the bank or to pocket water, and it can carry larger weighted flies.  Another good suggestion is the Rio Streamer series (try cutting off about 6 feet of the 24 foot tip on the type 6 line), or a Teeny 200, or any quality type III-VI line.  The most effective Klamath River all-around sink tip lengths are around 15 feet long.  If we are fishing deeper holes or in late season higher/colder water, the 24 foot tips are a bit more appropriate. The  Rio VersiTip is also a very popular sink tip line and allows some great flexibility with limited gear.   It comes with five tips: a floating tip, an intermediate sink tip, and the type 3, 6 & 8 tips. All of the tips are 15' long and perfect for the mid Klamath.

wading fly fishing

Floating Lines And Dry Flies For Klamath Steelhead

 Our normally fished seasons on the Klamath give us water in the 45F ? 65F range. If you are coming in the warmer Fall season, when the steelhead might be more likely to come to a surface presentation, a floating line such as Rio?s Steelhead taper or Gold taper are two good suggestions.  The Gold taper is better for overhead casting and the Steelhead taper is more appropriate for roll casting and spey casts. These floating lines might allow us to cast dries and skating flies in conditions when steelhead are more active.  A word of caution though:  We generally do not break out the floating lines, until we have satiated our needs for fish quantity while fishing with sink tips.  Steelhead on dries, is about as good as steelheading gets, but it requires a unique combination of fish numbers, water temperatures, proper lighting, and water speed. 

Steelhead Fly Patterns and Leaders

Suggested fly patterns are all available on-line or from our ranch gift shop. Our staff is also prepared to supplement your inventory of missed patterns from our stock and this service is included in your trip fare. We will not "nickel and dime" you for tippet or flies. Some of our favorites are: assassins, herniators, muddler minnows, silver hilton, wooly bugger, brindle bug, skunk, mossback, purple peril, and freight train (in sizes 8 - 10 with and without bead heads).

Leaders for steelheading the mid Klamath are easy. Since the Klamath has some color to the water, the fish are generally not leader shy. We suggest simply running a 6-8 foot length of straight 10# monofilament or 10-12 # fluorocarbon. There is no need to buy $4.00 tapered leaders when a 5 cent item will do. Just tie a perfection loop to one end of your straight leader, attach it to your butt-section loop, and tie the flies on at the terminus. We want short leaders to stop the fly from rising up too much, after we have gone to great effort to get the fly to sink.

Healthy Steelhead Klamath River California

Lower Klamath Rod Suggestions

For the larger water of the Lower Klamath we recommend a minimum of a 7 wt single handed rod or 12 foot spey rod with the same sink rate lines. Any gear you do not have, we do have. We provide the guide, the drift boat dory (2 guests per boat) or jet boat, all shuttles, tippet and fly patterns as needed and a great lunch complete with beverage choices!

Professional Quality Fly Fishing Equipment

Wade Fishing And More Gear

Since we like the option of wade fishing to break up the boat day, you will also need a good set of waders and boots.  Studs are OK in our boats, and recommended for some of the slippery cobble of the Klamath River.  Don?t forget your wade staff, wader belt, and layers of clothing.  We do not cancel due to rain, and we fish from dusk to dawn.  So, come prepared!

Fishing While Wearing Our Life Jackets

Some final notes:  We require the use of our fishermen?s life jackets while you are on our boats.  When you see the water we are passing through, you will understand this and willingly comply.  Our life jackets have gear pockets for fly boxes and nippers, etc.  The important points are that safety is our prime directive, and that your fully loaded fisherman?s vest may not be workable over your life jacket! Be prepared to transfer your essential gear to the pockets of your life jacket.

We look forward to fishing with you, and hope you will call us if you have further questions.

Doug, Heidi or Peter Cole @ 1-800-KLAMATH (800-552-6284) 


Finally, please do not show up on the scheduled fish day with your favorite loyal fishing dog....yes it has happened. We have our boats clean and ergonomically arranged to make your casting most efficient and pleasing. Confucius say "no can cast farther, than line that dog is sitting on...." Also, we are not a pet friendly lodging facility. We hope you understand.


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