Stonefly Bite on Big Manistee River

Float Fishing Steelhead Jigs

This time in late spring is when to expect, hope for a good bite on Little Black Stone Flies for steelhead or trout in Michigan.  March 12, I didn't see any bugs fluttering across the river but the guy bottom bouncing next to me got a big male steelhead on a #6 stonefly pattern.  I put a stonefly jig pattern under my bobber.  I had been pounding good water for hours with one steelhead hooked and lost on a dark Brown Rubber Legs Jig pattern.  The second cast with a black stone jig got the first steelhead and over an hour later, another good sized dark male took the same jig after I had trimmed the marabou tail and trailing rubber legs shorter.


The Steelhead know the stone flies are ready to hatch. Maybe they see them slowly making their way along the rocky bottom heading toward shore or they just smell them and know they are going to hatch.  A little #8 stone fly is a good natural pattern to try at any time of year for pressured fish in low water.  Flows were peaking today at a heavy 2620 CFS after rising from 1700 CFS for the last 3 days.  Water temperature was still rising, from 37 F to near 38F today.  The second fish was running toward me when I got around to setting the hook after the bobber went down.  I think he spit out the jig but on the opposite side of his mouth that he took it in on, so the hook set hit him in the side of the jaw.  Not particularly hot action but the Black Stone Fly was definitely the working pattern.  The first fish on hit a dark Brown Rubber Legs jig which was the darkest pattern I had tried up to that point. 

Besides the #6 Stone Fly Jig, I tried the following jig patterns:  Brown Rubber Legs, Silver Demon, Swim Hex Nymph, a #8 black stone jig, and 3 Pear-White-Silver Minnow patterns.  The Pearl-White-Silver Nuke Minnow Jig got lots of time and hooked 4 brown trout so they wanted that, the Steelhead didn't.

  • Stone Fly Jig
  • Hook:     1/64oz #8 or 1/48oz #6 Black Jig heads
  • Thread     Fire Orange Flymaster+ or Uni show some collar wraps behind the jig head
  • Tail     Black Marabou, can be cut shorter in needed
  • Body   Dubbing, Natural Black Fur and Yarn Fibers blend
  • Legs  Rubber leg pairs, behind the head, Mid body, and along the tail on the #6

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