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CDC Steelhead
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CDC Steelhead
A great Steelhead & Salmon Fly
By Jeff Pierce

A while back a friend of mine, Marvin Nolte, tied up a couple great little Steelhead flies for me. I had never seen this pattern before and I really liked how it looked in the water. I began fishing the fly for our local Salmon and Steelhead with great success. I modified the pattern a little bit to suit the fancy of our fat and happy Steelhead, Chinooks, Coho's and Brown Trout. Marvin tells me that the original fly was unnamed and was created by John Alevras of Chander, AZ. John obviously does a bit of traveling because I've been to Arizona and the only Steelhead you'll find there is on the menu of a 5-Star restaurant! Below is my modified version of the CDC Steelhead.

Materials: CDC Steelhead

    Hooks:  C52S BLN (Mustad Signature Series Hook) size 2/0 - 4 Substitute's - Mustad 36890, Partridge CS14/1B, CS14/1G, CS10/2, M.

    Thread:  6/0 waxed - orange.

    Body:  Diamond Braid - Orange.

    Wing:  Wapsi CDC - Sulphur Orange.

    Hackle Collar:  Guinea Hackle - Flo. Orange.

Tying Steps:

Step 1. Place C52S BLN hook into vice and secure the thread to the hook up near the eye and wrap the thread back to just before the hook begins to curve.

Step 2. Secure the piece of Diamond Braid and wrap thread back up to just short of the eye. Then wrap the Diamond Braid around the hook, stopping 1 eye length from the eye. Tie off and trim tag end.

Step 3. Procure yourself 4 to 8 CDC feathers of the same size and fullness. Be sure that all are the same length. You can experiment with the length, but I prefer that the feathers extend to just short of the bend of the hook. The quantity needed to tie this fly depends on the quality of the CDC you are working with. Tie in the first feather. Now tie in the rest of your CDC, one by one, positioning them around the shank of the hook.

Step 4. Tie in your Guinea Hackle, tip first, and wrap to just behind the eye. Trim excess and finish wrapping the head. Whip-finish and apply a coat of head cement and it's ready to fish.

Fishing Instructions

This is a great pattern to swing through runs and holes. Fish this pattern just as you would any traditional soft-hackle or spey fly. While fish will take this fly on the dead drift, many fish will strike it as it picks up speed at the beginning of the swing. Some additional excitement often comes on the first few strips of the fly and the end of the swing before picking up and casting again.

Just this past fall I was fishing this fly in one of my favorite runs on a local Lake Ontario tributary. On my third cast I began stripping the fly in after swinging it through the pool. One the second strip, I noticed a large flash and a splash of water just behind the fly. I worked another section of the pool for a couple casts and then made another drift through the lie the fish was holding in. My swing ended just a foot or so from where the strike had come. I had not made my first complete strip of the fly back in when the fish came again. This time she hit her mark and the fly was seated securely in the corner of the fish's jaw. Immediately, a beautiful dime bright Steelhead was cartwheeling across the pool. After 15 minutes and eight or nine wonderful jumps the fish was in my hands, unhooked and released.

This orange version of this fly is great for Steelhead. I also tie a version in purple which the Steelhead and Chinook Salmon seem fond of. Pink is a good choice for Coho and Steelhead. A Chartreuse/Kelly green version is liked by the large lake run Brown Trout and the all black version seems to work on all of these species. ~ Jeff Pierce

About Jeff Pierce

Jeff Pierce, AKA Dr. Fish, is the Sales Manager of Fly-Fishing Products for O. Mustad & Son (USA), Inc and Partridge of Redditch. He is the Captain of Team Mustad USA and is a diehard angler and fly tier. He has traveled from Buffalo to Borneo in search of finned quarry to grapple with.

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.


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