Equipment Great Lakes
Often you hear that people don’t want to try fishing the tributaries because they only have a 5wt rod. Well, don’t let that stop you from trying this type of fishing. Many of the fish in the tribs are between 20” and 30” and you would think nothing of fishing for a 24” inland Brown with a 5wt. Many times you can see the fish your casting to and you could avoid the big fish if you are worried about your smaller weight rod. Sure, you are a little under gunned but if you play the fish a bit longer and use the right tippet you can land these fish with a smaller weight rod. If you enjoy fishing the tributaries, then think about buying a heavier weight rod.
Most fly rods used on the tributaries are in the 6-10 weight range, the most common being an 8-weight. For grips on your rod, you may want to consider a fighting butt. The new graphite rod manufacturers have many good rods at reasonable prices. St. Croix Rods is a Wisconsin manufacturer with an excellent product in the Legend Ultra & Avid series. These rods are built to a quality level and a price point that is hard to beat at twice the cost. A tributary fisherman interested in taking their fishing to the next level will want to consider purchasing, at least, one rod used just for the tributaries. Keep in mind that an 8weight rod makes a great bass and pike rod!
The reel you choose can be a major decision with the long runs and hard fights that these fish can give. The reel is an important part of your gear. I suggest that you invest as much as you can afford when purchasing a tributary reel. You need a product that is well built, dependable and will perform day in and day out. A good tributary reel will have a quality disc drag system and will be well constructed. Sounds expensive? No, you can find good quality reels with a nice disc drag for a reasonable price these days.
Many tributary fishermen prefer leaders in the 9-foot range. There are good leader products on the market that will work, but I feel you want leaders that are at the six to twelve-pound test range at your fly.
Great Lakes Steelhead: A Guided Tour for Fly-Anglers by Bob Linsenman and Steve Nevala Each chapter within the Guides section provides a wealth of information ranging from technique to fly selection. The authors cover the basics on steelhead biology, behaviour, leaders, casting techniques, and flies. The book has a great chapter on popular steelhead flies in colored plates. Every skill level can learn something from this book.