Steelhead Needle Tube Flies

Needle Tubes and Tube Flies

Needle Tube Flies for Great Lakes Steelhead

Flies and photographs by Bob Schoeller

This article is based on extracts of correspondence from Bob Schoeller, an accomplished fly fisher and fly tyer, who fishes for the steelhead of Lake Erie and its tributary streams. Bob has had great success this season (2008) with a selection of beautiful steelhead flies which he has dressed on Grays Needle Tubes, a newly developed range of ultra slim stainless steel fly tying tubes, developed and made in Scotland by Grays of Kilsyth. Bob has used the longer lengths of needle tube to create a range of stunning baitfish patterns, which have proven extremely effective fished from the lake shore, while the shorter needle tubes have been dressed as small colourful shrimps, for use later in the season on the tributary streams.

Steelhead Needle Tube Flies

Bob's baitfish Needle Tube Flies

Bob writes, "I have tied most of the needle tubes in baitfish patterns that I use at the mouths of the tributaries where they enter the Great Lakes.  We fish at night or early morning so I assume it would be similar to your sea trout fishing, although we fish mostly in the lake itself at this time of year rather than the rivers. In the lake I will fish with flies that resemble baitfish that the steelhead feed on (Juvenile Smelt and "Shiners"). Later in the season, when the fish actually enter the rivers in big numbers, I will switch to more colorful attracter patterns and shrimp patterns. I have landed a number of fish to 10 lb without a problem. Most of the time the tube has slid up the line out of harms way as the fish runs off line. I use a tiny size 16 or 15 tube treble with a very small eye for this fishing, and the hook is held just barely by the junction tubing. The needle tubes have proved to have just the right sink rate to allow me to fish off the beach while at the same time not hanging up on the bottom in the shallows. Sometimes at night the steelheads will be feeding in water only a foot or so deep with their backs sticking out of the water. You can hear the splashes and see the wakes they make by moonlight. It can be quite a nervous experience to be casting into waters when these fish are close at hand.

Steelhead taken on a needle tube shrimp

One taken on a Needle Tube Shrimp

Once the steelhead have run some distance up the streams, I switch flies to nymphs below a strike indicator or Irish style shrimps, albeit more colorful than your average shrimps. Here are one or two needle tube shrimps I tied up last night (see the photograph to the right). I am going to give them a go on the river tomorrow ..... 

Orange and purple has been a very good color combination for steelhead here.  I'm not sure that any UK patterns use this color combination, but it works for me. I've also been putting a strip of pearl flashabou on either side of the tail and have incorporated 2 pig bristles into the pattern (sort of a hybrid pot bellied pig/Irish shrimp). I have shown this fly to one of my fishing companions and we both agree that it has the "buggie" look that is essential for a good shrimp fly.  I'll let you know how we do .....

I did get out Friday and tried out the shrimp on your needle tubes. Fantastic! .... I took a fish in the first drift and ended up with seven fish in 3 hours fishing .... best trip yet this year .....  

Fresh run Steelhead

A bright fresh run Erie Steelhead

I got out again today and had a cracker of a day!  I really got lucky and got some very nice fish this morning ..... all on your needle tubes. They certainly have helped my fishing this year. It's the best year I've had to date due in no small part to the needle tubes.  Most of the fish we caught were ones that had been in the river for a week or so and had a little color, but I did get one really bright fish as you can see ..... Fresh in!  The fish were running through the shallow rapids as we walked in the dark down to the pools we wanted to fish.. You could hear them splashing.  By daybreak they had settled into the pools and we had good sport. The three of us landed 19 fish for the morning (all on your needle tubes) ..... The biggest one was a very fat hen fish of 16 lbs ..... the best of the year thus far for me. "


The flies illustrated were dressed by Bob on Grays Needle Tubes, developed and manufactured in Scotland by Grays of Kilsyth. They are available online at

Book - Sea Trout Nights



Needle Tube Shrimps

Needle Tube Shrimps



sixteen pound steelhead taken on a needle tube fly

Sixteen pound Erie Steelhead




 Salmon Spinhead


HMH Tube Fly Tool



Grays of Kilsyth

Salmon Flies

Trout Flies

Fly Fishing Knots

Salmon Fishing Scotland

Trout Fishing Scotland

Sea Trout Fishing

Sea Trout Flies

Tube Flies

The Tube Fly Shop




needle tube fish ] The Spinhead ] The Needle Fly 2 ] Bead Tube Flies ] The Needle Fly 3 ] Grays Needle Tubes ] Needle Tube Flies ] Micro Tubes ] Tube flies ] sea trout fishing ] Linked Tube Flies ] Flug ] Endrick Sea Trout ] An August Night ] The Sea Trout Fisher ] The Muckle Saumon ] stocking ] religion ] Brown Trout or Sea Trout ] Magus fly ] sea trout decline ] sea trout river ] Memories ] needle shrimp ] fly lines ] spey cast ] spey sea trout ] hill walk ] highland river ] corrie loch ] grays loop ] wading stick ] Inverness fishing ] Aberlour Fishing ] Sea Trout ] Avon sea trout ] steelies ] cascade tube flies ] [ steelhead needle tubes ] tube fly vise ] blackback tube flies ] catch and release ] salmon fly hooks ] Spey salmon and sea trout ] needle tube fly or waddington ] fiery cascade tube fly ] black & silver tube fly ] scottish shrimp flies ] river spey photographs ] wee monkey tube flies ] Irish shrimp tube fly ] cascade step-by-step ] spring tube flies ] River Nairn ] Mallard & Silver Fly ] black & yellow tube fly ] River Dulnain ] sea trout fly ] Loch Fly ] Willie Gunn tube fly ] black & pink fly ] upside down flies ] magus shrimp fly ] dusty miller fly ] spring green tube fly ] beltra badger tube fly ] minitube flies ] snake tube flies ] summer shrimp flies ] night tube fly ] skye ] lammas shrimp fly ] salmon tingler ] salmon shrimps ] salmon fly depth ] ruddy buck tube fly ] salmon needle fly ] stoats tail ]

Trout and Salmon Fishing