Double Up When Conditions Change
By Tyler Comeau
When water conditions begin to drop and winter steelhead start to settle into deeper holes and troughs, sometimes having a little variety in your rig can pay off. Fly anglers have utilized droppers for years to give themselves two flies for the fish to choose from instead of one. I like to do the same thing when fishing beads under floats for winter steelhead.
Using your chosen float fishing bobber rig (fixed or sliding), utilize a typical all-season sized bead (10-12mm) in your most proven colors as the first bead in your rig. I like to peg my beads, and will peg it two-three finger lengths above an egg looped octopus circle hook in size 4.
From the hook, tie on 18 to 22 inches of 8- to 10-pound leader material (fluorocarbon if you prefer, though I think a quality monofilament is fine) using a clinch knot to the bend of the upper (point) hook. Now, add a smaller bead (6-8mm) and feel free to experiment with colors) before you add another octopus circle hook in the same size, or perhaps go smaller with a size 6 hook.
Your finished dropper leader shouldn’t be longer than 18” as longer lengths can cause more hang-ups and can make detecting a bite harder. Be sure to peg your second bead like you did the first, and you’re ready to fish.
Using a smaller dropper bead gives the fish another reason to strike, and it allows you to fish more thoroughly on each pass through the run. I particularly like these rigs when bobber doggin’ out of a boat, and many folks have taken to using small bead droppers while jig fishing as well. Don’t be afraid to fish a Yarnie with a small bait of eggs on the point hook, with a dropper bead below.