Pablo’s Special – Rogue River Summer Steelhead Fly

A small dark pattern for Rogue River steelhead.

A small dark pattern for Rogue River steelhead.

Came across a dark steelhead fly pattern that I tied a few years back for a fishing lodge on the middle Rogue River. I tied up the order from the example that was given me, and then tied a few and set them aside. The original is a larger pattern about size #6 tied on a salmon/steelhead iron, up-eyed, bead head and with a red tail. I decided to reduce the original pattern and came up with this arrangement. The hook is 2X long strong nymph hook size #10. I eliminated the red tail, keep the peacock herl body, and added a little red flashabou to the black marabou wing. Already this weekend on it’s first try the fly has proven itself. I believe the original pattern is the creation of a middle Rogue River fishing guide of long standing.

Copper Herniator

Great pattern during the fall on the lower Rogue River. Also a good steelhead fly pattern on the Klamath River. Adult steelhead as well as the famous half pounder fish will readily fall for this fly.

The all copper version. Copper Diamond Braid, Krystal Flash and Bead Head.

The all copper version. Copper Diamond Braid, Krystal Flash and Bead Head. Size 8,10 and 12.

Early June – Summer Steelhead on the Rogue River

Summer steelhead are making their appearance on the Rogue River. These early June fish can be quite hard to find. Good that they are ready biters, because that can make the difference in the higher water flows of June. With water releases at about 2200 CFS for the far upper river, the flow is about 2800 CFS where I was searching. Carpetbaggers, Brown Fork Tail Princes and G.R. Hare’s Ears are good flies to be swinging now. The Bead Head G.R. Hare’s Ear Nymph garnered the most strikes today.

Video: How to Tie the Beadhead Prince Nymph and Tips to make it Better

Video: How to Tie the Beadhead Prince Nymph.

Last year the Beadhead Prince Nymph proved it’s worth time and again on Rogue River steelhead. Here is a good video that I found on how to tie one. I will note here the differences in the way I tie the Beadhead Prince Nymph and their significances. First I use red tying thread based on customer request and river success of that color. I don’t weight the fly with anything more than a single gold, brass bead. That is because nearly 99% of the time the small Prince Nymph is fished as the trailer fly off the heavy, larger Carpetbagger Stonefly Nymph. The Carpetbagger Nymph gets the tandem setup of flies down to the river bottom. I like to use silver Lagartun French Tinsel for the rib. I use the Oval X-Strong Small tinsel for size 10 and 12 hooks: and the Oval X-Strong Medium Lagartun for size 8 hooks. I counter wrap the peacock herl body and the tinsel with a strong, thin wire salvaged from an old electrical generator. Even before that step, I wind and twist the peacock herl around the red thread before wrapping it to form the body. I don’t like to use cement to reinforce the body because it is messy. Needless to say, the peacock bodies on my Prince Nymphs are near indestructible and hold up fish after fish.

One other place on the fragile Prince Nymph, that I’ve found that needs some reinforcement is the white biot wings. I’ve found that the wing biots will slip or pull out while fishing when tied in the conventional manner. For that reason I like to tie the whole wing biots on to correct length, and then fold the front excess biot back, to the rear and over itself, secured with more wraps of thread. Thus I’ve bond it down (twice) with the red thread and in such a way that a wing biot cannot slip out. Little extras that I can say keep my flies intact and fishing until they are lost to rock or fish!

Interesting mushroom noticed while accessing the Rogue River the other day. The river is coming on strong with good fishing levels and fly-fishing clarity. One thing to watch out for is the trout are really on the bite now. The Rogue River is closed for trout from March 31 through May 24. Incidental catch of rainbow trout, just like with the cutthroat trout, are to be released unharmed. You’ll do a river good!

Rogue River Report

Morels and good looking water. Great color and flow on the river. Check the river flow:
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/or/nwis/uv/?site_no=14339000&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060

I did cast for a while for steelhead. Watched a few trout rising along the bank and edges. There were some March Brown flies on the water along with the small BWO’s. I was pitching an orange beadhead Brownbagger Nymph and a beadhead G.R. Hare’s Ear Nymph combo.

River X Again


The water flow has dropped to low levels. Every year the flow seems to end up at about 150 CFS. Makes it a bit harder to catch fish in bright, sunny weather. Luckily rain and clouds are forecast for the rest of the week, and a good chance that the rain will be showers and light.

River X Flow Still Dropping

With the dropping water flow I like to fish dark, deeper runs against steep banks. It is surprising how close to these banks the steelhead will hold. It is not surprising when close inspection reveal the structure that held the fish, such as a deeper pocket with swirling back eddy. When I find good structure and hook a fish, I note it well. Year after year specific locations seem to always hold fish.

February Rogue River Steelhead

True winter steelhead may be just weeks away from entering the upper Rogue River, but if there is one thing this winter’s low water of January and February has shown is that there are always some steelhead around. Summer, fall or late fall fish (whatever you want to term these steelhead) arrive earlier than the true winter run. Normal first of the year high water conditions makes them impossible to fly fish for, and that same high water also pulls them up readily into the many small feeder tributaries to spawn. This year, to this date, the river flow has remained mid-fall like with very few high rain episode. The fall fish have remained around longer. Now that is not what I was out seeking. With recent rain I was looking for the advance guard of the large, winter fish. After that recent high flow had rescinded I fished and was happily pleased with the results of the outing. While not winter run, these steelhead were pretty fresh and active.

And That Ten Pound Rogue River Steelhead Just Might Want…

…a Bead Head G.R. Hare’s Ear Nymph. Not to be forgotten. Like your Master Card, don’t leave home without one. The G.R. Hare’s Ear Nymph has caught so many steelhead for me that if I was to go to the Rogue River with just one fly, it would be a Bead Head G.R. Hare’s Ear Nymph. Under low, clear water conditions and a bright November sun this 29 inch or so Rogue River steelhead made his choice and grabbed this rather pathetic looking Hare’s Ear nymph. Makes one wonder, just how important is the bead head component to the fly? Granted it adds weight to the fly, but does it also add “a bite me” stimulus to the fish as well?

Cinnamon and White Tip Turkey Dee Wings on the Rogue River