Tarpon Flies for Steelhead



I’m a sorry fly tier right now.  I’ve spent minimal time crafting flies this Winter.  Even my Renzetti vice is laughing at me.  So much of my free time was spent organizing Fly Fisher’s Workshop (we raised $1,600 for Canandaigua Chapter of Trout Unlimited/Seth Green Chapter of Trout Unlimited/Upstate Fly Fishers-thanks to everyone for their support and participation), that I haven’t been tying.  My days of cranking out several dozen flies each week are a distant memory.  While I intend to return to the vice this week, some areas of my fly box are low.

IMG_2321This weekend I had the opportunity to fish for 2 hours in the late afternoon.  My problem was that I’m low on spey flies.  My solution, dig into the saltwater fly box.  I retrieved a few tarpon, bunny flies that were tied on small Owner or Gamakatsu hooks.  These saltwater flies come in perfect dark colors,  have enticing rabbit movement, offer a good profile and are a perfect length.  Best of all, they are already tied.  Besides, I don’t have any plans to chase tarpon on the horizon.  Who says that you can’t use a tarpon fly for steelhead?  The 27″ steelie that grabbed my black and olive tarpon streamer didn’t care.  Actually, it’s cool to think that this Borski style rabbit streamer works well on tarpon, as well as steelhead.  While my preference is to tie and fish flies w/ a trailing stinger hook for steelhead, I know that these tarpon flies work on chromers.  The only adjustment I made to the original tarpon fly was to clip off the double prong weed guard.

The temperature never reached thirty degrees.  I was chipping ice off my guides every few minutes.  The wind wasn’t very kind, but that one tug was worth it.  I’ve relived that initial head shake and jumps in my memory several times since leaving the water.  It’s funny how one fish can make your day and brighten your perspective.  There are steelhead in our rivers and fishing should start  to slowly pick up.  Those entrenched ice shelves will begin to dissipate.  I know that I’m not alone in my anticipation for a promising late Winter/Spring steelhead season.

IMG_2315If you’re looking for a unique fly tying opportunity, come attend Mike Simmon’s Guys, Flies and Pies.  It’s a neat fly tying event in Rochester on Sat, Feb 22nd.  Learn a few new patterns, tie with friends, make new friends and enjoy pizza.  Mike does a fine job of organizing this fun event and I’m planning on attending.  Heck, it’s a chance for me to get back in good graces with my beloved Renzetti vice.  Now if I could only decide which patterns I most need to tie…


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Craig Dennison

This is Craig and I host Fly Fisher's Workshop. My fly fishing experiences include plenty of travel (Montana/Florida/North Carolina/Maine) and a few years part time guiding for trout. While I primarily target trout and steelhead, I still manage to chase warm water species and enjoy chasing stripers and bluefish. I'm a 3rd generation fly fisher trying to share the passion with my two sons!

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One Response

  1. Love the versatility Craig. That’s the difference between a really good fisherman and a great one! I like to use Bonefish flies myself. A Bearded Charlie or Crazy Charlie works well too! I always find it amazing how versatile one can be when fishing in fresh or saltwater.
    I hope your fly tying vice forgives you.

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