How To Catch More Trout And Steelhead Guaranteed

How To Catch More Trout And Steelhead Guaranteed

You are here because you want to learn how to catch more trout and steelhead. If you really want to know how to catch more trout and steelhead then this page is likely the most important page you will find. I discuss all the things that I have witnessed over the years that prevent anglers from catching more trout, steelhead, and salmon.

How To Catch More Trout And Steelhead?

Most guys think it’s the best bait or the perfect presentation that will catch them more fish, but they’re wrong. To catch more trout and steelhead you need to realize that it’s many little things all working perfectly together that will result in more fish, and if one of those things is wrong it could mean no fish.

I can not guarantee that you will catch more fish by simply telling you what my best bait is, or what my best fly is for trout or steelhead. I also won’t guarantee that you will catch more trout and steelhead by telling you what my secret presentation is that I use to outfish most guys 10 to 1.

Even if I tell you what methods I use under different river situations, or if I show you my most effective leader setups, I still know that will not guarantee you more trout or steelhead either. So what will guarantee more trout and steelhead?

I have some advice that nobody is talking about that is way better than all that other stuff I just mentioned.

In fact, I know that it will make all that other stuff 10 times more effective and that it will guarantee that you will catch more trout and steelhead.

After fishing for 35 years for trout and steelhead and 20 years of guiding, I know a lot more stuff about trout and steelhead fishing than 90% of anglers.

I don’t mean to brag, what I’m getting at it that I know a ton of great stuff about fishing but there is one thing that stands out above the rest.

With all the information that’s in my brain right now, if I was to get amnesia tomorrow and I was to forget everything I knew about trout and steelhead fishing, if wanted to know how to catch more trout and steelhead, what I’m about to tell you is what I would want to know first before any of the other stuff.

This is like the glue that holds everything else together and it will allow you to put all the pieces together so that you can start catching more trout and steelhead.

These are the most important tips I can give anyone that wants to go from catching 2 or 3 trout or steelhead a day, to 10 or more. . . . . And it’s nothing that you think it will be.

Fish Right For More Trout, Steelhead, And Salmon

An angler learning how to catch more trout and steelhead on a guide trip.
An angler learning how to catch more trout and steelhead on a guide trip. As I always do, I worked on showing him what to do and the results were his best day on the water ever with over 40 steelhead hooked and 21 landed

After guiding thousands of anglers, even ones that have been fishing longer than I have, and even other guides, I have determined that most guys just don’t fish very well and because of that, they miss a lot of fish that they could be catching.

Sure they catch some fish, sometimes, and they think that’s probably normal fishing, but they are simply missing a lot of fish that they could easily be catching and they don’t even know it.

Some of those guys might suspect that they should be catching more fish so they come online and look up information about how to catch more trout and steelhead but they are always attracted to the wrong type of information.

In fact, it’s almost never that I see the information online complete. There’s always something missing, and then we are left to try and fill in the blanks which is why we keep searching for more information.

Fishing the right way is more than just using the right method, or getting a great presentation, or having the right bait on the line, or knowing how to read the water, as you will soon learn.

Most Trout And Steelhead Anglers Could Be Catching More Fish

Catch more trout like this using the best methods
A client of mine that started out brand new to fly fishing for trout and now catches lots of trout.

Based on what I know and have seen, 8 out of 10 anglers are simply missing fish that could easily be caught.

Most anglers just grab their rod and reel, grab some bait, and then they go cast all day in a river somewhere, and they wait and hope that they catch some fish. They rely on luck and some basic knowledge.

But I know that if you replace luck with real skill and knowledge you will catch 10 times more trout and steelhead!

The Fishing Process – Catch More Trout And Steelhead

2 anglers fishing the same spot

If you want to learn how to catch more trout and steelhead you need to understand that fishing for trout and steelhead is a process, and knowing what the process is from start to finish is the key to catching more trout and steelhead.

If you want to know how to catch more trout and steelhead you simply need to understand that the fishing process that I am talking about is like a chain, and one weak link in that chain makes the entire chain weak, two weak links in the fishing process makes it even worse.

Doing everything right all at once is the real difference between one guy catching 10 fish and another guy catching none.

The best bait and the best presentation are only small links in that process and they are practically useless information if you have other weak links in your fishing process.

The problem is that most anglers don’t know what those weak links are, or they don’t know that they even have a weak link in their fishing process, and the unfortunate truth is that is what is preventing them from catching more fish every time they go fishing.

They go catch 4 trout and they think that was a good day, but what they don’t realize is that, had they done a couple of things differently, they could have caught 10 fish instead. What’s that saying, “You don’t know, what you don’t know”.

There is a saying another saying in the fishing industry, “10 percent of the anglers, catch 90% of the fish”. I believe this is 100% true because I see it proven over and over again.

I’ve watched two of my clients fish poorly all day and only catch a few steelhead and then talk to my buddies that were just upriver and downriver from us and they hooked 75 steelhead.

These two clients had all the right gear, the right leader setup was perfect, they were put in the best spots and told where the fish were, and they even used the best bai,t and they still they caught 3 steelhead when other guys were catching more than 20 each. Why?

Something in their process was wrong and I knew exactly what it was, but when your clients don’t listen to you, there’s not much you can do about it.

Missing some of the finer details of the fishing process, and having even one weak link will mean fewer fish, this is something that I guaranty because I have seen it happen hundreds of times.

The fishing process includes everything from the river, the spot, the method you use, your approach, your angles, the bait, the setup, the speed, to your presentation, and more…

I Can Guaranty You More Fish

How can I be so bold that I can guarantee you more fish, and even bigger fish?

Honestly, I can’t really guarantee you more fish because maybe there’s just no fish in the river that you are fishing, but what I can guarantee is that if you eliminate your weak links in your fishing process, and you make sure that all the parts of the fishing process are there, you will catch more fish if there are fish there to be caught and you will also increase your chances of catching bigger trout.

The reason I can guaranty you more fish is that I know that even a single weak link in your fishing process will mean fewer fish. I know this because I have watched thousands of anglers fish wrong or poorly, and after I have fixed their fishing process and identified all their weak links, they always end up catching more fish for years afterward.

Hundreds if not thousands of anglers have told me how much better they fish once they have mastered their fishing process and eliminated the things they were doing wrong.

Eliminating Weak Links Is Critical

Eliminating weak links can have significant positive effects on your fishing.

It’s sometimes so significant that some anglers will even tell me that before a guided trip with me they would catch an average of 5 or 6 trout and day and maybe they would get lucky and catch 1 or 2 big ones a year, but . . .

After their guided trip with me, now they are averaging 25 to 30 trout a day and they are hooking into big trout almost every single day on the water. That’s how drastic a change it can be once you master the entire fishing process for trout and you eliminate the weak links.

The weak link problem is so obvious for most anglers that I’ve been able to watch two anglers fish side by side with identical setups and the same bait and one angler catches 10 trout or steelhead while the other angler only catches one or two, or even none. I have seen this happen hundreds of times.

I often use a different bait on each client’s hook to help me figure out which bait the fish want more.

On days when 1 guy catches 10 fish and the other guy has caught none, I will sometimes experiment by taking the bait that is catching all the fish off of the guy’s line that is catching all the fish, and I give it to the guy that’s not catching any fish. I would then take the bait that is not catching any fish and I give it to the guy that was catching all the fish.

The results are always the same. The bait that was catching all the fish stops catching fish, and the bait that wasn’t working is now catching all the fish. This clearly shows that the bait is often not the problem.

The reason why one angler is not catching any fish is a weak link or two in his fishing process, something he is doing is not right, and if both of them have the exact same setup, it’s likely the weak link is in his presentation somewhere.

For many guides, this is often the biggest challenge, finding out what your client is or isn’t doing that is causing them to not catch fish. This is how I discovered the fishing process and why it’s critical to remove the weak links.

The Bait

Fishing With Beads

Most anglers that want to know how to catch more trout and steelhead will think about the bait first and foremost, but the bait is far from being the most important thing in trout and steelhead fishing.

There is a saying ” a bad bait fished good, is better than a good bait fished bad”. This is also 100% true.

I bet you you I have run into over 100 anglers on the river that ask me what bait am I using after I tell them I landed 10 steelhead and they landed 2.

Even other guides have asked me that same question when I tell them how many fish we are catching. I often tell them, “that’s the wrong question”!

Guys ask that question because they think that if I caught 5 more fish than they did that the bait is the reason for catching more fish. Sometimes it will be that bait, but most of the time it’s not.

When I see an angler catch all the fish, I don’t just look at the bait he is using, I look at how he is using it and everything that he is doing that makes that bait work so good. I want to see his fishing process. To me, that is far more important than the bait.

I know from experience that it doesn’t matter how good your bait is if you present it to the fish wrong, or if your hook is too big, or if your leader is so thick that every trout in the pool sees it, or if you simply drag or bounce your bait past the fish. A single weak link could make your bait useless.

Eliminate Common Mistakes And You Will Catch Far More Trout And Steelhead

This angler fishng for trout is making a big mistake
This angler is fishing for trout and has the right fly, the leader setup, and a good expensive rod and reel but he won’t catch any big trout in this spot because of one big mistake. He is standing in the wrong spot and all the big trout are down below him and can see him coming.

I see it all the time, most anglers make the exact same mistakes and many of them are so obvious and are very easy to eliminate if you know what they are.

I will discuss these mistakes in many of my articles on this website so that you will know what to look for.

Some mistakes are so obvious to me as a guide of over 20 years that I can see them from a mile away.

Last year I was standing beside a client and I saw a guy about 500 feet or more up the river working his way towards us and fishing each spot as he went.

I stopped my client from fishing and said “here is a very important lesson for you, let’s watch this guy for a little while and I am going to point out all the mistakes that guy is making because just watching him for 15 seconds and I already know that he not going to catch any trout”.

I also said, ” his mistakes are very common and very easy to fix”. To me they are obvious, but anglers do them all the time.

I could tell from over 500 feet away just by the amount of splash coming off that guy’s legs as he walked through the river and approached each spot that he wasn’t going to catch any trout. He was simply far too noisy, he was also approaching the trout from the side or from upriver.

Doing this means those fish are spooked and will be lockjaw until they feel the danger has passed. So before this guy even makes the first cast he already has almost no chance of catching any trout.

10 minutes later the guy came walking past us and had caught no trout in that time. The crazy thing is that my client hooked about 25 trout in that same stretch including a 17 in brown trout and a 21 inch brown trout.

That angler missed so many trout simply because he was making multiple mistakes as he fished.

Even if I stopped him and gave him the same fly that we were catching all our trout with, he still wouldn’t have caught any more fish than he did.

Presentation Is Key Right?

Presentation is the key to catching more trout
This is one of my good clients who quietly worked his way into this pool from below the trout and is standing in the right spot, and is keeping a low profile, and is using the right leader, the right flies, and is getting a great presentation. The results were lots of fish for him on this day.

If you have been doing some research on how to catch more trout and steelhead, I’m sure you have heard this before from a lot of other guys, “presentation is the key to catching more fish”. But guess what, they are wrong!

If you want to know how to catch more trout and steelhead, you should know the truth, and that truth is that presentation is NOT the key to catching more trout and steelhead.

Don’t get me wrong, presentation is a huge part of catching more trout and steelhead and it’s something I work hard on teaching my clients, but the presentation is not everything. Thinking that presentation is the key will give you false confidence.

Presentation is simply another link in your fishing process chain and it’s only as good as your weakest link.

If the angler in the above picture approached the pool he is fishing from the top of the pool, he would have likely spooked most of the wild brown trout in this river. Once those trout are spooked it doesn’t matter how good his presentation is.

So if you think presentation is the key and you ignore the other weak links in your fishing process chain you will still struggle to catch trout and steelhead.

There are many other factors that will make your perfect presentation useless.

I invited one of my buddies out to fish for steelhead with me on my day off of guiding. He’s a really good Centerpin angler and his presentation and skills are usually flawless.

I guided the day before for steelhead on the same river and so I walked him straight into a spot that was loaded full of steelhead the day before.

Being the nice guy that I am, I said, “you go first, you should get one on your first drift”.

He made a drift and caught nothing, so I said, “try again”. He made a second drift, and then a third drift, and still no fish. To me, that was a surprise because his presentation looked flawless and there was a ton of fresh run steelhead in the river, so I knew something just wasn’t right.

I knew there must be a weak link in something he was doing.

As a guide, I sometimes spend half the day in my head just trying to think of how to get more fish to bite. Even when the trout are biting well, I’m often still trying to figure out how to get even more of them to bite, it’s just what I do.

So now that my friend wasn’t catching any fish when he should be, this was no different than guiding, and I had to figure this out.

I first asked him what spawn he was using and how old it was. I then gave him one of my spawn bags because my spawn bags were hot the day before. He made a few drifts with that new bag and still no fish would bite. Weird.

So then I asked him what hook he was using? He had this big extra strong hook on that he used the last time he fished for salmon. So, I said “cut that off and tie on this hook” and I handed him the same size and type of hook that I caught all the fish on the day before, then I gave him a new spawn bag and watched him make a few more drifts, but still no fish!

I then asked him, “what pound leader do you have on the bottom at the hook”, he replied, “6 pounds”. Most anglers think 6 pound leader for steelhead is OK, especially in the green water that we were fishing that day.

In fact, some anglers would even think 6 pound leader is too light for steelhead and would recommend going up to 8 pounds for steelhead, but this can be a huge mistake that a lot of anglers make, and you will see why.

Even though it says 6 pounds on the label, I knew that not all leaders brands rate their leaders accurately, so I said “what brand”, he replied “Drennan”. That’s a problem for me!

Drennan is a very popular brand of leader in my area and it’s a brand that I use and recommends all the time, but I also know that 6 pound Drennan is not rated properly and that it’s the equivalent to many other brands 12 pound test leader material. 12 pound is just too heavy for most great lakes steelhead and trout fishing.

After he told me 6 pound Drennan, my reply, with a smile on my face was “that sh!t is so thick I could probably tow a car with it”.

I gave him some 4 pound Drennan, with the right hook, and the right spawn bag, and he proceeded to then hook 9 steelhead in 9 drifts in a row.

Wow, 9 in a row! That was actually close to what I was expecting when we first started fishing there which is why I was so surprised when he wasn’t catching any fish.

His weak link could have been any of those things that I changed, like his spawn bag, or his hook, but the conclusion was that even though his presentation was perfect, his leader was simply too thick and the fish were seeing it and ignoring his bait. So, is presentation the key to catching more fish? Nope, not really?

Although he had a great presentation and a great bait, the wrong leader made it impossible for him to catch any steelhead, that was the weak link and he learned a valuable lesson that day.

I discuss the best baits, the best hooks, the best gear, the presentation, the best leader set up, and I even explain the best brands and diameters of leaders and what the right sizes of leader for trout and steelhead are throughout the pages on this website. But as you can see, none of that really matters if even one of them is wrong.

Unfortunately, some of these weak links are very subtle and they might be hard to see to the average angler, speed control is one of those things.

Speed control means presenting your bait at the same speed the natural food is moving at. I discuss speed control on a couple of pages and I believe it’s a critical part of the fishing process.

Remember the story I just told you about my two clients catching only a few fish when 3 of my buddies caught 75. And that story about 2 anglers fishing with the same bait and 1 guy caught 10, and the other guy caught none, speed control is a large part of the reason why.

I can often watch a guy drift his bait down the river and know that he’s not going to catch a fish on that drift simply by the angle of his float or the speed at which his float is moving. I can then see him do it right and get a great drift, and I’ll say, “that drift will catch you a fish” and his float goes down 2 seconds later.

Some things will be easy for you to see and eliminate, and others will take time to figure out. But the more weak links you eliminate from your fishing process, the more fish you will catch.

How To Catch More Trout And Steelhead Conclusion

This website is all about understanding the fishing process and the importance of getting everything right so that there are no weak links. Now that you know that this, you can start working and improving on each thing and eliminating the issues that are holding you back from catching more trout and steelhead.

Doing this will be the difference between fishing a spot with 10 hungry trout and only catching 1 or 2 of them because you have a weak link in your process, to going into that pool and catching all 10 of those hungry trout.

I hope to have my YouTube page up soon so be sure to check us out there. I also hope to write a list article of all the pieces of the fishing process. Till then, thanks for reading.

Got A Question About How To Catch More Trout And Steelhead

If you have a question or comment about how to catch more trout and steelhead just let me know in the comments sections below.

Tight Lines



    1. Hi Nate,

      The simple answer is to move slowly, move quietly, and stay behind the fish. Most fish face upriver. I have a saying, it’s better to take 5 minutes to tiptoe 5 feet out into a pool so you can catch a big trout right away than it is to stomp into the pool like a heard of elephants and then need to wait 45 minutes for all the spooked trout to start feeding again.

      I often tell my clients to think of a trout in a pool like a rabbit or a deer in an open field. If you wanted to get as close to a feeding rabbit or deer how would you do it? The second you make any noise that rabbit or deer is going to freeze and stop eating, or, they are going to run. A wild trout is no different, they will freeze when they think something is wrong and they will dart away when the threat is too great.

    1. Ok so how should your float point? And I also use 6 to 8 lb fluorocarbon cigar salmon steelhead leader line should I drop to 4 lb.

  1. You never mention braided – floating lines for float fishing.
    Also regarding “shot lines” – if the majority of water is maybe 2 -3 feet deep – I dont see how I can effectively use one along with a approximately 18″ leader without constantly dragging my jig. Jig to bobber distance – maybe 3′ – or constantly snagging up – 1/16oz jig.

    1. Hi David, I personally do not use braided lines for 2 main reasons, however, I am not against braided lines if you know how to fix these two issues and braided lines can work quite well. There are advantages and disadvantages to braided lines. The primary advantage of braided lines when float fishing is that they are usually light and strong for their diameter. Light lines do not sag and they float which is great for float fishing presentation. Braided line also has near zero stretch which is a big advantage when setting the hook on a fish that is 200 feet down the river.

      The disadvantage for me as a guide is that because the braided line has no stretch, guys will set so hard that they break fish off on the hookset. Until you know how to dumb down your hookset this is often a problem for new anglers to float fishing. The other disadvantage to braided line is that it can freeze and become problematic in below-freezing temperatures and as a guide I spend many days on the water in below freezing temps.

      Another big issue for both Centrepin and spin guys is that braided line can expand and shrink after it gets wet and if you do not use a backing of mono first or you secure it with tape where you tie it on the spool the entire mass of braided line can spin around the spool preventing you from reeling in. I have seen this a few times so make sure you look up how to put braided line on a reel before you try a braided line.

      As far as the split shot goes, I just slide my float caps over the swivel and put my float on the shot line if I need to fish shallower water of fewer than 3 feet deep. You can also just make your shot line shorter. My shot line is designed for 3 feet or deeper water because, to be honest with you, in water under 2.5 feet deep I switch to my advanced bottom bouncing method. That method would be better with your jigs.

      I have updated this page with more information on mainlines for float fishing. Float Fishing For Trout – An Expert Guides Best Tips

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