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Egg Fly Patterns for Steelhead

Egg Fly Patterns

Egg fly patterns for steelhead are ​likely the most popular fly pattern for fishing the Great lakes tributaries. 

For many of us, these are first flies we used when we first started fishing the tributaries. This is not without warrant. There are times when egg flies are the most productive fly patterns on the rivers. Even when the fishing gets tough, we can often depend on egg flies to save the day.

A good fly box will contain several different egg patterns, stone fly nymphs and several different types of steelhead nymph patterns.

​Egg Fly Patterns for Steelhead

  • ​Clown Egg
  • Nuke Egg
  • Glo Bug
  • Rag Egg

​Why are egg patterns so effective? When it comes to a food sources for ​steelhead, eggs seem to have one of the strongest food attractions as anything you can find in the wild. 

​Just like steelhead, trout and salmon will readily respond to eggs that are freely drifting. It does not matter if these fish are actively spawning or not. When it comes to trout, they will key in on eggs faster than any other food source.

Even when spawning activity has wound down and eggs are no longer readily available, trout will still respond to a well-presented egg fly, the memory remains.

As you can imagine, with all the attention and fisherman using egg patterns, there is a large variety of patterns, ranging from very complex to the very simple and basic. Even though egg patterns are relatively simple patterns to tie, there is wide range of flavors and styles of patterns.

Egg patterns are often tied with various colors of yarn and Estaz, glow chenille, and other basic fly tying materials. Fly tiers will often try to imitate the nucleus of the egg and even incorporate minute blood dots.

​Egg patterns can also be very simple and basic, tied with basic egg yarn. Obviously how flashy you would like a fly or subtle an egg pattern is, will depend on fishing conditions.

Since egg patterns are easy to tie and we use in expensive materials, it is always a good idea to carry a large selection and supply of flies.

Fishing conditions on the tributaries can and do change very quickly. Water conditions will play more of a role in what type of egg patterns to fish. When the water is running high with some color in it, the more colorful, flashy and slightly larger flies will be more effective.

These egg flies are tied with flashing material such as Estevez and glow chenille. Just the opposite is true when fishing in low clear water or fishing pressure is heavy.

The more natural looking smaller egg patterns will be far more effective in these conditions. These flies will be tied with egg yarn in natural looking colors.

This type of tying material does not have a lot of flash in it. In these conditions you do not want to visually overload the fly. We are trying to imitate a very basic food source. I prefer to keep egg fly patterns simple, because, fished correctly, right along the bottom, we have a tendency to go through quite a few flies.

Egg Fly Tying Tip: 

When tying and designing new egg flies, I always incorporate a light veil over the pattern with some sort of egg yarn. The reason for this, when a trout takes an object into its mouth and instantly decide this is not what it want and reject that object instantly.

The idea of the veil around the egg pattern is to cause the fishes’ teeth to temporarily hang up in it. Giving us a chance to realize the fish has taken the fly and it’s time to set the hook.

All of this fly design does not mean much unless the fly is properly presented. Nature has designed eggs to be denser than water. This way the eggs will stay for the most part, where the fish deposit them in the river bottom.

We think of eggs drifting through the water column similar to the way aquatic insects, nymph do. This is not the case; an egg drift is more like an egg roll. That is, the egg does more rolling or bouncing along the bottom than drifting just off the bottom.

Obviously, the trick here is to imitate this egg drift – rolling along the bottom. We need to slow down the speed of the drift; an egg drift is considerably slower.

When fishing egg patterns keep in mind the type of water you are fishing in. This will play a big role in your success. Feeding trout will be located where the food is most concentrated.

This way they can feed more efficiently. Simple sounding concept, but, the trick is to find these prime feeding spots. These feeding spots can be anywhere.

However, during active spawning, any locations where there are cuts in the river bottom and the current is concentrated this will also concentrate stray eggs.

Very simply, locate actively spawning fish, down river where the current is being compressed forming a cut in the river bottom. You will find feeding trout.

When spawning is over and winter settles, the eggs are not as accessible to the fish. We can still easily predict when we will see a good egg bite. Every time the river has a water flow increase, these waterfalls will dislodge stray eggs and send them adrift, creating a feeding opportunity, an egg bite.

This egg bite will last for a few days to a week after water flows stabilize. So keep this in mind when you are trying to decide what to fish.