My number one desire is to swing flies with a two hand rod. Because I know that my options are limited during the beginning of this period, I make sure that I am well prepared for my day on the water. I will have time enough during March and early April to use a longer two hand rod for the pure swing. Water temperatures will raise and the fish will get far more aggressive to chase a fly. During the end of February right until the spawn I use a two hand rod that can be converted by a change of tips and leader to swing or nymph. I refer to this as my Swimph Rod. The soft tip is the key to handling Steelhead with light tippets.
This is the transitional time where a number of things are happening rapidly. You are going to need to make choices between how you will spend your time as well as where. This is the time when the biggest fish of the season will be on the move, fresh from the lake and swimming with the direct purpose of nature. This is the greatest opportunity for a trophy on the swing in the lower part of the river. This is also the easiest way to go home for the day without a fish. There is always the option to stay in the middle and upper river to nymph to the largest quantity of fish that the resource will receive for the year.
The spawn can continue depending on water temperature. This is a time for me to swing with any number of fly styles. There are a lot of hungry fish available in a warming flow. I am prepared to go really big with stinger leaches, intruders and tubes. West Coast Syd Glasso style flies as well as smaller soft hackle and collar creations will all take fish. The lower part of the river will get my attention as the fish are starting to make their way past me to the lake to spend the summer.
This is the time to go as much as you can. There is no other fishery on the East Coast that compares with the possible quality fish you could hook. Don't let the talk of crowds and unruly people stop you from experiencing this fishing. Pay attention to the weather, the river flow and making sure you are fully prepared to be out all day. The reality of Steelhead fishing in New York is that the angling civility is increasing with the quality of the fishing.
Nymph when you must. Swing when you can.............