The other day, I came across a streamer article with the following headline: “There are few fish that won’t crush a well-presented streamer.”
That’s absolute nonsense.
Rarely does a population of trout fall all over themselves to eat a streamer, no matter how well it’s presented. And I think it’s unfair to advance the notion that fish are out there waiting to pounce on your streamer if you can just get the presentation right.
The opposite of the article headline is true: There are ONLY a few fish that will eat a well-presented streamer. There, I fixed it for ya.
Streamer anglers must deal with a challenging level of failure, day in and day out, from short hits and drive byes to slow days where it seems like the river is barren of life. The streamer game is one of persistence.
There are indeed bite windows of activity, where trout leave cover and safety to charge a streamer as it streaks through the water. Sometimes the streamer bite is just on. Trout dart and dive, chase and swoop to attack our flies with reckless abandon, and these are memorable, rare times when special things can happen. But the average day on the water may hold no such opportunities.
Instead, the streamer fisherman spends most of his time hunting, searching, covering water and casting with intent. Some adopt the strategy of casting to every piece of structure and every likely lie, while others choose narrow targets, with fewer casts and a refined approach. Both styles require an angler who is dedicated to covering water. Because that’s the only way streamer fishing is successful.
Few and Far . . .
Meat eaters are the minority.
Trout of any size may take a swipe at a wandering sculpin, but the true predators — those seeking a big meal — are few and far between. Bottom line: Not many wild trout in the river are willing to eat something as big as a streamer. So we cover water, searching for the players, as Galloup puts it.
It’s fall time at my back-deck grill. And after I eat a full rack of saucy ribs and a loaded baked potato, I’m not all that hungry for a Porterhouse, no matter how much I love it. And trout that whack a couple crayfish may sit tight for a long time before hunting again. The players, then, just aren’t hungry all that often.
We can adapt our tactics to this truth by presenting streamers closer to the trout, with smaller, more natural patterns, and movements that bring an easy meal to the predator instead of asking trout to chase something down. Sometimes that turns the trick. But this strategy still requires covering a lot of water to be effective, because we still have to find trout willing to eat the big meal.
Every river is different, and stocked trout often give chase to attractive presentations more than natural ones. Rivers with a low density of mayflies and midges may hold trout that are more anxious to hit a well-placed streamers. But streamer fishing yields fewer results than other fly fishing tactics presented with precision. That’s part of the charm of fishing streamers.
So tie on a long fly, and set a pace to cover a bunch of water. Look for the players. But always remember this: Meat eaters are the minority.
Enjoy the day.
T R O U T B I T T E N