7 vs 8 wt for PDX area winter steelhead?

Grandpa Jim

Smolt
Forum Supporter
I agree that a 13' 7 wt. will work well for OP winter steelhead. I have an Echo 3 that I have used out there since 2015. I fish unweighted flies with 4' of leader and usually a 10' T-11 MOW tip.
After swinging a 13' rod all day I found that my forearm got tired in the afternoon. I'm now using a 12' 8 wt. (Echo Short Spey) and find that it feels much lighter in my hand and I can fish hard all day. I use a 20' 500 gr. Skagit head on the 8 wt. compared to a 24' 500 gr. Skagit head on the longer 7 wt. I can cast a little farther with the 7 wt. but since most of my hooked fish have been under 65' away I don't need to chuck out a lot of line.
A shorter rod is easier to land a fish with when you are fishing alone. I also plan to use the 8 wt. to swing for fall kings.
 

Thomas Mitchell

corvus ossifragus
Forum Supporter
I’m in the short 8wt camp.

My go to rod is the Method 8119. I originally got it for chinook but it works well with my casting style and I can do and it throws any line I want to fish.

Have had a bunch of 12-13’ 7wts, currently an Ignite but always grab the Method. It’s landed 20lb+ chinook to small steelhead and everything in between.
 

SurfnFish

Life of the Party
have tagged late run Kings while swinging for steelies on my fave OR coastal river a handful of times...same river regularly puts out double digit wild steel, so an 8 wt 11'6 switch with integrated sink tip and articulated Leech my go to. Easy to manage, lotta butt power.
My friend Rich Youngers with steel from that river.
1668789148382.png
 

clarkman

average member
Forum Supporter
have tagged late run Kings while swinging for steelies on my fave OR coastal river a handful of times...same river regularly puts out double digit wild steel, so an 8 wt 11'6 switch with integrated sink tip and articulated Leech my go to. Easy to manage, lotta butt power.
My friend Rich Youngers with steel from that river.
View attachment 41642
Off topic, but I hope Rich is doing well. A solid all around human.
 

DoesItFloat

Steelhead
Forum Supporter
I'm in the short, heavier winter rod camp. Fishing PDX and the coast with a 13+ presents more challenges than advantages. I prefer a winter 8 wt under 12' to throw big flies in high water tight to the bank on a sunk line, and I'm not interested in overcasting the fish. 50'-80' is the winter zone. A lot of Oregon coastal rivers won't even give you that. The same rig works in the spring when the bright kings show and the big, wild steelhead that can hang with them are around.
 

SSPey

loco alto!
Forum Supporter
MOAL flies (anything big with bunny) are sticky and best thrown with a rod that handles a ~ 540/550 skagit.
 

SurfnFish

Life of the Party
Off topic, but I hope Rich is doing well. A solid all around human.
X2 on the fine human...upon retirement packed up and moved with Cathy to lakeside living in the midwest. Per his Instagram page, still tying those gorgeous flies which have been showcased within John Shewey's book 'Spey Flies, Their History and Construction.'
 

DerekWhipple

Steelhead
MOAL flies (anything big with bunny) are sticky and best thrown with a rod that handles a ~ 540/550 skagit.
Yeah, they are not the most fun to cast, but I can't seem to quit them. Otherwise I throw a Hoh Bo. I've also been messing with temple-dog/phatakorva style patterns, hoping I can get that length with less weight, I'm just having a hard time getting the tapering right.
 

skyrise

Smolt
I fish two rods here. Have echo 7129 seven weight 13 foot which I struggle with every fall after fishing lighter rods all summer. And a echo 71010 seven weight 10 foot 10” rod which took some time to get dialed in but love it now but did struggle a bit landing a fresh chum a couple of weeks ago. The 71010 is nice for close quarters areas and using a commando head. Have to say the easiest rod to fish is my trout spey/switch echo 4 weight. Have landed fish up to 8-9 lbs with it no problem just won’t toss those heavier bugs like big intruders. Thinking of going to a 6 weight switch for casting ease.
 

gpt

Smolt
SAGE RPL 896 go to for steelhead, winter, summer, made no difference. winter fishing is always on the stones so a flat running line with a variety of heads, weight and length, to match the flows. no giant flies necessary for me, #4s are big enough to do the job in my estimation.

my first steelhead was a 'B' run headed for the N fork Clearwater, no longer available thanks to Dworshak dam. she was just under 27#s. have not seen one close to that size since.
 
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