The Great Lakes have some amazing fisheries. In pretty much all of these lakes, you can expect to find steelhead and in some others Great Lakes browns. These trout get used to feeding on minnows, such as the emerald shiner, and when they enter the rivers, minnow patterns can take fish in high numbers when nothing else will and are really effective on the drift, but they can also be very effective at times when swung. The White Death steelhead fly is really effective fly for the steelhead of the Great Lakes but particularly of the Lake Erie tributaries. The pattern was designed by Jeff Blood, a seasoned Great Lakes steelhead fly fisherman.
This pattern isn’t exactly how Jeff Blood would tie it, so it is a modified version of the original White Death steelhead fly, only because I want to tie flies as fast as possible if I can make a shortcut or two in the tying process. The primary difference is the diamond braid which substitutes for mylar tubing. I prefer to use a wider-gape hook as well, so this version of the White Death steelhead fly is normally tied with an Owner Mosquito or Gamakatsu/Owner Octopus hooks. These hooks have proven themselves over and over, but tie the fly with whatever hooks you like for fish that will be over ten pounds.
The fly doesn’t sink as fast as something tied with a synthetic material or as fast as something tied with a monster bead or tons of lead. That is actually the beauty of the fly, since it stays up in the water column a tiny bit more, but also has more movement in the currents as it floats downstream. I’ve even had days where fish are really aggressively pounding the fly as it starts to move on the end of the drift. Both steelhead and browns love it, and drop back steelhead and browns really like this fly. Finally, a really good way to fish this fly is with a 6mm bead attached above it, particularly in places where only one hook is allowed. All in all, the White Death steelhead fly is must for Great Lakes steelhead and brown trout.
- Hook: Owner Mosquito #4
- Thread: Uni-thread 6/0 (black)
- Thread: Uni-thread 8/0 (fire orange)
- Body: Silver diamond braid/sparkle braid
- Wing: Rabbit strips (cut in half down the center lengthwise = 1/8″)
- Lacquer: Zap-a-gap (brushable)
Are these hooks offset? If so, presumably any short shanked offset hook would work.
Yes, these are slightly offset. I just like the Mosquito hook for tons of different species, so that’s why I use it for steelhead and browns with this fly. You can actually use a longer-shanked hook as well. There are lots of hooks that would work though. Hope that helps.