There are 4 steelhead Jig setups that I use when guiding and fishing for steelhead in rivers and these jig setups will work on great lakes steelhead and on west coast steelhead. Jigs are an often overlooked bait, but jigs can be very effective in many situations and with different methods used by steelhead anglers.
I use a different jig setup when I am fishing under a float with steelhead jigs than I do when using other setups like when I’m casting and twitching jigs along the bottom, or Drift Fishing, or when Bottom Bouncing jigs.
Float Fishing Steelhead Jig Setup
I float fish jigs under a float the same way that I float fish with a spawn sac or with a worm under a float.
I even follow all the same fundamentals for getting a great presentation and it is often my most effective method.
This is the method that I use the most when I am guiding, you just need to make sure you are using lightweight jigs that are meant for being under a float.
To see my favorite steelhead jigs for under a float or to see my favorite steelhead jigs for casting, also when and why I use them, check out my page Steelhead Jigs: The 11 Best Steelhead Jigs And How To Fish Them.
The key with this setup is getting a great presentation, which if you are not good at doing this you should check out my page Float Fishing For Steelhead – A River Guides Advice, or if you use Centerpin reels check my Centerpin Fishing page.
The Float Fishing Drop Shot Steelhead Jig Setup
The float fishing drop shot steelhead jig setup is similar to what the bass and walleye guys call drop-shotting. Yes, drop-shotting under a float or without a float can be a great method for steelhead in rivers.
With this method, I’m actually dragging a set of weights, usually split shots along the bottom. I use the same lightweight steelhead jigs that I use in the above float fishing setup.
As the weight bounce along the bottom, the jigs will bounce along in the current at the steelhead’s eye level and above the steelhead if you use the optional upper dropper jig.
I have also used a small fly like a Stonefly, or Michigan Wiggler fly on the upper dropper. You can see my favorite flies for steelhead on my page 5 Best Flies For Steelhead – An Expert Guides Advice.
I have also used a plastic worm in the upper dropper position with great success. You can see my favorite worms for trout and steelhead on my page Fishing With Worms For Trout and Steelhead: 10 Guide Tips.
One of the reasons I like this steelhead jig setup so much on some rivers is because I don’t lose any jigs, especially if the bottom is full of logs and sticks. The split shots might snag up and I might lose a bunch of split shots but split shots are easier and cheaper to replace than steelhead jigs.
I can also make the bottom tag as long as I want and there are times when I will make it 24 inches long to avoid the logs on the bottom.
Bottom Bouncing Steelhead Jig Setup
There are times when I’m fishing fast and shallow runs or I need to fish pocket water, and the best method for fishing this type of water is called bottom bouncing. You can also bottom bounce with jigs.
If you are not sure what bottom bouncing is I suggest you check out my page Bottom Bouncing – 5 Proven Guide Tips For More Fish.
For this method, I use a dead drift using the same steelhead jigs that I would use under my float because they are lightweight and provide a lot of action.
I fish the jigs the same way that I would fish a spawn sac or a worm and fly combo.
Standard Bounce and Twitch Steelhead Jig Setup
I use this steelhead jig setup when I am casting jigs in all types of river conditions.
With this steelhead jig setup, I can cast the jig across the pool and lift and drop the rod tip causing a bouncing of the jig.
I can also use small twitch and lift motions to make it look like a creature crawling across the river bottom.
If you are using mono as you line off the reel I recommend using a small swivel with a 14 to 24 inch fluorocarbon leader to prevent the fish from seeing the line but it’s also good for preventing abrasions in the leader and break-offs.
The Attractor Jig Setup
This is the most unique Steelhead jig setup and one most anglers would have never seen. I use this in bigger deeper water with medium currents.
This setup incorporates a heavy steelhead jig and what is known as a Spin-N-Glo and it can be deadly in some situations.
The way this works is I cast it out and bounce or twitch the jig across the bottom of the river. I use a heavy jig that almost anchors to the bottom and as this is all going on the Spin N Glow which can be 24 to 48 inches up the line will hang downriver of my line and spin and dangle in the current attracting even more steelhead.
The steelhead can grab the Spin N Glow or the jig at any time.
Steelhead Jig Setup Questions
If you have a question, tip, or an idea about the steelhead jig setup that you would like to share, leave it in the comments section below.