Streamer Presentations — The Super Pause

by | Feb 22, 2024 | 3 comments

** Our first Troutbitten LIVE Stream was on this Super Pause topic. **
HERE is the link.

** A short video about the Super Pause appears below **

Bill Dell stood off my left shoulder and watched my presentations from behind. At the end of a good shift, we were wrapping up a fun morning of fishing for wild browns.

I had stayed with nymphs through the session, while Dell had never clipped off the streamers. I was impressed with his continued success, because even as the sun had breached the ridge line, Dell had held the trout’s interest, and he’d put more fish in the net than me.

So just as we were talking about quitting time and real world responsibilities, I grabbed Bill’s rod and asked him to walk me through one of his best presentations. He calls it the Super Pause. And throughout the morning, I had watched Bill land his light streamers close to structure and hardly move the fly, often barely keeping tension as the streamer hovered before sliding into the next current. Then WHAM. Time and again, trout accepted the fly. Now I wanted to duplicate his tactic, and I wanted Dell to correct whatever I got wrong.

My first few casts landed a foot from the bank instead of a half-inch. And I could feel Dell’s disapproval mounting even before his words reached my left ear.

“Are you gonna put it on the bank or not, Dom?” Bill pushed.

“I know, I know,” I chuckled. “I was just playing it safe while I tried to get a feel for your rig.”

My next cast was too daring. And I landed the streamer in an overhanging branch that dipped a few feet off the water. The number of wraps and turns the streamer took around the wood assured me there was no way to slide it out, so I waded over to unwrap the mess and get back to fishing.

“Ghost branch,” I said, as I clipped the pencil sized limb with my hemostats. “Never saw it.”

I glanced back to Bill as I returned to where I’d been and worked to free his streamer from the stick in my hands.

“Yeah, don’t do that,” he said. “Keep it out of the trees. How about that next pocket by the log? No branches to get in your way.”

Bill pointed upstream to the next level, and we waded toward exactly the kind of water where trout had been showing up all morning long.

On my second cast, Bill had more advice.

“That’s a good spot. Nice landing, but stop moving the fly,” he said.

“I feel like I’m not moving it very much,” I told Bill.

Over the next two casts, I eased upstream, working more of the bank and the accompanying long pocket with each presentation.

“Stop moving the fly,” Bill said again.

“I really don’t feel like I’m moving it much.” I doubled down.

“Right. But stop moving it,” Bill said flatly.

I fired the next cast all the way to the upper end of the log that formed the bank edge. And as soon as the fly hit, Bill instructed.

“There. Nice spot. Now don’t move the fly. Keep the line up.”

The Grinch (Delly’s favorite streamer) hovered along the log for a moment. And this time, I stripped in line just enough to maintain tension, but I didn’t move the fly.

“Right,” Bill said. “Now let it slide out.”

As the fly moved out of the soft lane, it dipped out of sight and under a faster, neighboring seam. With less than ten feet to travel before the fly hit the rock at the lip, I resisted my urge to strip, to lift or to animate the fly.

Bill sensed my discomfort. “Leave it,” he said.

Then, just before I gave up, just before I turned to my friend to hand him back the fly rod, another agreeable trout slammed the streamer. The fish nearly set the hook for me, and all it took was a sharp, quick snap of the rod downstream. The largest trout of the morning came to the net, and a good lesson was burned in with experience.

Delly’s Super Pause is legit.

Here’s the video. Please select 4K or 1080p for best video quality . . .

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What is It?

Quite simply, the Super Pause is a lack of animation to the streamer for a long time. But that pause usually follows some kind of movement. Last fall, on our podcast about streamers, Bill surprised all of us by saying he often didn’t move the fly for five seconds. That seemed like a long time to all of us. I remember saying that I didn’t know if I had that much patience with a streamer. Dell did, and I didn’t. But I do now.

As Bill told me the other day, getting big hits and bigger fish at the end of the line can make you pretty patient.

Good point.

There’s also a lot of fun in the anticipation of the whole thing. Once you start to believe in the Super Pause, you start to expect remarkable things.

Don’t move the fly. Instead, let the currents move it. Dell says he’ll wait five seconds or more after an animation. It’s not like the whole presentation is without motion. Move the streamer as you wish. Then don’t — for a long time.

One of the best uses for this is hitting softer bank water, as I did with Bill that day. The entry itself is the movement. So start with a Super Pause. Think about that.

I usually like a short strip right after delivery, just to be sure I have contact and to orient the streamer’s head the way I want it. Don’t do that. Because if you have the right entry on the right rig, then you already have contact and tension to the fly.

Let’s get to that . . .

The Right Gear

In the twenty or so articles within this Streamer Presentations series on Troutbitten, almost all of them can be performed with whatever streamer setup you like. Sinking line, a tight line rig, or a floating line with a nine foot leader. So in most of these articles I’ve focused on how we choose to move the fly, with a speed lead, with a head flip, a slow slide, etc.

But Delly’s Super Pause needs a tight line rig. That’s the special sauce.

Choose a leader long enough to keep the fly line on the reel. Most often, I’m using my Standard Mono Rig, and Bill’s leader is very similar.

The long leader provides the tight line advantage to the streamer, meaning we can keep everything off the water. We can be in pure contact with the fly. The weight of the streamer helps hold its place against leader sag at distance. The streamer does track toward the rod tip, but we are in control of how fast and how much cross-lead we allow. We also control the head position and even the depth, because we’re tight to the streamer.

Try doing this with a fly line — floating or sinking — and you’ll understand the difference. Any line on the water, with any moving current at all, pulls the leader and the fly. Then the fly tracks to the fly line on the water and not the rod tip. We surrender some control of the fly when we choose a fly line. Sometimes, that’s a good choice, but not for the Super Pause.

Photo by Josh Darling

The Fly

Just like the rig and leader choice, I’ve often said that the streamer pattern doesn’t matter much. What’s more important is how you move the fly.

But I’ve also made the point that weight is the fundamental factor when you go underneath, be that with nymphs, wets or streamers.

Weight falls.

More weight can provide the ability to move a fly up and down through the water column (jigging). More weight can help get a fly deeper and stay close to the bottom. But none of that is important for the Super Pause.

Instead, Dell builds a streamer that has enough weight to cast on a tight line, but enough material resistance to keep the fly hovering in the water column, without dropping, when minimal tension is applied from rod tip to the fly.

Bill’s Grinch has become a favorite of the Troutbitten crew, because it specifically suits a purpose. It’s an articulated fly with a marabou tail and estaz or cactus chenille for the body — white plastic bead at the connection to keep things light. Nothing special there. But behind the tungsten bead, is a full collar of arctic fox. The fox fur not only provides bulk and movement in the water, it holds the fly up. The arctic fox provides material resistance and balances out the tungsten bead.

Delly’s Grinch

So why choose a tungsten bead anyway? Why not choose something with no weight at all? I have a fly called the Rogue that I fish at night, of similar design — built to sink slowly or not at all. And I immediately thought of this when Dell told me about the Super Pause. But it doesn’t fish the same way. It’s too light to cast long distances on a Mono Rig, and adding split shot to the leader makes the fly tip down too much.

Dell’s Grinch does sink. That’s a good thing. Because you can let it fall to whatever depth you choose, and then stop it from falling — keep it hovering — under tension.

Last thing about the Grinch. The strange olive color for the arctic fox that Bill found is visible under the water. So it’s a generally dark fly but can still be seen. That visibility is another key to the Super Pause. Everyone loves seeing the streamer. And with a visible fly spending a lot of time in the upper half of the water column, this is a fun and effective tactic.

We’ll surely do a Grinch tutorial on Troutbitten in the near future. But you don’t need Delly’s Grinch for the Super Pause. You just need a fly with the same qualities — a streamer with enough weight to cast on a Mono Rig, and enough material to hold it back from sinking too fast. Dell chooses 3, 3.5 or 4 mm tungsten beads on a pair of #6 B10s hooks. That makes the fly two-and-a-half to three inches long. We tie and fish them larger too, with #1 and #2 hooks. But if you’re going to give a fish that much time to see a fly, I find that slightly smaller streamers get more buy-in and less refusal. Be ready with a couple different sizes, and let the fish decide.

Lots of flies can work for the Super Pause, so be creative. Try a simple Wooly Bugger and put a bead on it. Keep it light on the bead and heavy on the hackle. I’ve found that my favorite sculpin, the Bunny Bullet streamer, makes a great fly for the Super Pause. I’m also tying and fishing a lighter version of my Full Pint streamer and generally having a lot of fun fishing what feels like a whole new style of steamers and presentations.

All of these flies have plenty of built-in movement. And with marabou, fur and feathers fluttering in the current, the fly doesn’t need animation from our end to look alive.

Find the right fly weight, and lean on the lighter side, because a heavy fly requires movement from the angler to keep it off the bottom. That’s great for some tactics, but heavy doesn’t suit the super pause.

While the current trend seems to be jig streamers built to drop fast, it’s fun to do the opposite and show trout something different.

Isn’t This Just Dead Drifting?

The Super Pause is not a dead drift. The fly is mostly moving along with the currents, but the tension of the line (at times) keeps the fly moving through the currents.

One could fairly call it “just drifting the fly.” But again, that sounds like we’re surrendering control to the river, and that’s not quite the truth.

We choose how much to slide the fly over. We choose to back off the tension and let the fly fall deeper. And we choose to animate the fly out of the pause. Strip it, twitch it or jerk it, and then pause again. Those animations at key moments are where salesmanship of the streamer comes in. (I’ve always like that salesmanship expression from Tommy Lynch.)

The Super Pause isn’t the Slow Slide, it’s not the DEATH Drift, and it’s not the Tight Line Dance. But all of those elements can mix together with a Super Pause.

None of these presentations to a streamer are exclusive. Let it blend together, and have fun out there.

But while you’re playing with the Super Pause, imagine Bill’s simple advice in your left ear. “Don’t move the fly.”

Try that for a while.

Hunting With a Streamer

The Super Pause is another version of what we’ve said and believed for a long time. Let them eat it. Don’t take it away from them. Give trout an easy meal. These are great concepts that produce fish all year long, even in conditions that don’t look like streamer water.

Fishing the Super Pause feels like hunting. It takes more patience than most presentations. It requires pinpoint accuracy and the perfect landing. Tuck in the fly and keep line off the water. All of this becomes more difficult at greater distances.

The Super Pause works best for me in shallow, protected water. I rarely fish it in anything waist deep or extra fast, because that’s too much to ask from a trout — to travel that far and attack a fly. (Usually.)

Find bank water and soft pockets. Even big rivers have these places. Wade to structure and fish it well. I wouldn’t try to fish the whole river with a Super Pause.

It’s a lot like hunting. Pick your spots, and have fun.

Fish hard, friends.

 

READ MORE : Troutbitten | Category | Streamers

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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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3 Comments

  1. Awesome stuff!

    I’ve been thinking about the super pause (Supa-pause!) quite a lot lately after listening to your winter skills series again and am supa excited to get out on the water tomorrow and give it a whirl (see what I did there)!!

    Thank you for everything troutbitten, you guys really are one in a million.

    Reply
  2. Have you fished this way on a drop shot rig? I think it would work great.

    Reply
  3. Hey There Dom!
    I take it, given the time of day, that Bill’s Live stream will not be an “On Stream-Live Stream.” Nonetheless…it oughta be great.
    I’ve been actually practicing a nymph pause lately… that’s when you haven’t thrown nymphs since last summer because the streamer bite has been so good, the fish haven’t said “No” yet!
    Another great article brother!

    Reply

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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