Our fly tying partner Jim Boni, who lives on the Great Lakes' shores, has the chance to target the steelhead trout, one of Canada's most iconic species. Really a sea-run rainbow trout, the steelhead of the great lakes travels great distances to find schools of fodder fishes, pushing it to undertake a much faster growth than its sisters who are appointed residents remain in the tributaries. Here's what Jim had to say about his personal fly box to fish the Great Lakes' tributaries.
Ho Bo Spey
This fly should have a place in every spey fisherman's box. There are many different colour combos. The fly has a great design, from the attractor butt section that will trigger a strike, to the marabou that moves so nicely and the Amherst feather that supports it. A great fly to swing on a light tip, easy to cast, and that I usually fish it in normal or lower flows. It's effective in a bit of slower water, like tail outs and seams.
Another great design, originating from the temple dog style flies. They are easy to cast and can get down deep by using a bigger tip. What I love about this style of flies is that by using very little material, it sinks quickly, and it swims and moves a whole lot. They are very durable flies, and you can tie them with temple dog, arctic fox, snow runner, and even polar fibres. They can be fished in all waters by merely varying the colours and sizes.
Cone Head Leech
It's one of my personal favourites and an all-rounder fly that simply gets it done. You can vary the weight by using different heads, from brass, lead or tungsten. Don't need to say much about this fly, it's been modified and has a hundred different names, but all of them get the job done!
Anyone that fish steelhead knows that rain and swollen rivers are part of the game. In those cases, you need a fly with a big profile, and that will push water to attract fish, which is precisely what these flies do. I like a fluorescent yellow butt or tail behind a black, or purple intruder. Again, something for the fish to see.
Great fly tied small for low water situations. When fish has seen everything, it's good to go through a run with one of these. I fish these with a long fluoro leader and vary the bead for weight depending on which column of the water you want to fish. I like to tie these in earthy, natural colours like olives and browns.