Steelhead Alley - Everything You Need To Know About This World Class Fishery

By: Nolan Pyle

December 14, 2023

Steelhead Alley - if you're a steelhead angler, you've undoubtedly heard of this place no matter where you're located. This area is world-renowned for easy access to incredible numbers of Great Lakes steelhead. Steelhead Alley is truly a special place, but as with any other world class fishery, you should not expect to just show up and have immediate success. In this article, we'll discuss some important pieces of information that will help you make the most of your trip to Steelhead Alley.

If you're a steelhead angler, you've undoubtedly heard of Steelhead Alley no matter where you're located. This area is world-renowned for easy access to incredible numbers of Great Lakes steelhead. Steelhead Alley is a unique place, but like other world class fisheries, don't expect instant success by just showing up. In this article, we'll discuss some important pieces of information that will help you make the most of your trip to Steelhead Alley.

Table of Contents

  • Where is Steelhead Alley?
  • What Makes Steelhead Alley Fishing So Incredible?
  • Fly Fishing, Spin Fishing, or Centerpin Fishing - Pick Your Poison
  • Steelhead Alley FAQs
  • Conclusion

Where Is Steelhead Alley?

Steelhead Alley refers to the stretch of Lake Erie tributaries spanning throughout Northeastern Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Western New York. This region consists of dozens of tributaries that each have unique characteristics. Some of these tributaries are nothing more than a ditch-sized stream capable of being jumped across, while others frequently flow over 1,000cfs during the fall, winter, and spring months.

The bottom composition, topography, and environment of each steelhead alley tributary also varies dramatically based on region. Smaller tribs defined by slate runs, shale banks, and a shallow average depth tend to run more clear than larger tribs that have more gravel runs and muddier banks. The great variety in tributaries is one of many unique features that sets Steelhead Alley apart.

What Makes Steelhead Alley Fishing So Incredible?

A Triple Header From Our Steelhead Alley Movie Filming With Addicted Fishing. Triple Headers Are Not Uncommon When Fishing Conditions Are Perfect!

Incredible Numbers Of Steelhead

Steelhead alley has A LOT of steelhead. However, unlike those of the Pacific Northwest and in some tributaries of other Great Lakes, there is very little successful natural reproduction in Steelhead Alley. This phenomenon does happen, especially in tribs that provide a great number of gravel runs necessary for spawning, but not near enough to actually sustain an entire fishery. Steelhead Alley exists thanks to the hard work of the individuals of each state's Fish Commission or DNR.

These organizations stock steelhead smolts into each tributary every spring for them to return to Lake Erie, gorge themselves on its abundant population of various baitfish, and return as adults for us anglers to enjoy. Obviously, these smolts have to endure some serious adversity to survive to adulthood. Many predators such as walleye, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, cormorants and much more love to prey on these young, uneducated, protein-packed fish.

To ensure that returns are solid, a very large number of steelhead smolts are stocked. What's a large number? Here's the total number of steelhead smolts that were stocked for the 2023-2024 steelhead season per state.

  • Ohio - 498,972 smolts
  • Pennsylvania - 1,091,197 smolts
  • New York - 194,569 smolts

With this many steelhead smolts being stocked, the odds of having a good return are quite high.

Always A Tributary To Fish

As we discussed before, there is a great variety of tributaries along Steelhead Alley. Some drop and clear quickly, while others with a larger watershed maintain a significantly higher flow level. This means that if you're willing to drive there is usually a Steelhead Alley trib that's setting up for good fishing at any given point in time.

Rain and snow melt is what causes water levels to rise and become stained. Small watersheds can fish well as soon as one day after a moderate amount of rain, and may become clear with little flow in just a few days. However, by the time the smaller tributaries are becoming clear enough to make fishing tough, larger tribs are starting to settle into prime fishing conditions.

The USGS has water flow gauges on many Steelhead Alley tributaries that are very helpful in determining conditions. Learning what tributaries are fishing well at certain flows is a crucial part to becoming a good Steelhead Alley angler. You can find gauges for many Steelhead Alley tribs linked on the Weather & Waves tab of

A Variety Of Steelhead

Not all Lake Erie steelhead are exactly the same. Several different strains are stocked, some being Fall, Winter, or Spring run. This means that there are fish present in good numbers on Steelhead Alley tribs from September to April. Now, not all tribs are stocked with several strains of steelhead.

Pennsylvania is unique in that the state breeds their own steelhead from those captured in nursery waters. Multiple times in a season, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will net steelhead out of designated nursery waters, bring them back to the hatchery, milk the fish for the eggs and sperm, and create the next generation of Pennsylvania steelhead with them. This results in a "mutt" because any strain of steelhead netted at that given time can be mixed with a different strain. For the most part though, this unique Pennsylvania strain returns the most in the Fall. However, I have had good days of fishing on PA tribs in the early spring as well.

Netting steelhead at Pennsylvania's Trout Run nursery waters
The steelhead are put into a large tank where they are then transported to a nearby hatchery to be spawned

Other strains of steelhead present in Lake Erie include the Ganaraska strain, a fish that originated in the West Coast but has become naturalized in Lake Ontario and runs in the late Winter and Spring, and the Chambers Creek strain which originated in Washington State and runs from the late Fall to the early Spring. The Little Manistee Strain is also present, mainly in Ohio tribs, and runs in the best numbers from late winter well into spring.

Another interesting point to be made about this great variety of steelhead strains is that they can look quite a bit different from one another, and can even vary greatly by look within the same strain. Unique color schemes, growth rates, and proportions are all defining characteristics of the different steelhead strains that call Lake Erie home. Some are short and stocky, others are long and skinny. Some color up tremendously, while others just become slightly darker. Some are insanely acrobatic when hooked, others prefer to stay deep and give a bulldog like fight.

Obviously, the amount of time the fish has been in the system can affect its appearance and energy level during a fight. However, each strain has a different body fat percentage that can play a factor in these variables as well. It's quite fascinating to catch them all and see how different each is!

Lake Erie steelhead come in many different shapes and sizes and can be caught in T-Shirt weather or the dead of winter

Fly Fishing, Spin Fishing, Or Centerpin Fishing - Pick Your Poison

There are a multitude of techniques used to catch Lake Erie steelhead. Tactics can vary from spin fishing with artificial lures such as ACME Little Cleos and Blue Fox Vibraxs to several types of fly fishing and float fishing with egg sacs or other live bait. So, which technique is the best at catching steelhead? The answer is that none are truly "better" than one or the other. Each technique excels in a certain time, place, or condition and each angler excels at a different technique. Let's take a look at what you'll need to get started fly fishing, spin fishing, or centerpin fishing for Lake Erie steelhead and discuss when it makes the most sense to use each technique.

Fly Fishing Steelhead Alley

For most species across the world, fly fishing is typically looked at as a technique that puts you at an immediate disadvantage. You're usually making fewer casts in a day, cutting down your casting distance, and fishing with a lure that doesn't have the same drawing ability as live bait or hard or soft plastics. This is absolutely not the case in some places on steelhead alley. It can actually be quite the opposite.

Fly fishing for Lake Erie steelhead is incredibly popular because of its effectiveness. Steelhead, like all other trout, love to hold in fast, shallow riffles, especially as they work their way upstream. A pocket of water that is slightly deeper than everything else around it in some fast riffles is an excellent place for a steelhead to catch a quick breath, grab something to eat, or stay hidden from predators. This is where the fly rod shines. You're able to make quick, short drifts through water like this by indicator or euro nymphing, fishing significanlty more efficiently than you would with a spinning or centerpin setup.

This does not mean the fly rod doesn't work in deeper or slower holes, adjustments are just needed to be made and another technique may just be more effective. In some of the larger Steelhead Alley tributaries, specifically in Ohio, swinging streamers with a two-handed spey or switch rod is quite popular. This is an especially effective technique when chasing aggressive Manistee strain fish in the spring when the water is warm and the fish are more apt to chase. Stripping streamers is also an effective technique during the warm weather periods of the early or late season and when river flows are low making it challenging to drift.

Tackle For Fly Fishing Steelhead Alley

Steelhead Fly Rods, Reels, And Line

For this article, we'll focus on indicator nymphing as that is the most commonly used technique for fly fishing for Lake Erie steelhead. A very commonly asked question among beginner steelhead anglers is "What weight fly rod for steelhead?" In my opinion, a 10' 7wt fly rod is the ultimate rod for fly fishing for steelhead on Steelhead Alley. This steelhead fly rod's length allows you to easily make long roll casts and keep as much line as possible off the water when fishing close drifts. The 7wt power offers plenty of forgiveness to keep small hooks pinned and protect light leaders while still having plenty of backbone to wear out big fish.

Pair this fly rod up with a fly reel that has a smooth and trustworthy drag. Steelhead are known for incredibly strong bursts of energy and long, peeling runs. The last thing you want is for your drag to stick during one of these runs, as you will surely break off almost instantly. I also recommend using a reel that you either don't mind beating up or that is quite durable. Any reel you fish on Steelhead Alley will inevitably be exposed to sand, gravel, rain, snow and ice eventually. The Redington Behemoth is a popular choice among Steelhead Alley anglers and is very reasonably priced.

As for fly line for steelhead fishing, your favorite 7wt floating, weight forward fly line will suffice. Having weight forward line is crucial to being able to make roll casts with long leaders or lots of weight. You do not need to break the bank in this category, but high quality fly line will make casting easier and also make your experience more enjoyable. I like to replace my fly line anually and believe that the Cortland 444 Classic Peach Fly Line is a great cost-effective option when doing this.

Best Fly Rods and Reels For Steelhead

Best Fly Line For Steelhead

I believe the Jeff Blood Premium Fly Rod to be the best fly rod for steelhead fishing the alley. Designed by Jeff Blood , renowned as one of the best anglers on Steelhead Alley, this rod was made specifically to be perfect for Lake Erie tribs and steelhead

I believe the Jeff Blood Premium Fly Rod to be the best fly rod for steelhead fishing the alley. Designed by Jeff Blood , renowned as one of the best anglers on Steelhead Alley, this rod was made specifically to be perfect for Lake Erie tribs and steelhead

Indicator Nymph Rig For Steelhead Fishing

An indicator nymphing rig for steelhead is quite simple. It consists of a piece of monofilament off of your fly line down to a micro-swivel or blood knot connecting that mono to your tippet . I like to use a tapered leader as this mono and cut off the smallest diameter bottom part. On that mono is your indicator , I prefer the Air-Lock brand , but there are many out there that all perform very well. Your indicator should be roughly 1.5x the water depth above your fly. So, if you're fishing in 3ft of water, your indicator should be about 4.5ft above your fly. This allows your fly to reach the desired depth and for bites to be easily indicated.

Off of your micro-swivel is a 2-3ft piece of tippet down to your fly. I always run 5x, 4x, or 3x tippet (roughly 4-8lb). A tandem rig is quite popular on steelhead alley which consists of two flies. Please note that tandem rigs are not legal everywhere. Check your local regulations before tying one on. I prefer to run a bead off my main tippet line then tie about an 18" section of line off of the bead hook down to an egg pattern, nymph, or streamer. Continue reading to learn more about bead fishing for steelhead. Blood dot eggs, sucker spawns, glo bugs, stoneflies, copper johns, zonkers, and wooly buggers are all very well proven steelhead flies on Steelhead Alley.

You will also want some split shot on your tippet to help your flies reach the strike zone quicker. The size and amount of split shot you'll use depends on the depth and speed of the water you're fishing and the size and buoyancy of your flies. Sometimes, only one or two small BB size shot are necessary. Other times, you'll need much more weight to get down there. When fishing fast, short drifts, I will have my shot quite close to my fly, 8-10", and use as much weight as I can without snagging. This allows my flies to get into the strike zone quickly and stay there.

Line, Tippet, and Terminal Tackle For Fly Fishing For Steelhead

Spin Fishing For Lake Erie Steelhead

You do not need expensive or fancy tackle to fish for Lake Erie steelhead! Many have great success with a simple spinning rod and reel setup. That being said, the more you spend the nicer your equipment will be, which can certainly enhance your experience and help you catch more fish. However, the novice angler should not be detered by the price tag of a new steelhead setup. Let's take a look at some of the different ways you can utilize a spinning setup to catch Lake Erie steelhead and some tackle that is great for each.

Throwing Hardware For Steelhead - Simple And Effective

"Throwing hardware" is the term used for using artificial lures such as spinners and spoons for steelhead. It's probably the most simple way to target these fish, but that does not mean it isn't effective. I grew up fishing for steelhead this way, and still have days where it outproduces all other methods.

Using hardware for steelhead is typically much more effective in warmer water, specifically in water temps above 45 degrees. You can be successful in colder water, but as the fish become more sluggish they are less apt to chase a lure any distance. This technique is most popular when fishing the lake for fish staging to run up the creeks or for fish that have freshly entered the system. These steelhead are aggressive, active, and are more than willing to strike a flashy piece of metal or a plug. Throwing hardware also works exceptionally well for post spawn fish in the Spring. A large, angry, buck (male) steelhead smashing a spinner is about as fun as it gets.

Rod And Reel Setup For Hardware Fishing

As far as setup goes, an 8'6" - 9' medium action rod paired with a 3000 or 4000 size spinning reel works very well for this method of steelhead fishing. A little bit of length is nice for casting distance. However, go too long or light and you won't get the hooksetting ability needed to penetrate the steelhead's mouth. However, a little bit of length is nice to be able to turn a large fish's head and a slightly larger spinning reel allows for more line capacity and pickup for each reel handle turn. The medium action allows for a solid hookset while still having enough forgiveness to protect your line and not pulling hooks.

Line For Hardware Fishing

Braid to a long fluorocarbon leader is what I prefer to throw hardware on. Braided line allows for great sensitivty, meaning you can easily feel each time your bait bumps the bottom or hits a piece of structure, which helps to dissect the topogrpahy of a hole. I will use about 20ft of fluorocarbon so the fish have less of a chance of the braided line coming in front of them and spooking them. Using light fluorocarbon line is less of a priority when throwing hardware as most of these bites are purely out of aggression. 20lb braid to 10 or 12lb fluorocarbon suffices in most situations.

Some anglers don't like to use braided line to avoid the necessity of having a leader. Straight fluorocarbon will work fine, although it can be a little difficult to manage and does have memory. Monofilament will also work, but it does stretch, so it can be more difficult for hooks to penetrate the fish's mouth on a long cast.

Float Fishing For Steelhead With A Spinning Rod

Float fishing with a spinning rod is likely the most commonly used technique on Steelhead Alley. Float fishing rigs can be adjusted to work well in so many different conditions, times of the year, and types of water. Many anglers, steelhead fishermen or not, are also comfortable with a spinning rod, so naturally it is the most commonly used tool.

Rod And Reel Setup For Float Fishing For Steelhead

In my opinion, the perfect length and action spinning rod for float fishing Steelhead Alley is a 10'6" medium light. There are times and places where a longer or shorter, lighter or heavier rod is preferrable, but for a majority of situations a 10'6" medium light will work very well. The length allows you to make proper drifts in a variety of situations and the medium light power allows for the use of light or heavy leaders while still offering plenty of backbone.

For fishing larger bodies of water, a longer float rod will help you make a better drift as it makes it easier to keep the least amount of line on the water possible. For tight quarters fishing on smaller tribs, a shorter steelhead rod can be easier to manage.

Similar to throwing hardware, a 3000 or 4000 size spinning reel works well. Use the fastest gear ratio you're able to get, this is an advantage for a few different reasons. If you hook a steelhead that decides to run directly towards you, a fast reel allows you to pick up a lot of line quick and maintain tension. You're also able to reel your float rig in at the end of a long drift quicker, ultimately allowing you to make more casts in a day. The same rod and reel families listed for hardware fishing will work great for float fishing as well, just adjust the length and action accordingly.

Continue reading for more details on how to rig your float fishing setup.

Centerpin Fishing For Steelhead

If float fishing is your method of choice for catching steelhead, you will want to look into a centerpin. Float fishing with a centerpin allows you have to a drag free drift, meaning your float is able to drift downstream with the least amount of resistance from the line, allowing your presentation to look as natural as possible.

How is this drag free drift possible? A centerpin allows line to freely flow off the reel. There's no bail to fumble with like there is on a spinning reel. The slight pull of your float drifting downstream is enough to allow line to seamlessly come off of the reel. A centerpin reel is 1:1, there is no drag and the fish must be fought by using your hand to keep pressure. Unfortunately, this means the reel retrieve is extremely slow, but a quality centerpin reel allows the angler to reel very fast and pick up line as quick as they can turn the handle.

FishUSA Pro Staff And Steelhead Mastermind Roger Hinchcliff Explains Why Centerpin Fishing Is So Effective

Centerpin Reels For Steelhead Fishing

Centerpin Rods For Steelhead Fishing

The right centerpin rod can greatly assist you with obtaining the most drag free drift possible. The longer the rod you use, the easier it is to keep the most amount of line off of the water. The less times you have to mend your line, the more natural your presentation will look, helping you catch more fish.

Float rods 12ft or greater are very popular amongst centerpinners. Sliding rubber grips on the reel handle rather than a stationary reel seat are also quite popular. This allows the angler to adjust the position of the reel to better help balance the rod. Below are a few good centerpin rod options for pinning in steelhead alley.

Tackle For Float Fishing For Steelhead

Float fishing rigs can seem quite complicated, but after rigging a few up and getting some practice with them, everything starts to feel more simple. The video below is a full tutorial on rigging your float setup from FishUSA Pro Shop employee Josh. We will discuss rigging float setups below, but I highly recommend watching this video to get a good visual of what your setup should look like!

Best Line For Steelhead Float Fishing

Monofilament line is undoubtedly the most popular line for float fishing for steelhead in steelhead alley. Mono has earned that status for four main reasons:

  • Monofilament floats, helping you mend your line and maintain the best drift possible
  • Monofilament is resistant to freezing
  • Monofilament is abrasion-resistant and will not instantly cut on sharp objects
  • Centerpin reels are only able to be used with monofilament

Braided line is another option for float fishing for steelhead as it floats too, but it does not come without a few cons...

  • Most braided lines freeze very easily in frigid temperatures 
  • Braid has no stretch, making it easier for small hooks to rip out of a hard-fighting steelhead's mouth
  • Braid cuts very easily on sharp objects such as rocks
  • Splitshot does not like to stay in place on braided line, so a bumper is needed for the shot line

That being said, float fishing with braid has its positives as well. It's easier to manage than monofilament and does not have any memory, it's just important to consider the negatives listed above.

As far as line color goes, some anglers love hi-vis, others are very much against it. I prefer to use hi-vis mono as it's very easy to see, making it more manageable on long drifts. For monofilament, 10lb test is ideal for spinning reels and 12-14lb for centerpins. For braid on a spinning reel, 20lb test will suffice No matter what line you choose to fish with, a fluorocarbon leader will be necessary, which we'll cover below.

Fluorocarbon Leaders For Steelhead Fishing

A fluorocarbon leader should always be used when fishing for steelhead. The leader can be easily attached to your mainline using a Raven Micro Swivel. 100% fluorocarbon fishing line is completely invisible underwater, making it an exceptional tool for targeting line shy steelhead, especially on Steelhead Alley, where we frequently see low and clear water on some tribs.

Fluorocarbon also has significantly less stretch than monofilament, allowing for a little extra hooksetting ability when using stretchy mono and a light float fishing rod. Four, six, and eight pound tests are the most commonly used line sizes on Steelhead Alley. The smaller diameter line size you use, the more bites you are likely to get, but the easier it is for the line to break. The list below is a good rule of thumb for when to use what line size.

  • <2ft of visibility - 8lb leader
  • 2-4ft of visibility - 6lb leader
  • >4ft of visibility - 4lb leader

Obviously, there are some exceptions to this rule, but following it will help you get the most amount of bites. Keep in mind that the lighter the leader you use, the softer the rod you will want. For example, 4lb test on a medium action rod will break much easier than it will on a light or ultralight action rod.

Choosing The Correct Float For Steelhead Fishing

There are a multitude of floats for steelhead fishing available nowadays, it can make choosing the right one overwhelming. For Steelhead Alley purposes, the floats you will use are rated by grams. This is not the weight of the float itself, but the amount of weight that the float can support. To correctly balance your float, you'll want to match the float rating with the same amount of weight of splitshot. The Raven Super Soft Split Shot lists the exact weight of each of their shot sizes on the back of each pack, making it easy to do the math.

Choosing the correct size of float depends on a variety of factors, including the depth of the water you're fishing, speed of the current, and type of bait. The Raven Premium Balsa Floats are very popular on Steelhead Alley. This is because they are offered in a great variety of sizes and are broken down by type of water each should be fished in. These Raven Floats are fixed, meaning they're secured in place on your line with float tubing, such as the Raven Silicone Float Cap Tubing.

Four - twelve gram floats are the most commonly used sizes on Steelhead Alley. For low and clear water and close quarters fishing, the smaller size floats are ideal. For larger water, more weight is typically used, and a bigger float is required. In most situations, a six - eight gram float works very well. However, when trying to be very stealthy, a very small float is preferrable. Here in Erie, Pennsylvania, I will sometime use floats that are no more than a piece of foam to avoid spooking extremely weary fish in clear water. The Comal Tackle Slotted Foam Floats are a great example of this. When the water is up or when fishing larger water, I will typically have the eight gram tied on.

Baits For Float Fishing For Steelhead

Last but not least, what do you tie onto the end of all this? There are a plethora of presentations that work great for Steelhead Alley steelhead, let's take a look at a few of the most popular.

Beads For Steelhead Fishing

  • Just like we discussed in the fly fishing section, beads are a great option for catching steelhead under a float too 
  • Available in hard and soft varieties
  • Peg bead roughly 2 1/2 finger lengths from hook
  • Hundreds of color varieties and several sizes allow them to be fished in all kinds of conditions 
    • Chartreuse, orange, peach, and natural are quite popular 
    • 6mm and 8mm sizes in clear water, 10mm and 12mm in stained
      • 6mm - Size 10 hook 
      • 8mm - Size 8 hook 
      • 10mm - Size 6 hook 
      • 12mm - Size 4 hook
      • Snell knot preferred for bead fishing 
This steelhead fell victim to an 8mm TroutBead in "Glo Roe", a very popular choice on Steelhead Alley. Note the snell knot!

Egg Sacs For Steelhead Fishing

  • Egg sacs are arguably the most popularly used bait on Steelhead Alley 
  • Typically tied from eggs harvested from a female steelhead, salmon, or brown trout, but there are single eggs available for sale
  • Tie them up in a variety of colors and sizes 
    • Bright colors and larger sacs for stained water 
    • Blue, purple, and peach in a smaller size for clear water 
  • Can experiment with many different scents and cures
  • Fish on a 4, 6, or 8 size straight shank hook

Jigs For Steelhead Fishing

  • Excellent option for triggering aggressive strikes and when steelhead are feeding on baitfish 
  • Several different varieties including marabou, bucktail, and plastic 
  • Marabou Jigs 
    • Long Flowing tails with a lot of action 
    • Great tipped with maggots, wax worms, or a live minnow 
    • White, black, and olive are the most popular Steelhead Alley colors 
    • Excellent for active and aggressive fish 
    • 1/64 and 1/32oz sizes great for Steelhead Alley 
  • Bucktail Jigs 
    • Less action than marabou, more stiff material 
    • Also excellent when tipped with maggots, wax worms, or a live minnow 
    • More of a finesse approach than marabou 
    • Effective dead drifted in deep, slow water 
    • 1/64, 1/32, and 1/16oz sizes for Steelhead Alley 
  • Plastics 
    • Minnow presentations such as a Berkley Powerminnow rigged on a jighead 
    • Small soft plastic worms threaded onto a jighead also work very well 
    • Excellent in low, clear water to trigger an aggression strike
    • 1/64, 1/48, 1/32 for Steelhead Alley

Steelhead Alley FAQs

Where Can I Find An Accurate Steelhead Alley Fishing Report?

FishUSA Staff publishes Steelhead Alley Fishing Reports several times a week during the season on the FishUSA Pro Shop Facebook page. These reports focus on Steelhead Alley Erie, PA and can help give you an idea on current weather and conditions. Reports are also published on

Where Can I Find A Steelhead Alley Map? has several maps of a handful of Steelhead Alley tribs located in far Northeastern Ohio and throughout Pennsylvania. These maps are a great resource when looking for public fishing accesses on these Steelhead Alley tribs.

What Other Equipment Do I Need To Fish Steelhead Alley?

There are a few key pieces of equipment and apparel you'll need to have for your trip to fish Steelhead Alley. Let's take a look at each.

Waders For Steelhead Fishing

A quality set of waders can make your experience on Steelhead Alley significantly more enjoyable. There are a couple of styles out there, mainly neoprene (boot foot) chest and hip waders and breathable (stockingfoot) chest waders. I recommend the stockingfoot style chest waders for fishing on Steelhead Alley. They're not as heavy as most boot foot waders so it's easy to do a lot of walking in them without becoming fatigued or sweating. Although stockingfoot waders don't offer as much warmth, adding some more quality base layers suffices in any steelhead fishing weather. The Simms Tributary Waders paired with the Simms Tributary Wading Boots are good quality for the price and are available in both men's and women's varieties.

Apparel For Steelhead Fishing

It can get quite cold in Steelhead Alley! Winter steelheading is quite rewarding and can be some of the most peaceful times you'll experience on the water; however, you won't want to do it without the right clothing. Below is a list of apparel that will keep you on the water in the coldest of days on the alley.

Rainy and snowy days are common during steelhead season on Steelhead Alley, so don't come without your rain gear. Wading Jackets are the best options here, but can be quite pricey. Other jackets such as the Simms Men's Rogue Hoody and Simms Men's Challenger Jacket will suffice on warmer weather days or with good base layers underneath.

Polarized Sunglasses For Steelhead Fishing

Polarized Sunglasses are incredibly important for steelhead fishing success! Even on high and stained water days, a pair of polarized sunglasses can help you see key features that clue you into where a steelhead may be sitting such as a ledge, shale to gravel transition, or slightly deeper dark spot.

Wading Packs For Steelhead Fishing

You'll want to bring a wading pack along to keep all of your tackle in to fish Steelhead Alley. There are a ton of varieties out there, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. The one you choose really just depends on how much tackle you'd like to bring. A few popular choices are listed below.

Steelhead Fishing Tools

There are a multitude of products out there that are designed to make your life easier when steelhead fishing. Here's a list of some rather important ones.


Steelhead Alley is an incredible fishery with a great number and variety of Lake Erie tributaries, steelhead, and a multitude of ways to catch them. I have been very blessed to have grown up in and been able to fish Steelhead Alley my entire life. I'm very passionate about this fishery and I believe anyone who gets to experience it at its best quickly feels the same way! I hope that this article helps you to learn something that will put more fish on the bank for you!