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
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
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.
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
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
email me, I'll try to help.
~ Bob Krumm