If you fly fish stream trout or drift fish for tributary steelhead you know the importance of making the best drift to fool fish that are holding in shallower, clearer water where they can spook easily.
My strategy for “nervous” steelhead is to try and start early, especially if the water have been really worked over by anglers day after day. How early? Getting to the spot before it get’s light and even drifting just as it’s getting light. This may cause you to loose some sleep, but it can produce the best fishing within the first hour of daylight. Afterwards, fish can get so weary that only the finest “finesse drifts” will get them to take.
If you see steelhead holding in a run, there’s a good chance they can see you. Best to make a down-stream drift to any fish holding areas, before you get to them. This is where a good center-pin reel and drift outfit shines. Adjust your float depth to compensate for the specific depth of the run/pool you are fishing. Start your drift 5-10′ above the “fish holding area” to ensure your rig has reached the desired drift-depth by the time it gets to the holding fish. Hold your rod high so you have direct line to your float and let the current take the line off your reel at “current-speed”. Always be ready to gently lift the rod as the float goes under. It’s true, “The early bird does get the easiest worms.”, but you can also hook fish after anglers have worked areas if you make the perfect drift!