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The Essential Gear for Landing Steelhead Trout & How to Start Steelhead Fishing

The Essential Gear for Landing Steelhead Trout & How to Start Steelhead Fishing
June 2, 2021

Steelhead trout fishing is a whole new ballgame for those that are used to bass fishing, rainbow trout fishing, or salmon fishing. The gear required and the lure presentations can be pretty different so it’s important to learn the different techniques required for landing a nice steelhead. Cody Allison, tournament angler and big fish lander, came to Gearbox Talk to share the variations in approach for trout, steelhead and salmon, his rod and reel setups for trout vs. steelheads, whether you need a GPS for your kayak, and a few other questions you’ll just have to stick around to hear the answers to.

Gold Kastmaster 1/4oz

Berkley Powerbait Trout Bait 

Blue fox spinners size #4 

Fishing Beads

Inline weights

Eagle Claw 7ft Med Action Rod

Eagle Claw 9'6" Med Action Rod

Lamiglas Rod 9ft 10-20#

Simms G3

Corkers Wading Boots

Plano Tackle Boxes - jig box

Rooster Tail

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Show Notes: Eeland Stribling Gearbox Talk


Brad: last week we had a wildlife biologist talking about fly fishing today we're sticking close to the trout talk but we're gonna take a different approach Cody Allison has been fishing his entire life he is a tournament angler in oregon fly fishing literally runs in this guy's blood I mean seriously when his mom was pregnant with him she was going fishing and then she realized she was having contractions and had to go to the hospital to give birth to her new son you're kind of destined to be a lifelong angler with that kind of birth into this world now if you follow Cody on GoWild or even if you follow trout fishing on GoWild you've seen this guy's catches Cody is always posting monsters and the natural question I see a lot of is like how do you do that dude well today we're gonna answer that because today Cody's sitting down with us to tell us all about his pursuit of these fish we're talking about Cody's variation in his approach for chasing trout steelhead and salmon his rod and reel set up for trout versus steelheads gps do you really need one for your kayak and we have a whole host of other questions we're gonna go through and talk to Cody about stick around to hear those answers now remember all the gear mentioned is in the show notes whether it's the podcast or youtube so if you hear a piece of gear that you just gotta have it's in the description of the show if you buy it through those links not only does it support us it supports raise em outdoors it's a non-profit that we donate a portion of our proceeds to by literally buying through those links you help us get a donation into a camp that teaches kids to fish what's better than that all right let's tighten up this line this is gearbox talk with Cody Allison

Cody Allison my team when talking about who we wanted to have on for this fishing episode your name came up multiple times because people see all these monsters you're logging on go wild and I'm excited to get you on here to talk about a little bit of how you do it we can't reveal all the secrets but we're going to talk about a little bit of it today welcome to gearbox talk man 

Cody: thanks for having me brad appreciate it 

Brad: I'm excited about it all right so you you fish for trout steelhead salmon and and I'm sure a host of other species we're going to mostly hit on those today but you know it's one thing that's really confusing for people that are new is the overlap in the the trout and the steelhead species and then talking about you know adding in salmon into that there's different behaviors can you just real simply walk us through the differences between these fish that people hear so much about first 

Cody: yeah so first going into you know trout and steelhead so a steelhead essentially is a rainbow trout but they go out to the ocean they migrate out to the ocean and they're out there for you know up to three years before they come back into the river and spawn so that's the main difference between your rainbow trout and your steelhead so a steelhead you know their environment and food source is a lot different than a resident rainbow trout in the rivers so that's why you see that size difference 

Brad: in the rivers so obviously their their diet's going to be different when they're out when they come back are they eating differently too like are they there's a change fish like once they come I don't know as much about them so forgive my my ignorance in in my question here but like when they come back to the rivers are they pretty similar in behavior is it really the difference that they go out and and come back or do they behave differently in the stream too 

Cody: they'll behave a little differently in the stream because they're focusing on spawning so they might not be you know in a high feed mode but they still will you know feed in the rivers so and I've caught you know rainbow trout in the river the same way as steelhead 

Brad: okay all right let's talk a little bit about the lures you're chasing these fish with and and if people are on GoWild they got to check out your your trophy collection here because I feel like at least once a week we're like oh my god look at this monster that Cody caught but what lures are you using to for let's start with just the trout and I imagine it's going to have some variants but what are some of your go-to's for trout 

Cody: so trout it really depends on you know if I'm fishing you know an alpine lake if I'm fishing over maybe in central or eastern oregon in a lake or river or if I'm fishing a coastal tributary in oregon you know for trout so starting off I typically my go-to lure for trout is a cast master gold cast master and for brook trout up in the alpine lakes or you know fish and stock ponds in the valley so that's where I usually primarily see might go to is a gold cast master quarter ounce fishing for trout in rivers I typically you know I'll be drift fishing maybe you know your standard night crawler or maybe some power bait but usually yeah that's that's about it gold gold cast master that's kind of my go-to for trout fishing with that 

Brad: how are you changing that strategy for for steellheads per se like I mean you said that they they have some similar behavior but how's that shift when you're when you're targeting steelhead 

Cody: so steelhead you know lure sizes bigger and I'll kind of cater my presentations more towards steelhead they tend to hit bigger presentations than you know a little cast master or you're running a night crawler through through the water for steelhead I typically like to use a jig so see if I can get a good photo so something like this a jig there I like to use blue fox spinners for steelhead size number four typically so this is just it's a blue fox spinner there a number four depending on the water height and clarity I might change the size of this to a number three up to a number five but primarily a number four blue fox spinner is what I use and then also too for steelhead I like to use beads when I'm fishing and here's some examples of beads some of the colors I like to use so they're kind of resembling you know an egg washing down the riverbed 

Brad: anything else you want to throw out for lures because I kind of have a question on your your rod and reel setup too 

Cody: yeah I got a little bit for more on lures kind of yeah 

Brad: don't let me move on if you're still going 

Cody: so with steelhead I kind of have a little to so with steelhead fishing this is kind of my typical bobber and bead setup I don't know if the camera is getting that yeah I can see it so you got your bobber here typically you know bobber size is going to vary depending on you know water flow water height you know what kind of water you're fishing you know low flow low clear conditions you might want to be fishing a smaller bobber you know you're fishing higher water that flows faster you're going to want to be fishing a a bigger bobber just to make sure your presentation's getting down there into the strike zone but got your bobber stop here so you can change the depth that you want to fish at you then got your bobber here that slides up and down your line to your desired depth I like to run inline weights here and then to your leader that has your presentation on it that the fish is going to grab awesome so that's just one variation this same variation two you can tie a jig that I showed you to the end of that and fish a jig as well 

Brad: what's going through your mind when you're looking at these combos and again I'm i'm a relatively terrible angler so forgive me but but a lot of our show are people that are trying to figure this out so you know you're running I mean as it for a newbie it might feel like a complex setup how are you evaluating and making decisions on this or is it more trial and error 

Cody: you know just over the years fishing different rivers I found different things work better a lot of the coastal rivers I will run you know the bobber and beach setup I showed you and then maybe some rivers that are more inland kind of in the valley that are having steelhead I'll be running the bobber the bobber and jig setup but you know it really just depends there's some coastal rivers here in oregon that I will fish a bobber and jig and there's some that I'll fish a bobber and bead setup so I found also too the smaller tributaries on the coast is more of a bobber bobber and bead fishery and then the bigger bodies of water I'm usually using vibram jigs 

Brad: okay okay cool thanks for explaining a little bit of that so you know with these species we're talking about you have a you know sometimes a 10 inch rainbow but you also can get a 30 inch steelhead that's obviously a very different rod and reel set up on on how you're retrieving these fish I'm kind of curious on what your setup is for each of those combinations because I know you go after both 

Cody: yeah yeah absolutely so I'll grab one of my yeah kind of my one and only go-to trout rod I like to use for you know pretty much anything so this is just an eagle claw it's a I can't get the full length yeah yeah but it's a seven foot medium action rod it has enough backbone you know to fight a you know a three pound trout but also you know it gives you that enough whip I guess you could say in the cast so you can get your presentation out there far enough going into trout fishing like fishing for alpine lakes I really like a rod like that because a lot of a lot of the time those fish are pretty far off the shore so being able to get your cast out there far enough you know to get your presentation into the strike zone that's why going back to to the castmaster lure you can really cast those a long ways that's why I like using those as well you know fishing lakes alpine lakes up in the mountains if I'm doing a backpacking trip whatever it may be so you know being able to get your presentation out there far enough but also having enough backbone in that rod as well 

Brad: are you talking about my bat you're talking about backpacking I'm i'm curious does that approach on the rod and reel set up does it change if you have the option of a kayak if it's not something you're having to backpack to and you can drop in with the kayak or for trout are you kind of changing that up or do you are you still going out like what's your approach there 

Cody: with the rod and reel 

Brad: yeah 

Cody: so I'll use that rod and reel in the you know in the kayak I've trolled with that rod I've taken it backpacking I've fished you know the shore from the shore and the river with it or you know fishing the shore you know in the lake so it's a pretty versatile universe yeah it's a universal rod keeping it simple it's versatile I'm able to use it for you know if I'm just doing power bait you know floating it off the bottom fishing with power bait or if I'm doing a cast and retrieving or I can even troll with that rod I've trolled in some lakes with it as well very cool 

Brad: so so you know sizing up to a steel head what's your what's your go-to 

Cody: so sizing up with a steelhead that really varies on the river I'm fishing if I'm fishing a smaller river I'm going to want us a little shorter rod usually between a nine foot to you know like a nine foot six rod if I'm fishing a bigger piece of water you know I might run my rod up to ten 6 10 foot 6 rod to 11 foot rod just because I'm with a longer longer rod I'm able to make more accurate casts as well and you know if you're fishing a bigger river and you know you have more leverage a hook set a longer rod as well and you're able to keep you know more pressure on this so if you're fishing a big body of water and that fish is you know 30 yards out and your bobber goes down you're able to have that with a longer rod what 

Brad: what brand of rod are you using for for the steelhead 

Cody: I'll grab one of them most of my rods that I use for steelhead are laminate glass rods this one here is a nine foot ten to twenty pound quarter to one ounce rod I use this for spinner fishing so if I'm using like a blue fox spinner and then I also have this rod here I use for float fishing it's a another lambo glass rod it's a 10 foot six rod specifically made for float fishing so it's a little longer rod this is something i'd want to use you know in a bigger body of water I tried I went actually went steelhead fishing yesterday on a small river and was using this rod and was wishing I would have grabbed one of my shorter rods because it was a little too long for the river I was fishing so yeah it just really depends on the the water how big the river is yeah 

Brad: a lot of variables for you to consider in all this 

Cody: yeah there is there is a lot with fish and you can really get into 

Brad: when you're chasing the steelhead in particular since we're kind of talking about that what what's like one piece of gear that is your absolute must bring with if I got on my tackle that's all dialed in then probably you know waiters that don't leak is important 

Brad: I was going to ask you about that so let's talk about like what what waiters and boots are you using so for 

Cody: waiters I use the sims g3s and then for my waiting boots I use corkers okay for my waiting okay and yeah that's you know especially still at fishing in the winter time when it's cold you know it's mid to upper 30s pouring rain or if a cold front is coming in and you're getting a snow storm you know not having waiters that you know or leaking on you right make for a pretty miserable day 

Brad: yeah yeah yeah yeah for sure for sure it could be dangerous too if you get get you know nothing worse than a boot full of cold water and moving water too so yeah I know so so you're you're big into kayak fishing and I know you use electronics but you're also not not necessarily relying on it can you talk a little bit about what you do use and your philosophy when it comes to electronics on your boat 

Cody: so with kayak fishing or you know doing kayak bass fishing tournaments I have a fish finder on there but I primarily use that just for water temp most of the time I'm you know kind of reading the water I'm fishing with my eyes and you know picking up points and structures you know visually but of course you know if you're fishing somewhere where there's not a lot of structure you can see you know electronics are gonna come in handy you'll be able to pinpoint you know structure under you know beneath the water you can't see with your eye but I primarily like using you know my own eyes rather than electronics when I'm fishing so 

Brad: what's the what's the fish finder you're using for to find the temp 

Cody: you know I'm not sure on that one I would have to i'd have to look on my kayak 

Brad: no worries man I was just curious yeah no worries all right man last question for you here you obviously have a lot of gear and you you have a lot of different ways that you're moving around sometimes you're backpacking sometimes you're canoeing sometimes I imagine you're just kind of driving up with your waders but through all this you know you need storage and then portability with your gear what's your setup on on traveling with your gear your tackle storage for for the rivers when you're out there chasing trout and steelhead 

Cody: any backpacks gonna do you know just to hold your gear making sure you have everything you know hooks pliers line whatever it may be and then just I have a lot of different you know I have dozens of these yeah just plano tackle boxes you know having my gear so you know if I'm on the river you know if I you know say false nook season or coho are running in the river and I want to go you know do some twitching for those fish I'll grab my jig twitching box so you know I'll throw that one in the tackle box or in my tackle bag or if I want to you know go do some jig fishing bobber and beef fishing whatever it may be you know I'll just throw that into my my bag for the day and make sure I have everything so you know keeping it simple making sure you got hooks you know extra bobbers whatever whatever how you're going to be fishing yeah you know less focus on the tackle box gear and more focus on just being organized and make sure you have have what you need

cool man well this was fun I now next time I see anybody asking about the fish you catch up I'm just gonna drop a link to this show and be like hey man right here you can check it out I appreciate you coming on to talk a little bit about your gear anything that you wanted to call out that I didn't ask you about 

Cody: no I think you know a big thing too when fishing the rivers for trout or steelhead is you know being able to read the water you know when you come down to a hole being able to look at the water and really break it down looking for you know seams feeding lanes pockets or eddies where those fish are going to be holding up as they you know make their way up the river to their spawning bed or whatever it may be so reading water is important 

Brad: absolutely absolutely any I'm kind of curious on you know you fish a lot of bass and and try you like multi-species you're kind of bouncing around for the the bass guys that are going after you know maybe just learning the trout and steelhead that we've been talking about any is there anything that they can pull over and like cross applies really well or or likewise is there anything that's just so different that they need to forget 

Cody: so think like a lure or something that cross applies 

Brad: yeah well even tactically I'm just kind of curious if there's things that you just throw out the window when you switch species 

Cody: so rooster tails I use you know for trout but I'll also catch bass on these as well so that's something that kind of crosses over but for the most part you know there's a lot of different variables so I kind of throw out all the bass fishing gear if I'm going you know crowd or steelhead fishing and vice versa if I'm bass fishing now kind of haunting taking out the the trout and stealing gear out of my bag well 

Brad: I know you do a ton of bass fishing on your boat for these tournaments so maybe we'll have to have you back in to come and talk about it before the spring kind of give give a rundown on how you're doing so well in those but I think for today man this is a good entry level review or overview of of how you're chasing and catching some of these trout and steelhead I appreciate it 

Cody: yeah you bet brad thanks for having me on I appreciate it 

Brad: yep take care all right yep

thank you Cody Cody has become a buddy I've really enjoyed seeing his story evolve on GoWild make sure you follow him on go wild if you don't know what go out is well lucky you today's the day download go wild.com you can join this awesome community of anglers hunters hikers anything you're into you can find other people like you Cody's on there I'm on there all the gear that Cody talked about is in the show notes if you just open that up on the youtube or the podcast you can see that in the show description you can see those links and help us support GoWild and support gearbox talk but also support raie em

outdoors it's a non-profit in which we donated a portion of our proceeds too all right if you dig these shows please subscribe that's another great decision for your day i'd really appreciate it you'll get to see other content you'll you'll no longer miss content like you may have last week with eeland stribling who was the wildlife biologist who came in and told us all about pursuing trout and how he does it how being a wildlife biologist maybe gives him an advantage don't miss shows like that all right that is it for me today I've had a long weekend I went whitewater rafting in the blue ridge mountains and just wrapped up a nice taco dinner I'm ready to kick butt this week but I think this monologue's over I'm out

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