Most of us profit from having techniques in place. That is true about virtually any exercise or pursuit, fly angling included. When variables come up, whether or not anticipated or surprising, having techniques in place permits us to methodically troubleshoot our strategy to an answer. And, if our system is well-designed, hopefully that answer is the optimum one. Over time, I’ve developed techniques I take advantage of to unravel any variety of questions I encounter on the river: what rod to make use of on any given day, methods to assemble my chief, methods to costume, and the way to decide on what fly sample to tie on—together with streamers.
There is no such thing as a scarcity of fly traits to contemplate when selecting a streamer—coloration, dimension, the presence of flash or different options designed to draw fish, whether or not the fly is articulated, and extra. All of those concerns matter. However, in fact, these traits exist in streamers of all styles and sizes. It’s not often enough to decide on a streamer simply because it’s flashy, or articulated, or black.
Whether or not a trout takes a swipe at a streamer out of aggression or just out of starvation, it’s extra seemingly to take action to a fly that’s nearer to its place within the water column (its “strike zone”) and that’s animated by the angler in a approach that’s applicable given what we’re capable of verify in regards to the trout’s habits. In different phrases, the place are the trout and what are they doing?
In my expertise, the reply to this query is most frequently decided by a mixture of things: water temperature, water readability, and what we will discern about fish exercise.
Is the water extraordinarily chilly, resulting in sluggish fish holding close to the underside—requiring you to fish deep and sluggish? Are the fish in pre-spawn mode, staging within the shallows—resulting in aggressive fish that can assault a fast-moving fly in shallow water? Is it springtime, with hungry trout searching alongside the riverbanks? Is the water off-color, limiting the fishes’ visibility—requiring you to sluggish the fly’s motion to provide the fish extra time to react?
As with all kinds of flies and strategies of fly fishing, when fishing streamers, a fish is extra more likely to take a swipe at your providing if it’s a properly offered fly. Whether or not a streamer is properly offered is most frequently decided by the depth of your fly within the water column and the sort and velocity of your retrieve.
Not like when fishing dries or nymphs, nevertheless, the success of your streamer presentation is considerably impacted by which fly you select. Some streamers are designed to sink quicker than others, some to chop via the water with velocity and charm, and a few to maneuver erratically—to mimic wounded prey and set off a feeding response. How properly you possibly can current your streamer is decided, by and enormous, by what it’s designed to do.
So, how do you select the correct streamer? For those who’re like me, you utilize a classification system—one which divides the world of streamers into three streamer varieties based mostly totally on sink price (and thus the depth of your fly within the water column) and the way it’s meant to be fished (and the sort and velocity of your retrieve).
Jigs are head-heavy patterns (usually, however not all the time tied on jig-style hooks) which can be designed to drop shortly within the water column and be fished with a sluggish retrieve. Patterns with dumbbell eyes (like a Clouser minnow) are examples of jig patterns. These flies’ heavy heads serve two functions. First, the burden helps the fly drop shortly into the trout’s strike zone. Second, the burden on the entrance finish helps create a jiggy “up and down” motion through the retrieve. These patterns areoften fished finest with a floating or slow-sinking line the place the fly’s place within the water column (after sinking) is properly under the extent of the fly line. This separation in peak between the road and fly helps create the “jiggy” up-and-down motion. It’s additionally why common floating strains work so properly with jig-style streamers.
These patterns are not designed to be fished quick. Let the streamer sink properly under the fly line, make a brief strip that pulls the fly upwards towards the fly line, adopted by a pause to permit the streamer to drop again. Then, repeat the method to maintain the up-and-down presentation going. Consider jigging as slow-grinding your sample close to the stream backside.
In my expertise, jigs work finest when visibility is proscribed and trout exercise is low (e.g. throughout excessive chilly climate situations). My favourite chilly season streamer strategy employs a floating line, lengthy 9’, 2X chief, and a heavy dumbbell-eyed streamer sample.
I classify swimmers as patterns designed to maneuver shortly via the water with a quick or steady retrieve. Typically, one of the best swimmers aren’t cumbersome or are constructed of supplies that shed water, permitting the fly to glide via the water with minimal resistance. What you don’t need is a sample containing supplies that take in water like wool. Whereas water-absorbing supplies like wool will assist sink a fly, these flies additionally transfer sluggishly via the water (as a substitute of gliding via it). For those who’ve ever felt such as you’re stripping a moist sock via the water, chances are high you have been fishing a fly constructed out of water-absorbing supplies.
Patterns like a conventional wooly bugger (with or with no conehead) or the brand new Gamechanger-style patterns are good examples of swimmers. Swimmers are finest fished with a quick retrieve excessive within the water column. They’re nice decisions while you need to fish tight to the financial institution—while you’re making an attempt to play takeaway with a big predatory trout searching within the shallows. Whereas these patterns will be fished with a floating line, usually a sluggish sinking or intermediate helps maintain the sample under the floor throughout a quicker paced retrieve.
Hanging (aka Buoyant) Streamers
Whereas I extra usually discover myself fishing swimmer and jig type streamer patterns, hanging type streamers have their place, particularly when trout exercise is on excessive alert. These streamers are sometimes created with deer hair, which provides buoyancy. Patterns like Tommy Lynch’s Drunken Disorderly or Kelly Galloup’s Zoo Cougar are two examples of hanging type streamers. As a result of their excessive buoyancy, these patterns are finest fished utilizing a sink tip or full-sinking line, as the burden of the road retains these buoyant streamers anchored under the floor. Your retrieve when fishing hanging streamers must be much like when fishing jig-style patterns—a pause is required to permit the road to sink under the streamer earlier than the retrieve. The mix of the weighted line pulling downward and the buoyant nature of the streamer pulling upwards creates an erratic up-and-down movement, imitating a wounded baitfish. Although fishing a sinking line and buoyant streamer does require some getting used to, this mixture does an incredible job imitating wounded baitfish. As with swimmer-style streamers, hanging streamers work finest when trout are actively searching, particularly throughout low mild intervals or when massive predatory trout are on the hunt.
By lumping your streamers into these three varieties, you possibly can successfully select the correct fly for nearly any situations. What kind of streamer you need to fish must be the primary query you ask your self. When you’ve answered that, then you possibly can fear in regards to the little issues in life—like coloration or whether or not the fly has rubber legs, flash, a cone or sculpin head, and so forth. Sprinkle in a little bit of expertise and native data, and also you’ll be properly in your strategy to choosing the proper weapon.