Fly Rod and Reel Magazine
Ask the Experts
Five steelhead addicts, five must-have flies.
Dec. 2009/Jan. 2010
by Greg Thomas
Owner, Emerald Water Anglers; father and husband; seriously dedicated ambassador for steelhead
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Favorite steelhead pattern?
Silver Hilton Intruder, size 2, when the water is big and off color a bit. I fish it down to a size 6 in the summer months when water is often clear.
I have always been enamored with the Silver Hilton after catching my first steelhead, many years ago, on that fly. The fly does swim nicely and I enjoy its elegant posture as it swings.
How do you fish it?
Only swinging. That’s the only dance I do.
Which water type?
Water with steelhead in it. I have landed steelhead in the middle of the day in August on the Deschutes, in December on the John Day, in September on the Umpqua, and in October on the Snoqualmie to name a few.
Most memorable fish on that fly?
I was teaching my nephews how to trout fish on the Snoqualmie and also showing them how to spey cast. They were nine and 11 at the time. While they were having a blast catching little trout on lightweight rods, I was explaining that some of those fish were hatchery steelhead smolt, a transition into what a steelhead is and their potential size.
This, of course, meant the boys wanted to see one, so I followed them through the run, which happens to be one of my favorite runs in the entire region, and came tight to a nice summer fish. Both of my newphews’ jaws dropped when that fish aired itself out.
To this day they always look forward to doing some fly fishing when we get together. Exactly what I would have hoped for.
What’s your best backup?
Ideal river or prime region to fish that fly?
Well, I live, breathe and work in the Pacific Northwest and, therefore, I find that it works well on all our Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula rivers, plus other regional streams in Oregon and Washington.