Gabe Hillebrand hoists a nice one from the Pere Marquette for guide Steve Martinez, then displays the means by which the big trout was fooled:
I believe — and Gabe will correct me if I'm wrong — the 1/4-ounce jig fixed to this buck's jaw is a Scoby. You can see for yourself on Gabe's website for Hill Brand Tackle, but at least one of the ideas behind this jig was to mimic the bulk, length, and style of large streamers presented with fly tackle. Note the variety of materials and colors. Primarily black, this jig flashes a bit of red (blood!), and green (Christmas! No — a metallic green, perhaps suggesting the flash of an alewife or smelt, that might spark a predatory memory from recent days spent foraging in bigger water.)
And this mint-bright hen is brought to you by a white version of the Swamp Donkey. Not to mention our friend and the owner of Indigo Guide Service, Kevin Morlock. Kevin was casting upstream and sweeping the jig under the end of a fallen tree — a likely hangout for a steelhead in low, clear water under sunny skies. Fly casting upstream and sweeping a fly line under a submerged tree? And feeling the take? Lefty could do it. Maybe.
Both anglers were using 15-pound fluorocarbon leaders tied to 10- or 20-pound braided line, pitching with 7-foot, medium to medium-heavy power rods.
What an awesome day, considering the less-than-idyllic conditions. When it's nice out for people, it's generally bad for steelhead fishing. Making the success of Gabe's jigs all the more amazing.
The full "steel on hair" story can't be divulged here — the pages of In-Fisherman Magazine being a better venue for the illustration and detailed accounting required. This space explores things experienced or learned during actual days on the water, the announcement of inventions (like Gabe's hair jigs), places to go, or the spread of new tactics. Or relatively new tactics, like the one detailed in the next post.