Steve Culton ties the 60 Second Redhead on HAN’s Yankee Fisherman

The host of Yankee Fisherman, John Kovach, was kind enough to feature me tying one of my favorite steelhead flies, the 60 Second Redhead, on the 12.10.15 show. The segment was recorded at the Arts of the Angler show back in October. You can see it here; I come in around the 17:40 mark. And of course there’s also the official currentseams tying video elsewhere on this site. Thanks again to John and Yankee Fisherman for their continued support.

Yes. The 60 Second Redhead catches steelhead. From November 2015.

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Soft-Hackled Bead Head Pheasant Tail

Consider the humble Pheasant Tail. Basic brown. Unpretentious. Traditional. Looks like nothing specific and a lot of things in general. Add a bead head — copper, if you please, which feels more understated than gold. But let’s not stop there. Let’s give our fly the breath of life. A soft hackle will do. Webby brown hen that pulses and moves and whispers to the fish, “I’m alive.”

If you told me I had to choose one fly to fish for trout for the rest of my life, it would be a soft-hackled bead head Pheasant Tail.  You can fish it like a nymph, fish it like a wet, or do both. All on the same drift. Woo-hoo!

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Hook: Orvis 62KC size 8-12 (steelhead), 2x strong/2x short scud size 10-20 (trout)
Thread: Brown 6/0 or 8/0
Bead: Copper, sized to hook
Tail/Abdomen: Pheasant tail
Rib: Small copper wire
Thorax: Peacock herl
Hackle: Soft brown hen
When I first tried to catch a steelhead with a fly that used all-natural materials and drab colors, I chose this pattern. Mission accomplished, and now it’s a staple.
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The Soft-Hackled Bead Head Pheasant Tail Rogues’ Gallery:
Late winter Farmington brown, size 18.
3-10-14 Brown

Fly tying video: the Copperhead Stone steelhead nymph

I have an emotional connection to this pattern — it’s the fly I used to land my first steelhead. It was given to me on the river with the guarantee that I would hook a steelhead. And so it came to pass. 

My First Steelhead

I kept that fly so I could duplicate it at home. The original had a black wool tag that extended a few turns below the tail; I have eliminated it, apparently with no ill effects.

The North-Country Spider Egg Steelhead Soft Hackle

This modern take on the traditional template is one of my favorite steelhead patterns.

Hook: Orvis 1641 size 8-10
Thread: 6/0, color to match head
Tail: Hen hackle fibers
Body: Diamond braid color to match hackle and tail
Hackle: Hen

Here’s what I wrote about the North-Country Spider Egg in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of American Angler:

T.E. Pritt never chased chrome, but his renowned North-Country spiders make for fine steelhead soft-hackles. I’ve had even more success with the spider template by adding a tail and using bright colors and modern materials. Pritt may be rolling over in his grave at the liberties I’ve taken, but he could not argue with the results: steelhead love this fly.

Classic North-Country patterns like the Winter Brown and the Grey Partridge sport a head of wound peacock herl. In the Spider Egg, I’m simply using a few turns of Estaz Petite. The Estaz should be a contrasting color to the monochromatic body, wing, and tail. I like black/chartreuse; chartreuse/black; chartreuse/white; black/purple; and metallic copper/black. You can and should experiment with different color combinations.

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The North-Country Spider Egg Rogues’ Gallery:

Fresh chrome, Salmon River, 11/2014

Fresh Chrome, November 2014

Steelhead Marabou Stingers

It’s the modern way with so many streamers. But today I am not interested in pushing water. I want to embrace it. Cherish it. Become one with its fluidity.

Here are two simple, elegant streamers, tied on articulated shanks with a trailing stinger hook. Their intent is seduction, not overt lateral line pandering. A tail of rabbit with some Krystal Flash. Soft, flowing marabou that caresses the currents and whispers, “I’m alive.” A little flash to augment the flavors, not overpower them. Intended for steelhead, but certainly appealing to trout. Cast. Swing. Dangle.

And hold on.

Steelhead Marabou Stinger

Steelhead Marabou Stinger

Shank: Fish Skull Articulated Shank 35mm
Thread: Black 6/0
Stinger: Gamakatsu Split Shot/Drop Shot, size 2, attached with 30 pound Fireline
Tail: Black rabbit strip with black Krystal Flash.
Body: Palmered marabou: black, then wine, then purple, then two turns fluorescent red
Topping/Cheeks: Red, blue, purple flashabou.

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Steelhead Marabou Stinger 2

Steelhead Marabou Sringer 2

Shank: Fish Skull Articulated Shank 35mm
Thread: Chartreuse 6/0
Stinger: Gamakatsu Split Shot/Drop Shot, size 2, attached with 30 pound Fireline
Tail: White rabbit strip with pearl Krystal Flash.
Body: Palmered marabou: white, then pink, then four turns chartreuse
Topping/Cheeks: Silver, blue, green flashabou.