5 Best Fly Lines For Steelhead: What Do Guides Use And Recommend

Using the best fly lines for steelhead will help you catch steelhead like this fresh silver steelhead

Many fly lines will work for steelhead but what are the best fly lines for steelhead and what do the guides use and why? For this article, I discussed the best fly lines for steelhead with a few top steelhead guides and I discuss the best fly lines for steelhead that I like to use when I’m guiding.

The best fly lines for steelhead are high floating lines that can be mended easily and allow you to cast out indicators and streamers with ease. The best fly lines for steelhead are the SA Anadro, the Rio RIO InTouch Trout/Steelhead, and the Cortland Salmon Steelhead Line.

So which one is best for you?

The best fly line for steelhead will depend on your preferred method of fly fishing and the rivers that you fish. Some anglers like to use indicators, some will Euro nymph for steelhead, and some will prefer to cast streamers or swing flies for steelhead. And some will do it all. I discuss all these methods on my page Fly Fishing For Steelhead.

The Best Fly Lines For Steelhead And Why?

A good steelhead fly line will need to be suited for cold water and colder temperatures like you might find when late fall to early spring steelhead conditions. Some fly lines are meant for warm climates and therefore may not work as well in the colder water.

I have experienced some fly lines that become too stiff when the temperatures are near freezing and they will leave coils in the line and/or cause more tangles in the fly line the a cold water line will.

A long bellied line is often a good idea for steelhead fly lines. Long-belly means the head section of the line is longer and extends into the middle portion more so than a standard weight forward line. The head section is thicker and heavier and this aids in casting.

This longer head section helps with casting bigger flies and turning over indicators and weights. It also aids in mending and roll casting with indicators. Mending at a further distance is much easier with a heavier midsection.

The steelhead fly lines that I mentioned above are all designed for steelhead fishing and that makes them the best fly lines for steelhead. They will all have plenty of mass built into the head and middle sections where they need it to help you cast, mend, and fish better.

Is A General Purpose Fly Line Good For Steelhead

You could use a standard fly line if you are the type of angler that wants to use the same line for summer fishing and for cold water fishing. I d this all the time because my clients will often come out with their own rods and fly reels and we make do with what they have.

In my experience, most general-purpose fly lines will work for steelhead fishing. Only a few times have I had lines that coil too much or get repeated tangles and we can’t use them. Some lines just do not work well in very cold water.

The downside to a general-purpose fly line is they are not designed to cast big indicators and leaders with weight and this can make it difficult for some anglers. Personally, I think the fly rod and length of the rod are more important and will help with casting more than the fly line does.

However, the right rod combined with the best steelhead fly line will just make things so much easier for you.

Best Steelhead Fly Lines For Different Methods

There are many different methods for fishing steelhead in rivers. Most anglers use nymphing methods with indicators while some like to cast streamers and swing flies for steelhead. Some lines tend to work better than others depending on the method.

Steelhead Fly Lines For Nymphing

Steelhead Fly Lines

The Rio InTouch Trout/Steelhead Indicator line is designed for steelhead anglers that like to use indicators when nymphing.

This line has a larger front taper that helps in turning over indicators, weights, and big nymphs.

It also has a long body and back taper to make mending the line at longer distances much easier.

The Rio Elite Switch Indicator Rio Indicator line is built with an ultra-low stretch core for minimum stretch and better performance. it also features RIO’s SureFire, XS, and AgentX Technologies

The Rio InTouch Steelhead indicator Line is a preferred line of many steelhead river guides because it’s easier for their clients to use and makes learning the art of nymphing for steelhead easier.

Another good line for steelhead fishing on big rivers is the Scientific Anglers Amplitude Anadro Fly Line which is similar in design to the Rio InTouch line and it might be even better, however, it is usually a more expensive line.

Steelhead Fly Line For Euro Nymphing

OPST Pure Skagit Lazar Line

When euro nymphing for steelhead around the great lakes region, I will either use a Mono-Rig attached to any steelhead fly line or I will use the 5wt Rio Euro Nymph Shorty fly line.

The Euro Nymph Shorty fly line is a twenty foot fly line head that is thin and light. This thin light line prevents line sag from your rod tip to the water and it prevents sagging of the fly line in the guides, especially between the reel and the first guide.

My preferred Euro Nymphing rig for steelhead is to use a Mono-Rig setup using the OPST Pure Skagit Lazar Line instead of mono. I use the 30 pound Lazar Line which I attach directly to my standard steelhead fly line using a loop-to-loop connection or and nail knot connection.

Because you already have a full reel of fly line you may only be able to get 30 or 60 feet of the Lazar line on the reel and this is usually plenty of line. I usually only use 50 feet. On the other end, I add my Euro nymphing leader which I show you on my page Euro Nymphing For Steelhead.

You can also use the standard mono-rig set-up, which for some anglers is simply a 20 or 30-pound mono line that can be 20 to 40 feet long. The mono also does not sag and for advanced anglers, it can allow you to cast around 40 feet with no fly line and just a weighted nymph or two.

For the Mon-Rig, many anglers will use 20 to 30 pound Maxima Chameleon Monofilament Leader Material.

Steelhead Line For Streamer Fishing

To be honest, when using streamers on a single-hand fly rod I just use streamer lines meant for trout. If I am casting and stripping in my streamer I prefer these lines over general-purpose fly lines and over other steelhead lines. I like the RIO’s Premier Streamer Fly Line, AIRFLO Kelly Galloup’s, or the AIRFLO Streamer Max

If I am mostly swinging my streamer I like the RIO Products InTouch Salmon/Steelhead Fly Line

The Best Fly Lines For Steelhead Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this article on the best fly lines for steelhead and it gave you some insight into the right steelhead fly line for you.

If you have any questions or comments or tips on the best fly lines for steelhead, let me know in the comments sections below.

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