A few weeks ago, we posted a video on The Blitz documenting a spring steelhead trip to the famous Salmon River in upstate New York. Now, with the long awaited season finally upon us, thousands of anglers from all over the country are making the pilgrimage to Pulaski and Altmar with the hopes of landing a trophy Lake Ontario rainbow trout. If you're preparing for the trip, we’ve broken down a list of the fly gear you’ll need before you embark.
Reel: Limitless 425
Your fly reel is the most important piece of gear when battling Great Lakes rainbows in early April. The often-frigid weather conditions that accompany the spring run means it’s important to have a drag system that can handle the elements. The Cheeky Limitless 425 boasts an impenetrable GDS drag system, meaning you’ll be able to dunk away without the slightest worry of your drag freezing up. Plus, it's massive 4.25" arbor gives you a retrieval rate of over 13" of line per revolution, allowing you to make quick work of even the meanest trout.
The Limitless 425 retails for $425 and comes with a lifetime warranty. To learn more about the Limitless 425, or to pick up your own, click here.
Rod: 7-8 weight
Rods in the 7-8 weight range are a must on the Salmon River. Anytime you step on the river in the spring you have a chance of hooking a 20+lb trout, and fish in the 10-15lbs are a farily common occurrence. As a result, your rod will need to have the backbone to handle large and hard pulling steelhead. A 7 or 8 weight rod has the strength needed to tame a steelhead, but still has the sensitivity to allow you to feel the slightest bump or nudge as you drift along the bottom.
Line: WF Floating
Chances are, a weight-forward floating line will be all that you’ll need on the Salmon River. In the rare event that need a sinking line, a sink-tip is the best for the job.
Leader & Tippet: 9ft, 1-3X
One of the most important pieces of advice? Don't skimp your tippet. These fish are not tippet shy and will break you off if you use anything above 4X. Use a 9ft leader with 1-3X tippet and you’ll be able to play them with confidence.
Flies: Nymphs & Eggs
Drifting nymphs and egg patterns along the bottom will provide your best chance for a hookup. Start with pattens in pink, peach or orange colors and adjust accordingly. If all else fails, occasionally a large black streamer will do the trick, so it's always a good idea to save room in your fly box for a few of those.
Wingo Wading Belt
In early April, water on the Salmon River is typically in the high 30's Fahrenheit, and the temperature outside the water is often not much warmer. A wading belt is an absolute must for any angler stepping foot in the icy river. Wingo Wading Belts are a smart and stylish addition to any pair of waders, plus you can even get them in Rainbow Trout patterns.
Wingo Wading Belts retail for $30. Check out all the fish-themed patterns here.