I’ll be honest, there’s nothing more I’d rather do than get out the big rod and huck some meat. However, I’ve noticed that like dry flies, you need to be observant of several things before choosing to throw a streamer around all day. I’m going to explain to you everything you need to know to become a better streamer fishermen.
What to Use for Streamer Fishing
Ultimately it all depends on where you are and what your fishing for but for trout I like to use a 9ft 5 or 6wt. When picking out a good rod for streamer fishing I tend to look for a few specific things. The first thing I look for is a very sturdy butt section, with a fast tip. The heavy-duty butt will give you more power when fighting big fish, while the fast tip adds to pick-up and improves casting ability.
Don’t get too caught up about a leader because honestly, it doesn’t matter. Too often do you see anglers fishing with tailored-up super long leaders comprised of 4 or 5 pieces of tippet, this is useless. You should be able to get by with a 4 to 6-foot piece of fluorocarbon tied directly to your fly line with no problem.
Sinking-tip fly line is a given, unless you plan on fishing primarily very shallow water.
Depending on the size of the streamer, you may need to add some extra weight, so it’s never a bad idea to keep some split shot with you. But wait until you are certain you’re not getting down deep enough as the additional weight could cause issues if used unnecessarily.
Streamer Fishing Techniques
Of all the many presentations used in fly fishing, streamer fishing is among the most versatile. A streamer can be used to imitate the movements of so many different species of forage, which is really very unique considering that the majority of the flies we fish are created with one insect in mind. That said, I will go over a few of the best way to fish streamers.
The most common way to fish streamers is by using the strip technique. This is the most effective way to fish a streamer in most cases. Simply cast your fly out, lower your rod tip, and strip your line in, and sometimes I occasionally twitch it in-between strips. As a good rule of thumb, if the water is fast moving: strip slow. If the water is slow moving: strip fast.
Many people may have never tried this, but another very effective way to fish streamers is by putting them on a nymph rig and swinging them. Tie on your normal nymph rig and just add a streamer to the bottom. If you’ve never swung flies before, it feels a little awkward at first. Instead of recasting after your flies pass you going downstream, let it keep going for a few more feet, grab your fly line, and wait until you feel a bite.
The great thing about streamers is that you will be able to find many, many different effective ways to fish them. These are the two that have worked especially well for me.
When and Where to Fish Streamers
Not to say that you can’t always fish streamers, but there are times where it will work better than any other presentation. Ultimately, the key in fly fishing is not to just fish one thing all the time, but to understand the water you are fishing and select the best way to fish it.
As far as when I like to break out the streamer rig, usually I’m looking for one of two things: high water or overcast. Being that streamer fishing is not nearly as delicate, (meaning that you’re never going to fish streamers with a 10-foot leader and 8x tippet) finding a time when water clarity isn’t very good is the best time to be fishing streamers because it makes it harder for fish to see things that may look unnatural in clear water.
If the conditions are right, the next thing I’m looking for is where the streamer eaters might be. Aside from being able to imitate larger bait fish, streamers were developed to be able fish deep places very effectively. That said, streamers are at their best when fished in deep pools.
However, deep pools are not always the only places I fish streamers. Any time there is a change in current speed or a drastic change in depth, it’s never a bad thing to fish these areas as well. For the most part, no matter what time of year it is (apart from some fish moving up in the riffles during summer) you can pretty much expect fish to be in the same areas. So, whether it be streamers or dry flies, you should always fish anything that looks particularly fishy.