Steelhead Fishing Gear List: The Key Items Needed for A Trip

Steelhead fishing means long hours on the water often in hostile weather conditions. You need to have the right gear to put in the required casts for success without straining …

Steelhead fishing means long hours on the water often in hostile weather conditions.

You need to have the right gear to put in the required casts for success without straining your shoulders.
And you need the right steelhead flies to make sure that you get the take

And finally, you need the right clothing and gear to make sure you are comfortable and can fish through a variety of weather conditions.

Set yourself up for steelhead fishing success with this steelhead fishing gear list.

Fishing Gear for Steelhead

In this section we break down the key pieces of fishing gear for two main methods of fishing for steelhead – fly fishing and drift fishing.

Fly Fishing Gear List for Steelhead

Steelhead involves putting a lot of casts sop your fly fishing gear needs to be high quality and fun to use.

A Steelhead Fly Rod

Usually a 7-10 weight fly rod is best for fly fishing for steelhead. Check out our guide to the best steelhead fly rods and on choosing the right weight for steelhead fishing

A Great Fly Reel

You need to pair the rod with a really decent reel. Fly reels for steelhead need to have a good drag as you’ll be fighting the fish on the reel and need to apply enough braking to tire it out as it runs.

Fly Lines (intermediate or floating)

Choose a good quality fly line whether it is a floating line, sink tips or intermediate. Take several lines, preferably on interchangeable spools if your reel allows.

Backing (150+ yards or 20-30lb Dacron backing)

Tippet (10-15 lb fluorocarbon)

Tapered Leader (9+ ft.)

Drift Fishing Gear List for Steelhead

Drift fishing with baits or lures is a really popular way to catch steelhead (check here for tips on a good float fishing setup).

  • Rod – a medium to medium-heavy casting or spinning rod
  • Reel – choose one to match your rod with a quality drag with good line capacity
  • Line (15-20 lb. mono or braid)
  • Barrel Swivel w/ Safety Snap (black size 5-7)
  • Octopus Hooks (red size 2-2/0)
  • Solid Lead Wire Roll (1/4″)
  • Lead Hole Punch Pliers
  • Corky (assorted sizes and colors)
  • Yarn (assorted sizes and thickness)

Other Fishing Gear for Steelhead

Clothing List For Steelhead Fishing

It’s really important for steelhead fishing to choose gear that can keep you warm (particularly for winter steelhead) and protect you from the sun and wind.

  • Base Layer Top and Bottom – merino wool or synthetic
  • Lightweight Jacket
  • Windstopper Jacket
  • Midweight Jacket
  • Gore Tex Rain jacket
  • Lightweight Shirt (3 – 5 per week)
  • Lightweight Pants (1-2 pair per week)
  • Midweight Pants (1 pair per week)
  • Rain Gear
  • Lightweight Gloves
  • Midweight Waterproof Gloves
  • Cap (see here for good choices)
  • Boots
  • Socks (1 pair per day)

Final Thoughts on a Steelhead fishing gear list

We hope this list is a starting point for packing for a steelhead fishing trip. Packing this gear will help you catch more fish when you are fishing steelhead rivers and stay warm and protected.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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