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Brian, I think your nephew's best bet would be to get some advice from SOL user Stonefish.  I believe he uses a 6wt single hand rod for coho and coastal cutts, but I know he also uses an 8wt as a general purpose rod.  He and I tend to agree on gear choices but he's by far the most knowledgeable person here for those particular home waters.


So, I'm only going to address the gear issues (focusing on rods), not locations/runs.


The steelhead fishery is in serious decline in our region.  When they (winter run steelhead) were around in decent numbers I would use either a 10ft 8wt (single hand), or an 11ft two-hand switch rod (7wt o.k. but only if spey rated, better yet an 11ft to 11'6" 8wt for quickly playing and releasing fish) depending on which method and lines I wanted to use.  Steelhead are amazingly hard fighters and impressive serial jumpers.  They don't tire easily and are highly unpredictable.  Broken rods can result, especially if any amt of high sticking occurs when "landing" them.   A somewhat longer rod that is flexible in the mid-to-tip will actually help to control fish during their acrobatics.  Imagine a freshwater tarpon on speed and consider dropping the rod tip toward the water as the fish starts to accelerate into each leap.  Avoid very stiff and fast tip-only action rods, IMO.  Personal opinion here, only, but based on past success.  Never underestimate a steelhead that appears, briefly, tired.


Longer spey rods are not needed as they are often too much trouble to use on narrower coastal streams. Not that they can't work.  But they are more appropriate for wider rivers.  If the spey rod craze hits -- A good basic spey rod for these more open river systems is the Temple Fork Deer Creek 13ft 7/8wt (earlier cork handle, 4 pc, not the 5 piece composite handle version).  Not my choice for smaller systems but a great rod to learn to spey cast on, and doubles as a two hand overhead light surf rod (perch).


As opposed to a single hand flats rod designed with line speed and distance in mind, a slower/longer rod that is very powerful in the bottom third is ideal for them but this is just my 2 cents.  An example is the Echo Ion 10ft 8wt.  This rod was my favorite winter rod (big winter steel, and the occasional chinook), using either a 9wt Rio Versatip or 9wt Rio Salmon/Steelhed (long belly) line, until I started getting into short Skagit lines and tips.  My current favorite two hand rod for winter fish (which sees very little action now) is the Redington CPX 11'3" 8wt. Throws 480g skagit heads and ~80g to 140g 10ft tips (Rio Mow/iMow, or 8-1oft of T-10 to t-14).  The Echo rod can be found used for less than $150.  The Redington, used, is around $175-225 and is a best buy if he can find one.  He probably can because the target fish for them out here at least are disappearing.


These fish are a precious resource, so if your nephew targets them be aware that all fish should be kept wet at all times, and released unharmed.  The use of single barb-less hooks is definitely a major way to reduce mortality, but will cut down on the number of fish you will be able to "land" (by land, I mean handle very briefly and unhook), but that's the only responsible thing to do, IMHO.


Again, Stonefish is a far more knowledgeable guide to appropriate gear for the Puget Sound area.  I mainly fish (used to fish) for steelhead in Oregon.

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Thank you. I will do that.


The kid (now 35) and his wife are visiting here before Christmas. If the matter comes up and he's serious, I'll be in touch. He does like to travel, and was hiking in Norway not too long ago, so he's not limited to the Sound, it's just that Amazon has him in Seattle.

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