Quick Tip: Cast, Then Step

By Scott Richmond

When using traditional tactics for steelhead, the usual drill is to cast, let the fly swing, then step downstream and repeat the process (and repeat and repeat and repeat . . .)

However, sometimes it pays to change the order. For example, if you're using a sink-tip line, you might want to cast, step downstream while mending, then let the fly swing. This has the advantage of taking some pressure off the line while it's sinking, allowing it to reach a greater depth.

Another advantage is that you avoid some snags. In the usual procedure, you take your steps while the fly is hanging downstream, and the sink-tip line drops deeper--sometimes deep enough to get fouled on a rock. Taking the steps after the cast avoids that problem.

When you step while mending, you have to pick your run carefully. If it's bouldery or slick where you're wading, it may take too long to make your downstream steps; you either hurry and risk a dunking, or you start dragging the fly. But if you're in a spot where you can safely and quickly step down, it can pay to mix up the usual order.

Thanks to John Smeragliio of Deschutes Canyon Fly Shop for this tip.

Scott Richmond is Westfly's creator and Executive Director. He is the author of eight books on Oregon fly fishing, including Fishing Oregon's Deschutes River (second edition).