Eye of the Guide


Tom Travis - Mar 10, 2014

Sysadmin Note
Part 23 can be found here

In the previous article of the chronicles I began the discussion on the methods and patterns that I employ when fishing Lewis Lake and the Lewis Channel. I realize that the last article was beginning to stretch into a small booklet and decided to continue the dialog in this section of the Chronicles.

As to fishing Lewis Lake there was one method which I failed to cover, and that is trolling with flies. Obviously to troll flies in a lake you need a floating craft of some sort, as for fly lines this would depend on the depth at which you wish to present the imitations. Now as far as I am concerned the most important or critical aspect of trolling is the speed at which the imitations are trolled.

First off, when I have decided to troll I have also laid out a plan or path if you will that I intend on following and I start at the slowest speed when using a motor craft, then I will slowly increase the speed of the troll. If I still have no results I then change lines and go deeper in the water column. Trolling flies in a lake is not a new method anglers have been doing this for over a century with a great deal of success. Trolling flies can also be accomplished out of float tube, canoe or pontoon paddle craft.

Note:  If I am targeting larger lake trout I will use a ten or twelve weight rod and a 550 or 750 deep water express sinking shooting taper backed to 200 feet of amnesia once strip out the amount of line which you wish to troll go slowly and allow the line to straighten out, stop for a moment or two and allow the line to sink using a countdown method and then proceed at the speed you have selected. At certain times of the year the larger lake trout will hold in deep water and remember parts of Lewis Lake is 108 feet deep.

I have taken many brown trout and lake trout on Lewis Lake using this method I might also add that these methods are also effective on all the lakes and ponds in Yellowstone National Park, just adapt the method to the water being fished.

Now moving on to fishing streamer in the Lewis River Channel because this streamer fishing in a river I am going add a selection that I have previously written on streamer fishing. Now the selection contain information on rainbow and cutthroat trout which I was inclined to remove, then I decided that this information would apply to other rivers in Yellowstone Park and decided to leave it mostly complete.


Here in the West, talk of streamer fishing often brings to mind fall, large flies, big rivers and Brown trout. Each year I meet many anglers who are frustrated and fishless, simply because they are fishing the imitations in the wrong places, using tackle that doesn't allow for a proper presentation.

There are many times of the year that streamers are effective. The angler must understand why the trout take streamers and where and how to effectively present them. Gaining an understanding of the trout, tackle and presentation methods needed for successful streamer fishing, takes focus and organization. Therefore, I will explain how I use the "Formula for Success" to master the angling skills and gain the knowledge base necessary to be a successful streamer fly fisher throughout the year.


The angler that desires to become a more knowledgeable and skilled streamer fly fisher, should first research the topic by reviewing books and magazine articles dealing with streamer fishing. Talk with fly shops, guides and angling friends who successfully fish streamers, with an eye toward learning what tackle, patterns and presentation methods are used with success. Then the angler can properly prepare and obtain the tackle and patterns, and can practice and master any presentation skills needed for success.

I also suggest that you review the video material available. There is a section on streamer fishing in 3M's "Fly Fishing for Trout" with Gary Borger. There is also a section on streamer fishing in 3M's "Advanced Strategies for Selective Trout" with Doug Swisher. In this video, pay close attention to the line control and mending Doug uses to control the angle and plane of the presentation. If you need to review a certain casting method, I suggest reviewing 3M's "Basic Fly Casting" or "Advanced Fly Casting" with Doug Swisher. I also suggest that the prospective streamer fly fisher review 3M's "Fly Fishing for Pacific Steelhead" and "Advanced Fly Fishing for Pacific Steelhead" with Lani Waller. These two tapes hold a wealth of information that can be applied to streamer fishing for spawning trout, such as how to properly fish for larger fish and mending and line control used when fishing various lines. Some of the reading the water techniques will also apply to streamer fishing. Once the angler has gained a basic knowledge of the tackle, patterns and presentation methods used, then it is time to study the trout.


The study of the trout has to be broken down into species. On my home waters here in Montana, this means brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout. Each species has spawning runs during different times of the year and each will move to the streamer differently. So much more must be understood if the streamer fly fisher is going to be successful.


There is no sense in listing the scientific name for the brown trout, as the taxonomy boys will more than likely change it next year. Therefore, to avoid confusion, we will just refer to it as "brown trout". During the greater part of the year, a brown trout will establish a territory in which it will live and feed. This territory will be aggressively defended against all comers. Thus, one of the reasons the brown takes the streamer is its minnow-like shape. The brown will hit it not only as a food form, but also in the aggressive protection of its territory. brown trout are very predacious and feed actively on aquatic insects, terrestrials, minnows, crayfish and even smaller trout if they are unwary!

The brown trout prefers the shaded banks, undercut banks and deep pools and tends to prefer overcast to bright days when surface feeding. For a better understanding of holding water, feeding lies and prime lies, I suggest 3M's video "Nymphing" with Gary Borger. Territories are established based on the size and strength of the trout. Therefore, the best water will generally hold the largest trout. So it is very important that the prospective streamer fly fisher learn how to read water and understand where the trout will be.

For those who need to learn more about how to read water, I strongly suggest reviewing 3M's video "Anatomy of a Trout Stream" with Rick Hafele. Rick and his friend Henry will show you what to look for, how to read the water and find the trout.

The habits of the brown trout and the various reasons as to why the streamers are taken remain fairly constant throughout the year, except during the spawning seasons. During the spawning season the brown trout will leave their territories and start to gather in the deep pools to migrate to their spawning area. This gathering will start as much as 60 days prior to the actual spawning. During this migration period, the browns will continue to feed. While they won't expend much energy to chase a minnow, they seldom turn down an easy meal. This makes line control, fly speed, angle and depth of the presentation very important to the streamer fly fisher. During a two to three week period, prior and during the actual spawning, the brown's food intake drops to almost zero. But during this time, streamers are still very effective as the browns become very protective of their redd (nest). The brown trout will spawn during autumn to mid-winter, depending on the climate and water temperatures.

 From about mid-September to January, there are brown trout gathering, migrating or spawning somewhere in the area. This allows for some excellent streamer fishing and a reasonable chance to hook into a legitimate trophy-sized brown.


The rainbow trout is not as aggressive, nor as territorial, as the brown trout. "Bows" are, in fact, very efficient insect eaters and don't search for the larger food forms as often as the brown. This is not to say that they don't, or won't, eat minnows. Often this will depend on the food sources available. During the spawning period, they go through the same cycle as the browns, and at that time will become very aggressive. Often times, larger rainbow will opportunistically follow other species of spawning fish to feed on the eggs. The angler should remember this when fishing in the fall for Browns. Most species of rainbow are spring spawners, though there are a few exceptions to that rule.


Of all the trout, cutthroats seem to feed on minnows the least, but there are times when a few can be taken. Often it is the larger "Cuts" that the angler will pick up on streamers. During the fall, as the insect activity declines, the cutthroat will become very aggressive and feed on minnow life forms. They, like all trout, become very aggressive during their spawning cycle. The cutthroats here on the Yellowstone are primarily tributary spawners, and spawn during May and June when the waters are high with snow pack run-off. Therefore, the cutthroat spawning runs are often not of great importance to the streamer fly fisher.

Once the angler has established an understanding of how, why and where the various species of trout are feeding on minnow life forms, then proper selection of tackle, patterns and presentation methods can be made for the angling situation at hand, thus ensuring a greater success rate.

The angler now needs to set up a system to handle these situations. In the next section, I will explain my system for streamer fishing and how, where, and what I use to master the various streamer fishing problems. We start the discussion with the tackle systems needed to effectively fish streamers.


This is the system that receives the most use throughout the year and is used on rivers like the Madison, Jefferson, Gallatin, Beaverhead and Big Hole. This is an 8 weight system. It allows the angler to cast large flies under almost any condition and present the imitation at the proper angle and depth to be effective. I prefer the new hi-tech models of rods, as they offer the strength and line speeds needed to effectively fish the larger streamers. My personal favorite is an Orvis PM-10 908-4, a 4 piece 9' for an 8 weight. This rod has a 1-1/2" fighting butt.

For reels, I prefer the SA System II 7/8. This will hold 150 yards of 20 lb. backing, plus the full line. It has a smooth disc adjustable drag that will handle anything from salmon to bonefish. I carry several lines in my 8 weight system on extra spools for my SA System 7/8.


1.         Mastery Wet Tip V, WF8F/S, with a sink rate of 6 inches per second.
2.         Mastery SLS Sinking Line V, with a sink rate of 4.75 inches per second.
3.         Mastery Clear Intermediate Sink, WF8S, with a sink rate of 1.65 inches per second.
4.         Wet Cel IV Shooting Taper, ST8S, with a sink rate of 4.75 inches per second.
5.         Wet Cel IV Shooting Taper, ST9S, with a sink rate of 5.00 inches per second.
6.         Ultra Floating Shooting Taper, ST8F
7.         Mastery Distance Floating Line, WF8F

I know that seems like a lot of lines, but they each have their use in presenting the imitation at the proper angle and depth for effective streamer fishing, as I will explain in the next section. This 8 weight system can also be used for fishing big nymphs and drys, as well as being used to fish for bass, bonefish, steelhead, salmon, snook and stripers.

The SA System II Reel and spools are made of precision cast, high-silicon aluminum and are protected from corrosion with a hard matte, black, polyurethane finish for use in either fresh or salt water.


During the summer season, the rainbows and browns are back to holding and feeding in established territories and are behaving in a normal manner. During this time of the year, I believe that trout take a streamer for three main reasons: hunger, anger and curiosity. The first step in solving this riddle is "observation" on the part of the angler. Observing a situation and being able to select the right tackle, pattern and presentation method to be able to move the trout is important. The following will be examples of using the proper tackle and presentation methods to fool the trout with streamers


Several years ago, while fishing the Madison, I was sitting along the bank resting after a somewhat marginal morning of nymphing. After resting for a while, I noticed that a minnow of about 4 inches in length was holding behind a large boulder that was very close to the bank. The minnow was down about 18 inches from the surface, and was darting back and forth in the current pocket behind the boulder. I had drifted a nymph behind that very boulder several times before I had waded ashore to rest, and I remember thinking to myself about the minnow "you're safe, nothing hungry here". I sat there for about 10 minutes watching the minnow dance and dart around, when a brown trout about 17 inches long came out from under the edge of the bank I was sitting on and just clobbered the minnow.

Well, needless to say, that left me open mouthed and it definitely jumped up the heart rate. As slowly and carefully as I could, I backed away and moved upstream to attempt to take that brown. As I had been using a floating line and long leader for the nymphing, I selected a streamer and put a small lead shot just above the fly.

I cast downstream, let the fly swing in behind the boulder, and kept working it back and forth, all to no avail. A little while later, my wife showed up. I had her hold the rod and keep working the fly while I carefully moved downstream to take a look to see if I could figure out why I couldn't entice that trout. What I saw was that, even with the split shot, the fly was very near to the surface because of the speed of the flow. I told my wife to add another shot. This still wasn't putting the fly where the minnow had been. We took a lunch break and during this time I decided to switch lines.

I put on a sink tip and a 4 foot leader of my own design. On the leader, I placed two copper sleeves, one 12 inches down from the tip of the line and another at 24 inches. After I regained the proper position in the river, I made a cast and let the imitation swing into the boulder pocket once again. Remembering how long the minnow had darted and danced in the pocket before the Brown had taken it, I was prepared to wait. I would jiggle the rod tip from side to side and raise and lower it to imitate the dancing and darting of the natural. My third cast had just settled into the pocket and I was starting to work the rod tip, when the brown savagely struck. Now, after spending all that time solving the problem, I would like to tell you that I played and landed that brown. But, alas, I was surprised and struck back a trifle too hard and broke the brown off. Sound familiar? 

Since that day, I have used this method, which I call the Downstream Flutter, many times with success. In this situation, I don't think that the trout take the streamer because they are hungry, but because it angers them. What line you use will depend on the type of water to be fished. In very shallow flats, I will use a WF8F. In slow pools, I would use a Mastery Clear Intermediate WF8S. In deep, heavy water I would use a Mastery Wet Tip V. On all of the sinking lines, I use a 48" leader and may add additional weight to the leader to keep the fly in the proper plane. This is a very effective technique, which has produced many very nice fish over the years. Some I have even landed!!


One afternoon, while fishing dry flies on the Big Hole, I noticed several minnows darting and skipping across the surface in the tail of the pool I was working. I never saw what was causing this commotion, but I realized that the minnows were being chased by a larger trout. I selected a small, unweighted Muddler Minnow and soaked it for a minute or two before using it. This would allow the fly to sink 3 or 4 inches under the film, and I could skitter it on the surface by simply raising the rod tip while stripping the line. I am glad to say that I was able to hook three Rainbows of modest size. These trout were chasing a school of minnows that they had herded into the tail of the pool. I have used this method several times and often use a Mastery Clear Intermediate line to keep the streamer in the proper plane.


In the West, the sculpin minnow, which looks like a baby bullhead, is one of the prime food forms for larger Brown trout. Sculpin, unlike most fish, have no swim bladder, so when they get swept in the current, they will dead drift along until the current brings them close to the bottom and then they will dart behind a rock or other obstruction. In deep, slow pools, they will move 6 to 10 inches and then rest, move and rest. Often times I have taken browns using sculpin imitations in many different water types. The key to success is using the right fly line, which allows you to present the imitation at the proper depth.

Here are a few of the angling situations where I have been successful.


Often times, late in the day, I have seen sizeable browns chasing sculpin in shallow water. Many times the back of the trout will even be out of the water. If the water is flat and slow moving, I will use a Mastery WF8F line and a long 10 or 12 foot leader. The pattern used would be an unweighted Sculpin Bugger. Cast into the area the trout is working, and when the fish moves close, move the line in short, sharp 2" strips, three strips and then pause.

If the water is moving at a fair rate, but is still shallow, then I will use a Mastery Clear Intermediate line, 10 foot leader and an unweighted imitation. This way the line will bounce down along the bottom, but the long leader will belly up in the water keeping the fly from snagging. In shallow moving water, I like to cast up and across to the trout and let the fly dead-drift.


For years I had watched anglers, fishing sculpin as live bait, take many large brown trout out of these types of waters. It was only on rare occasions that I would move any of these trout on a fly during the summer. The problem was that I wasn't using the lines that allowed me to put the fly down and keep it there.

In heavy runs I now use a Mastery Wet Tip V Sink Tip with a sink rate of 6 inches per second. This allows me to get the imitation down and keep it there, yet still allows me to control and mend the line. I prefer to fish the sink tips upstream, allowing the sculpin imitations to dead-drift back towards me. I also use this line when fishing drop-off riffles (riffles that plunge into the head of a heavy run and drop off). In this water, I will cast up and across. When the fly and tip reach the drop-off, I will then stack mend until the fly is down. There is generally a current cushion at such places, and the larger trout love to lie there, expending little or no energy, and let the currents bring them all kinds of good things to eat.

In slow, deep pools, I prefer to use a Mastery SLS V WF8S. This line has a sink rate of 4.75 inches per second and sinks in a uniform manner throughout the length of the line. With a short leader, I am able to keep the pattern down where the trout are for the longest period of time during the cast. While using a Mastery sink line, I will cast up and across, allowing the fly to go down and bounce along the bottom dead-drift. As the line starts to swing, I will start a creep (hand over hand) retrieve. After the fly and line are straight below me, I will slowly raise and wiggle the rod tip. Many strikes come at this point.

For fishing the reverse currents of back-eddies, I will use either a Mastery Clear Intermediate line or a Mastery Wet Tip Sink Tip, depending on the depth and speed of the currents. Often times, there will be a good trout laying at the extreme point of the back-eddy currents, just letting the current bring dinner right to him.


Often during the summer months, we will spend part of the day fishing streamers into the banks out of the drift boat. Depending on the depth and current speed, I will use one of three lines:  a weight forward floating, a sink tip, or the Mastery Clear Intermediate. Generally I am fishing two streamers while doing this, or a streamer chasing a nymph. Trout will often respond to the two-fly cast, as it appears that a minnow is trying to feed in their territory, along with the fact that trout will seldom turn down an easy meal that is placed right in their face.

The angler who fishes a particular piece of water often enough, will soon discover that certain color combinations are better than others. An example of this is the Yellowstone River east of Livingston, Montana. In this section of the river, the color combination of black and yellow is every effective. Often I will use a black Western Feather Streamer or black Flash-A-Bugger as my lead fly, and place a small yellow Marabou Muddler about 15" up the leader on a short dropper. Another combination that is effective is a black Woolhead Sculpin chasing a wet hopper.

Often some of the largest trout are taken on streamers, and the angler who ventures afield with an 8 weight system and a knowledge base of why, when and where the trout will feed on streamers, will generally be the angler who is taking those larger trout. Also, there are times when drys and nymphs have failed, for whatever reason, and the angler who can, and will, work streamers, will take trout when others are frustrated and fishless.

Starting in late September and continuing until the first of the year, somewhere in the Yellowstone area there are brown trout spawning. The dates of the runs vary from river to river. During this time period, the browns will continue to feed, but they often take the streamers more out of anger, than out of hunger. To be effective, the angler has to reconsider the habits of the Brown trout and where they will be located, why they are taking the imitation, and how to present the imitations at the proper angle and depth. The angler must also consider how the water temperature will affect the trout and the presentation. Once these problems are successfully solved, the angler will enjoy a much higher success rate.


On rivers like the Madison, Jefferson, Big Hole and Beaverhead, the angler will again use the 8 weight system. Where and how this system is used will differ from the months of summer. As the time for spawning draws near, the brown trout will leave their territories and start to collect in the runs and pools. Often anglers are fishless and frustrated because they are using summer methods on the spawning Browns. Now we will explore those differences and what the angler needs to do to be successful.


As the water temperatures begin to drop and the days begin to grow shorter, the Brown trout will leave their established territories and start to collect in the pools and runs in preparation for the annual spawning run. To effectively cover the water in these areas, the angler should use full sinking shooting taper fly lines. I prefer the Wet Cel IV, ST8S, with a sink rate of 4.75 inches per second. In some situations, where the pools are very deep, I'll use an ST9S, with a sink rate of 5.00 inches per second. The reel is set up with the appropriate amount of backing, (at least 150 yards) then using back-to-back nail knots. I then attach 200 feet of Amnesia shooting line.

Amnesia is a monofilament that, once stretched, has no memory, hence the name. The Amnesia can then be looped and the shooting taper attached using the loop-to-loop system or, as I prefer to do, the Amnesia can be needle knotted to the shooting taper. On 8 and 9 weight shooting tapers, I use a 4 inch butt section of .022 Maxima leader material with a perfection loop. There are stronger materials, but I use the Maxima because it's stiff and will turn the fly over. The leader I employ is also made from Maxima and is no more than 48 inches long. To attach the fly, I use a Duncan loop, which allows the fly a certain natural freedom of movement, while also acting as a mini shock tippet for larger trout.

The shooting tapers allow the angler to thoroughly cover the water with both the distance of the cast and the depth of the presentation. These Brown trout are holding in deep water, and the angler must get the imitation down to their level and keep it there. As the season progresses, the Browns begin to migrate upstream toward their chosen spawning area. Because they are moving they can, and will, be found in all sections of the pool. The angler must learn how to recognize the pool and be prepared to thoroughly cover the water. The method I use is to start at the head of the pool and work all the way through to the tail. By the end of the second pool, you have a good idea of where the trout will be holding in the pools on that day. Then, for the rest of the day, spend your time working the most productive sections.
The method I use to cover a streamer pool with a shooting taper is to start at the head, and cast across and slightly up. Mend the shooting line immediately. Drop the rod tip, follow the progress of the drift and begin the retrieve. I work the imitation back until the butt of the shooting taper is at the tip of the rod and then I move down five paces and do it again until I have covered the entire pool.

The two casting techniques that the angler must master to effectively fish the shooting tapers are the single haul and the double haul. These techniques allow the angler to generate line speed, allowing for longer casts which means the angler can cover as much of the pool as possible. The speed of the retrieve will depend on the water temperature, depth of water and speed of the current.

There are no set rules to follow, but here are a few items of information that I consider when selecting a retrieve. The first is water temperature. When the water temp is between 50 and 58, I will use a fairly active retrieve. As the water temperature drops to the 42 to 50 degree range, I will slow the retrieve down to a crawl. Once the water temperature drops below 42, I will dead-drift the imitation and bounce the rod tip to impart a small amount of movement and flutter to the imitation.

The retrieve used will also depend on the depth of the water and the current speed. In a heavy, fast run I may crawl the imitation, even if the water temperature is up, and I will increase my up-angle on the cast to allow the imitation to run as deep as possible. By casting up and across, and then mending, the angler is attempting to move the streamer broadside throughout the pool. This allows the angler to put the imitation in front of as many trout as possible. Often times the single, most important factor in why the Brown trout hit the streamer is ANGER. The imitation comes fluttering into their face when they are often concerned with things other than dinner. (You know, kinda like having your girlfriend's little brother along on a date.) 

When fishing sinking shooting tapers, I prefer to use full dress Western Feather Streamers, all feather streamer imitations or patterns with rabbit or marabou, something that moves and breathes in the water creating the illusion of life.

During the fall and early winter, the streamer fly fisher will also pick up a few rainbows and/or cutthroats that have followed the browns to feed on the eggs. There are a few streams which have strains of rainbows that are fall spawners and the angler will find both browns and rainbows during the same period, which is, of course, an added bonus. There are other lines and methods that the angler can employ during the brown trout spawning run which I will cover in the next section.


This leader is used to deliver large (size 1/0 to 6) streamer imitations when using shooting heads, sink tips and the Mastery SLS sinking lines. Don't worry about spooking the trout because the leader is short and heavy. If the trout isn't spooked by the size of the fly, then it's doubtful that the leader is going to do it.

I prefer Maxima leader material.

Butt Section: 10" of .020 with a 1/2" Perfection  loop
Section 2:       6" of .017
Section 3:       5" of 015
Section 4:       4" of .013 
Section 5:     3" of .012 with a 1/2" Double Surgeon's loop
Tippets:       20" of .010 with a 1/2" Double Surgeon's loop .009, or .008

I use the loop-to-loop method of joining the leader to the line and the tippets to the leader. This is a strong system and allows me to pre-tie tippets and rapidly change them while fishing.


There are times when fishing wide, shallow pools that I prefer to use a floating shooting taper. This system is set up like the sinking tapers, except that the shooting line is also floating. This floating shooting line has a diameter of .029, which is smaller than the running line of a conventional floating line, thus allowing for a longer cast. Often, when using a floating shooting taper, I am fluttering and skipping the imitation across the surface, much like I talked about doing in the section on Shallow Water Streamer Methods in Part I. Here I feel the trout take the streamer out of anger or curiosity.

My favorite patterns for this are the Muddler Minnow and various color variations of Marabou Muddler Minnows. Often times this method attracts the trout that are looking up and makes them respond.


This is often the line I will use while fishing a slow, deep run that isn't very wide. The Mastery SLS sink lines will allow the angler to present the imitation at the proper depth and angle for the longest period possible during the cast.


I use this line while fishing the tails of pools and side channels where the browns are doing the actual spawning. Often a heavier line will cause you to spend too much time hung up on the bottom, and floating lines don't allow for the proper angle of presentation.


I prefer to use sink tips for fishing plunging riffles, heavy narrow runs and shoots where I need to cast upstream to get the imitation down. The sink tip allows for better line control and "feel" in this situation. Often times the angler must decide what line will allow for the best presentation, feel and control for any given situation, and there will be some trade-off in depth and angle of presentation to achieve this.


Often times when using sink tips, SLS or Intermediate sinking lines, I will use a two fly cast to entice the trout. It will often be a minnow (streamer) chasing an egg pattern or feather streamer chasing a smaller egg-sucking leech. Both combinations can be very effective. For brown trout, I prefer patterns with very little sparkle or flash on them, as the browns seem to shy away from this pattern type, where rainbow trout will often be attracted by the sparkle and glitter. A little flash is ok, but don't overdo it.

When fishing your favorite section for spawning brown trout, change the imitation after each pass, looking for the pattern that moves them today!!


This leader is used to deliver big fly combinations such as a pair of streamers or a streamer chasing a nymph or egg. The leader is tied with Maxima leader material because it has the proper stiffness, diameter and strength to do the job. The leaders, droppers and tippets are all connected using the loop-to-loop system, which allows for quick changes and proper angle of the imitations during the presentation. This is a 52 inch leader.

Butt Section:   9" of .020 with a 1/2" Perfection loop
Section 1:        8" of .017
Section 2:        6" of .015 
Section 3:        5" of .013 with a 1/4" dropper loop placed in the middle of the section
Section 4:        4" of .012 with a 1/2" Double Surgeon's loop
Tippets:           .010, .009, .008 20" - with a 1/2" Double Surgeon's loop
Dropper Loops:     .009, .008 - 5" with a 1/4" Perfection loop

With this leader system, I tie several dropper strands and tippets and place them in my leader wallet. Then I can change quickly on the stream.



Rivers like the Yellowstone and Missouri are big waters, and both hold heavy populations of Brown trout. Because of their size, rivers of this type often frustrate the angler. They ask "Where do I fish?" and "How will I ever get the fly down?"  It is true that large rivers offer the angler a new series of problems that must be mastered to be successful.


Because of the width, depth and current speeds, the angler needs additional tackle to be successful. In many situations I still use my 8 weight system. But for covering the larger pools on rivers like the Yellowstone, the 8 weight system will not handle the job. For this I prefer a 10 weight system. My favorite rod for this is the Orvis PM-10 9010, 9' for a 10 weight. This rod is strong enough to generate the line speed needed to cast the heavier shooting tapers and larger flies. With this rod I use the SA System II 8/9, with 250 yards of 20 lb. backing and 200 feet of Amnesia shooting line.

Lines for the 10 weight system are:

1.         Wet Cel IV Shooting Taper, ST10S, with a sink rate of 5.20 inches per second.
2.         Wet Cel IV Shooting Taper, ST11S, with a sink rate of 5.60 inches per second.
3.         Mastery SLS V Full Sinking Line, WF10S, with a sink rate of. 5.50 inches per second.

These lines are needed if the angler is going to be able to effectively present the imitation at the proper depth and angle in these larger pools and runs! When fishing the tailouts of pools, drop-off riffles, flats, side channels and back-eddies, the 8 weight system will handle the task nicely. But for covering the pools, the 10 weights are a must.

Several times each Fall, anglers ask what flies are working for the spawning browns and, once armed, head for the river only to return at day's end to complain that the flies didn't work.

After talking with these anglers, I soon discover that they were using 6, 7 or 8 weight systems and these systems simply do not have the weight to get the imitation down to the trout's level and keep it here. The 10 weight system has other uses such as for Atlantic or Pacific Salmon, steelhead and many species in the salt water.

Knowing where the trout are, having the right imitation, and knowing how to properly present the imitation will be to no avail if you don't have the proper tackle. That is why it is important for the angler to thoroughly understand the capabilities and limitations of the tackle being used.

I use the same leader system on the 10 weight lines that I use on the 8 weights, with the exception that the butt section on the lines is .025 instead of .022 Maxima.


The techniques used to fish the larger rivers are the same used to fish the medium sized rivers. The biggest problem that anglers have is the ability to read the water on these larger rivers. This comes from study and experience, and I strongly recommend that anglers venturing west for trophy trout spend a couple of days with a good guide. Make sure that the guide you engage is thoroughly versed in the techniques of streamer fishing that you wish to learn.


During the late months of winter and into spring, the rainbow trout will be making their annual spawning migration. The techniques used for the brown trout are the same used for rainbows, but there are a few points the angler must remember. The water temperatures have been cold, down in the low thirties, and as the water warms, the activity level of the trout increases. Therefore, the angler needs to know what the temperatures have been for the week before fishing. This knowledge, and knowing what the temperature is on the day of the trip, will allow the angler to use the proper retrieve.

Example:  The water temperature has been holding at 36 and then warms to 41. For approximately a one week period, the trout will be very active. But, if the water temperature has been stabilized at 41 for weeks, the activity level of the trout will decrease. Once the water warms again, the activity level will increase and so on, until water temperatures are back in the normal range for trout activity. During the spring, the imitations used on the rainbows tend to have a little more flash to them.


There is streamer fishing throughout the year here in the west, and the angler who masters the techniques needed to be successful will find that larger fish can be taken more consistently. This is not saying that streamers are the only way to fish, but that these methods add another set of tricks to the bag, which will help the angler become a more complete fly fisher. The way for the angler to master these methods is through the "Formula for Success", which is Preparation, Location and Presentation.

I hope that this information will assist in helping you to become a more complete angler.

Once again I am approaching booklet size so I will continue the discussion on streamer fishing and method in Part 24 of the Chronicles.

Enjoy & Good Fishin'

Sysadmin Note
Part 25 can be found here


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