The Black and Blue Alaskabou is a killer pattern. The marabou moves in the water current as it is retrieved and imitates the natural movement of a streamer bait fish or swimming leach. These are the type of food steelheads like to munch on.
WINTER STEELHEAD ALASKABOU FLY PATTERNS. Hook size 2/0 - $US each
The best way to insure good future fishing is to leave the female steelheads alone. Any bright fish is probably a hen on her way upriver, and should be left alone, although exceptionally large ones are a tempting target. Watch for female steelheads that turn on their sides and pump their tails, to scoop a hollow where they will drop their eggs. The scent stream of pheromones is like a magnet to the males. Hooking or otherwise spooking the females, is almost a guarantee that any near-by males will depart, and then there are NO fish to target. Accurately casting to the edges of the gathering steelhead male pack will get hits from the males. Cast far enough upstream of the fish to allow the fly to sink to their level before it gets to them. Drift the fly into the fish's face, and lifting and swinging away when it gets within a few inches. This method brings out their predatory instincts. You should see the strike using sun glasses. Set the hook with a downstream sweep of the rod. Play him away from the pack, to avoid spooking the rest of the fish.
Some smaller males will be chased off by larger males, and will drift back. A careful river bed presentation may elicit hard strikes from these fish. Keep the fly deep. Burn that into your brain. The fish are intent on spawning, rarely feed. You must get down to their level. Many Steelheads return to rivers during the coldest months, December to March when the temperatures average between 36 to 42 degrees. Steelheads will not move far for a fly in these temperatures but they will bite. To make things more interesting the rivers are often high, in spate and off color. It still makes sense to go by the old "Bright day-bright fly, dark day-dark fly" but don't get locked into it. Experiment with patterns and sizes. After missing a strike, I like to change to a smaller version of the same pattern. If that doesn't bring a hit, I go to a fly that's completely opposite of the original. A huge black egg sucking leech would replace a tiny Polar Shrimp.