Welcome to Eye of the Guide

Part Twenty-seven



STREAMER FLY FISHING FOR HOT ACTION

By Bob Krumm


Late October is a tough time of the year for any outdoor recreationist. On any given weekend, he or she must wrestle with the pressing question of what to do. Certain home chores should be done, like raking leaves, putting up the storm windows, and doing last minute repairs on the house. But there are also important things like deer, antelope or elk hunting. All the upland game bird seasons are open as well as the waterfowl seasons. What is a person to do?

The answer is simple, go fishing!

The lakes and streams are in prime condition, the water temperature is dropping, and the fish are on the gobble. If you are a trout angler you have another reason to get out, the brown trout are spawning. (So are brook trout and lake trout spawning --they both offer great angling opportunities during spawning time).

When brown trout are getting ready to spawn, they seem to become more belligerent towards other fish. Browns will chase smaller fish away or eat them, which sets up a happy situation for the spin fisherman or streamer fly fisherman.

Any lure or fly that resembles a bait fish (and a lot that don't) and gets close to a brown will elicit a quick response.

I probably prefer streamer fly fishing over the other fly fishing techniques. Maybe it's because of the quick response--if a fish wants a steamer, there is no fiddling around--the fly gets hammered almost immediately.

Maybe I like streamer fly fishing because of the "no brainer" aspect of this type of fishing. You see, there is no guessing whether or not the fish took my fly or not. I either have a sharp, sometimes arm-wrenching type of strike or nothing at all. I don't have to guess or squint to see if my dry fly was eaten or my strike indicator twitched, a fish either tries to kill my streamer or leaves it alone.

Another aspect I enjoy is the visual one. With nymph fishing I seldom see the fish take, but with streamer fly fishing I can watch the streamer and see the trout dart out and grab it. I can also see a trout chase the fly and leave it alone after pursuing it a couple of feet to maybe as many as twenty.

A big trout following a streamer can lead to an elevated pulse rate and rapid breathing, so if you have a heart condition perhaps you might want to avoid this sport.

Streamer fly fishing also is pleasurable because it calls for precision casting--especially if you are float fishing and throwing at the holding spots along the banks. I repeatedly told my anglers this year to "get your streamer within a millimeter of cover. An inch away is too far." Well, maybe I exaggerated a bit, but I found out through observation a streamer six inches away from cover was too far, whereas one that managed to graze the cover often got a savage strike.

To me, making an accurate cast is an enjoyable thing whether or not I get a fish. I derive a lot of satisfaction and pride from putting a cast into a tight spot. If I catch a fish, the satisfaction is even greater.

Perhaps the major reason I enjoy fishing streamers is I stand a good chance of hooking a truly big brown. If I want to catch large numbers of trout, I fish nymphs; if I want to have some demanding fishing, I fish dry flies. However, if I want to hook a big trout, I put on a steamer.

Big Brown Trout

You probably have heard the adage "big fish, big meal" or some other similar phrase. Basically, big brown trout prefer to eat other fish: sculpins, minnows, small suckers, dace, small trout, or small whitefish. If you imitate what a big trout wants to eat, you stand a much better chance of catching a lunker.

If you elect to fish streamers , realize this type of fishing calls for different tackle than what you would use to fish dry flies. The lightest rod I use is a six weight, while I prefer either a stiff action, seven or an eight weight. I use either a weight-forward floating line or a sink rate III or IV ten foot sink tip. My leaders are usually six to seven-foot long tapered to 0X (about 15 pound test). My preferred hook size is a 4.

When I wade fish and cast streamers, I usually cast across the current quartering downstream. I let the fly sink for a second or so, then I lower the rod to within two or three inches of the water, point the rod directly at the line, and start stripping line in three to six inch pulls. By pointing the rod at the line and keeping the rod low, there won't be any give in the system when a trout takes. Hence the fish will hook itself, but my follow-up hook set will also allow me to lift the entire rod when I set the hook and will get much more of the butt into the strike--insuring that I have driven the hook home.

With a heavy rod, big hook and stout leader, I fight the fish quickly. I seldom take longer than a few seconds to land most trout--I use a landing net, horse them in, unhook them and release them while they are still green.

Streamer fishing from a boat or raft involves casting the streamer to pockets along the bank or working cover such as log jams, over hanging brush or grass, rocks, and shady spots. I like to cast slightly back upstream and let the fly sink a bit.

If I can cast upstream of a log or brush jam and draw the fly from the bank and run it the entire length of the jam, I usually can get a strike. When I'm fishing a small pocket or bits of cover, I usually only strip three or four times before picking up and casting to a new target. I have found that a trout will either hit within the first couple of feet or ignore the fly, so I don't waste my time.

I expect to lose a few flies when I streamer fish, but with the heavy leader, my losses are usually minimal. I try to keep the hook honed and I retie the streamer after every half dozen fish or snags where I have had to pull hard.

Well, I hope you have a great weekend and get out and try a little streamer fly fishing. You just might get hooked on the hottest fishing of the year. If you have questions on streamer fishing, email me, I'll try to help.
~ Bob Krumm


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