Lately streamer thoughts have been on the radar. With the acquisition of seven new patterns for this coming fall season we couldn't wait any longer. The alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. Dark roast fueled the headlamp assisted walk in. We arrived riverside with barely enough light to rig up. Our first grab came within fifteen minutes. Nice way to build confidence. Patterns and rigs were changed throughout the morning depending on water type, structure and depth. When fishing streamers it's not a numbers game. No body counts. It's a hunt. We are searching for the alpha. We caught two and moved three. Happy with the field test we finished at 9:30 after things warmed up.
It's taken more than a few seasons to become proficient with streamers and the techniques associated with them. The best lesson I was ever taught was to bring only one style of fly to the water and learn how to use it. Streamer fishing poorly is easy, streamer fishing well is one of the most demanding disciplines in fly fishing. Taking the time to learn those skills now will pay out in the fall. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Get a dedicated rod for streamer work. We prefer a 6 or 7 weight at 9 to 9 1/2 feet. The rod you choose should be able to handle a variety of lines, fly sizes and techniques. Accuracy is an overlooked aspect in streamer rods, keep that in mind when test casting a rod. It doesn't mean squat if you can cast a rod seventy feet if your fly is three feet from your intended target.
Invest in at least two lines. If we were limited to only two they would be a density compensated sink tip and an intermediate sink tip. While we may have six to ten different lines on the bench, these are the two we always grab. Our preference in lines are Rio. Performance, durability, selection and consistency are why we throw Rio.
Tie or buy a variety of streamer flies. Sizes from 2-10. Muddler type, bugger style, fur strip and featherwings. Throw in some articulated patterns also. Make certain you have streamers in black, brown, white, olive and yellow.
Get into the habit of having great line management skills. Here is the scenario we see all the time guiding. The bow angler finally hooks a large streamer fed brown. While trying to keep tension on the line and fight the fish, he notices about twenty feet of loose line that he didn't cast at his feet. By now the brown is pissed and decides to make a run for it. The panicked angler allows the fish to run. When the loose running line finally clears the angler's feet, the empty water bottle, the client's big bag of crap that hasn't been opened since the start of the day, it reaches the first stripping guide. That's when it gets bad. The booger knot that has developed is the size of a Slinky. Pop. End of fight. Creative profanity is uttered.
If you are throwing thirty foot casts, don't have fifteen feet of loose running line at the start on the drift boat floor or at your feet while wading.You will have enough loose line there when you start stripping line back. Why add more. Unless you want to entertain your guide with your humorous cats cradle fish fighting skills.
Put the fish on the reel. We use high quality, dependable reels for a reason. They enhance the system when it comes to having a hot fish make a run for it. They also enable better line retrieval when a large arbor style is employed. We've seen enough backing to realize we don't buy into the "It's just a line holder" b.s.
Wade and fish as stealthy as if you were fishing for a rising fish. Just because a run has a ton of structure in it doesn't mean you can't spook fish. Think like a predator.
The next installment will be coming soon. Until then grab an early morning session and get on it.