It may not quite be fall yet, but you can feel it in the air. The mornings have been cool and crisp. The shadows are lingering longer in the morning and creeping across the water earlier each afternoon. Cooler weather has done a lot to chill the water and heat up the bite over the last couple weeks, and things should only improve as we move deeper into September and October.
I have been taking fish on a number of different fly patterns over the past weeks. In the shaded hours of morning and evening, the summer steelhead have been responding well to traditional wet fly patterns swung on a floating line. Silver Hiltons, Skunks, and sparkly purple flies have been producing well for me under these conditions. When the sun gets on the water, I typically switch to some sort of sink tip and leech combination, but in my experience, it is not important to fish really dense lines or heavy flies this time of year. In water 2 to 6 feet deep, I typically swing a relatively sparse, unweighted leech pattern on a type 3 tip. Often, it is not important to fish the fly really deep, only to sink it a little bit, meeting the steelhead half way through the water column.
Fall is, on average, the most productive time to swing flies for summer steelhead here in the Willamette valley, and a great time to be on the Deschutes as the run moves its way upstream.