Streamer Fishing 101

Streamer Fishing 101

Postfly Ambassador Ryan Luczowiak is all about fresh water streamer fishing. While it may not be for everyone, stripping a “piece of meat” through the water and watched a big hungry trout inhale it, is a thing of beauty. Ryan has compiled a few tips to encourage anglers to become more versatile with fly selection and dive head first into the streamer game. Warning: streamer fishing will lead to an increased desire to raid your local fly shop for all things flashy and more maribou and schlappen than necessary.

What is a streamer?

Streamers are intended to imitate bait fish, leeches, or crawfish. For the most part they can be fished anywhere and have the ability to produce fish year round. A streamer can range anywhere from a plain ole wooly bugger to a triple articulated Sex Dungeon.

How do you fish a streamer?

Streamers are fished with a dead drift, strip, swing, or even by running them under an indicator (cringe). Be sure that you have a heavy enough rod to be able to effectively and accurately throw these larger and heavier flies. A 5wt is about as small as one should run with a 6 or 7wt being ideal for most streamer situations.

Depending on the time of year, flows, and clarity, the target species will be in different sections of the water. A general idea of where the fish are holding is definitely helpful, but streamers are also a great prospecting fly. Simply cast your fly out, let your streamer sink a few seconds, and begin to strip the fly back towards you. Often times, the angler will be able to watch the fish follow the fly and attack it–this is what makes streamer fishing so exciting.

Strip Set vs. Trout Set

A common mistake with streamer fishing is the inevitable “trout set” when setting the hook. When fishing streamers, it’s important to keep your rod tip low and in a straight line between your rod, line, and fly. In doing so, the angler will have the best chance of getting a good hook set while eliminating any slack. With your fly rod in one hand and line in the other, pull the line in a fast and hard motion towards yourself when you feel the take. This is called a “strip set.” Over time this becomes natural. Insider tip: sometimes multiple hook sets are needed to ensure the hook is buried, especially on larger fish.

Vary Up Your Retrieve

If you aren’t having any luck, it’s always a good idea to experiment with the retrieve prior to swapping patterns. Try fast strips, jerks, long strips, even pauses in between strips. Ryan explains he’s drifted past several fish with no interest, but when he changed up his retrieve it was like the dinner bell rang and the fish were all over it.

Streamer Colors

As far as colors go, to try to match your local trout snack. Olives, black, whites, and other naturals are a good bet though experimentation with something flashy or colorful is always fun. Most of the fish that will eat a streamer are predatory. Offer them something they’ll want to attack.

In the end, there’s really no rules when it comes to streamer fishing–just get out there and have fun. When that first big brown crushes your fly and takes off, you will be hooked. It’s this feeling that keeps anglers coming back for more.

Ryan has shared a list of some of his favorite streamers. These names sound just as fun as fishing them:

  • Ryan Gilbert’s “Lil Kim”
  • Kelly Gallup’s “Sex Dungeon”
  • Coffey’s “Sparkle Minnow”
  • Cheech’s “Cheech Leech”
  • Tommy Lynch’s “Drunk and Disorderly”
  • And my very own “Meat Pickle”

Now get out there and slay em!

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