Articles in the Category Streamers

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.

Streamer Presentations — Glides and Slides

Rolling the bottom, gliding mid-current along a knee-deep riffle and slow-sliding off the bank — these maneuvers are just as enticing and catch just as many trout as do flashy retrieves. But we tend to forget them. Or rather, we might not have the discipline to stay with an understated look for very long, because the modest stuff isn’t as exciting as the razzle-dazzle.

This handful of subtle moves requires an angler with restraint and commitment. Otherwise, the rod tip and line hand are back to big motions and brash, bold movements in no time . . .

Podcast — Ep. 9: Breaking Down Streamer Presentations

Make that fly swim. Give life to the streamer. Convince the trout that they’re looking at a living, swimming creature.

That’s what this podcast conversation is about. How do we move the fly with the line hand and the rod tip, with strips, jigs, twitches and more? We talk about head position, depth, speed and holding vs crossing currents and seams. We touch on natural looks vs attractive ones. Should we make it easy for them or make them chase?

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 . . .

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 . . .

Streamer Presentations — The Speed Lead

Streamer Presentations — The Speed Lead

“Cast it upstream!” I hollered over the clamoring currents. Standing behind and slightly to the side of Joey, I watched his next cast land the streamer inches from the opposite bank and directly across from him. It was a good spot, but it wasn’t upstream.

“Look at that!” He said. My ten year old son turned around and smiled with pride. We’d been talking about fishing streamers next to structure for weeks.

I nodded with approval, trying to be supportive. Then I leaned in close to his ear, bending down so he could hear me over the competing current. We stood on a gravel bar, just to the side of a wide and rough section of whitewater — not an ideal place to race a streamer broadside across the river.

Joey launched and retrieved two more casts as I explained the speed lead . . .

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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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Fly Fishing with Streamers on the Mono Rig — More Control and More Contact

Fly Fishing with Streamers on the Mono Rig — More Control and More Contact

So why do we use a Mono Rig over fly line? What’s the advantage?

Just like a tight line nymph rig, we gain more control over the presentation of the flies, and we have better contact throughout the cast and the drift. With fly line in the game, we cast and manage the fly line itself. With the Mono Rig, we cast and manage the streamers more directly.

With the Mono Rig, we can stay tight to the streamer after the cast, we can dead drift it with precision for the first five feet, keeping all the leader off the water. Then we might activate the streamer with some jigs and pops for the next ten feet of the drift. And for the last twenty feet, as the streamer finishes out below and across from us, we may employ long strips. All these options are open . . .

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