Articles in the Category Streamers

Troutbitten on Dave Stewart’s Wet Fly Swing Podcast

I had a great conversation with Dave Stewart on his Wet Fly Swing podcast. We talked about streamers, nymphs, the Mono Rig and how Troutbitten has grown into a fly fishing company and become my full time career . . .

Streamer Presentations — The Cross-Current Strip

There are a lot of ways to retrieve a long fly after the cast. And that’s really what’s so much fun about the streamer game. Fly anglers might spend hours fretting over the imperfection of a drag free drift on a dry fly or twice as long considering the depth and drift of a nymph, but when the streamer is tied on, it’s a chance to let loose. Nothing else in fly fishing allows for such freedom of presentation. “Everything works sometimes.” No other fly type fits that tenant so well.

But what will trout respond to most? That’s the question. And on many days — most perhaps — the answer is a cross-current strip. Here’s why . . .

When the First Cast Matters Most: Part One — Streamers

While fishing the long flies, accuracy is paramount. In a recent conversation with my friend, Bill Dell, he made an excellent point that changed the way I fished streamers again. Bill’s thoughts forced me to rethink the habits I’d fallen into. And that hammered me back into shape.

Bill told me he doesn’t make a cast until he’s in the ideal position, until he can deliver the streamer to that sunken log near the bank with exactly the angle he considers best. He refrains from any lead-up casts. Rather, Bill saves the initial cast for when he can deliver the knockout blow — no jabbing on the way in. Here’s why . . .

Streamer Presentations: Land With Contact

Streamer fishing provides limited opportunities to put fish in the net. There are fewer takes on a long fly than we expect with smaller flies like nymphs or dries. So we cannot afford to miss these chances. Lack of contact with the streamer is a common error, but it’s easily corrected . . .

Streamer Presentations — The Cross-Current Strip

Streamer Presentations — The Cross-Current Strip

There are a lot of ways to retrieve a long fly after the cast. And that’s really what’s so much fun about the streamer game. Fly anglers might spend hours fretting over the imperfection of a drag free drift on a dry fly or twice as long considering the depth and drift of a nymph, but when the streamer is tied on, it’s a chance to let loose. Nothing else in fly fishing allows for such freedom of presentation. “Everything works sometimes.” No other fly type fits that tenant so well.

But what will trout respond to most? That’s the question. And on many days — most perhaps — the answer is a cross-current strip. Here’s why . . .

When the First Cast Matters Most: Part One — Streamers

When the First Cast Matters Most: Part One — Streamers

While fishing the long flies, accuracy is paramount. In a recent conversation with my friend, Bill Dell, he made an excellent point that changed the way I fished streamers again. Bill’s thoughts forced me to rethink the habits I’d fallen into. And that hammered me back into shape.

Bill told me he doesn’t make a cast until he’s in the ideal position, until he can deliver the streamer to that sunken log near the bank with exactly the angle he considers best. He refrains from any lead-up casts. Rather, Bill saves the initial cast for when he can deliver the knockout blow — no jabbing on the way in. Here’s why . . .

Streamer Presentations: Land With Contact

Streamer Presentations: Land With Contact

Streamer fishing provides limited opportunities to put fish in the net. There are fewer takes on a long fly than we expect with smaller flies like nymphs or dries. So we cannot afford to miss these chances. Lack of contact with the streamer is a common error, but it’s easily corrected . . .

Streamer Presentations — The DEATH Drift

Streamer Presentations — The DEATH Drift

What happens to a fish when it dies? It usually sinks to the bottom. And I’ve seen enough trout carcasses or half-eaten and decomposing fish on the riverbed to believe this as a first-hand fact. But what happens to a fish as it’s dying? What of the small trout, sculpins, dace and other baitfish that reach the end of life because of injury or old age? For all the thousands of baitfish that inhabit your favorite stretch of river, how do they meet their end?

Surely, most of them simply sink to the streambed and surrender to the circle of life, becoming sustenance for smaller aquatic critters. But sometimes, a dying fish floats and struggles for a bit. And that seems like a pretty good opportunity for a hungry trout.

Enter, the DEATH drift . . .

Streamer Presentations — The Crossover Technique

Streamer Presentations — The Crossover Technique

. . . The crossover is a targeted approach to fishing streamers. Instead of spraying casts and hoping, we bring the streamer right to the trout, with control.

. . . If you’re experienced with streamers — if you’ve spent a lot of time chucking meat — it will take discipline to perform the crossover correctly. Refrain from stripping, jerking and reverting back to the more common retrieves. Our average motions with streamers are usually large. We move the fly fast and far. Again, think small. Imagine a dying or disoriented baitfish bumbling along the riverbed and trying to get its bearings. Move your streamer that way.

. . . With the crossover style, I work the streamer through river lanes while focusing on structure: rocks, logs, gravel bars or color changes in the riverbed. All of these are excellent targets, and the animations available with the crossover style are a perfect way to maximize the fly’s time in these hot zones . . .

Streamer Presentations — The Endless Retrieve

Streamer Presentations — The Endless Retrieve

. . . Remember that Mark taught me to keep the streamer moving downstream at one pace, without pause. Now think about the way you fish a streamer. You strip it, right? Strip, strip, jerk, strip, strip, jig, strip.

And at the end of every strip, there’s a pause when you let go of the line and re-grasp it further ahead (preparing for the next strip). That pause, and the look that it gives the streamer, is completely different than what Mark showed me at fourteen years old.

Like anything else in fishing, you can get the tactic pretty close and have some success, or you can dig deep into the details, refine it and triple your production . . .

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Troutbitten Fly Box — The Jiggy Streamers

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Jiggy Streamers

With the Jiggy tied in, I quickly learned that nothing rides the bottom of the river like a ball jig. It bounces, canters, pivots and tap dances around rocks and gravel like nothing else. The ball itself is the key. It allows for some very unique presentations and movements. And when you really want to hug the bottom, you can set up your rig to feel those taps, as the Jiggy glides and scratches along the river bed.

That’s not to suggest that I constantly present a Jiggy deep down and glued to the rocks. Not at all. But when I do want to touch the bottom, to feel the rocks, hold a position or reach into the depths with precision, a Jiggy is the perfect vehicle. That is the key. That’s the special sauce of the Jiggy . . .

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Troutbitten Fly Box — The Full Pint Streamer

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Full Pint Streamer

The Full Pint is one of the only permanent additions to my streamer box in the last few years. I test a lot of patterns against my confidence lineup, and very few flies make the cut. My box of long flies covers all the bases, really. And because I’m (mostly) a minimalist, I don’t add anything that is similar to other flies that I already carry.

But the Full Pint dazzled trout at the first dance. It had a big night the first time out. Then, day after day when I set the hook on a swirl or felt the jolting stop of a large trout slam the fly in mid-strip, I marveled at the Pint’s effectiveness . . .

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Streamer Presentations — Why “Always Strip Set!” is a Fallacy

Streamer Presentations — Why “Always Strip Set!” is a Fallacy

Ahhh, the strip set. Nothing’s been beaten into the streamer angler’s brain more than the necessity for a good S-T-R-I-P  to set the hook. When a trout eats, always set with the line hand, not the rod hand! Never set with the rod. Right? Oh my, no. Never do that.

Call me wrong, but I use both a strip set or a short rod jerk all the time. Whichever one I’m in position for when a trout takes, that’s the one that happens. It’s all pretty natural and not something I think about much anymore. On a trout, both methods are equally as effective at driving the hook home, and I’m not about to change over to strip setting exclusively.

I tried. Honest. But because I use a lot of rod tip motion to animate the streamer (jerks, jigs and twitches), forcing a strip set when I’m an instant away from the next jerk is just awkward . . .

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Streamer Presentations — Strips, Jigs and Jerks

Streamer Presentations — Strips, Jigs and Jerks

Using the rod tip is the other way to move a streamer. And I’ll argue that all jigs, jerks and twitches introduce some manner of slack . . .

. . . For my own streamer style, I welcome that slack. I use it for effect. I believe a streamer looks more alive — more natural — when it’s given a moment to rest, even if that moment is only a split second. Just a bit of slack allows our carefully-considered fur and feathers to puff and swoon with the current. Sure, a streamer has a similar chance to breath in-between strips too. But that look — that effect — is a little more dramatic when there’s no tension on the line . . .

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