[DIY] Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Steelhead Alley

The area on the southern shore of Lake Erie extending just west of Cleveland, Ohio to Buffalo, New York is commonly referred to as "Steelhead Alley" and for good reason.  This region contains some of the most productive steelhead tributary streams and rivers in the Great Lakes region.

If you are looking for the best places to fish in Steelhead Alley, you're in luck. We've put together this interactive map of the best steelhead rivers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York to help you explore the area. Click on the map markers for information on stream access and to get directions.

Steelhead Alley Fishing Map

map of fishing access points in Steelhead Alley

Get directions to fishing access points and real-time stream flow data with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Steelhead Alley Featured Destinations

Steelhead Alley includes tributaries to Lake Erie in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York that receive two major runs of steelhead in the Spring and Fall.

Reel Action Fly Fishing shows us what fishing in Steelhead Alley is all about.  Ready to go?

Best Steelhead Fishing in Ohio

Ohio's primary steelhead rivers are Chagrin River, Conneaut CreekGrand River, Rocky River and Vermilion River. Several other rivers including Arcola Creek, Ashtabula River, Beaver Creek, Black River, Cold Creek, Cowles Creek, Cuyahoga River, Euclid Creek, French Creek, Huron River, Turkey Creek, Wheeler Creek get runs of stray steelhead.

Rivers in each state that receive steelhead runs are listed below. Click on the links provided for more information about each river including maps detailing stream access, stream flow charts and steelhead fishing reports.

Ohio

Pennslyvania

New York

Steelhead Alley Fly Fishing Tips

New Fly Fisher host Colin McKeown joins expert steelhead angler Jeff Blood to learn some excellent nymphing techniques for Lake Erie steelhead.


Best Flies for Steelhead Alley

The most effective flies for fishing the tributaries of Lake Erie include egg patterns, basic nymphs and streamers.  Fly patterns that mimic two of Steelhead Alley’s most fed-upon bait fish – the Emerald Shiner and Gizzard Shad, are very popular when fishing on the swing. The fish are not too picky, especially when they first enter the stream, so your favorites patterns will work just fine. 

Need flies? 

If you like to swing flies, RiverBum offers a great selection of classic steelhead flies that will catch fish anywhere. Set includes 30 high quality, hand-tied flies (see list below) and durable fly box. 

Classic Steelhead Streamers

  • Purple Peril
  • Copper Top 
  • Comet
  • Jock Scott 
  • Bomber Black
  • Joe Gert
  • Blue Charm
  • Brite Pink
  • Egg Sucking Leech
  • Black Bear Green Butt  

If you prefer to dead drift flies, BASSDASH offers a great selection of some of the most effective egg flies and attractor patterns. Set includes 57 flies (see list below) and high-grade double-sided fly box.

Deadly Egg Flies and Attractor Patterns

  • Antron Egg
  • Glo-Bug
  • Crystal Egg Fly
  • Dot Egg Fly
  • Crystal Meth
  • Milky Nuke Egg
  • Ultra Maggots
  • Egg Sucking Worms
  • Flash Candy Fly

Steelhead Alley Fishing Gear

You can make steelhead fishing as complicated as you like or keep it pretty simple. 

There are a number of rod-and-reel setups that are typical of Steelhead anglers, including spinning, noodle, fly, spey and center-pin setups. 

If you're fly fishing, a single-handed, 9-ft or 10-ft, 7- or 8-wt rod and large arbor reel with a good drag and floating line is an excellent choice. This setup is great for fishing tandem nymph rigs which is a popular method in Steelhead Alley.

If you are into swinging flies, an 11-ft switch rod or 12-ft double-hand spey rod makes life a lot easier.

Need Gear? 

Heading out to do some steelhead or salmon fishing and need an affordable fly rod, reel and line to get started?  

Look no further than the Orvis Encounter Fly Rod Outfit.  An 8 Wt. setup that is perfect as a first big-game outfit or backup travel rod.

  • 8-wt, 9-ft, 4pc Fly Rod
  • Large Arbor Reel
  • WF Floating Line
  • Cordura Rod Tube
  • 25-yr guarantee

Ken Sperry

Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.

Get Directions to the Best Places to Fish in America!

Check out our interactive map of over 30,000 of the best places to fly fish in the US. Get directions to access points, boat ramps, and real-time USGS stream flow data. 

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