Articles With the Tag . . . Streamers

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 . . .

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 . . .

The Sweet Ride

There’s a sweet spot to every drift. For each swing of a wet fly, strip of a streamer or drift of a dry, there’s a range — a distance — where the fly looks its best. This is the moment where the fur and feathers tied to a hook are most convincing or most natural. It’s when the fly is really fishing and not just dragging through the water. Good anglers recognize this sweet spot of the drift. They maximize its length. They position themselves in the river to control it with their rod tip or with slack line. And they set it all up to happen over the best trout in the river . . .

We’re looking for the best part of what happens after a cast. We’re searching for the sweet ride. And we’re trying to make it last as long as possible . . .

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 . . .

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Jiggy Streamers

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Jiggy Streamers

A lot of things in fly fishing are borrowed and re-branded as something new. And the further along we travel into the age of information, the more accepting the average angler becomes to these new ideas (or old ideas re-branded). Once upon a time, cones and beadheads...

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 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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Is your new fly really new? What makes a fly original?

Is your new fly really new? What makes a fly original?

When is a fly original enough to deserve its own name? And do a few material changes result in a new fly, or is it the bastardization of an existing pattern?

“That’s just a Woolly Bugger with flashy chenille, bigger hackle, rubber legs, and dumbell eyes. Oh, and it’s two of them hooked together.” That’s the first comment I heard about Russ Madden’s Circus Peanut. And to that I say, sure it is. But aren’t there enough material and form changes there to be a unique fly? When we think Woolly Bugger does it really look anything like a Circus Peanut? No, not really. So I’d say the Circus Peanut deserved a name, and it got one.

I have a similar fly stored in my own meat locker. I call it a Water Muppet, but it’s mostly a Circus Peanut. I tie it smaller, dub the body instead of wrapping chenille, and I use a tungsten bead instead of dumbbell eyes. And while I have my own name for the pattern that amuses me, it’s pretty much a Peanut.

But I think there’s a genuine desire on the part of many fly tyers to get this right. We want to give credit for inspiration, and we know that all good ideas stem from somewhere. At the same time, we’re proud of the material or form changes we’ve made that catch more fish in our own rivers. And sometimes those innovations define a genuinely new fly pattern, so they deserve a unique name . . . . .

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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #34 — Outside the Box

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #34 — Outside the Box

Good things happen by thinking outside the box. Norms are for normal people, and in the strange world of fishing, there aren’t many of those. At some point, every type of fly has been used against its intended purpose, because fly fishers are a creative bunch — not so normal, really — and the penchant for experimentation is urged on by the trout themselves. Everything works sometimes.

So here’s a list of flies and techniques that do double (or triple) duty.

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