How To Pull Plugs For Steelhead Trout

How To Pull Plugs For Steelhead Trout

Steelhead trout, a popular and beautiful freshwater and saltwater fish. Although they were once native to North America and Canada, steelhead trout have been introduced into most western states. For this reason, their popularity has grown with their delicious taste and beautiful bright colors.

If you’re looking for a specific fish to catch, the steelhead would be your top option. They are a unique species; thus, they can be hard to identify. These trout are known fighters, making them a prevalent species for sport fishing. Because of their energetic and robust nature, they can wear you out after a day in the water.

Are you having trouble pulling plugs for steelhead trout?

So, how do you pull plugs for steelhead trout? There’s a lot of factors to consider. It would be best if you first started by preparing the right gear. Not to mention, you should know how to read the water where you’re fishing.

A good plug puller will put the plugs well upstream of the run and get in position. These must be at the proper distance from the boat. Additionally, these should work well when dropped into the run to fish. With the right angle and distance, especially with the rod holder, everything else will follow.

Pulling plugs is an art form, and some anglers are good at it. The only way to achieve a good level of plug pulling is through practice. So if you want to boost your skills as an angler, gear up and read further!

What is the technique when pulling plugs for steelhead trout?

Back-trolling is a unique steelhead fishing method that uses the boat to present wobbling plugs to fish holding in runs and shallow holes. This allows the guide to skillfully position the vessel and set up an assortment of plugs downstream of the boat.

The length of line you would release would depend on the type of plug you’re using and the depth of the water. Then, the oarsman would back the plugs down the river at a slow pace. Both boat control and the snail pace are the top important things to consider.

Essential Tips to Remember When Pulling Plugs for Steelhead Trout

Like most forms of fishing, the details play an integral part in catching a fish successfully. So, here are essential tips to remember when pulling plugs for steelhead trout.

  1. To control a boat for back-trolling, use oars to slow down the boat’s drift manually. This would also allow the current to bring wobbling plugs to life. For boats equipped with an electric anchor, you can use this as a substitute for an oar.
  2. You may use a bobber stop knot to mark or braid monofilament to let you know how far the line is.
  3. Make sure to use the same style and size of plugs when fishing multiple lures.
  4. For successful plug fishing, the hooks of your plugs should be razor-sharp.
  5. The rod-holders should be set up at about a thirty-degree angle from the water and only slightly offset.
  6. Don’t overload your rod or have it bent too much. This would result in the plug being stiff, and when the fish bites it, it will let go before grabbing the hooks.
  7. When making a “wall of plugs,” be sure to put them at the proper distance apart.
  8. Knowing where the steelhead you will be holding is key to successful plug pulling. Hidden boulders, root wads, and the substrate are their specific places.
  9. When a fish strikes the plug, do not grab the rod and yank back. Instead, watch it for a few seconds, then reel a few cranks as this assures the hook gets buried.
  10. Presentation is critical when using bait.

What rod, reel, and line should I use when pulling plugs for steelhead trout?

Equipping the right gear is the foundation of plug fishing. Thus, a powerful casting rod and a sensitive tip are necessary. The reels should also be able to handle a line but still, keep the rod’s balance. With various factors to count, here are some great recommendations for your gear.

Fishing Rods

  1. G. Loomis E6X Steelhead Hotshot Salmon|Steelhead Fishing Rod
  • Has a sensitive tip, which helps the plugs swim properly
  • Has a substantial butt section, which gives the rod the power to set the hook
  • Capable of captivating steelhead even in heavy current
  1. Lamiglas Certified Kwik Pro Series in the XCC 801 or 802
  • Has a soft glass in the tip
  • Let the fish grip the bait before feeling the rod

Line Choices

  1. Sufix Siege 330-Yards Spool Size Fishing Line
  • Possess abrasion resistance and provides durability
  •  High viz so you can see the line
  1. PowerPro Super 8 Slick
  • Provides no stretch, which is vital in plug fishing

Reel Choices

  1. Shimano Tekota A 300-400 Low Profile Reels
  •   Counter reel lets you measure how far back your plugs are from the boat

What type of plugs should I use when pulling plugs for steelhead trout?

Everyone’s got their favorite plugs. When it comes to picking the specifics, it’s not easy. Since there are so many in the market, here are some suggestions you might consider:

Also known as “the in-line spinner,” a spinner is considered the best lure for steelheads in rivers. They can move fast and cover water quickly, making it a great type of lure.

These Deep Lip Plugs dive deep even when the plug is small:

If you want a more traditional banana-style plug, these are your best bets. They are also the best-suited plugs for bait wraps or scent pads:

Rocker Style plugs are small, allowing medium diving depth:

Water ConditionsPlug SizePlug Colors
ClearwaterSmallCopper, Black, Natural colors like Crawfish
Steelhead Green WaterMediumCopper, Gold and other metallic colors, White
Murky WaterLargeMetallic Blue or Green, Gold White
Deep WaterLargeUV colors

It will help if you try out the plugs you have chosen to know what’s best suited for you. By bringing your array of plugs to your fishing spree, you will notice which ones produce and which ones don’t. And since water conditions dictate what plugs to use, take note of which season to use them. Here is a table to summarize your choices.

Keep in mind that a plug is designed to wiggle, skip a beat, dart side to side. Tuning and tweaking them a little can make all the difference. Lastly, see that the hooks of your plugs are razor sharp.

What scents should I use when pulling plugs for steelhead trout?

One of the crucial parts of fishing, especially plug fishing, is the scents. They can smell the plug before they can detect it. Also, it covers human scent.

One way to add scent is to put on a bait wrap. This is usually done with banana-style plugs. Here are some following baits to lure steelheads on your plug.

  1. Eggs: They are an all-time best bait for steelhead. It would be better if you carry various egg colors to know which ones will work.
  2. Shiners/Minnows: Best for catching fish when they’re bounced downstream on a single hook.
  3. Nightcrawlers: You use these baits best after a storm or when the water levels start.
  4. Prawn/Shrimp: This is the best steelhead bait when water temperatures are 45 degrees below. You can soak them in different colored saltwater if you want to dye them.
  5. Pinworms: These artificial baits won’t die on you. They are cheap and easy to use.

If a natural bait for a wrap is unavailable, you can use a commercial scent. Here are some familiar scents for a steelhead:

  1. Pro-Cure Shrimp Super Gel
  2. Mike’sMike’s Fishing Bait/Lure Lunker Lotion
  3. Mike’sMike’s UV Lunker Fishing Bait Gel Scent
  4. Smelly Jelly Pro Guide – 4 oz.

Final Thoughts

If you want to include back-trolling as one of the methods you want to master, equip your patience. Because just like any other fishing method, it takes a lot of patience to learn. Just prepare the right gear, remember to read the water, and know the facts.

Once you have picked a perfect spot to fish, you’re good to go. Just see that the plugs you have chosen to bring are suitable for the weather and water.

Whether you’re a pro or a new angler, steelhead fishing is a must on your list. You get to enjoy the natural scenery and the thrill of it. While there are different ways to fish steelhead, plug pulling them is one of the relaxing ways to do it. As long as you have the conventional education and preparation, you’ll have trouts on your boat in no time.

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