In this article we are going to try to get our streamer fishing a step beyond the cast; which seems to be where we get hung up. I say this is for all you fly heads out there that have gone streamer crazy these last few years. You have learned to tie big streamers, you have learned to cast big streamers; I find that a lot of streamer fishermen get stuck here for too long. They say “I can cast an 8″ streamer 55′-70′ every time”. So that means you can cast but can you read water to know where your fly needs to be and how to get it there; can you strip it back and make it look enticing?
If you are ready for the next step in your streamer adventure let’s dive into what puts fish in the boat on these long slow days we all have and I know that if you are at this stage in the game you should know all about slow days it is just part of the game. (Some days they chase streamers and some days they don’t) you have got to love it all or it will drive you mad. We always say if you don’t enjoy watching a fish chase your streamer with no happy ending, this may not be the game for you.
#1 Fishing your streamer
So often we find ourselves just putting it on the banks and bringing it back to the boat. This is no good! We need to fish the contours of the river bottom or structure in the river. Example: If you had a 2′ deep shelf that come out 5′ of the bank to a 6′ drop off with a log 10′ down the bank you would cast to the bank 10′ up river of the log as the current will make this work, make 3 hard strips off the bank and pause, you will give the fish a kill shot and this allows your fly line to sink on the 6′ drop off, now you are in the log zone, strip back right in front of the log now you have made the most out of that cast. As you know you will need lots of those to be successful.
#2 Fly Selection
I think this is a very important part of your day on the water. So I have found that it is good to stop and pause on a retrieve to get the fly in the right depth of water and to give the fish a kill shot as long as the fly does not stop and hang like a wet sock in the water, as long as it keeps moving when you pause you are good.
I pick flies in 3 categories- upper water column, middle water column, and lower water column.
-Upper water column – such as a fly with a deer hair head (CJ’s Sluggo)
With the spun deer head flies the sinking line wants to pull the fly down and the spun hair wants to float and the struggle creates a great action on the pause.
-Middle water column – weightless flies (Chris Willen optic trout version) is neutral buoyancy with a nice 90 degree kick on the pause.
-Lower water column- jig flies (CJ’s sculpin) this fly has a lead head that falls on the stall like a jig. Any fly with lead in the head can be considered a Jig.
It is very important that the fly has action when you pause!
These are just some I use, there are lots of good ones out there :)
#3 Leader set ups
There are two different ways I use leaders:
I prefer FluroFlex Saltwater tippet for all of these leader setups
The 36″ set up only has to sink 36″ before it starts to pull down your fly so this gets you down faster the first few feet off the bank but never dives to the lower water column so it is the right set up if the fish are holding on the bank. To build the leader use 12-20 lb. test.
If you are trying to get you flies deeper use a longer leader of around 6’-7′: 3′ of 25-40 lb. test for the butt section and 3′-4′ of tippet material 12-20 lb. test. This will make it turn over well for you. When you make a cast and pause to allow time for the line to free fall 6′-7′ before it has to deal with pulling the fly down. The first strip you make will pull the fly much deeper than the 36″ set up. You can choose your leader length by the depth of the river or where the fish are holding on the bank! All of this helps you control your flies’ depth which is key.
Last but not least, if you have not tried the new RIO Outbound Short In-touch line you are missing out between the smaller diameter line that allows it to cut through the water better, which creates less swing and the fact that it is(right now) on the hook sets with 0 stretch when you set it is direct contact! This is the line us streamer guys have been waiting for! Hope this helps you get to the next stage in your streamer game!
Chad Mississippi Johnson