Steelhead, to bead or not to bead?

Posted on April 5th, 2017

With our recent thaws, snow melt and rain, fresh-run steelhead will be adding to the mix of darker fish that have been roaming the mouths of our tributaries and in the lower stretches for the last several months.

CJ Patey_steelhead

Jeremy Patey and his wife CJ (Cassondra Jade), sent us these images of a couple of silver steelhead they caught drift-fishing one of the many “all year” open sections of our Great Lakes tributaries.

20160301 Creekcandybeads

While most steelheaders start their day drifting  salmon or trou spawn-sacks, it’s always a good idea to have some acrylic and glass steelhead beads on hand. As a general rule, in the spring when no salmon as spawning I go with the smaller 6mm trout-size beads. If the water is stained I choose the brighter yellow colors, if the water is clear I go with the natural color beads.


For slower moving water (like the lower sections of tribs., I usually run acrylic beads so they flow with the current more natural just off the bottom. If I fish some of the faster, slightly deeper runs and pools, I go with the glass beads. I find they stay in the “strike” zone better and look more natural tumbling closer to the bottom than an acrylic bead.

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