Articles in the Category Streamers

Podcast: Streamer Presentations — All About the Head of the Fly — S5, Ep8

In this episode, we discuss the head orientation of the streamer in the water — how the streamer moves with the currents or against them, and what looks more natural vs what might look more attractive.

We also dig into what added weight does to the head of a streamer, how that affects the action and how that limits or enhances the presentation styles that we have available . . .

Streamer Presentations — Quick or Smooth?

You can move the fly ten inches across seams. You can jerk strip, jig and twitch the streamer with jumpy and choppy motions or you can do all of it super smooth. Which do the trout prefer?

Eating On The Drop — How and Why Trout Eat a Falling Fly

Convinced or curious? Sometimes, it’s that intersection of the two states that elicits the irresistible urge from a fish. And trout eating on the drop is one of those times. . . .

Streamer Presentations — Jigging the Streamer

By mixing jigging into our streamer presentations, we add a new dynamic. We no longer just slide and glide, cross currents and hover. Now we dip and rise, dive and climb through the column. It’s another dimension to be explored. Offer it to the trout, and let them decide.

You do not need a jig hook to jig streamers. Can you jig a big articulated fly? Absolutely. And while the up and down motion may not be as pronounced as a smaller, thinner, head-heavy fly, jigging works with big and bulky flies too.

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 . . .

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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Streamer Presentations — The Head Flip

Streamer Presentations — The Head Flip

. . . At close range, Bill flipped the streamer’s head by lifting the rod tip and dramatically changing the angle — so the streamer head followed. At long range, Bill mended the line to force the head flip. And that day, his head flip drew one strike after another. It’s like the trout were just waiting for it.

When a streamer changes positions in the water, it draws attention. In fact, the head flip is the most reliable trigger in my arsenal of streamer tricks . . .

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Streamer Presentations — The Deadly Slow-Slide

Streamer Presentations — The Deadly Slow-Slide

The best thing about fishing streamers is how different it is from everything else we do on a fly rod. Precision dead drifts? Delicate casting and thin tippets? Forget that. Slinging the big bugs is the antithesis against what the rest of fly fishing is all about. Or at least, it can be.

Everything works sometimes. We can present a streamer at almost any angle or speed and have a fair expectation to fool a trout. This makes sense because streamers imitate baitfish, creatures with an ability to move — to dart, dive and swim through the water. And they often do so unpredictably, just like our streamers.

But there’s a particular presentation that I’ve come to rely on more than any other, lately. It mimics a more available food form for trout, but it’s not a dead drift. The line and rod hand adjustments are subtle, but the presentation is active. It’s a bank or structure approach; it gets the trout’s attention. And it’s deadly.

I call it the slow-slide . . .

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Troutbitten Fly Box — The Bunny Bullet Sculpin

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Bunny Bullet Sculpin

In a world of oversized, articulated streamers drenched in flash and draped with rubber legs, the Bunny Bullet is naturally sized and tied on a single hook — with just a little disco . . .

If the average modern streamer is an exotic dancer, then the Bunny Bullet is a stay-at-home Mom who gets stuff done . . .

It’s olive. It looks exactly like something trout love, and it’s designed to look vulnerable. (It seems like an easy meal.) The cut points of the deer hair head provide the angler visibility from above, it fishes well with or without split shot, and It looks good stripped or drifted . . . . .

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The Big Rig: The Two Plus One — Two Nymphs and a Streamer

The Big Rig: The Two Plus One — Two Nymphs and a Streamer

Multi-fly rigs are nothing new. We pair one nymph with another all the time. Many of us fish two streamers, and most of us cast a dry fly with a nymph for the dropper once in awhile. But the pairing of a streamer and a nymph is less common. And maybe that’s because the typical presentations for each fly type are quite different — we tend to think we’re either streamer fishing or nymph fishing, but rarely both at the same time.

The Big Rig combines two nymphs and a streamer. With some minor leader adjustments and some outside-the-box thinking on tactics, you can kinda have it all . . .

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