The Play Maker has become the model for one of my favorite winter steelhead flies in relatively low clear water conditions. It sinks readily and quickly and remains seductively swimmy. When the water is higher and off color, I generally fish larger unweighted or lightly weighted flies along the near-shore seems where steelhead can still feel comfortable, safe and not have to work terribly hard on their upstream migration. As the water drops and clears, these preferred zones begin to shrink and steelhead are more apt to seek deeper broken water with structure where they can remain undetected. In this water I’ll often fish a shorter faster sink tip but longer leader and weighted fly that drops quickly in the water column and the Play Maker has become my fly of choice. You can switch up the color as it suits you. The featured version is my favorite, but I’ll also go with a pink, white and orange color scheme, black and red and a black and fluorescent blue version. It’s pretty easy to tie, very durable and the materials are readily available. I’ll tie some with large bead chain eyes instead of lead as well for when you don’t need a fly to sink so quickly. Tie up a few and give them a shot the next time to venture out for steelhead.

Play Maker
Shank: 27mm Aqua Flies Return Loop Shank
Trailing Hook: #4 Aqua Talon Hook
Attachment: #50 Power Pro and Clear Ultra Tubing
Thread: 140 Denier Black Ultra Thread
Eyes: Small Red Painted Lead Eyes
Head: Fine Fl. Neon Red Chenille
Rear Body: Blue Flat Diamond Braid
Profile Bump: UV Purple Ice Dub
Hackle 1: Black Speyquill Marabou
Flash 1: Purple Krystal Flash
Hackle 2: Purple Barred Fuchsia MFC Marabou
Flash 2: Electric Blue Flashabou
Collar: Purple Collaring Schlappen

Confluence Beer Pairing:
I recently had dinner with a few friends and one of them turned me on to this one. I am generally not a huge fan of double IPA’s but Silver City’s Ride the Spiral is delicious and well worth a try if you like the hoppy bitterness of an IPA with the orange and pinneaple notes of a hazy. As Bremerton’s Silver City puts it, “Turn on, tune in and spiral out” while you tie your next Play Maker or simply enjoy one while the sagging bows of a 250-year-old Sitka Spruce drips on you around the campfire.

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