(I am not the best macro photographer in the world. A tripod would likely help.)
But when it comes to flies for steelhead:
1: Use the right material for the current. Stiffer less likely to collapse materials for heavy current and softer materials for soft slow currents. So kip tail, spun hair, stiffer hackles and such for the fast water and marabou and bunny strips for the soft water.
2: Have the sharpest hook possible. I read a few bits on filing a hook with a mill file, watched a couple of online demos and broke out the file. Tapering the hook point so that is a long gradual transition makes a hook that will better penetrate a steelhead's mouth. Though modern hooks are fairly sharp increasing the transition length so that the transition is "smoother" with a file (at least in my no scientific tests) does make the hook penetrate easier. I will start carrying a file with me. This also allows for on stream hook repairs.
3: Hook eye. For steelhead on the swing and dead drifted it seem a straight eye is probably best. With the hooks I am using for my shank flies I am tying a type of "egg keeper" knot. Basically I run the line through the eye, make a loop and pinch it with my finger and then whip four - five time around the shank. This way the line come straight off of the shank and through the eye, inline with the shank and is not actually tied to the eye. When I run out of these hooks I will get some straight eye hooks. Another trick is to cut off the eye and tie in an eye with mono or somesuch.
|Orange fast water fly.|
4:Color. Many guides say fish any color that you like....... as long as it is purple. I am still playing with lots of colors, but am tying some purple. I also am playing with orange as it is supposed to work well. My tying supplies are somewhat limited, but white hackles and sharpies can create a range of colors. All the hackles on these flies have been colored with a sharpie.
|Purple fly with stiff materials for heavy water.|
I am tying more flies for heavier water. This is due to the fact that I find myself fishing the tops and bottoms of rapids more than anything when I am on the Salmon. "Resting water", due to the fact that the "holding" water has been shoulder to shoulder spinning guys...... not very easy to fish with the crowds on a fly rod, so I head for the uncrowded spots.
These flies are tied:
Orange fly has some flash behind the tail collar.
Dry hackle collar tail.
Light silver wire over body
Colored turkey flat under wing (the stiff hackles not the webby part)
Large dry fly hackle collar
Hen hackle topping wing
Hen hackle collar
The purple one also has some peacock herls in front of the hen hackle collar.