In the heart of winter, when rivers flow full, discolored and often only a few degrees above freezing it's asking an awful lot for a lethargic winter steelhead to move even an inch or two out of its way to grab a fly. Many times they don't or won't and another day passes on the river wondering if the fish were in, if you picked the right water, swung your fly slowly enough or if they simply weren't interested today. Sometimes in these conditions you need a little something extra, something so unignorably adorned in glam and glitter that the fish just can't help themselves. This is where the Prom Dress shines when it comes to winter steelhead.
The Prom Dress was created by veteran southern Oregon guide Scott Howell to address all of the aforementioned conditions we so often encounter on our winter steelhead rivers. It embraces many of the trademarks of modern classic steelhead patterns giving the illusion of bulk without actually using a whole ton of materials. The relative sparseness not only allows it to be incredibly castable but also helps it to sink quickly. With the wide variety of flashabou products available, you can tie these in just about any color scheme imaginable. I'll often use multiple flashabou colors on the same pattern. I prefer to tie on shanks when using weighted eyes as in the video, but you can readily adapt the Prom Dress to a tube and I often do, substituting a cone or large bead to add some weight.
Given the regularity of lousy weather in the Pacific Northwest this time of year, take a break from the elements and find some time to whip up a few Prom Dresses in your preferred steelhead colors. While there are certainly no absolutes in swinging flies for steelhead and if you venture out frequently, you're no stranger to challenging days, consider waving a sequined, glitzy, blinged out Prom Dress in your favorite run once in a while and see if you don't just find yourself a date to the Prom.
Confluence Beer Pairing: This month's beer is Gruff Brewing's Trash Bird American IPA. Why? First and foremost, it's a wonderfully fruity, highly drinkable beer from another great local Bellingham brewery. Secondly, it reminds me of the bald eagles that are a near constant companion on our North Sound rivers in the winter. I do love these native raptors and they are nothing short of majestic when perched atop the stark cottonwoods and alders that line the river. In the same breath they're often referred to as dumpster chickens for their uncanny ability to pick over the scraps of whatever's left around to rot. Still, they're pretty awesome birds and Trash Bird is an equally awesome brew.